|The Desert Blooms in the Middle of No Where|
Leaving Twenty-Nine Palms takes one through the bleakest parts of the drive. It is long flat and straight beyond the point of monotony. But stick with it and you will see something interesting after a while. You see the lone ruins of a cabin or a house. Long abandoned, the stand empty in the blazing sun (and it is always blazing sun) and you wonder at the regularity. This is actually one of the sings of long vanquished dreams. These are the remains of homesteading.
|After I wrote this, I found this site all about the Homesteads out there. LINK|
Homesteading, for those of you not familiar, was once used by the United States to open Federal lands to the public. Certain areas were given over to Homesteaders who got a plot of land (usually 160 acres or a ¼ section). They could keep the land if they lived on it and worked it (farming – usually) for five years. Then they would receive the title to the land. The regularity of the dilapidated houses out here is an artifact of the homesteading process.
After what seems like forever, the road finally makes a huge end left and up another hill. At the crest of this rise, the large Amboy plateau greets you. The vegetation thickens here, as they get more rainfall. Since there is no outlet for water, there are large salt flats where the occasional rainwater collects and then evaporates. There are salt works here.
It is an interesting drive down into the hill, culminating in the all but abandoned town of Amboy. Right before you get to the “town”, you can see a lone hill to the west. This is Amboy crater. A real life meteor crater you can hike to when it is hot enough to kill you. The road you are driving will end at a T in the intersection of Amboy. There is a light that sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. Town itself is interesting as it has been sold a few times. Grand plans to remake it into a resort or reopen the hotel have fizzled over time. It’s only real use seems to be as a stop on the highway for soda and a part time film location.
|Amboy... Sitting in the Sun|
The road you are now on is part of old Route 66. You can stop and take a picture if you want, where the road name is stenciled on the ground. It isn’t used anymore in any meaningful way. The freeway – Interstate 40 – took a route on the other side of the Amboy Hills. This lonely section of the road is a reminder of how desolate that route used to be in parts.
|Jane - Getting Her Kicks|
The hills above Amboy - after a very wet winter.