One of the last remaining old houses in Kelso, along Kelso-Cima Road

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

Back outside Kelso Depot, I pack my water bottles into the pockets of my saddlebags, pull out of the parking lot and start heading north onto Kelso-Cima Road. It's going to be uphill for the rest of the day.

Inside the crumbling old house on Kelso-Cima Road—a bedroom perhaps?

I ride past the old abandoned post office building, but then I decide not to start the long ride ahead of me just yet.

I pull over and get off the bike to explore the ruins of a couple of old houses. Kelso once housed close to 2000 people back in its early days, which is hard to imagine given that there are only a few old houses left here today.

Walking through decaying houses like these always amuses me. So many unintended details and textures are created by the process of unchecked neglect.

Formerly separate rooms redesign themselves and open up to each other. Less-solid or more-weathered materials mutate and detach slowly from the structure that holds them in place. Eventually, the structure itself begins its own process of sluggish disintegration.

The crumbling rear building has a small addition in the foreground constructed out of old railroad ties

The main house near the road has an unusual rounded roof. The smaller building at the rear is much closer to collapse. It has much lower ceilings and looks like it might have been first built as a storage building that later ended up used as living quarters.

These modest post-Victorian houses are hardly historic gems, stylistically speaking, but if they were in an area with higher real-estate values, they would probably have been maintained over the years and would be still inhabited today.

OK, that was fun. I walk back to my bike and begin the slow climb again up Kelso-Cima Road. This time I'm really leaving Kelso.

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