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Friday, August 21, 2015

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: A High Desert Drive up Highway 395

While the world rhapsodizes about the mother road, Route 66, many old time state residents also remember another road...Highway 395.

We’re working our way up this old road but we’ve yet to actually put the rubber on that road. After some time exploring the area between the L.A. Basin and the desert in the mountains of the Cajon Pass, it’s back on Interstate 15…395’s replacement here…to finish the climb to the desert.

That’s right…climb.   Southern California has two distinct deserts going informally by the low desert and the high desert.  The low is an extension of the Sonoran desert and truly does get low…way below sea level near the Salton Sea. The high desert is the Mojave desert and averages around 3,000 feet in elevation. It can get bone-chillingly cold here in winter and regularly gets dusted with snow. As we exit the Cajon Pass , we’re at just under 3,200 feet.

Just before civilization, the sign of the Outpost Café tells us we’ve finally found the road. Highway 395 cuts a line due north from this junction, bypassing the towns of Hesperia and Victorville.  When real estate prices were booming, thousands of families came up here to escape the high prices down below. A large portion of them commute hours each way to jobs in Los Angeles and beyond.

Adelanto is the first town along this road. Home of historic George Air Force base (now a civilian airport) it’s not too far to the west where space shuttles would occasionally land on the dry lake at Edwards Air Force base when Florida weather was bad.  You’ll pass the stadium for the minor league High Desert Maverick’s baseball team as you head out of town.

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As we leave Adelanto, we also say goodbye to the last remnants of Los Angeles’ suburbs. We are truly beyond civilization now.
After driving several miles, the next spot that can be called civilization is Kramer Junction where 395 intersects with highway 58 connected Barstow to the east with Bakersfield to the west. You can stop here for expensive gas and a snack but we’ re just moving on.

The old mining town of Johannesburg is a photographer’s delight with all the rusting mine equipment strewn about. Just beyond that, the huge China Lake Naval Weapons facility supports the town of Ridgecrest. It’s not uncommon to see military planes taking target practice to the right of the road as you pass through.
Someone had to have been sick of traveling through this large desert to found the next little spot on the road called Dunmovin.  It, and the other town nearby, Pearsonville, mark the end of the desert drive for us. Now it’s a climb up the hill to Olanch, Little Lake and the start of the next part of our 395 adventure, the historic and very important Owens Valley.

That's the next big stop on this road trip.

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Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
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1 comment:

  1. Crazy lanscapes - very foreign and exotic to me!