Been across the desert on a horse with no name

We both wake up just after 0500, annoyingly so, but we decide to get up and hit the road. We’re on the home straights to Dan and Angie’s with a stopover on the way north today. Our route is going to take us past Las Vegas and then up through Death Valley. With a plan to camp somewhere after that.

It’s pretty much a Vegas flypast, and almost a pile-up as the traffic is really busy and there’s some jostling going on in front of us that results in a prang between a car in front and a car coming onto the motorway. Luckily Huw’s reactions are such that we steer clear of them safely. We did toy with going through the city and driving up the strip, but if the traffic on the motorway is anything to go by, it’ll be bedlam.

Death Valley is really really hot, temperatures get to 116deg at one point. We’re really glad of the air conditioning in the car. There’s a spot in the park where we are 282ft below sea level. It’s a bit like the salt flats of Salar de Uynni (Bolivia) but not as big, although still impressive.

Shortly after this we drive a loop called the “Artists palette” where the colour of the rocks is constantly changing. Purples, pinks, greens, blues. Nice!

On our drive today we travel through 3 states in one day – Utah, Nevada and then finish in California. We also gain an hour when we travel back into pacific time.

Some places we visit today include: Hurricane, Virgin, Baker, Shoshone, Badwater … There are many ghost towns in the park which initially we wanted to visit – to see some tumbleweed obviously – but reading about them they sound more like theme parks so we give them a miss.

Having left the park and making our way in the general direction of the Waddingtons we set out to find a campsite. Easier said than done it turns out. We pass lots of picnic sites but no campsites, as we drive through Sequoia forest in the dark. In the end we make a stop at the “Indian Wells brew pub” for dinner as there’s only half an hour sunlight left and we can at least rule out cooking in the dark.

The next big town we reach is Bakersfield and we think we’re in luck with a campsite. But it’s a bit weird, no sign of anyone staying there. A huge park area with camping pitches and toilets but no obvious entrance or exit. We weigh it up while we visit the toilet and decide we’d be safer at a truck stop on the motorway! Leaving the camp area it’s about another 20 miles further on.

It’s a really freaky drive though. A real straight road (bare in mind it’s dark now) lined on both sides as far as the eye can see with noddy dogs – the name we’ve given to the wee oil drills. They are all silently nodding away, it’s like something out of Dr Who, expecting any minute that they’ll spot us and charge at us. It freaks Bernice out and she’s so glad not to have taken the chance in the campsite – imagine waking up and seeing all them noddy dogs around us in the morning. Not to mention the smell.

No the truck stop is definitely the answer even though it means another night in the car. We’re a dab hand at that now. We reach the services and find a quiet dark spot where we won’t get squashed by a huge truck and get our head down.

It’s probably good to be a trucker over here as the facilities they lay on for them are pretty amazing. Showers with fluffy towels and all the toiletries they might need. Maybe it’s the same in the UK we don’t know.

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