So better get up to date a little. Left San Diego on 28th May (was it really that long ago?!) - Memorial Day here. We didn't get far the first night - since Chris had heard about some awesome biking roads nearby. So we camped by a lake, walked at sunset and got up early to 'burn some rubber' - funny to be back on the bike 'just for fun' - it became such a part of life and routine!! We drove up to the Palomar Observatory - which is home to a 200 inch telescope (I think that's pretty large by anyone's standards!!) The mountain roads were great and very quiet early in the morning.
Next stop on our travels was Salvation Mountain. I'd read about this in the Rough Guide and it was such a cool side trip. Basically it's just desert with a few clay hills and some guy started decorating and painting the hills spreading the word 'God is Love'. He started this 20 odd years ago and is still working every day adding to his creation. It's quite a sight and he's quite an inspiration. We got such a warm welcome from Leonard - the creator, who took time out to give us a guided tour of his art and chatted about his dream. It's just incredible, as is he. He lives a simple, peaceful life sleeping in a hammock out in the middle of the desert and working endlessly on his never-ending project. You must check out the website, there are some great pictures of the place and more information - just so cool!
This week we've been in the desert. At 2 ends of the extreme. First up was a couple of nights in Joshua Tree National Park - in the 'off season' - there's a clue there....oh boy was it hot!!! No-one else about - I think we were the only ones in the first campsite we stayed in and even the ranger seemed hot and weary - when we asked what 'such-and-such' was like she said - 'oh - see outside the window - well it's just more of the same old desert' - very enthusiastic!! Still not to be discouraged we did start on our hiking again (after a rather lengthy gap of doing nothing resembling physical exercise for the whole time we were in Mexico!!) We managed a lovely sunset hike, sleeping out under the stars in our sleeping bags and then the following morning a whopping 9 mile hike into the wilderness to the 'Lost Palms Oasis' - really it should've followed the signs, wouldn't have got lost - eh?! The following night was back at Jumbo Rocks (we camped here in Oct with my parents when they visited) - just the coolest of landscapes - camping in amongst the huge smoothed boulders and to boot a near full moon to catch the light and cast dramatic shadows.
The next 2 nights were in Mojave National Preserve - also very wilderness-like. And very hot. They have a great scheme there - Roadside camping. Basically you can park up on the side of the road in areas 'traditionally used for this purpose' - for free!! So it was just us and the big wide open space of the desert. A night camped just a 1/2 mile from the Kelso Sand Dunes - they cover a 45 square mile area and reach up to 700ft high (and yes, bright and early we hiked on up to the top!), then another night up in the hills - a balmy 5000ft and much cooler (Still 85+ mind!) Just a wee jaunt in the morning through one of the dense-est Joshua Tree forests out there and up a peak to admire the view. Of course it was here that our generator packed up on us and so no smoothies for breakfast, and perhaps more alarming no chance of any aircon (and whilst we don't normally endorse the use of aicon WE NEEDED IT BAD!!)
And so that brings us to the other desert extreme - Las Vegas!! We couldn't resist a repeat visit! It might be loud, tacky and expensive but we really rather liked it! There's so much 'free' stuff to do with all the mini shows on the strip, and just people-watching takes time! To boot there's the best bagel shop going! Oh and the all-you-can-eat buffets, the Cirque du Soleil shows, the classy 5-star rv resort we're staying in....
And that, my friends, is us - up-to-date....Phew!!