An SUV pulls up a couple hundred feet from my tent and its passengers get out and go for a walk

Bicycle camping in and around Mojave National Preserve 2006

Day 2: Kelso Dunes to Mid Hills campground

38.37 miles, 5:03 hrs, 34.3 mph max, 7.5 mph avg

Elevation: 2500 to 2800 to 2123 to 5500 feet

This is my first morning waking up outdoors in Mojave National Preserve. It's beautiful to peek outside the tent and see this environment. However, I'm surprised that it's rather cloudy this morning. The great thing about this of course is that early morning sunshine isn't heating up my tent very much.

Tent by Kelso Dunes with the rugged Providence Mountains looming in the background

The cloud cover must have moved in overnight. Come to think of it, that must be what was causing those distant light reflections that I kept seeing late last night as I was dozing off. I kept thinking that there must be headlights from a car coming down Kelso Dunes Road in the distance, but I wasn't hearing any cars. Light pollution from Las Vegas, 80 miles away, diffused up into the clouds and reflecting back down? Must have been.

I crawl outside and it's time to start some new routines as a desert bicycle camper rather than as a techie office worker. There's no shower to take, nor bakeries to visit for morning bagels or croissants on my way to work.

I boil water for a bowl of instant miso soup, and walk over to the log near my campsite to sit and eat. I devour it more quickly than I expected. I guess I'm still a bit hungry from all of the calories I burned yesterday.

A marker designates the beginning of a wilderness area near the dunes beyond which driving a car or riding a bike is prohibited, but digging a cat hole there is not

I grab a few handfuls of almonds. There are no tiny mice visiting me for breakfast like there were last night for supper. I see droppings on the ground all around here, but they might be a bit big to be mouse droppings.

While sitting and eating on a log that someone must have left behind, I notice two specks on the distant dunes moving up. I focus on that and realize that it's two people climbing up the dunes in the distance.

I contemplate climbing those huge dunes, but I decide that I'd prefer to spend my energy bicycling today up to Mid Hills campground up at 5500 feet, which will take much of the day. I eat two blueberry "toaster pastries."

I think I'm full now. I start to pack up and two cars arrive separately nearby, within minutes of each other. From what I can see, one car's passengers are here to climb the dunes, and the other's want to just walk around and explore the area. They pretend to not see me as they walk past my campsite, even though I'm there packing up.

The campsite with the trees at Kelso Dunes

That little bit of pedestrian traffic fizzles out, so I walk over into a low area off the end of the road looking for a place to dig a morning cat hole in lieu of a litter pan.

I'm trying to be discreet and out of sight from the people camping a few hundred feet up from me under the two trees. Sure there's an outhouse two miles up the road toward Kelbaker Road, but I can't wait that long! The sand here is very easy to dig; no wonder cats like it!

I'm finished packing up the bike and I slowly leave my campsite. It's sandy and slippery here and I have to walk the bike over to the better-travelled part of the road to get started riding, over by the tree-covered campsite.

The people who were camping here left about 15 minutes ago, so I stop here for a few minutes to explore and photograph what I missed last night.

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