If you spend a lot of time alone like I do, at times you seek contact, friends, a familiar coffee shop for a hamburger or just to talk to somebody.
There are other times, however, when you embrace solitude. Even seek it out. Not just being by yourself while among others in a library, but being so far from civilization you hear the silence. Thick, broad-reaching, quiet. The desert is the perfect place.
I checked in with the Mojave Preserve Visitors Center in Barstow to see about road conditions, weather, and to ask about the best places for photography. The two ladies were friendly and helpful.
“Turn in at the radio tower, and climb up the ridge,” she said. “You’ll have a 360 degree view of the valleys and the mountains.” I wanted to get back before dark, and she advised me of mileages and suggested alternative routes.
Sixty two miles from the Visitors Center, Kelbaker Road is the thru-way from Interstate 40 and Interstate 10, a north-south road that descends into the Kelso Dunes and the train depot, then ascends to the great plateau and the lava flows.
The ridge was cold and windy, overlooking the bubble-like rock formations of the Granite Mountains. Spindly creosote bushes seem as if they’d been recently electrocuted. The granite boulders of the mountain ridge look like pebbles scattered by a desert giant.
Up on the plateau the light begins to etch the desert in an afternoon glow. The washes, the brush, and far-away cinder cones light up to form the distant horizon.
Only a few vehicles travel Kelbaker Road on this Friday afternoon. The desert is mine. Wind whispers, the silence is eternal.