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August 2005 Limited Articulation Mojave Road Details

Posted in Features on August 1, 2005
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We have to admit, we have pretty great jobs, doing what we do for a living, but it does come with a downside. Specifically, we have to travel for business-a lot: to media events, car and truck shows, parts installations, the works. We visit lots of great places and meet tons of cool folks, but with all the time we spend driving long distances, standing in line at airports, and camping out in shops for days on end waiting for parts to arrive, we sometimes don't have enough time to pack up our own rigs and head for the trailhead-on our own, with no obligations, for the sheer heck of it.

One of the new initiatives we're trying at Four Wheeler is to free up some time, whenever we can, for exactly this sort of thing-a just-for-the-heck-of-it staff trail ride. We were kicking around potential itineraries one day when our crack Tech Editor, Sean P. Holman, suggested we try the Mojave Road in the California high desert. As it turns out, he runs it every spring and knows the trail intimately, so he was instantly tagged to be our trail boss.

To call this road a "trail," though, is kind of like calling the Smithsonian a "museum." Spanning nearly 140 miles of mountain passes and desert washes from the Colorado River near Laughlin, Nevada, to Barstow, California, the Mojave Road is an old Native American trading route that was later used by the overland stage. Spanish missionaries traversed it in the 1700s. The pioneer Jedediah Smith explored it in the 1820s. General George Patton used it for troop maneuvers when training the 3rd Armored Division for combat in North Africa. The trail is chock-full of history, it takes three days to drive, and most of it is very remote. It's not the kind of place you want to find yourself broken down without spare parts, or venture into without plenty of extra fuel, food, and water. But venture we did, and you can read about our sojourn starting this month on page 42.

'Wheeling with the boys is quite an experience. Sean is Mr. Self-Sufficiency, armed with every possible conveyance and contraption you'd need for a week in the outback-stoves, coolers, food and drinks, plates, utensils, you name it. The gear he brought along for our trip filled the entire rear-seat area of a Hummer H1. Go 'wheeling with Sean, and you won't need to worry if you've forgotten to bring something-whatever it is, tow straps to toothpaste, he'll have spares. He's also a pretty fair breakfast chef-his kielbasa scramble beats most of the trail grub we've ever had ... good enough to ask for seconds.

Our resident race-aholic, Robin Stover, likes nothing better than a long, sandy dry wash to keep his Baja driving chops up to snuff ... and fortunately, there are a few stretches of the Mojave Road that lend themselves to some fairly aggressive prerunning. (Sections of the trail have been used for SCORE desert racing.) He's definitely got a bit of the daredevil in him-while Sean and I filled out the guestbook you find in the mailbox at mid-trail, Robin clambered up onto the rusty old box to affix some Four Wheeler stickers to the top of the steel flagpole that's always flying Old Glory over the Mojave Road.

Sadly, Senior Editor Ken Brubaker, snowed in at our chilly Midwest Bureau, was unable to make the trip. But Ken and Sean are already hatching plans for a summer trek, from Top Truck Challenge in Hollister, California, to the Midwest Bureau near Chicago. Along the way, they'll detour off pavement every day in search of fun four-wheeling and great trails. By the time you read this, they'll have recently returned ... and hopefully, they'll have run into more than a few of you at your local haunts. If we missed you this time, wait 'til next year-we'll be back. Just for the heck of it.
-Douglas McColloch

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