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TRAVEL TRIVIA  For over 25 years the Roy Rogers Museum stood next to the southbound side of Interstate 15 in Victorville.  What, if any, connections did "The King of Cowboys" have with the area?
                                                                       Answer at bottom of page

Pearsonville via Route 14

Mojave

Voyager Restaurant

Just east of Highway 14, on the outskirts of the desert town of Mojave, is the Mojave Air and Spaceport; home to some of the wildest aircraft imaginable.  The area has been attracting engineers and entrepreneurs for decades, making this one of the world's premiere flight test facilities.  Next to the old control tower is the Voyager Restaurant.

What sets this place apart from the restaurants in town is the atmosphere.  We enjoyed an unhurried breakfast watching  planes take off and land.  The runway is only  a couple hundred feet away!  Beyond Vintage aircraft Voyager Restaurantthat is the "graveyard", the final resting spot for dozens of commercial airliners.  The walls are decorated with aviation memorabilia and autographed pictures of experimental planes; including Burt Ruton's Spaceship One ( 1st private sub-orbital flight) and Voyager ( 1st non-stop non-refueled flight around the world).  A speaker at each table transmits communications from the control tower.

The food and service are typical diner fare.  The menu items continue the aviation theme.  Steak and eggs are called the F-22; a Denver omelet becomes the Guide Slope; and Joudi's Crash Landing is huevos rancheros.  You get the idea.

Don't be surprised if while you are dining a plane taxis up to the door, the pilot and passengers come in, have a bite to eat then take off.  Kids and aviation nuts will have a blast here!

Trip Tip!  The third Saturday of every month Mojave Spaceport hosts "Plane Crazy".  Historical and experimental aircraft are parked on the tarmac next to the restaurant.  Be sure to check them out.  Planes are landing and taking off.   Vendors are selling all the souvenirs you'll need.  Tours of the facility are available.  Best of all it's free!  For more info visit their website at www.mojaveairport.com.

1434 Flight Line  Mojave, CA 93501  (661) 824-2048


 

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Twenty five miles north of Mojave, Highway 14 makes a sweeping left turn then slices through Red Rock Canyon State Park.  On either side of the road spectacular desert cliffs tower hundreds of feet above their rocky bases.  The sand and rust colored formations, formed by millenniums of sedimentary layering, have been exposed by tectonic shifts.  Wind and rain erosion have transformed the fluted cliffs you see today.  They have been the backdrop for scores of television commercials and movies including the dig scene in Jurrasic Park.

Hiking, rock scrambling, camping, photography, and off-road excursions are popular activities at Red Red Rock CanyonRock Canyon.  The park can get busy when the weather is fair but if you go on a weekday you'll practically have the place to yourself.  Even if you only stop for an hour or two you will begin to appreciate what makes this area stand out.  Debbie and I have had an early morning picnic here, taken a short hike and been back on the road in less than an hour.

The visitor center and Desert View Nature Trail are good options for those keeping a tight schedule.  The 3/4 mile Desert View loop trail is a well marked path with little elevation gain.  At the trailhead you can pick up a printed guide to the markers along the way; it will give you an insight to Red Rock Canyon's flora and fauna as well as its geological history.

For those with a little more time and/or sense of adventure the Hagen Canyon Nature Trail is a one mile loop trail with opportunities to explore the vermillion cliffs and side canyons off the main path.  You'll see sandstone and basalt shapes with whimsical names like Camel Rock and Turk's Turban.  Ronald Reagan was shot off a steep precipice here in the movie Law and Order (1958).  The rocky height now bears his name.

Red Rock Canyon is a great place to spend the weekend.   Ricardo Campground has 50 sites with tables and campfire rings.  Pit toilets and water are nearby.  The campsites butt up to the base of a rock bluff that is begging to be explored.  Ricardo is a great base camp for nearby off road adventures.  Hundreds of miles of dirt roads and trails crisscross the park and adjoining BLM land.

The visitor center is usually open Friday through Sunday in the spring and autumn months.  During this time park rangers offer campfire programs and guided nature walks.  Periodically the China Lake Astronomical Society hosts star gazing parties in the visitor center parking lot.

25 miles north of Mojave; 33 miles south of Pearsonville 



Stargazing

The area surrounding Highway 395 is paradise for amateur astronomers.  Low light pollution and clear night skies create optimal conditions for stargazing.  In addition, most of the items needed for successful viewing you probably already have.

My list of items for an enjoyable night under the stars include:
1)  A comfortable lawn chair.
2)  Friends and family (not mandatory but adds to the enjoyment)
3)  A thermos of hot chocolate or pitcher of margaritas (again not mandatory)
4)  A planisphere or star finder (available from Amazon for about ten dollars)
5)  A low output flashlight ( a small cheap one from the 99 Cent store is fine). Paint the lens with red nail polish to aid in night vision  
6)  A pair of binoculars (approximately 3,000 stars are visible to the naked eye. Even a pair of low power binoculars increase that number to 100,000)
7)  A Smartphone or other mobile device

Many apps are free to the amateur astronomer.  I have Google Sky Map installed on my mobile phone.  I simply point my phone to an area in the sky I want to inspect and like magic a detailed image of planets, The Desert, Listening to the Sky  Flickr image by Bill D.constellations and stars appear on my screen.  Also in my phone apps are Sky Week by Sky and Telescope Magazine which gives you a weekly preview to notable celestial events, Sky Report hosted by the Griffith Park Observatory and Spot the Station, NASA's app to keep you informed of when the International Space Station can be seen in your area.

Take a little bit of time before you venture out to research the myths surrounding the various constellations you'll be looking at.  Thanks to our ancestors the night sky is ripe with tales of greed, love, revenge and power.  Orion is a good example.  Orion is an impressive figure in the winter heavens.  He is a great hunter seen attacking a bull (Taurus) followed closely by his faithful dogs (Canis Major and Minor).   Though an acclaimed hunter Orion was never accused of being humble.  He bragged he could track down and kill anything he set his mind to, big or small.  Mother Earth took offense at his boasting and sent a lowly scorpion to do him in.  The scorpion stung Orion, killing him instantly.  The gods placed Orion and the scorpion (Scorpio) at opposite ends of the sky so they would never have to look at each other.  Try making up a campfire story like that!

Fun Fact  Galileo Galilei is considered "The Father of Astronomy".  After years of observing the paths of the planets and different patterns in the night sky he concluded that the universe did not revolve around the earth.  The church rewarded Galileo's efforts by labeling him a heretic and placing him under house arrest until his death.



TRAVEL TRIVIA ANSWER  In 1965 Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans, moved here from Chatsworth, CA.  They purchased a ranch about ten miles north of Victorville near historic Route 66.  Named the Double R Bar Ranch, the Rogers' built a couple of houses, stable, bunkhouse and a barn which was later converted Roy Rogers and Triggerto a movie theatre and banquet hall.  The property featured a half mile race track and acres of pastureland. 

Roy died in 1998 and Dale Evans passed away a few years later.  They were laid to rest at Sunset Hill Memorial Park in Apple Valley.  The ranch was sold in 2003 and again in 2012.  Its current owner raises Arabians on the property, but has promised to maintain the Double R Bar theme.  The ranch is located at 14433 Roy Rogers Rd. Oro Grande, CA 93268.

By the way, the museum was moved to Branson, Missouri in 2003.  Lack of interest forced its closure in 2009 and in July of 2010 the museum contents were auctioned off.  Trigger, Roy's loyal horse (who, after his death, Roy had mounted standing in his famous pose), was sold for over a quarter of a million dollars!