Saturday, December 26, 2015

4WD Lust

I must be twisted because I like this rig.

I realize it appeared at SEMA a year ago, but I only recently stumbled across it.  I don't like the bright color, but I like the ground clearance.  I assume the spare tire goes on the roof rack.  That's got to be a pain to lift and lower. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Zion Snow

Here are a few photos I took while hiking in Zion NP last week.  The snow from a recent storm was lingering on the north facing shaded slopes, while the south facing slopes were mostly dry.

Most of the pools on the Many Pools hike had a layer of ice on top.

I really like my new camera, the Sony DSC-HX90V.  It has 30x optical zoom and it zooms much faster than my old Lumix cameras.  Also, the LCD display doesn't seem to be polarized, so I don't have to remove my polarized sunglasses to see the image.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 LR4 Without Running Boards

Several visitors to my blog have enjoyed reading about how I removed the running boards from my 2015 Land Rover LR4.  One such reader has asked about the vehicle's appearance with the running boards removed - prior to installing any rock sliders.  Luckily, I have a few photos to help illustrate that case.

I had mentioned in my earlier post that when the rocker panel trim is reinstalled (snapped back into place), the body panel is slightly visible where the trim has factory cutouts for the running board mounts.  This leaves a small sliver of body panel visible, mostly when you are viewing from a low position (crouched), or from a greater distance.  That sliver is more visible if the body panel paint contrasts with the black trim.  This is the case with my red car.  I don't think this would be noticeable to anybody except the most observant LR4 fan.

The photo above shows those trim cutouts, as seen from below after removing the running boards.  Those odd heat sinks are more visible than the exposed body panel sections. 

Here's a closeup of that last image, with a better view of that sliver of red body panel.  

Those sections of body panel appeared to have the same exterior finish and treatment as the other body panels, so I am guessing that they are equally fine with exposure to road grime, etc.  When viewed up close the body panels aren't visible, as this quarter view shows.

I don't have any photos with the doors open.

The heat sinks are not visible with running boards or rock sliders installed.  UPDATE: Apparently the aluminum parts that I've been calling heat sinks are not heat sinks, and are meant to function as crumple devices in conjunction with the OEM running boards.  This is the group wisdom from LR forum users, who also indicate that these can be removed after removing the running boards (aka side steps).  They do appear designed to carry loads from the running boards to the frame.  Since I failed to remove them, maybe they'll work similarly for my sliders.

Monday, December 21, 2015

La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX Hiking Shoes

I just returned from Zion NP where I was able to try out the new hiking shoes I just bought: La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX.  I needed to replace my old pair of Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid height boots that are falling apart.  I wear those for light hiking and off-roading.  Having read some great reviews of the La Sportiva Synthesis, I decided to try them.  At $180, they're not cheap.  I bought them from REI, so I'd have an easy-peasy return if needed.

So far, these are great.

I wore them on some short hikes in snow, slush, and on sandstone slickrock.  Even trudging through short (1 foot deep) snow drifts, my feet never got wet.  The thin plasticy uppers have little thermal insulation and my feet got a little cold on a few hikes - but to be fair, it was 30F then.  When it warmed up to over 40F, then I was fine.  I like the fast laces.  These shoes are very comfortable.  Enough so that I can wear them all day - I've been wearing them for several days now.  The uppers don't provide much support and my ankles were flexing a little more than I'd like while crossing some very irregular terrain.

The soles are very grippy, with plenty of traction.  That's something I always need since I like to hike on steep slopes.  The Vibram soles have something called an "Impact Brake System" which the La Sportiva web site describes as: "A proprietary technology in outsole design where the lugs of the soles are oriented in opposing slanted directions.  This opposition increases braking power by an average of 20% and decreases impact forces by and average of 20%."  The card that came with the boots says it increases traction by 20%.  

Whatever it is, it seems to help.  I tested them on some very steep slickrock; the southern slope of South Ariel Peak.  I was amazed at the grip.  I simply walked right up the slope.  I've owned very few shoes that can do that without slipping.  Here's a photo looking back down toward the road and my car.

I think these will be perfect for my light hikes in the desert.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Cadiz Dunes

It was sunny yesterday at Cadiz Dunes.  A bit cold, but sunny.

The dunes are only about 10 miles south of Route 66 off Cadiz Road.  Unfortunately, that 10 mile section of Cadiz Road contains more washouts than any other section.  A few of them are pretty bad and other drivers have created alternates around the worst parts.  You need high ground clearance to safely drive down that road.

The 2 mile spur out to the dunes was a bit sandy, but not too deep (less than 5 inches outside the ruts).  If you go here, then just drive fast.  Remember: momentum is your friend.  Right up to when it abruptly introduces you to a big creosote.

Here are a few photos I took.  I'll skip the many I took of fresh animal tracks in the dunes.  I got distracted by those for a while.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Book Reports

When I write blog posts about books I've read, it reminds me of writing book reports when I was in grade school.  I never liked writing those.  So I always try to write a blog post that doesn't sound like a book report.  I'm also well aware that I am not a good writer, and any book I describe has plenty of published reviews by talented writers.

This leaves me retreating to fundamentals, and I ask myself: Why am I writing the blog entry? What am I trying to communicate?

Then I try to boil the answers down and focus my blog post on that target.  Problem is, then it might simply read: "I like book.  You might like book."

Wow, do I ever over analyze things.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Ready Player One

One year ago I posted about a book I'd read and really enjoyed: The Martian.  The film adaptation was under deveopment by a famous director and went on to be a blockbuster hit.  Today I recommend another book that is similarly being adapted to film by a famous director.  I predict this one will also be a big hit.

Ready Player One is set in the year 2045 and life is bleak for most people after society has deteriorated due to global exhaustion of natural resources.  Most people spend their lives online in the OASIS, a virtual reality environment with thousands of worlds.  The OASIS has permeated society so thorougly that most businesses operate in the OASIS.  Wade Watt attends virtual high school in the OASIS.  He spends all his spare time trying to find an easter egg hidden by the OASIS creator.  So are thousands of other people.  The one who finds the egg will inherit control of the OASIS and a vast fortune.  After years of fruitless searching by so many people, popular interest in the global hunt dwindled.  Then Wade was the first person to solve the first puzzle and find the first key.  His life was changed forever after that.

The film version is already under development for a 2017 release and will be directed by none other than Steven Spielberg.

I listened to the audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton.  Oddly, Wil Wheaton is actually in the story, described as an old geezer running in the online elections for OASIS governance.

I really enjoyed this book.  I'm not a gamer, but I do recognize most of the 80's era video games and cultural references.  I'll probably listen to this audiobook several more times.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Command and Control

I just finished listening to Command and Control - Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser.  This is a very very interesting book.  This is a very very long book. 

I am very surprised at how many nuclear bomb accidents we've had.  Wow.  Here's Wikipedia's page outlining the many nuclear accidents.  This book includes many more details about some of them than I could find anywhere online.  This was all especially interesting to me because many years ago I worked in the ICBM world.

Throughout the book, Schlosser gives a very detailed account of the 1980 Damascus accident, where a Titan II ICBM blew up in its silo near Damascus, Arkansas.  That event began when a maintenance technician dropped a socket down the silo that bounced off something and struck the missile, puncturing the rocket and the first stage fuel tank.  This led to a cascade of human errors culminating in rocket fuel explosions that blew off the top of the missile silo and tossed the 9 megaton thermonuclear warhead hundreds of feet away.  It was amazing that only one person died.  It was amazing that half of Arkansas wasn't incinerated.  

I found these images online.  This graphic of a Titan II missile silo complex was very useful in following the story during some sections of the book.

Here's a photo of a Titan II in its silo, followed with a photo of the hole created by the Damascus accident.

This book was a finalist for a 2014 Pulitzer Prize.  For more information about the book, check out the NY Times review and this NPR story and interview.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hiking Mt. Lukens

I hiked Mt. Lukens with a friend a few days ago.  This small peak is just north of La Crescenta, California, in the Angeles National Forest.  We hiked the loop shown in the image below.  Starting at the Deukmejian Wilderness Park, we hiked up the Crescenta View Trail to reach the ridgeline, then back down along the Rim of the Valley Trail.  So we hiked counterclockwise along the track shown. 

The ascent was a constant climb, but not too steep.  

The views were hampered by the haze.  This one barely shows downtown Los Angeles in the distance.

The route downhill was more fun.  Mostly because it was downhill.  None of the turns we had to make were marked.  We stopped at a few of them to consult the map.

This was a nice hike and the weather was perfect.  It was a total of 10.4 miles and took us about 6 hours, including rest stops. 

Friday, November 06, 2015

The Ascent of Money

I enjoyed this book and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of financial systems and services.  It's a nice refresher for those who've studied the subject long ago.  I won't outline the book here because Wikipedia has a nice outline on their page.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Rust - The Longest War

In Rust - The Longest War, Jonathan Waldman provides a meandering coverage of rust by presenting a series of character portraits describing people who's lives are connected to rust in some way.

David Moffit was the superintendant on Liberty Island for many years.  In the early 1980s he promoted a campaign to restore the Statue of Liberty before the accummulated damage was irreparable.  That resulted in a nation-wide effort to draw public donations to help fund a much-needed restoration.  This section of the book includes plenty of interesting bits about the statue's decay, including the decayed shellac originally employed to prevent galvanic corrosion.

The lengthy section on the aluminum can industry includes a short history of the Ball brothers and was interesting, but only a small fraction is related to rust.  This section was brought down by an unnecessarily long tangent about BPA in the anti-corrosion epoxy coating used in aluminum cans.  I can see why they wanted to kick Waldman out of "Can School."  Thumbnail lesson: if you're pregnant, then don't consume anything that is packaged in aluminum cans while in the US.

The author tags along with photographer Alyssha Eve Csuk, trespassing at a shuttered Bethlehem Steel factory to capture the beauty of rust.

Waldman also spends a lot of pages covering Daniel Dunmire, Director, Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight for the US DoD (they have a facebook page).  Dunmire is the point-man for the war on rust in the US military, where it takes a significant toll on the many DoD systems.  I found this short presentation by Dunmire that gives a nice overview of the effects of corrosion on DoD systems and the DoD program to combat corrosion.  The table below is taken from that PDF file.

Dunmire, a big time Trekkie, hired LeVar Burton to host a series of documentaries on corrosion to promote the war against rust and help reduce the annual costs associated with fighting it.  Here's a link to one of them on Youtube.  

Pipeline pigging on the Alyeska pipeline in Alaska is also covered in great detail.  Pigging is used not only for scraping the inside of the pipeline, but pigs with ultrasonic instruments are sent through to measure pipeline thickness and spot corrosion effects.  You'd think that the inside of an oil pipeline wouldn't rust.  After all, it's well oiled.  But apparently it does.  I found this PDF factsheet that outlines pigging on the Trans-Alaska pipeline.

I did learn this interesting little tidbit from the book: if the rate that oil enters the pipeline on the north slope drops too much, then the flow slows and the contents cool.  If the pipeline contents get too cold, then it will stop flowing and become a giant "popsicle."  This is one factor that incentivizes the entire state of Alaska to promote more drilling on the north slope, in order to continue the pipeline's operation for as long as possible.

In the end, the book was not what I expected.  Not what I wanted.  I would have liked a lot more information about rust and less character exposition.  Fine.  It's not my book.  Rust offers great detail about how corrosion influences a few industries, but if you want to learn about rust, then read Wikipedia.  

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I removed Adobe Flash from my computers many months ago.  I don't miss it.  Apparently, it's not important to my online life.

It really bothered me that Adobe was constantly releasing "critical" security patches.  This is not a good thing.  But deeper than that, I'm bothered with the whole business model for Flash: middleware that allegedly improves the user experience in order to make life easier for developers (ostensibly to enable and encourage more developers to produce rich content for the underlying OS).  I agree with Steve Jobs' complaints about Flash.  I think that Flash impedes the users' ability to experience native functionality that might be far superior to their middleware compromises, that it impedes the OS developer's ability to service their customers' needs, that it introduces untold security flaws and prevents the OS developer from rapidly protecting their customers.  All of these are a burden on the users and OS developers that profits Adobe and prevents the users from having the best and safest experience.

I'm living a Flashless life and I'm happy for it.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


You need to get out of your podast rut.  You know you're in one.  We're all very good at forming habits, and podcast listening is no different.  Podcasts are great because they inform and entertain me while I do other things.  I no longer listen to the radio in my car, and instead listen to podcasts or audiobooks.

I stumbled across this nice list of popular "factual" podcasts.  Having never heard of many of them, I fell down a rabbit hole exploring their offerings.    


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Off-Road Tips for Beginners

Expedition Portal has posted a short piece outlining some off-road tips for beginners.  It's good advice.  I listed their 5 suggestions below with some comments. 

Air Down
I hardly ever air down my tires.  Mostly because my LR4 has 19" wheels and my previous LR3 had 18" wheels.  In both cases, that leaves little sidewall to flex and too much flex is undesirable since it can lead to tire damage or maybe break the bead.  Airing down the tires will increase the amount of flex so I just leave it alone.

Pick a Proper Line
This is an obviously important tip.  It helps to know where you have the most and least ground clearance on your undercarriage., then you have more options to pick a line that clears the boulders.  Many of the trails I drive are very very remote, and it's a good idea to take simple steps to reduce the chances of any damage.  That means picking the safest line.  Mostly, this is about choosing the path along the trail that poses the lowest threat to your tires or undercarriage.  But it also means avoiding damage to the body.  Sometimes I need to take a more risky line on the trail, to avoid scraping a huge boulder (6 ft tall or larger) beside the trail, or avoid a tree that skirts the trail, or avoid a very loose edge on a shelf road.  I'm not above moving a few boulders to improve my path.  I don't go overboard and make it smooth, after all, I'm there to drive that challenging trail.

Use a Spotter
I've used spotters many times.  Mostly on the very difficult trails in my area, such as Mengel Pass (the "rock garden" section: video I found on youtube), Shuteye Peak trail (video I found on youtube), Phillips Loop trail in the Calico Mountains (video I found on youtube).  Modified rigs don't need spotters on those trails.  My Land Rover has less ground clearance, and it's my daily driver, so I'm extra careful when I can be.  I've learned that mechanical engineers make excellent spotters.  They seem to have an intuitive understanding of 3 key things: (1) how vehicle suspensions work: the articulation, dynamics, damping, etc., (2) that the undercarriage is not flat and offers some lines with much more ground clearance, and (3) that the rear tires don't follow the same line as the front tires.

Maintain Appropriate Speed
This mostly affects me when I'm crossing deep sand or crossing rivers.  There are no set rules because conditions vary (even at the same location over different times of the year).  Experience is the best instructor.  When I'm not sure about a given situation, I start with decent speed and momentum, paying close attention to the vehicle performance (deceleration, traction, bow waves, etc.) so I can quickly either speed up or slow down.  

Know When to Turn Around
This is an excellent tip and is often not covered in the trail books on the market.  I turn around a lot.  I go off-roading often, but post blog entries for a fraction of those trips.  I don't like posting about my "failures."  But I don't mind turning around.  Seriously.  I enjoy the trip even if I turn around.  The most common reasons for me turning around are: washed out road, closed trail (BLM and NPS have been closing many old trails across the Mojave desert), way too difficult trail to tackle alone, weather change has made the trail more dangerous than I'm comfortable with (rain storms in the backcountry of Utah), and running out of time (I want to get to my destination camp site before dark).  I normally identify alternate routes in advance that I can take if I decide to turn around.  

Here are a few of my own tips to add to their list:

Know the Area
I enjoy knowing about the area I'm driving through; it's history, geologic features, etc.  It's easy to learn about a trail in advance.  If it's used by others, then there's bound to be something on the internet.  I also look up the names of features in the area shown on my maps.  That's a good way to learn of nearby sites to visit.  If this is new to you, then you might target your research on these sorts of things: trail difficulty, alternative routes, history, nearby places to visit/explore (historical sites, scenic view points, strange things seen in satellite imagery), cell coverage, dangerous animals (rattlesnakes, mountain lions, bears, honey badgers), weather patterns, etc.  The popular trail books include this kind of information for the trails they describe.

Bring the Gear You Never Want to Use
A little preparation can make the difference between a miserable trip and an adventure.  I'm a fan of bringing all the gear (or at least a lot of it) that you never want to use.  Here's a list of the things I can think of now.  I bring all these items on my adventures.  Even on simple day trips.
  • extra water (for you, your passengers, your pets, your radiator)
  • food
  • shovel, axe or hatchet, saw, tools
  • extra spare tire
  • work gloves (bring extra so you can recruit helpers when you're changing a tire)
  • large base for jack (for soft, muddy, sandy, gravel surfaces)
  • tarp or other ground cover (great for shade or shelter, but I lay it on the ground when I need to crawl under my truck to clear brush or fix something)
  • outer clothing, hand warmers (the weather can change)
  • bedroll / tent, space blanket, lamps/lanterns (you may need to spend the night)
  • hiking gear (you may need to hike to the nearest cell coverage in an emergency)
  • air compressor (2, if they're cheap units that overheat before filling an SUV's tire)
  • tire repair kit
  • traction aids, tow strap or snatch strap, shackles  (assume you'll get stuck)
  • gps, maps
  • cash  (you may need to compensate some stranger for helping you)
  • medications (you may need to spend the night)
  • jump starter
  • extra fuel

Here's a trick: put many of those things into a single 14-20 gallon plastic bin.  Then you only need to load that bin and a few other things into the back of your car before you head out.  I've been doing this for years and it's super easy.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Books I've Recently Read

Redshirts by John Scalzi was a fun book.  The audiobook is read by Wil Wheaton adding a neat twist to it, since his voice has some connection to the Star Trek universe.  As the title suggests, the book is about the secondary crew on a star ship who seem to die routinely on away missions.  The protagonist is one of those redshirts and he's determined to figure out why they keep dying.  I laughed out loud several times while listening to this book.  

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery
Do No Harm, by Dr. Henry Marsh, is somewhat autobiographical since it is anchored with chronological descriptions of the author's life and experience.  Many chapters are named for some particular kind of cancer that is at the center of the case described in that chapter.  I enjoyed the parts about the technical challenges of cutting out some types of cancers.  Marsh also describes the emotional challenges faced by a surgeon and the tricks he used to help himself overcome those challenges.  Those perspectives put a more human face on otherwise god-like brain surgeons.  I wasn't thrilled with the passages where he complains about the NHS.  We can all complain about some faceless administrative authority in our workplace and I would have preferred it if he had left that part unspoken.  But that's just me.

Hitler's Last Days
One of Bill O'Reilly's historical books, Hitler's Last Days was interesting.  Not a top pick for me, but interesting enough to keep me from fast-forwarding.  A lot of it is actually about Patton's march through Europe.  It does provide some interesting info about Hitler's death.  I expected more from this book because I enjoyed Bill's book Killing Jesus a lot.

Enemies - A History of the FBI
This is a long book, covering the entire history of the FBI.  It is heavy on the early years.  As you'd expect from a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, the book is quite thorough.  You will enjoy Enemies if you're interested in: the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, or national politics during Hoover's era.  If you're interested in more recent history of the FBI, then I recommend The Secrets of the FBI, by Ronald Kessler.

Monday, October 05, 2015


It was my fault.  I was following the tracks of another vehicle.  They looked fairly recent, probably less than 10 days old.  While making the turns around the creosote, I noticed that the other vehicle had a much shorter wheelbase than I had.  I failed to realize that this means the other vehicle weighed a lot less than I do.  Then it happened.  I got stuck.  My 3 ton rover was axle-deep in the sand at all 4 wheels.

If you have another vehicle nearby, this would be a simple fix.  I'd simply yank my car out using my Bubba Rope (a kinetic rope reovery aid).  Since I was alone, I had to use my simple traction aids.  I have 2 authentic MAXTRAX from Australia, and 2 very cheap knock-off items.

The process is simple.  Dig enough of the sand so you can jam the traction mat under the tires, then drive out.  Don't stop the moment you're free.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I was glad that I carry a 3.5 foot shovel with me when I go off roading.  It's a lot easier to use than the small folding shovel that's packed away in the back of my rover.

This was the first time I'd used the MAXTRAX, but it's not complicated.  It took me less than 10 minutes to get out.  Yay.  The MAXTRAX are AWESOME!  I was surprised how easily I drove out of the holes my tires had dug.  I just put the car in reverse and drove out.  It was in "Sand Mode" so that limited wheel spin and when the computer sensed each tire was gripping something then they were given more torque and it drove right out.

You can see that the MAXTRAX (behind the rear tires) are different than the knock-offs (behind the front tires).  Those knock-offs have much smaller nubs and they got buried in the sand when the car drove over them, requiring me to use the shovel to find and recover them afterward.

I backed out of that spot and returned the way I came to find another route to Mesquite Spring.  Even though I was in the middle of nowhere, I wasn't concerned.  I know the area.  I was less than 1/4 mile from the spring and it's easy to reach Crucero Road from there.

Then I got stuck again!  Ten yards from the first spot.  LOL  What can ya do?  So I had to do it all again.  This time it took less than 8 minutes.  This is what I meant by not stopping the moment you're free.  This time, I scouted a spot 20 yards away that was firm enough to safely stop.  Then after getting free I raced to that spot with all the momentum I could muster.

Lesson of the day: MAXTRAX are great!  I think I'll buy 2 more.

The second time I was stuck, I decided to try something.  I wanted to know if the LR4 in "sand mode" can get itself out of axle-deep sand like the new 2016 Toyota Tacoma.  Answer: No.  It only dug itself a little deeper, bogged down the engine, and started to smell bad (like something was oveheating in a differential or transfer case or transmission).

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Mesquite Spring and Mojave Megaphone - The Long Way

I returned to the Cady Mountains Wilderness area to see if BLM Route 9470 continues on to Mesquite Spring.  Short answer: yes, sorta.

I reviewed all the maps I could find.  There was no consistent story for this road.

  • The Benchmark Maps road atlas shows the road continuing only so far as the private property parcels.  
  • DeLorme's Topographic atlas also shows the road ending at the private property.  
  • The CTUC maps (San Bernadino NF & Barstow map and Amboy & Mojave Preserve map) show the road continuing to the spring.  Although the Amboy & Mojave Preserve map labels the road as BL 8560.  
  • The BLM map: "Broadwell Lake Subregion - Off-Highway Vehicle Route Supplement" dated Aug 9, 2011, shows the road continuing to Crucero Road, but at a spot south of Mesquite Spring.
  • BLM TMA (Travel Management Area) maps from 2014 indicate that the road ends, well past the private property and just as the wash exits the canyon and broadens.
  • Google and Bing satellite imagery shows vehicle tracks along the wash all the way to the spring.

So I didn't know what to expect.  I figured I'd end up stopped at a BLM "trail end" marker.  I've encountered those before and I always honor them.  I've got no reason to break the law.

Here's a screencap from google earth showing my route.  I don't know why the tracks are 3 different colors.  I suspect they indicate when I spent some time in a given spot.  The green started after I stopped when I lost sight of the tracks I was following.  The green ended when I got stuck.  The blue is Crucero Road.

For those who prefer an interactive map, here's a Google map centered on Mesquite Spring.

To save time, I didn't stop to take photos along the section I'd already driven last month.  I'll repost a few of those photos here for completeness.

This time I wanted to start the drive heading north from I-40 on Hector Road.  

There's a VORTAC station nearby.

I soon had to pick an alternate route because the railroad crossing had a locked gate.  Seems pointless since it's super easy to cross the tracks 5 miles down at the powerline crossing.

The early part of the trail is easy.

There had been some rain since the last time I was here.  These roads had clear tire tracks with tread marks visible a month ago.  The recent rain has smoothed out the ruts and made the surface more compact and firmer.

My car wasn't sinking in at all.

I could still see several sets of tracks in the wash.

This next photo was taken where the red track in my GE screencap above ends.  I was following the recent tracks of 2 motorcycles and 1 or more vehicles.

At this point I realized that I hadn't seen a BLM "Stay On Trail" marker for a while.  Earlier, I saw many of those signs.  The wash was still very firm and my car didn't sink in at all.  Just as I had seen in the satellite imagery, there are 2 main channels that people had driven in; one on the right side of the wash and one about 30 yards to the left of that.  The tracks I was following switched back and forth between these channels as needed to follow the widest path.

I had loaded the coordinates of Mesquite Spring (and some waypoints along the way) into my Garmin.  That was comforting, but wasn't really needed in the end.  

The closer I got to the spring, the more tracks I saw.  

I finally reached the spring.  I've been here before.  

The hill behind it has petroglyphs.  I didn't hike up there this time.  I just used my camera zoom feature.  What a lazy tourist, I am.

Likewise, I didn't hike up to the Mojave Megaphone.  I did that back in 2007.  You can see it on top of the ridge in the background if you look up from my front bumper.

Crucero Road heading south is pretty tame.  I've driven it several times.  It passes Broadwell Dry Lake before hitting I-40 at the tiny town of Ludlow.

Heading south I crossed the powerline road that services several high-power lines that cross the Mojave Desert.  I've driven the section from there to I-40 several times.  That's a very pleasant drive.  

I've driven the section from there to Kelbaker Road just once.  That is an adventure.  I recommend that for any avid 4wd off-roader.

Broadwell Dry Lake looking northward from the southern end.

I'm still not certain if BLM Route 9470 continues along the path I drove.  I never saw any signs indicating an end to that trail (something the BLM is good at doing), and it was very well signed on the western end.  I continued to follow several tracks that weren't very old.  If 9470 does officially end, then I'm sorry for driving off-trail and I hope they'll install some signage.  To be fair, maybe they did and it succumbed to weather or vandals.

If this is an allowable route, then I recommend this ONLY for experienced drivers in capable cars (4wd AND high clearance).  Ideally, you should only drive this with 2 or more vehicles, so you can pull each other out of any deep sand.  I lucked out due to the recent rains, so the ground was very firm.