Day Venture – Highway 58 to Mojave, CA

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Monday, April 11th, 2016

It was a stormy looking day and I decided that I wanted to venture out toward Highway 58 in search of some photo opportunities. I invited my mom to come along for the ride since I know that she loves getting out on small adventures like these. We started by taking Old Route 66 from Victorville to Lenwood and that’s when we hopped onto the 58 westbound toward Mojave, CA. The first half of the drive was amazing, the rain had started to really come down and began flooding several parts of Route 66 from Oro Grande to Bryman, but it was nothing that the Starship couldn’t handle.

“There is some construction going on to make a wide highway from Interstate 15 to Highway 58.”
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We drove along the 58 for a short while and thats when something caught my eye. An old brick structure lay in ruins on a very large open field. The entire field was fenced off for miles, but there was a very small access point that had obviously seen some rather heavy foot traffic judging by the footprints and litter along the trail. Mom and I ditched the truck and took a brief stroll over to the brick structure.

“This was definitely a very good day to photograph an awesome set of ruins like this!”
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“Here’s a closer look at the stone work.”
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“The scenery here was vast and beautiful, the sharp peaked mountains in the distance had my curiosity.”
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“We started our drive westbound along the 58 again and into some good rain!”

After about an hour on the road, we could see the tell tale sign of being in the city of Mojave. “Planes!” and lots of them all lined up in the middle of what appeared to be a gigantic desert parking lot for aircraft. I have been past the region of the Mojave many times with Julia and often times the sunsets here are gorgeous. Today didn’t seem like it would be one of those days so we carried on and stopped at the air strip to check the place out. This was the first time that I had ever been inside the walls of this place and certainly a first for my mom as well. It was like a small city inside and definitely had more traffic activity than expected for being a non civilian airport.

This was the home of the Mojave Air & Space Port, “What an awesome name for this place!” makes sense as a lot of major players in the space game live here such as XCOR Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company, Stratolaunch Systems, and Firestar Technologies. The name is great and what a way to future proof this place. I can only imagine a day when my Starship isn’t the only one making port here.

“Large planes bake out in the hot desert sun by the dozen.”
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“This 747 Jumbo appears to be going under some dismantling or retrofitting.”
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Mojave Air & Space Port

GPS Coordinates: 35.0567° N, 118.1578° W
The Mojave Air and Space Port (IATA: MHV, ICAO: KMHV), also known as the Civilian Aerospace Test Centre, is located in Mojave, California, at an elevation of 2,791 feet (851 m). It is the first facility to be licensed in the United States for horizontal launches of reusable spacecraft, being certified as a spaceport by the Federal Aviation Administration on 17th June 2004.

In 1935, Kern County established the Mojave Airport a half mile east of town to serve the gold and silver mining industry in the area. The airport consisted of two dirt runways, one of which was oiled, but it lacked any fueling or servicing facilities. In 1941, the Civil Aeronautics Board began improvements to the airport for national defense purposes that included two 4,500 x 150-ft. asphalt runways and adjacent taxiway. Kern County agreed the airport could be taken over by the military in the event of war.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the United States Marine Corps took over the airport and expanded it into Marine Corps Auxiliary Air Station (MCAAS) Mojave. The two existing runways were extended and a third one added. Barracks were constructed to house 2,734 male and 376 female military personnel. Civilian employment at the base would peak at 176. The Marines would eventually spend more than $7 million on the base, which totaled 2,312 acres. Many of the Corps’ World War II aces received their gunnery training at Mojave. During World War II, Mojave hosted 29 aircraft squadrons, four Carrier Aircraft Service Detachments, and three Air Warning Squadrons. At its peak, the air station had 145 training and other aircraft. Mojave also had a 75 x 156 foot swimming pool that was used to train aviators in emergency water egress and for recreation. The base’s 900-seat auditorium hosted several USO shows that featured Bob Hope, Frances Langford and Marilyn Maxwell.

With the end of World War II, MCAAS was disestablished on February 7, 1946; a United States Navy Air Station was established the same day. The Navy used the airport for drone operations for less than a year, closing it on January 1, 1947. The base remained closed for four years until the outbreak of the Korean War. Mojave was reactivated as an auxiliary landing field to MCAS El Toro. The airport was recommissioned as a MCAAS on December 31, 1953.[5] Squadrons used Mojave for ordnance training when El Toro had bad weather. Marine Corps reserve units were temporarily deployed to Mojave for two-week periods. MCAAS Mojave personnel peaked at 400 military and 200 civilians during this period.

In 1961, after the Marine Corps transferred operations to MCAS El Centro, Kern County obtained title to the airport. In February 1972, the East Kern Airport District (EKAD) was formed to administer the airport; EKAD maintains the airport to this day. To a great extent EKAD was the brainchild of Kern County rancher and aviator Dan Sabovich, who heavily lobbied the state for the airport district’s creation and ran EKAD until 2002. On November 20, 2012, the EKAD Board of Directors voted to change the name of the district to the Mojave Air and Space Port. Officials said that the spaceport name is well known around the world, but EKAD is not. The change took effect on January 1, 2013.(Source: Wikipedia)

“Even the control tower features the awesome name!”
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We started our way out of the Mojave Air & Space Port to check out the city of Mojave. Suffice it to say there wasn’t a whole lot to see, but we did take note of a whole lot of windmills in the distance. We drove Highway 14 south until I spotted a good road to pull off on. There are literally hundreds of the white spinning giants littered all over the desert and the hills on up to the Tehachapi mountains. I used to see these all the time from a distance, but never in these numbers.

“Driving to the land of white spinning giants.”
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“It was rather windy, but I still managed to get a short video clip of the action here!”

“There is something fascinating about seeing these in this environment.”
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“This is the access door to these towers, I wonder how good the cardio is taking the stairs to the top.”
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“Sun is setting and it’s time to bring this venture to a close.”
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“Cotton Candy in the skies over Palmdale.”
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We spent a good amount of time exploring and found some pretty great stuff and even learned a bit in the process. To get home, we took the 14 south and stopped of in Lancaster to grab some dinner. Mom and I were searching Yelp for a good place and we were in the mood for a good burrito. We found a spot called “Burrolandia” which had some pretty solid Yelp reviews and thought we’d give it a try even though it was in the ghetto. The place wasn’t bad at all and totally made for a good way to bring this day venture to a close.

Until the next travel blog, remember to get out there and “Shoot the Planet!”

“Cheers!”
~Indigo

 

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