If you want a lesson in making a long drive longer, ask me. And, if you want advise on worthwhile stops, I can answer that too. Kelso Dunes was one of those great stops.
For years, I drove from California to Phoenix without stopping. Just trying to get there, I was fascinated by all the dirt roads stretching off into the desert mountains with no terminus in sight. With the usual response…”someday”…I whizzed by. Then, we started stopping in the Mojave National Preserve to explore, making the 1 day drive into 2 with a slower pace, a night of camping, and a morning of exploring the desert. This time, all my plans were amiss with a car in the shop. Confused with no plan, a schedule that had been changed repeatedly over the course of a couple of hours with the news of whether the car would be fixed or not, I got up early and decided to make the drive from Central California to Phoenix. My relaxing vacation was becoming a race. I had wanted to stop and camp in the Mojave but was feeling too rushed so I decided to hike Kelso Dunes instead and continue the journey.
It was a short hike on the map. How bad could it be? I laced up my boots thinking it was a desert hike but they didn’t last long. Yes, it was a “short” hike; straight up the side of the dune in the soft sand. All I could think was that “it was winter last week” as I hiked barefoot with the sweat pouring out. Soaked as I reached the top, I realized what a great way to press “reset” with a little exercise in such great natural surroundings. I was far more relaxed on the rest of the drive and it set the tone for the rest of my abbreviated vacation.