Although I enjoyed every day we spent in our campervan, the second day of our road trip was probably my absolute favourite and summed up for me what I enjoyed most about our holiday in the US. After starting our day by the lake and in the pool at Lake Havasu, we got back in the van and continued down the Colorado River, which was wonderfully picturesque as it wove it's way down the border between Arizona and California. Part way down we cut across the California desert and headed down to Palm Springs in California.
We enjoyed this particulary drive, especially for the scenery. I was surprised at the amount of shrubs that grew in the desert. I had imagined just sand and not much else, but this was not actually the case. It was beautiful and remote and deserted though, which I did expect. There were hardly any dwellings there at all, that were visible to the eye from the road. We came by the odd gas station or shop, but otherwise it was just desert, dust storms, road, sky, mountains and country music on the radio.
If you look closely at this photo you can see the dust storms just below the mountains, that swept across the desert landscape. I even saw road signs in some places to warn of where they cross the roads. They looked like mini tornadoes and you couldn't help wondering what it would be like if they hit the van as you passed by. It was the simple natural things like this that we found most interesting about our road trip.
The country music playing on the radio was a perfect background to this beautiful landscape and I must admit that I do have a secret love of this type of music, passed on to me by my father who played it often when I was growing up. I had watched and enjoyed a couple of episodes of the series Nashville on the plane over, which had rekindled this love and put me in the mood for listening to it again. Travelling along those desert roads with wide open space before and behind you, and the big expanse of sky above, I can start to understand where the music comes from. It was my idea of bliss.
I must admit in the back of our minds we were thinking 'I hope we don't break down out here' as waiting around in the searing heat for a breakdown van might have been a struggle, but fortunately Skylark took good care of us and gradually we started to drive out of the remote desert into areas that were slightly more populated with palm tree farms and other residences.
We stopped off at this store on the edge of the desert
and after 2 or 3 hours of desert driving it was good to get out of the van and treat ourselves to an ice cold drink and some lunch at a table outside, with a hot desert wind blowing all around us. OH treated himself to some beef jerky which was sweet and tasted of slow cooked beef stew. It was very tasty.
Once we'd eaten, we headed off on our way to Palm Springs, California where we intended to stay for the night and on driving into town we were greeted by this amazing sight of a huge wind farm, bigger than anything we'd seen before. It was good to see that they were harnessing the earth's natural resources in such an ecologically friendly way and on such a huge scale too.
We arrived in Palm Springs a little too late to catch the tourist office and had a stressful hour trying to figure out where we could find a campsite. OH's phone couldn't make calls in the US and Little Bird's phone couldn't surf the internet and was almost out of charge. In the end we parked up and utilised the Wifi in the Coffee Bean And Tea Leaf Café using OH's phone and found out about the Happy Traveller campsite which was just a couple of miles down the road and happy it was too.
We were greeted by a lovely friendly lady who booked us in. She told us how they had had wild fires in the area a few weeks before and had woken up to a couple of inches of ash covering everywhere. There was no sign of ash on our visit though. The site was lovely. We parked up and made some dinner, before once again settling down for the night. We were too tired to walk into town, but had already stopped in the town for a coffee whilst trying to find the campsite, so we weren't too disappointed. It was full of lots of lovely cafes, bars, restaurants and shops, so is well worth a visit.
Here's a photo of our van parked, with the mountains in the background. It looks quite cosy there with the clipped hedges all around giving us some much appreciated privacy.
The swimming pool at the camp was open 24 hours, which was very unusual, but we didn't use it until the next morning when we spent a couple of hours there before heading off again towards the California coast. It was a lovely pool, complete with hot tub, blinged up ghekkos, mirrored cactus and very roomy, clean showers.
You can just see Little Bird's head under the water I this photograph.
We had a very happy stay at the Happy Traveller, but the road beckoned and we set off again towards the west coast of the US and the Pacific Ocean. In my next post, we reach Oceanside just north of San Diego and spend a couple of lovely days by the beach.