Wednesday, May 23, 2012

North Las Vegas, Nevada-Edwards Air Force Base, California-Lemoore Naval Air Station, Lemoore, California (May 22-23, 2012)

Our next destination was the Lemoore Naval Air Station in Lemoore, California located in the very fertile San Joaquin Valley. The 420 mile journey was a bit more than we wanted to travel in one day so we decided to stay one night at the Edwards Air Force Base RV Park and then finish our trek the next day.

The 225 mile journey to Edwards Air Force Base in California took us a bit over 4 hours and brought us through the lower part of the Mojave Desert which was some of the most desolate country we have traveled through yet. It reminded me of the massive deserts in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Sun, sand, but no surf.

Edwards AFB occupies a very large area and is the home of several important missions including the Air Force Test Center where they train test pilots and test new aircraft.  This is where Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 and is, also, where NASA's alternate landing destination was for the space shuttle. Would liked to have spent more time here, but a schedule is now preventing us from doing so.

The next morning we began our final 195 mile leg to Lemoore NAS. The day was clear, but the wind was quickly picking up and we hurried to get on the road as soon as possible. By the time we departed the base and got back on Highway 58 the wind was gusting so hard as to move our trailer sideways on the road. I slowed to a crawl (<40 MPH), but that was not helping much. We had barely gone 15 miles when we had to pull over.  The wind was gusting so hard even the big 18 wheel trucks were pulling over.

We sat beside the road for a while listening to a local Mojave City radio station when we heard that the Santa Anna winds had suddenly come up overnight and were now gusting up to 80 MPH. Most traffic on the highway was not stopped so went hunkered down for a bit hoping the wind would abate. If it did, even for a short while, we would be able to make it the 17-20 miles to the Tehachapi Pass on Highway 58. We heard ony the radio station the winds were not bad there due to the mountains blocking them. We waited another few minutes and, all of a sudden, there was no wind at all.  Taking the opportunity, we started out for the pass which we could see from our parked position. It took us about 20 minutes to get there and as we did the winds started to pick up again. Once we were in the pass behind the mountains all became quite.  It was still breezy with 15-20 MPH winds, but we and the other large trucks could handle that. While driving up the pass we both had flashbacks of our horrible experience in Deming, New Mexico.

The remainder of the ride to Lemoore was without incident. We set up and inspected the truck and trailer only to find that the wind had driven the sand and dust into every crack and crevice there was.  Looks like tomorrow will be a cleaning and maintenance day.  This, hopefully, is the last of the desert environment we will see for a long time.

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