Day 8 - February 5, 1998 - Milepost 1337 (75 today) - Senator Wash, CA
(BF). "Tank Xing" proclaims the yellow diamond-shaped road sign. I'm familiar with "Cattle Crossing", "Deer Crossing" and "Watch for Animals." I even remember a "Kangaroo Crossing" in Western Australia, but this is the first time I've been warned to watch for armored tanks crossing my path. We reach this spot by traversing the desert from Quartzsite, passing the now monotonous scenery, then briefly dropping into a narrow oasis supporting a cactus paradise. A half-mile later the oasis dries into a dismal stretch of barren desert made even more bleak by numerous land shaved areas divorced of vegetation. For miles, prominent signs placed every hundred yards warn intruders:
U S Army
More signs shout "Danger - Hazardous Area", "Authorized Personnel Only" and "Ordinance Delivery 1 mile." Giant Saguaro cactus stand like armed sentinels, some holding up an arm miming "Halt, who goes there?" We leave the US Army Testing Ground, exit US 90 and then see the tank warning sign as we enter the Yuma Proving Ground, a military euphonism for "the place where the army tests their ammunition." A collection of obsolete equipment is displayed beside the road: M107 175 mm self-propelled howitzers from Vietnam, M32 armored Recovery Vehicles from the Korean War, M60 tanks from the Gulf War and even a few howitzers from World War I and II. With a military blimp overhead, army helicopters circling the area and supersonic jets knifing the skies, this place gives me the creeps. Our campsite is a few miles ahead, just across the border into California at Senator Wash and Imperial Dam. The view from our perch atop a mesa encompasses a mirrored lake reflecting the rugged hillsides and sparse vegetation. The ground is coarse stone, not yet crushed by eons of weather into tillable soil. And as we walk through the 3-mile long BLM camping area we cross flat lava beds where campers have staked out their claims by marking the perimeter with porous red-brown lava rocks that resemble dessicated brains. The harsh landscape has a special beauty of its own.
(SF). We sit with the sunrise as we wait our turn to dump. La Posa South has water and dump facilities used by hundreds. The dump is separate from the water so we bemoan the fact we must wait in two lines. But the wait is short since there are six to eight water spigots (four on one side of the road and two or four on the other). From start to finish it takes maybe 45 minutes. It is one of those times to just enjoy the scenery and the fellowship of other sanitary engineers also waiting their turn. We discuss the merits of Ford versus Chevy engines and in line water filters. After dumping we are on our way south on US 95 toward Yuma with a steady ribbon of headlights streaming past us on their way to flea market fun. We see a sign directing us to Imperial Dam and I tell Bert to take it. I am not sure where we are going but I know there are more BLM campgrounds in the vicinity (our permit is good for another three days) and this road looks promising. I luck out since we find the prettiest place to stop. We are parked on Hurricane Ridge overlooking Senator Wash Reservoir. The lake is out our side window and the mountains are out our front. There seems to be oodles of long term residents here and as we pull up we are welcomed by our neighbors. We learn one woman and her three brothers are across the gravel road from us and another couple from Ohio is next to us. They all were in these same places last year. It is such a pretty spot I can see why they would return. We take a walk and pass camping areas with names like Florida Flats, South Mesa, Kripple Kreek, Skunk Hollow and the Gravel Pit. As we walk further from the paved road, we seem to get in the "high rent" district for the "lots" get bigger. People outline their space with rocks and some even landscape it with flagpoles, ceramic lawn ornaments and in one place I actually saw a swing. We meet a lady that tells us the workings of her solar panels. Her husband Joe set it all up and even put a motor on a swivel so all she has to do is push a button to position the panels for the most sunlight. Her Joe is very handy and I tell her she had better hang onto him. We invite our neighbors (Greg and Betty) to share our fire for the evening. Greg is full of good suggestions on RVing and he gives us a number of good pointers. We were unaware that we needed to put our refrigerator on gas only so when our generator kicked on it did not surge the electrical panel and eventually burn it out. He also suggested we purchase a butane heater to lessen the strain on our batteries. We have a nice evening sitting out watching the light of the fire and the moon and stars.
Next Day Itinerary