Published: August 25th 2011August 25th 2011
On Monday the 22nd we took a “little trip” down to Joshua Tree National Park. Leaving the South Gate we traveled what seemed like for ever through endless desert and miniscule towns. As we came through Happy Valley and many street names reminiscent of Roy Rogers and Dale Evens we “discovered” their hideaway. Our camp host later told me that the heirs couldn't make a go of the museum and sold everything to the highest bidder. I can see why – it's in the middle of nowhere. The national park is very interesting with boulders, creosote bush (the oldest living thing in the desert) and spacious scenery. Coming back we stopped off at the HQ of Mojave National Preservation Area but avoided revisiting one of my least favorite Naval Reserve Active Duty For Training sites at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twenty Nine Palms or the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Barstow. Coming south on 395 we would have stopped off at the China Lake Naval Aviation Weapons Station museum but it was Sunday and everything is closed.
Tuesday turned out to be a memorable day. Our camp host has advised on visiting the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards AFB. As we arrived in the visitor building there was a news conference going on with the recently returned crew of Shuttle Mission STS-135. The last shuttle mission crew was making its thank you tour to the west coast and remained here only 3 hours before going on the the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and returning to Florida. We enjoyed hearing their tales and meeting them. As we entered the Visitor Center to esquire about a tour, they invited us to join a tour just starting so we got to see the inside hangers and museums of NASA's Research Center and hearing of its importance to our country's space program. A tour of Edward's Museum told the importance of this flight test center and all the speed records and flight characteristic experiments that they've accomplished. They still are testing most of the modern aircraft inventory since they're constantly changing the avionics, etc and thus the flight characteristics. The displayed aircraft and pictured heroes are real reminders of how far we've come (remember BG Chuck Yeager?). Later that evening, after my swim in the Olympic sized pool, I washed the rig and car, a real treat not often allowed at RV parks.
Wednesday morning we gassed up on base and proceeded east. We passed Twenty Mule Team Road and the processing plant for Boraxo, fully expecting to see the ghost of Ronald Reagan ride by. The Army's Ft Irwin National Training Center passed by as we surveyed the desert.
Arriving in Las Vegas we checked in to the aptly named Oasis RV Resort with pools, trees, amenities and friendliness. The check in desk reminds me of a well run hotel in size and attitude. I'd previously registered by email and the process was very professionally handled. We were also impressed with the bountifulness of local food stores and the many brochures giving us many food and entertainment choices. The fact that this was the hottest recorded day of the year, so far, was not lost on our poodle's feet. The last time we were in Vegas, several years ago, we had the same experience so I guess we never learn – 113 in 2007 or 109 today “but it's dry”. So is an oven.