Sunday, March 1, 2020

Living and learning in Wonder Valley

Volume 2

Ah! The weather, who can predict it?  Mostly no one can but it's still useful to have some idea for sure as to when to batten down the hatches. Let's take today for instance. The day before yesterday thirty-one mph winds were forcast for our little neck of the creosote bushes but now? Down to twenty five instead. I've determined also that they will usually start about three hours after your app of choice says they will. Rain is an even bigger hit or miss scenario. It can be raining literaly a quarter mile from you and nary a drop will fall on your humble abode. I've found that any percentage below 70% should be taken with grain of salt. Unfortunately, when it does rain it comes down hard and fast and usually is going to flood out your dirt road. That's why it's always an excellent idea to have plenty of canned goods and water in good supply. It's good to be able to sit out a trip to town for a couple days while the flood subsides and the roads get fixed up. Just a reminder try not to go through big patches of still water unless you at least have an all-wheel drive vehicle or better a four-wheel drive truck.

Speaking of vehicles and getting stuck. There are a few roads that I will recommend staying away from without a four-wheel drive vehicle. Pole Line Road that runs East to West along the border of the Cleghorn Wilderness is one you should be very careful to avoid if possible. There are numerous very very soft sandy areas that will surely get you stuck. Ironage Road is another at the eastern end of Wonder Valley. When we first moved here we decided to go exploring on Ironage Road on a nice Sunday afternoon. We only had our two-wheel drive Ford F150 and quickly found ourselves stuck in the sand and couldn't get out. A call to a towing service in Yucca Valley which was the only one open on Sunday was quite disappointing in that the cost to pull us out of our predicament would be $900. Luckily we were able to call a friend who pulled us out of our pending disaster. One should always bring water and keep it in your truck whenever doing such exploring because flat tires can also be a problem out here in the desert. Having charged batteries to charge your phone is also useful in case you are stuck for any length of time. These batteries are quite inexpensive now and are indispensable out here in our desert wonderland. Many can be charged with solar and and are quite efficient at staying charged when not in use.

While you're out exploring it's best to understand that you shouldn't probably assume that a cabin is uninhabited and just walk right up to the property and go in. Being respectful of other people's property is one of the things that's very important in Wonder Valley. People don't take kindly to individuals just invading their space. In addition exploring abandoned cabins has its dangers and pitfalls. Be careful to not step on loose boards and clutter because one never knows what interesting creatures might be living underneath. Rattlesnakes and scorpions are known to love to hide under such clutter. Always wear good boots and socks and long pants when possible to protect yourself from unknown assailants. I highly recommend to err on the side of caution whether a home or cabin is okay to explore. Beware of old coots like myself who might take offense at interlopers with the look of hipster on their faces. The last thing you want is an old fart with a shotgun chasing you down a questionable exit road.

One last tip for this column, don't be in a hurry down any dirt road. Drive no more than  25 mph. Your neighbors will appreciate you for it and so will the allergies of the affected. Flying dust is something no one likes and many will just be angry at you for trying to run the Daytona 500 down a country road. In addition driving too fast on these roads creates a washboard effect that will surely make your electric windows fail long before they need to. It is surprising how many parts of your car can come loose from the constant vibrations caused by the rattle and roll.

That's all for this week desert dwellers.

Ronnie Ruff
Wonder Valley, California

Follow me on Instagram @RONNIECOSMICRUFF

All photos ©ronnieruff