Day 249 – National Parks and a little rant

joshua treeJoshua Tree National Park sits in southern California, a piece of ground between I-10 and JohnsonValley.  We drove in from Twenty-nine Palms and took the loop back to Joshua Tree, about 35 miles.  Throw in the 18 mile loop on the Geology Tour Road, just east of Jumbo Rocks Campground, and we had a great day.  I love National Parks, this one is one of the babies though, it only became a National Park in 1994, before, it was just a National Monument.  Joshua Tree is known for the place where the Mohave desert and the Colorado desert come together.  It ranges from zero elevation to over 6000 feet.  There are wide sweeping sandstones, tons of granite, trails for hiking and four wheel drives.  Rock climbing is rampant. Joshua trees are all over the Mohave side of the Park.

Joshua Trees impress me, especially this time of year, the bright green stands out among the desert January brown.  Yucca plants and Ocotilla dot the skyline, but it’s the rocks that impress me.  There are granite formations that rise high above the skyline, pushed up through the pinto gneiss by the granite.  Closer to Joshua Tree, CA are rocks that look like they have been stacked for several stories.

Because I love National Parks and they serve a great purpose, I need to rant about something that we see often.  If there are established roads, stay on the established roads.  There is absolutely no reason to go off road in a National Park.  I love offroading, it’s our lifestyle, but this isn’t the place.  So what do we see when we take the Geology Tour Road, tire tracks out in the dirt.  Just once, I want to come upon one of those dumbasses when they are doing it.  It makes me crazy, folks if you want to drive offroad, come on out to Johnson Valley and drive offroad, the National Park is not the place for that, you give us all a bad name.

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Day 251 – King of the Hammers T-13

ohvA dozen staffers, half a dozen motorhomes, a satellite tower, eight light towers, three big tents, two miles of perimeter fence, a campfire.  Hammertown is starting to take shape.  The Means Dry Lake bed is the home of the largest Ultra4 Rock Race of the year, it’s located in Johnson Valley, California.  We are two hours east of LA, just Northeast of Twenty-nine Palms and Southeast of Barstow.  The area is all desert and mountains, it is desolate and cold and the wind blows.  It’s the typical weather that flows from any high mountain desert area, just wait a few minutes and it will change.  The weather can be clear and blue, then change instantly to overcast and blowing.

Johnson Valley OHV is in a siege at the moment, the Marine Corps is working hard to expand their base at Twenty-nine Palms.  There is a movement afoot to expand west, we as off-roaders, want them to go east instead.  There is ground on both sides of the base, enough to provide the Marines with what they need regardless of which way they go.  Johnson Valley is an OHV designated area by the state of California, it is managed by BLM.  Thousands of people use the OHV area, many of them on a weekly basis.  For the people in our community – the off-road community, this is a fight worth fighting.  We have a saying about public lands…they should stay open to the public.

There are a number of ways that everyone can participate in this fight, organizations that are set up to fight for Johnson Valley,  Save the Hammers.org is one; there is also a petition to get the attention of the White House, there is a two-step process to sign the petition, but it is worth the few minutes it takes.  No guarantees that any action will be taken, but there is always hope.  Let’s take a minute and participate in the process, everyone counts.