Bakersfield to Barstow and back

Friday about noon:

Billie: “What are you going to do today?”

Me: “I don’t know. I thought maybe I might drive out to California City.”

Billie: “I want to visit the Borax mine.”

Me: “It’s already noon. If we want to do that, we probably want to spend the night in Mojave.”

I then went and took a nap.

We left the house at 2:30, thinking if we made the Borax mine by 4 p.m., we would have time for the tour. If not, we would go to California City first.

On the road, we witnessed an accident. This delayed us an hour.

The only reason I wanted to go to California City was to visit the Mojave Desert Cactus Shop. Months ago, I did a Google search for nearby nurseries, and this one popped up, so I printed the map. I can’t recreate the search now, but that map was wrong. There is no nursery in CC whatsoever.

So we drove around the desert. We thought we might try going to the desert tortoise reserve, but that requires dirt road driving. When we arrived back at California City, I took a different route out of town, which dumped us on a section of 58 that left me wondering — right or left? Which way is Mojave?

I went left and soon saw a sign that said, “Barstow, 58 miles.”

“Let’s go to Barstow,” I said.

This took us past Boron and the Borax Road exit.

We arrived in Barstow around 5 p.m. and checked into a Holiday Inn Express. After dinner, we drove down Main Street, which was once part of Route 66, and I took pictures, such as this one.

The next morning, we back tracked on 58 and I stopped to take pictures of a junk yard and a rock house I’ve driven past a few times, but never took the time to photograph.

At Kramer Junction, we found the cactus shop I was looking for. I bought five small succulents, which is rather pointless since I’ll plant them but never see them mature. But they were cheap enough.

Next stop was the Borax mine. We saw a replica of the 20-mule team, real borate crystals, a big tire, a big rock, and a big hole.

The Borax visit was interesting because until yesterday I just thought of Borax as a cleaning agent. But boron is really the duct tape of minerals. It is used in all kinds of glass products to make them stronger; it is essential to the manufacture of fiberglass; it is used in fertilizer; it has been used in metallurgy for centuries. You can even use it to make a home made ant poison.

You can worry about oil, but what I want to know is if we ever run out of boron, what will happen to the world economy?

After learning about Borax, I fulfilled my dream of taking pictures of a joshua tree.

In Boron, we toured the aerospace museum and ate lunch.

Heading home, we saw a plume of smoke from a big fire.

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