We woke up on the 18th floor of the Aquarius Hotel and Casino next to the Colorado River. We took our time enjoying a nice bed because we knew we potentially be camping Wednesday night. It would either be in Nipton, CA 60 miles away and north of the Mojave National Preserve or in Essex south of the Mojave. Both options were going to mean some serious climbing because we were at 500 ft elevation and there were several mountain passes to get out of Laughlin, NV in any direction.
After Dave called police officers in the CA area and park rangers we had a better understanding of the roads and camping options. We decided to head north towards Nipton thinking this would be the easiest and safest route for finding a place to sleep.
It turned out to be one of the toughest days right up there with the 35 mile per hour winds we faced in New Mexico weeks ago. We climbed about 2,000 ft in the first three hours of our day just to get to a lonely Chevron on Hwy 95. Nevada takes real good care of their roads and the scenery was beautiful so at least we had that going for us. These little things make riding all worth it even if you feel like the pain and the hills will never end.
The only town between Laughlin and Nipton was Searchlight which sat on top a nice sized hill. We continued climbing 1,000 ft up Hwy 95 after our gas station ice cream break. 20 miles later we finally got some real food in Searchlight at a tiny casino restaurant We charged up our batteries and bodies before putting on our lights and tackling the final 20 miles to Nipton.
The sun was setting as we turned on to the Joshua Tree Highway for our last 20 mile stretch and another 1,000 foot climb. It was dark and the road was a empty except for the 5 cars we saw the entire two-hour night ride. We are starting to enjoy riding without the sun beating down on us but we only do it when it is safe! We must have climbed 12 miles uphill in the darks past these massive Joshua Trees and then it was all downhill another 1,000 ft for the last 8 miles to Nipton. This was probably one of the most exciting parts of the trip!
Around 9pm we arrived in Nipton, a little railroad town with a neat Trading Post Hotel/Cafe/Camping grounds!Before bed we warmed up by the fire next to a garden and a man named Fernando who was closing up the kitchen made us some burgers. Our first night in California is already off to a good start.
Off to the next camp site between here and Barstow!