Sunday, October 28, 2007

 

Dumont Dunes - Oct. '07 - part two

I left off at our lunch break. In addition to yummy sandwiches, chips and drinks, we decided to watch a movie and relax a bit. I was particularly tired due to little sleep the night before, and all the extra effort I had to put forth to tow Nina back from the North Pole.

Since we had to turn the generator on to watch the movie, Laura decided to plug in the crock pot and start to slow cook our dinner. This was a first. (Not Laura cooking dinner; that was a second – Ha!) This was the first time we brought out a crock pot to the desert. I’m normally not in favor of running the generator for hours on end, but I made an exception this time. While Laura and Nina watched the movie, I opted to take a nap. Brady had since returned from Competition Hill with the rest of the group, and immediately went to his friend’s motor home to play video games.

When I awoke, the movie was not quite over. I took a peek outside and noticed people were getting ready for a ride. This time the group was going to Sperry Wash. Laura was willing to go, but Nina wasn’t. Her thumb was still hurting from the earlier ride. Brady came in the trailer to get a towel, and proceeded to put his riding equipment on. By the way, Sperry Wash does have water running through it. It’s a small stream that comes from high up in the desert mountains, and the water is very refreshing to play in on warm days. This was still a warm day considering it was late October.

Laura told me to go with the group, but I stayed back with her and Nina. I’ve learned over time when to go play and when to stay. This was not a big boy’s ride of hard dirt trails and a rest stop for some beer drinking. That would have been okay to for me to go. This ride had wives and kids, and if I went without her, there would be attitude to deal with. So we watched another movie.

The group returned an hour and a half later and all was well. Brady said they found an area in the wash to play in where the water pooled. Next to our trailer was where the club King & Queen (Dan & Leslie) were parked. We noticed they were setting up tables for the Happy Hour festivities. People bring finger foods (hot wings, etc.) and the club provides drinks. It’s a fun and delicious way to socialize. We didn’t prepare anything to take, and it was later than usual for a Happy Hour event (nearly 5:00 p.m.). With our slow-cooked dinner nearly done, which we were looking forward to; we didn’t want to spoil our appetite with Happy Hour.

What happened next was unbelievable. Out of nowhere, a blast of wind came and nearly knocked everyone off their feet. We were in our trailer and it began to shake in the wind. The people outside enjoying Happy Hour were forced to flee inside the King’s trailer to make the best of things. The wind driven sand affected our visibility. We had trouble seeing the trailers across camp on the other side of the fire pit. The dunes and mountains in the distance could no longer be seen. It dropped about 20 degrees in temperature in about 30 minutes. We’ve experienced wind many times in the desert, but not like this.

We proceeded to eat dinner, and hoped that the wind would die down. All of the kids (not just ours) were looking forward to going Trick-Or-Treating. Yes, this was the club’s annual Halloween Ride (usually held a week or two before Halloween). This is a long-standing tradition where the kids get dress up in their costumes and go from trailer to trailer getting candy. Things didn’t look good this year.

The wind never let up. Darkness fell quickly, and things got worse. The wind somehow caused the awning on a trailer of one of our member’s to open up like a sail. There was no way there could be a campfire that night. I don’t think anyone could start a fire to begin with, but if there was one any trailer downwind would be in trouble. Visibility was so bad we couldn’t see any other camps of people around us. I had to put on my helmet and goggles just to go outside and secure our quads. I had to bring everything else inside (folding chairs, equipment boxes, etc.).

All night long that wind blew and our trailer shook. Laura, Nina and I continued watching movies. Brady was in the motor home next to us with his friends Joey and Amanda playing video games. Nina and Laura worried that our trailer might tip over. I told them it wouldn’t, but knew deep down it was possible. The thing that made us safe was that I never detached the trailer from our truck. The truck held us like an anchor. We went to bed, but did not get a good night’s sleep. The wind and blowing sand disturbed us. It was loud, and continued to shake the trailer until about 4:00 a.m.

Sunday morning came about and we awoke to calm clear weather. Here's a picture of the dunes from a distance:


Due to the wind, small sand dunes (only inches high) had formed around our trailers and vehicles. This was caused by the sand blowing against them all night and then dropping to the ground. Some people went riding, but I opted not to. We took our time packing up and eventually left by 12:00 noon. This locale takes about 4 ½ hours to return home from, so I wanted to get going before I got caught up in the traffic returning from Las Vegas and State Line.

We stopped in Victorville for an early dinner at Red Lobster where Laura’s sister, Sara works. She joined us during her break, and we had a nice visit. We continued our drive home. My mom had called worried about us because there was so much wind being reported on the news. Also worrying her were wildfires that had been breaking out everywhere.

The wind we experienced at the bottom of the Cajon pass was strong, but nothing like what we experienced at Dumont. As we got closer to home, we noticed the smoke from the fire that had broken out in Southeast Orange County – the one in Santiago Canyon. In the days that followed, the winds in Southern California fueled the fires from Ventura to San Diego. The smoke in the L.A. basin lingered in the air for days.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who lost their homes as a result of the fires. Our club ride that started off as great family fun and turned into a bit of a bummer pales in comparison to all those people who lost everything.

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