Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Route 66 camping at Amboy

For the first time during my two-year tenure as a Scoutmaster, a boy voluntarily suggested a place for our troop to camp: a volcano! Not about to discourage this practice, we packed up the 4-runner a few weeks ago and headed out to Amboy Crater, an extinct cinder cone just a few miles off the old Route 66 in the Mojave Desert.

We found a nice open lot for camping about a quarter of a mile away from the trailhead and went to work pitching our tents in the very black and quiet desert. After about 10 minutes a faint rumble began, slowly growing to a roar that filled the entire valley. Thankfully the volcano hadn't awakened; it was just a freight train passing through just a few hundred yards to the north. As we were reminded all night long, the old Route 66 is still alive and heavily-traveled by rail traffic.

In the morning we took a stroll up into the crater. The trail is well-signed and is about a mile and half one way. A breach on the west side of the crater ensures you don't have to do much climbing to reach the rim.

The views at the top were spectacular. I hadn't seen any pictures on the Internet looking back down inside the crater, so I included one here. Notice the panoramic views of the desert in the background and some small puddles of water at the bottom of the crater, left over from some recent February storms. I imagine this is a rare sight as summer temperatures in the area can reach well over 120 degrees.

Following lunch on the rim and a quick descent, we took a spin over to Amboy, California. Once a thriving stop on Route 66, Amboy became a ghost town with the completion of Interstate 40 in the 1970's. Recently a revival effort began and Roy's, the town cafe, was open for souvenir sales when we passed through. The original hotel sign at Roy's, preserved for movie sets, made us feel like we were stepping back in time 50 years. However, I kept getting a creepy feeling I was going to have to leap into a refrigerator at any moment to weather a nuclear attack...

Just east of Amboy on the old Route 66, there's a tree where people throw old pairs of shoes. Viewing the picture below, start at the bottom of the tree and scan to the top until you find the very highest shoes. Those are my $15 Spauldings that I purchased with my own money after I got home from my mission. Those have served me well these past 6 years and I was thrilled to send them to such a dignified resting place!

If you don't have your own shoes, there are plenty lying around you can chuck in the tree. Some of them represent a stark clash of the cultural and physical geographies of California.

1 comment:

Tori and Chad said...

I have a similiar picture of a shoe tree in Oregon!