April 03 2020 Friday at 01:40 PM

Desert of Possibilities

A couple of decades ago, three and a half surfers, who rode motorcycles when the waves were flat, went to the desert as they always did. They dreamt of the possibilities, so they scavenged around in search of answers, this time they found what they sought after, stumbling across an abandoned Oasis. The Oasis was built in the 1950’s in an area named Homestead Valley, constructed in an era of relaxed building regulations and more of a ‘If you built it, you could have it’ mantra. The Oasis was once a functioning alfalfa farm with cattle, chickens and goats and although seemed capable of supporting a life of autonomy, many people didn't last long in the harsh desert environment. Most sought the greener pastures outside of the Mojave Desert, and thus, the owners put the Oasis up for sale, after enduring twenty plus years there. The Oasis caught the eye of three entrepreneurs. Much like there predecessors, these men were also drawn to the possibilities of this place, although in a true entrepreneurial spirit, they had dollars signs in their eyes. These men had big plans for the property, it was to be a farm, but not an alfalfa farm, they were farming dollar bills. This was 1970’s California and they were pot farmers, setting up shop miles from the nearest, well, anything… where there were no prying eyes and no law enforcement … the area remains this way today. The men soon came to understand the geographical blessing and true potential of the Oasis. The Oasis lay atop a giant aquifer, an underground prehistoric lake some 40 odd feet below the ground, a true desert anomaly. Thanks to the Homestead Valley year-round sunshine, and oddly enough, no shortage of water, the weed grew, the sun shined, the water flowed, and the money rolled in. The Oasis treated them well. But like all stories, there must always be an end. The details around this part are a bit hazy, but the secrets of the desert were starting to surface, resulting in a raid by Federal Agents. The Feds chopped down the crops for evidence and the three men were hauled off and locked away in a holding cell. Freedom was no longer. So the Oasis stood alone… the years passed and more than a couple of curious passerby’s stopped and decided to have a look. Before long, the gate was thrown open, every window smashed, half the roof burned off and the house destroyed. Motorcycle burnouts in the living room, bowling balls thrown through the drywall. This is how we found it. Three surfers, three best friends and their young protégé (that’s me). We decided that this abandoned Oasis would be our own. Amongst the rubble there was a realtors sign, it read “Mojave Realty” and the phone number followed. All it took was one phone phone call, and we were now the proud owners of 10 acres of trash dump in the desert, but it was our trash dump and we had a dream. It became the surfer’s motorcycle ranch, in all its irony! It became known as The Ranch, but it is less a ranch and more of a compound of sorts, the Boys Club, West. An eclectic collection of just about everything. Motorcycles that have been laid to rest, surfboards from a bygone era strewn about (and only 100 miles from the nearest ocean) … road signs, street signs, beach signs and architecture reminiscent of Tijuana, Mexico or maybe a scene from Mad Max. We call it “whatcha got construction”, making our paradise out of other peoples discarded matter … one man’s trash. When the ocean goes flat, it is here we migrate. The Desert, it is the only place that rivals the ocean in its ability to cleanse the soul. There are no police, no rangers, no people, only two wheeled possibilities.Here the array of motorcycles that range from new to old help you get whatever feeling you’re after and life becomes immeasurably better when seated on a motorcycle. If you can start it you can ride it. For us, we ride to nowhere or sometimes it is somewhere but somewhere is still the middle of nowhere and so it becomes anywhere to us. But like all good things it is simply the act of doing which makes it worthwhile. A few buddies enjoying motorcycles and some ice-cold beers at the end of a long day of riding, exchanging stories by the campfire. Although, it’s not all motorcycles here. Like any surfer, it doesn't take long before you itch to be back at the sea. So within our ‘whatcha got’ shaping bay, we carve out and shape a new wave riding craft with the next swell or trip in mind. When the call becomes too much, we head back down the hill, to the beach or to the airport. Until it goes flat again, then we will return. This is our desert delight. Words by Forrest Minchinton @forrestminchinton Riders: Forrest Minchinton Cal Lathorpe Nevin Pontious Kelana Humphrey Courtney Ruppe Shane Carter Photos by Drew Martin & Dustin Humphrey @dustin_humphrey @_drew_martin_