It is early morning, the sun is an hour and a half from rising. I am traveling on interstate 15 north heading to Soggy dry lake, about 3.3 hours north/east of Los Angeles. I am just passing Hesperia, Victorville is coming up. I exit Ave D (Hwy 18) and head east. I will pass through the still quiet Apple Valley and continue on Hwy 18 until I come to Lucerne Valley. I continue on my journey heading east now on highway 247. If I made a right at highway 18 it would take me to Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead. If I made a left on Hwy 247 it would take me to Barstow. Highway 247 takes you to Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree National Park. I make a left at Bessermine Rd and travel on a very, very rough dirt road. It takes me about forty minutes to get to the dry lake. The sun is now rising and I can see base camp to my right, next to one of two restrooms at the lake. It is a cold winter morning and everyone is bundled up. The transportation captain directs me to my spot. In a few minutes my motor home is ready for business.
Soggy Dry lakebed is flat and smooth, unlike Means Dry Lakebed which has an unforgiving surface. Means is wavey, perfect for a motor cross bike, lousy for a car shoot. Even in my 4 x 4 truck I had to go easy at Means Dry Lake. If a flat dirt surface is a must, Soggy is the perfect lakebed. Soggy is more than just a flat lakebed, there are hills and rock formations. For our car shoots, a flat smooth surface was a must. The precision drivers were going to do complicated maneuvers, as they were being briefed by the head stunt driver. The cater was getting breakfast ready and people ran around base camp like ants. It takes a lot of talented people to make a commercial.
What makes Soggy such a great location is the fact it is remote, there is little signs of civilization to complicate a shot. In the summer, few people even come to the lake, unless it is a holiday weekend. In the cooler months, always pick the week days to do your project, if possible. Summer temperatures can exceed a 100 degrees, winter temperatures are very comfortable. If you base camp near any of the restrooms, watch out for the nails. Some of the knuckle heads in the area burn pallets and all types of stupid things. I discovered the further you park from the restrooms the less likely you are to encounter nails and screws.
In terms of lodging you can either pick Yucca Valley or Hesperia. I prefer Yucca Valley because there are few stop lights until you get to Hwy 62. Plus I discovered on a recent trip Applebee's is opened late. Most people stay at the Best Western 760.365.3555 in Yucca Valley, it is very nice, there is a free breakfast, pool, gym and plenty of parking and even street parking for the large trucks. In the town of Landers about 25 minutes east of Soggy there is a convenient store with a gas station and a RV dump station. If you decide to stay in Hesperia and nearby Victorville, there are tons of hotels. Most producers choose to stay at the Holiday Inn in Victorville 760.245.6565, the rooms are nice, there is a bar that serves food and plenty of parking. There are other options for lodging that are more high end for your clients. If you need security for your equipment use Steve Nader 760.508.1440, he can send his team in to keep bogies from entering your perimeter and watching your equipment overnight either at Soggy or at the hotel. I would not leave equipment at the lake or at the hotel without a security team keeping eyes on your vehicles. If you have any questions about Soggy or any other locations in the Inland Empire please call me Michael Green at 818.317.7099. I also provide motor homes and portable restrooms as a local. So you don't have to bring motor homes or portable restrooms from Los Angeles.