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Blog 166 Box Canyon to Blyth

20th March

What a delight it is to sleep in a canyon. I am hidden away in the silence lit by a half moon kissed by starlight. I got up in the dark, packed and was riding up towards Desert Centre as the sun rose. It was cool to cold, hard on my body now conditioned to riding in the Australian summer heat. I am so loving sleeping out in the mountains. Up the slow incline to the I-10 and Desert Centre. I didn't realise that riding on the freeway, specifically the 10 and the 40 is legal if there are no other roads available, no grid system to alternate your route. I'm not scared of the traffic, the truck drivers are gentlemen and pull over when they can, the motorists realistically do not expect to see a cyclist on what is an English equivalent to a motorway. Soon I am at Desert Centre.


Bike Portrait at Desert Centre - what a handsome machine


I pull the story from off the web and it's fascinating. Who was Bill Gruendyke, living in his hand dug well and what is it about people like the Ragsdales that can take command of a piece of desert land and make the location iconic and then how it falls away to ruin. It made me think that “what we need now are heroes and heroines, about a million of them, one brave deed is worth a thousand books. Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” What do you think?


Desert Centre, Riverside County, CA


A Bit of Information

The town was founded in 1921 by Stephen A. Ragsdale, also known as "Desert Steve", and his wife, Lydia. Ragsdale was an itinerant preacher and cotton farmer, originally from Arkansas. In 1915, he left his farm in the Palo Verde Valley along the Colorado River to attend to some business in Los Angeles. The road between Phoenix and Los Angeles was mostly sand, and Ragsdale's vehicle broke down near a place called Gruendyke's Well. This featured a hand-dug well and was inhabited by a prospector named Bill Gruendyke. Gruendyke rescued Ragsdale and gave him food, shelter, and water until his vehicle was repaired and he could resume his journey to Los Angeles.


Upon his return, Ragsdale bought out Gruendyke and moved his family to the remote spot, where they constructed a small shack with a lean-to that served as a repair garage. A Model T truck was modified to serve as a tow car. Gasoline was pumped by hand from a 55-gallon drum. Lydia served food and refreshments to thirsty and weary travelers. In spite of the remote location—50 miles in any direction from anything—the Ragsdales prospered. Ragsdale named his outpost "Desert Center". In 1921, it was announced that the sand road running through Desert Center would be relocated about 5 miles north, straightened, paved, and named U.S. Route 60, a modern "high-speed" highway. In March 1926, The San Bernardino Daily Sun reported that 21 miles of grading was being done on a new road from Desert Center to Hopkins Well, changing the location of the desert highway and running over better soil.


The truckies told me that the family were in dispute after the original owner passed away and no one wanted to put money back into the site, just take it out.


I made it to Blyth, a friendly little place. Got myself a cheap motel - (50 dollars inc taxes) had a burger from Jack in the Box and all is well.


Map of the Day


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“what we need now are heroes and heroines, about a million of them, one brave deed is worth a thousand books. Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” What do you think?

Hey Nick. I personally think that sentiment is the fuel of an adequate action! It is very personal: Some people just notice a need of a situation. Stop. While others feel, that they can bring in something to change it for better. You with your observations around the world and sharing with us, are of the 2nd category. You motivate people to re-think our ordinary daily life and to see our personal little world in the backyard in a bigger (world) scale. This is one o…

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