Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Desert

Spring always makes me think of two things. How good the fishing is going to be and remembering the good times I had in the desert. Growing up in San Diego my family would often start gearing up for trips out to Ocotillo, CA. I know people's first thought is what is there to do in the desert? Honestly there's quite a lot. The desert isn't as desolate a place as one might think. I know this is a fishing blog but I was looking at some old desert pictures and I thought others might find them interesting. If not it just gives me a chance to reminisce. At a young age I was introduced to the desert and dune buggies.
My father built his first dune buggy and I remember a lot of times in the garage watching him tinker. I can also remember sand blasting fast rides in that buggy. I couldn't wait to drive one of my own.
I would always get excited watching my dad load up the buggy and three wheelers.
This is how it was done back in the day. Could you imaging doing that now?
This is how it looked loaded up.
My grandfather is the one who really got my dad into it. My mother had grown up going so it was just a natural thing for her. Some of my best times were going on buggy rides as a kid.
The great thing about Ocotillo is you had hard packed sand with gorges and not too far away was soft sand with dunes. At least one time every trip everyone would make it over to Superstition Mountain. This place had a hill called the Sand Dam.
This hill was super steep and people would spend the day racing each other to the top.
The great thing about the desert is my whole family would go. Every season it would be like a reunion. It wasn't too long before I had something to ride of my own. When I was 5 my cousin and I got Honda ATC70's. 
I don't know how much time we logged on those but we rode them many times from dusk till dawn. The 70's were amazingly durable and dependable. The one I had still runs to this day and is used by a friend of the family.
The desert most of the time does have drab colors. In the spring after a couple good rains you see a different side. The hidden colors of the desert come out.
As I got older I started to really appreciate the desert in a different way. When my wife and I first started dating I took her out on some rides. I knew if she didn't like it we wouldn't last long.
She loved it of course and we spent most of our winters and springs playing in the sand.
In my 20's I was able to buy a decent 4wheeler.
I thought about racing for awhile but it turns out I'm a wuss.  I was much better at doing dorky poses.
My grandfather sold his property and my uncle ended up buying a patch close by. The amount of trailers and vehicle containers seemed to grow more and more every year.
As I got older I started to lead rides and these were some of my fondest memories. Some of the destinations were planned but others were random.
We always called this place the bombslinger. I never knew until I moved to NC and researched the structure that it was actually for testing G-force on pilots. There was a huge turbine inside the building that would literally spin the pilots on a cable. The original cable is still there and we used to swing on it. Probably not the smartest thing to do.
I was always fond of going up into the gorge. The road would change with every flash flood. There really wasn't a road. It was a sandy wash that ended up connecting to an old mining road. The cliffs are rugged and I used to worry that sometimes the vibration from our engines would start a rock slide.

The main thing I think of when I think of the desert besides family is the views. They are spectacular.
As you can see there's a lot to miss. I could post pictures and talk about this all day. I hope you enjoy the pictures. I sure enjoy the memories.


  1. I love the desert. Although my experience is only in Arizona, you stirred something me in. Great photos!

  2. Howard, I knew I couldn't be the only desert rat out there. I've been to AZ many times but only for vacation. I visited a friend in Tuscon. My wife and I checked out the Grand Canyon and some of the Native American ruins near by.

  3. Looks like an amazing time! I remember ripping through cornfields on three and four wheelers. The desert would have been amazing to have as a playground when I was a kid. Great pics and an awesome story. Thanks for sharing.

  4. What a cool post. Really enjoyed the read and pics. Great stuff.