Wednesday, May 03, 2006


D.O.M. - The April Ride to Searless Station

So, what’s this D.O.M. thing all about? It’s just a group of friends that go riding out in the desert. Let me quote directly from our mission statement, which can be found on our unofficial website: “To enjoy safe, family-orientated fun in the desert and respect its’ environment.” Now I’m not going to give the whole history of the club right now. On this particular posting, I’m just going to talk about our last ride.

The location was Searless Station. Searless Station is not an official train depot (that I’m aware of). It looks more like a rail car holding area for seldom- or formerly-used boxcars, which appear to all have been used for the same purpose. I hesitate to call it a boxcar graveyard, because there’s obviously activity there. On this ride – as has occasionally been the case on past rides to Searless Station – there was movement on the tracks by rail workers. I don’t know what they were doing, but a locomotive moved some boxcars around. As you can see from the picture below, we were camped too far from the tracks to see whether they were coming or going, and quite frankly we were there for the D.O.M. experience, not the trains. You can barely make the train cars out in this shot, and no I'm not referring to the white trailers in the foreground.

Anyway, in terms of where Searless Station is located, it’s a few miles southeast of Ridgecrest, California, in the Mojave Desert. This is a large area known as Spangler Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area. This particular spot is east of U.S. 395, and south of Searless Station Cutoff, which is a narrow paved road that connects U.S. 395 to Trona Rd. Ridgecrest is roughly 150 miles north of the greater Los Angeles area, not too far from where State Highway 14 and U.S. 395 meet. Pictured below is the view of the big hill at Searless Station from where we were camped. Why yes, I have gone up the face of that hill on my quad, but not on this particular trip.

The club loves this area. There are actually three different camping sites that we go to from time-to-time. The other two spots being just a few miles away. This is not camping as some people camp: in a campground with hookups for your electricity, water, sewage, and cable TV. This is called dry camping. So if you’re fortunate enough to have a trailer (like our family does) or a motor home, you use your batteries and propane for power, lighting, heating, and cooling. Most of us have generators, so we do have electricity for other luxuries such as microwave ovens, TV’s, and electric blenders. Well, we have to make margaritas ya know! Oh, did I mention there’s happy hour?

A couple of people on this ride camped in tents. Now I give these brave souls a lot of credit. This ride, as with the three before it, had poor weather. Not as bad as some of the recent rides, but bad enough. There was light rain, wind, and cold temperatures. We experience wind almost every ride, but this time it was steady for a couple of days. So my D.O.M. hat goes off to the two families that "tented" it this time: Our dear friends, the Keller’s, and their neighbors, the Arrita's.

Other attendees were: the Ingram’s, the Bell's, the Guevara's, the Guy's, the Hauptman's, the McGhee’s, the Woolridge’s, and another family whose names I didn’t catch. This was a smaller turn out compared to the usual, and is nothing compared to what will be expected on Memorial Day Weekend when the club has their annual field events.

As far as what we did: we rode our desert toys, of course. Most of us have quads, some folks have motorcycles, and a couple of us have go-carts. We rode all around the trails in the open areas, and we took a group ride to Randsburg. On the way there, we found a desert tortoise right in the middle of the trail. We all stopped and took a look without touching, and waited until the tortoise crossed the trail and went into the bush.

Where the hell is Randsburg? Randsburg is a mining town about 20 miles south of Ridgecrest. Our destination was the White House Saloon, where we ate lunch and had a few beers. (Well the kids didn't drink beer, nor did the folks who don’t drink).

On the way back from Randsburg, we saw a snake on the side of the trail. We all stopped and took a look without touching, but were a lot more cautious than with the tortoise. We also stopped at a deserted shelter probably used by miners. This shelter was blasted out of rock that was part of a mound or small hillside. Some exterior walls of brick and cement remain, but everything is in ruin and long vacated. There are all kinds of things like this that we come across in our rides. There was quite a bit of mining done years ago, and the evidence of what the miners left behind can be found everywhere.

I can go on and on about what we’ve come across when we’ve gone riding, but I’ll save that for a later posting. The bottom line is this: Those of us DOMers love to go out and ride, be with each other, and enjoy various activities on our weekend rides. I’ll take the time to describe more of the activities in a later posting, especially since our annual field events are coming up next month. So until next time, bye.

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