California Overland Desert Excursions, Borrego Springs, CA

The deuce-and-a-half run by California Overland.

The Anza-Borrego is a barren desert plain that butts up against the Santa Rosa Mountains and extends out to the Sonoran Desert. It’s hot and dry and dusty and as inhospitable as it gets – which makes it the perfect place to train soldiers for desert warfare. Amateur historians say this area was used to prepare for Operation Torch, the November 1942 invasion of North Africa, and they’re right. Tanks maneuvered out here as did Army and Marine Corps companies 1000-men strong. Large concentric circles can still be seen on the desert floor, targets that were used by WWII Navy pilots to practice air-to-ground strafing and bombing.

California Overland Desert Expeditions will take you out to the training areas in an Army surplus M-35 A-2 “deuce and a half.” You’ll feel the grit of dust and sand in your teeth and might see a shard of metal or a fragment of a shell on the ground from back in the day. Either way, a bumpy ride in an Army truck is half the fun, and this excellent organization does it right. Check temperatures for appropriate clothing.

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