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Desert Adventure

written by Aaron Zapata, CRS
Placentia, CA      aaron@impactprop.com   
Jan 20, 2021

It was a sunny, yet windy cold winter day but we decided to go anyway. As a dad of two growing boys, time is short, and I have to seize the moments I’m given.

While on our family Christmas vacation in Lake Havasu City, AZ I decided it would be a great idea to rent a 4x4 off-road vehicle and trek off into the desert for an adventure. I called one of the local rental shops and secured our 4-seater Polaris RZR for the spontaneous trip.

Here’s a couple of things you should know. First, I live in the city and the desert is not in my wheelhouse. Second, I love adventure, but planning in advance isn’t my strong suit. Third, we were traveling in a part of the desert that didn’t have any cell service so I’d be out of range should anything bad happen. Finally, in the winter, the desert is really cold and unforgiving.

After picking up the RZR I drove it back to the house so we could load up our snacks and water and head out. My father-in-law Bryan and my two sons loaded up and headed out to the unknown. Thankfully, the owner of the rental had me download an App that maps out all the trails and uses satellites to track rather than cell service. 

Originally, I thought we’d go out for an hour or two and then return to give my wife and mother-in-law a chance to go too, but that never happened. 

About an hour into our adventure, we were deep into the hills surrounding Lake Havasu City and were following a small trail around a pretty big mountain. Up until that point, we had only seen one other group and they passed us going the other way. We were alone, really alone. At times, the trail was a large wash and easy to navigate. Most of the time the trails were moderate and yet at other times, we were in narrow ravines.

One such ravine had a nearly impossible passing. We arrived at a spot only a 4x4 vehicle could pass with nearly a two-foot jagged rock face on a corner that needed to be overcome. I was nervous and we all exited the vehicle to examine the options. We considered turning around but there was no room, and we could not back down the trail we had just come through. After moving additional large rocks into place to help the climb, I proceeded. My oldest son joined me in the RZR as Bryan and my youngest son helped me navigate this dangerous formation. This was my first ever experience with this kind of driving and the adrenaline was flowing.

I’m not entirely sure how we managed to successfully get up the rock formation without damaging the underbelly of the vehicle, but we did, and we proceeded up the narrow ravine. While we did face other obstacles, none were as dangerous or scary. One thing was certain, there was no going back. Not only would it be more dangerous to go down over that formation, but there were no more spots to turn around. We were committed to a trip around the entire mountain.

At one point we crested the side of the mountain and were greeted with a panoramic view of a vast valley in the middle of the dessert. It was such a blessing, and we found a spot to stop and eat our lunch. After finishing sandwiches and chips we continued on our journey constantly navigating using the trail app as we made our way around the mountain. 

In total, we drove over 60 miles in the desert, and it took nearly six hours. The dust and the freezing cold wind stripped most of the fun away, but we’ve been blessed with a great memory. And we’ve decided we’d like to do something like that again, only next time, we won’t be going around the mountain.

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