Sunday, November 25, 2012

West From Parker Dam

I like to drive 4wd trails on Black Friday so I can avoid the shopping malls, roads, crowds, and traffic.  This year I went to drive some powerline roads in the eastern Mojave Desert.  Starting from Parker Dam on the Colorado River, I headed northwest.  I considered driving south to visit the site of the Poston internment camps, but I was eager to get off the pavement.

It was a great day.  Temps were in the mid 70s and there was a very slight breeze.  I'd never been through Lake Havasu City, so that was interesting.  It seems to cater to the water recreation crowd.  Makes sense.  If I had a boat or a PWC, then I'd probably want to put in there and check it out.  I didn't stop to see the London Bridge.  

I couldn't drive over the dam, so I drove down to Parker, AZ then crossed into CA and returned back up to the dam before turning west.  I was disappointed when the Subway sandwich shop in Parker was out of bread.  Yup, you read that right.  My stomach was looking forward to a turkey sandwich.

The road was suprisingly crowded.  Usually, I encounter nobody on these drives.  On this road, I came across others in 4wd SUVs, quads, bikes, and desert racing-style dune buggies.  I later figured out that these people were driving up on trails from the shoreline.  It's probably nice to spend a weekend at one site and enjoy both water sports and 4wd trails.

This road was very easy.  It could be driven in any 2WD car with at least 7 inches of clearance.  One danger still remains.  I had my first flat tire while off-roading.  I wouldn't have noticed it for a long time if not for the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System).  The soft dirt, uneven terrain, and automagic ride-levelling suspension can prevent me from noticing anything.

Due to a high berm along the road, I couldn't pull off and so I changed the tire right there.  Luckily, while I could see and hear many other off-roaders nearby, only 1 quad had to go around me.  It took me 1.25 hours to change that tire.  The lug nuts just didn't want to come loose.

Some wild donkeys passed nearby.

Since I'd used my spare tire, I decided to cut my adventure short and returned home after hitting pavement.  I had planned to drive another 50 miles or so of service roads in the area.  That'll wait for another day.  Here are a few of the signs posted for this road.

The flat tire had a puncture in the middle of the tread.  The next day I got that patched, but my shop advised me to not use that one for off-roading due to the size of the patch they had to use.  I'm now planning to have 2 full-sized spares so I can have more options (and peace of mind) when adventuring in remote places.

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