Monday, March 18, 2013

SoCal Desert Rendezvous 2013: 33°35’58.13″N 115°32’13.31″W

The SoCal Rendezvous Conspiracy is a free event, held each year since 2011 and  put together by a group from the Expedition Portal forums and led by Dave Bennett, (Tacodoc).  In addition to the Saturday evening potluck, there were donated raffle prizes, free decals and t-shirts. The group’s main objective is to plot to meet at a remote location at an agreed upon time to hang out with fellow adventurers.  I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to all the volunteers and sponsors of the third annual 2013 Desert Rendezvous. Thank you all! 

Since this was to be our fist camping trip of the year, we were exited when March finally came around and looked forward to attending SoCal Desert Rendezvous 2013, especially since I had missed both the 2011 and 2012  Desert Rendezvous. A fun aspect of this event is that the attendees don't know the location of base camp until it is revealed about a week before, as a set of GPS coordinates in the middle of the desert. Beforehand, we only knew that's it was going to be somewhere in the Southern California desert, east of the Salton Sea, west of the Colorado River, and north of the Mexican border.

Google Earth cut and paste: 33°35’58.13″N  115°32’13.31″W
Google Maps cut and paste:   33.599581,-115.536937

We headed out a bit later than planned around 8:30AM Saturday with about 193 miles ahead of us. Our route took us north on I-15 to CA79 North through Hemit. Soon we were heading East on I-10. We eventually exited the freeway and made our way south on dirt roads to the site coordinates, just off the Bradshaw Road. The area was packed with off-road vehicles including Jeeps, Ford and Dodge pickups, Sportsmobiles, Toyota Tacomas, Land Rovers, and Toyota Land Cruisers, to name a few. It looked like we were in good company. Soon we were greeted by old friends and found a spot to set up camp for the weekend next to Steve, his two dogs, and Lexus LX450. 

After setting up our tent, shade canopy, chairs, and table it was time to mix up some drinks, chat with a few like-minded adventurers, and relax. After a bit, folks started showing up with trash bags and other refuse from the desert clean-up. The raffle was also a big hit with everyone gathering around in hopes of scoring some cool prizes. Afterward, the potluck and dutch oven competition got kicked into high gear. My contribution consisted of bacon-wrapped cheese-stuffed jalapenos. I tried to put a little bit of everything on my plate. I was full in no time. After enjoying some real fireside chat for a while, I began to feel the affects of a full belly and getting up at the crack of dawn earlier that day. Our daughter was getting cranky and tired so we were soon off to bed in our tent. I also kept an eye out for snakes. Apparently that night before, a small rattlesnake had curled up under someone's chair near the fire pit.

Sunday morning I was up with the sun and enjoying my coffee while reading the latest issue of Overland Journal. By the time my wife was out and about, the wind had really started to pick up. I had just started trying to get breakfast going when the dust, sand, and wind became too much to deal with. So much for taking my time and having a relaxing morning. The desert was kicking us out! 

Although I could have stayed out in the desert for the rest of the week (in a more wind-sheltered area), I needed to get my family back home. It was great to have a completely free event where people could come and hang out for a weekend with like-minded folks, get a free t-shirt and decal, show respect for the land by cleaning up the area, and enjoy a great potluck and campfire.

As we had a long drive home ahead of us, we quickly packed up the best we could in the wind, said our goodbyes, and rolled out. We took a different route home, heading South on CA86 from I-10, then West through Ocotillo Wells and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park along CA78. We are looking forward to getting out into the desert again soon!


Photo by Brent Haywood