Spring Break 1997 is officially over.

This year we were able to blast off relatively early. We left Friday afternoon, March 28th. Drove over to the Central Valley, had a Basque dinner in Winters, and then camped for the night. Saturday morning we rose early and hit I-5 for the gonzo run to Bakersfield. By evening we were camping north of Barstow beside a huge Joshua Tree. Perfect.

This time, for a change, we let Suzanne decide where we were going to go. She had bought a book describing the Historic Old Mojave Road, a route through the Mojave Wilderness that goes from around Barstow, east to Nevada. It was used by the Indians, then the Spanish, and eventually by freight wagons. We drove out east of Baker along a rutted dry wash and finally intercepted the Old Mojave Road, turned onto it, and spent several days rattling along through the ever changing scenery. High desert and low desert. Yucca Forest and Grease wood flats.

Along the way we came upon the "Mail Box". A metal box on a post that has been there for years. Travelers can enter their names and thoughts into a log book, if they care to, and sort through the stuff that has been left by fellow travelers; odds and ends found in the bottom of most any glove box. Everything from combs to condoms, pencils to pesos.

Here's the "usual suspects" by "The Mojave Road Mail Box".

During our travels we came across Desert Tortoise, heard coyotes and burros during the night. Saw Hale-Bopp every evening and worked on our tans but, this trip, we had two major break-throughs. The first was the invention of
Dog Ball Lottery.


We discovered that the dog had packed eleven tennis balls for the trip. We decided to number them, one through eleven, with a magic marker.

Next we tore a sheet of paper into little squares and numbered them one through eleven. We each put one dollar in the pot and then put the dog balls into a paper shopping bag. Then we all stood back and told the dog to "Get the ball".

She would stick her head into the bag and come out with one. We would then check to see which number it was and if you had that number, you won the pot. Every evening this was quite entertaining as the money changed hands.


The ultimate entertainment was the

Launching of the Dog Ball!!

Suzanne had bought a model rocket kit at a hobby shop before leaving civilization. Not happy with just firing off a model rocket we soon settled down to see if we could modify the rocket and actually launch a dog ball. We spent an afternoon gluing various sized cardboard tubes together and shaping and gluing on balsa wood fins that finally produced what was hoped to be

Space Vehicle - DB1 - "Dog Ball One" .

With the rocket mounted on the launcher we spread out and hid behind yucca plants with our cameras at the ready. We waited for a lull in the gusting wind.

Finally everything was ready and the count down commenced.

"5" -"4" - "3" - "2" - "1"


The very first launch of DB1 "Dog Ball - One" worked perfectly. At the very apex of the flight the secondary blast of the rocket motor ejected the Dog Ball free of the rocket. We whistled and applauded as we watched the rocket float back down and the ball return to earth. Unfortunately, the dog, who had shown great interest in what had been happening to her ball before launch was now found hiding in the very "way back" of our VW bus.

She hates things that go Fizz - Bang!

Several days later we were ready with DB2 "Dog Ball - Two". This time the idea was to attach a parachute to the dog ball, which we did.

Soon the count down commenced.

"5" - "4" - "3" - "2" - "1"


Perfect...except the chute didn't deploy and what went up,
came down like a rocket!

Here are the collected remains.

Notice the rocket body is no longer straight! The plastic parachute was melted into a blob but the dog ball was fine except for some burn marks. Oh well. That was the last of our rocket motors anyway.

On to Tecoupa for a soak in the hot springs and then several more evenings at the Queen of Sheba Mine in Death Valley.


We arrived home April 6th. Another successful trip and this time, the VW's performed perfectly.

Time to unpack and return to the hobby shop for more rocket motors!

Continue on to next story.

Return to Spring Breaks page.

Return to blabberon