One of my greatest pleasures is driving through the Mojave Desert. In the good old days, I had a VW Van--a Westfalia camper equipped with roll-down windows and a spray bottle as an air conditioner.
Every other weekend a small group of friends chose a remote desert location on a map and drove there. Back in '80s, Kelso was headed towards ruins. The 80s was all about New Wave music, building up cities and solving the Rubik's Cube. Old desert towns and buildings were used more for target practice and dirt bike destinations than being appreciated and left alone. Preservation was alive but struggling.
Today, Kelso is enjoying a revitalization. The East Mojave is now mostly a Preserve. Inside Kelso Depot, an old fashioned soda fountain greets visitors with turn-of-the-century charm and nostalgia. All the individual rooms in the train station are used as a museum and library. They even have original recordings of a 1950s radio show broadcasting from a nearby desert town.
Here, one finds a vibrant, living desert full of history and hidden treasures.
Today, I drive a car with air conditioning. But when I'm rolling through mirages on the sun-soaked highways of the East Mojave, you will often find me with my windows down and stereo playing Marty Robbins and the Sons of the Pioneers, singing,
"All day I've faced a barren waste
Without the taste of water,
Old Dan and I with throats burned dry
And souls that cry for water
Cool..., clear..., water...."