Saturday, April 13, 2013

Part 44 - River Clean

From the road crossing, it was eleven and one-half miles to Mojave, which will necessitate hitchhiking.  But today was Sunday, which meant little, if any traffic on the roads.  Add to that, there was a cluster of five hikers at the intersection waiting for a ride.  One or two hikers might score a ride into town, but a group of six would be too intimidating for a motorist.  I passed the group of hikers, say “Hello,” and walked on down the road.  I would rather take my chances as a single hiker trying to hitch a ride rather than being part of a group of six. 

Two miles down the road and several hours later, I was still waiting for a hitch.  Traffic was nonexistent; everyone was sleeping in.  At long last, a motorist heading up the canyon stopped and said that he was on his way to pick up hikers at the intersection – he was a trail angel and I guess someone called him – and after he had taken them into town, he said he would come back and pick me up.  True to his word, Ted, who worked for the Chamber of Commerce, came back forty-five minutes later and gave me a ride into Mojave, and to the Motel 6. 

Mojave is a dingy little town, not growing, not dying, just existing with a population of about three thousand, surrounded by hundreds of square miles of inhospitable desert, and winds that never stop blowing.  I suspected that the biggest employer in town was the consortium or companies that operated the wind farms.  

Mojave and the United States Marines 

Mojave saw its beginnings in 1876 as a construction town for the Southern Pacific Railroad.  Then from 1884 to1889, it was the western terminus for 20 Mule Team Borax from the Harmony Borax Works in Death Valley.  In the 1920s, it was the headquarters for the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, and in the 1930s a small airstrip was constructed, but there was no one to service or fuel planes.  That quickly changed, however, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  The U.S. Marines were looking for training bases, and immediately set their sights on the secluded terrain of the primitive Mojave dirt and oiled airstrip.  By the time they finished their multi-year construction project, they had a flight training base second to none.

But, as happens with all wars, WWII ended and so did the need for the Mojave air base. The squadrons of planes that had been based at Mojave moved on to Yuma, Arizona, and the base closed, but the facilities were still usable.  Today, it houses a number of civilian companies centered on the aerospace industry. (Shettle)

I didn’t have reservations at the Motel 6, but they had plenty of rooms and I paid for one night’s lodging.  I also retrieved my resupply package from the clerk.  Going up and down the stairs of the motel, I bump into other hikers; there was probably a dozen or so staying at the Motel 6 and other locations in town.  In my room, I dumped everything out of my pack onto the floor, then stepped into the shower with all my clothes on and proceeded to take a shower and wash my clothes at the same time.  Other small clothing items I had in my pack I washed in the sink.  It’s what I call “river clean;” not a hundred percent sanitized washer clean, but good enough for my purposes. My reasoning–in another day or two, I’ll be just as dirty as I was coming to the motel, so yes, river clean was good enough.  

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