We have made it to Wellton, about 30 miles from the California state line. We had a very short day today from Tacna, where we were staying at the Chapparal Motel. If I were to set up a fashion label for gentlemen who consider themselves ‘chaps’, I’d probably call it ‘Chapparal’. And maybe it would be good for the owners to consider a change in profession too, given that nothing in the room worked aside from the air conditioner (mind you, that’s the most important thing of all). There also appeared to be a pile of dog food on the floor. Surprisingly, I did not request this. Regardless, we were very grateful to have a roof over our heads for the night, following some very hot and stuffy nights in the tent during the past week.
Despite being viciously run over by a car just outside of Tucson, I only required a day’s recuperation before we were on our way again. Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that I sustained no noticeable injuries and everything to do with my warrior spirit. However, I do seem to attract rather bad luck when abroad and around cars; this being my third car ‘crash’ I’ve been in outside of the UK. In Russia, after the taxi driver told Lucy and I that “in Russia, we have no need for your pesky seatbelts”, he became distracted by telling us how big the Volga river is and missed a red light, slamming into another car. To be fair to him, he was right; it was a very big river. Then, in Tajikistan, the car I was travelling in was hit by a bomb whilst by the Afghan border*. My bad luck with cars clearly continues.
Anyway, car crashes and searing heat aside, we’ve had a nice few days walking through some lovely mountain scenery along pleasant enough roads. We also got to stay at an Indian run casino on a small reservation along the way. Not only did we get a discount on the room rate, but we also managed to get $20 free on the slots and a free buffet. Lucy’s winning streak continues, as she leaves a trail of broke casino owners in her wake. $7 was the total damage done to this one. As for the buffet, we were expecting the usual fare of mushy cornbread, fried chicken and steamed broccoli. Instead, we got rare steak, roast pork, dolmades, deep fried ravioli and Hawaiian pork butt. To say we were glad that we didn’t try and pitch the tent that night instead would be an understatement.
Since leaving the casino, we’ve been continuing to try and avoid walking on the interstate at every opportunity. And, so far, we’ve succeeded, largely thanks to swathes of public access land. This has meant we’ve been able to take our stroller off road and galavant through the desert, pitching our tent where we please. I say this, but despite the freedom to roam, we’ve stuck religiously to the ‘wilderness’ within half a mile of the interstate. Hey, it’s scary out there and our navigational skills are poor at best.
We were looking forward to our first night of camping in the Sonoran Desert and were expecting a beautiful starry night. Instead, it blew a gale and pissed it down. The rest of the time, we’d have been pretty grateful for those conditions, as the temperature hovers around 35 degree centigrade. This is about 20 degrees too hot for me. Yesterday, in order to try and escape the heat, we decamped for three hours over lunch at a travel centre in a place called Dateland; so called because they grow a lot of dates there, oddly enough. The cafe there manages to pull in many an unsuspecting visitor off the road with their signs proclaiming that they sell their ‘world famous’ date milkshakes. Even though I can’t think of a less appetising flavour of milkshake than date, I got suckered in and ordered one too. Let’s just say it fully lived up to expectations and I might have been a tad jealous of Lucy’s chocolate ice cream…
* I may have missed out some minor/key facts here to make me appear more hardcore. Such as the trivial details that I was outside of the car when it was hit and the ‘bomb’ was actually a small fragment of metal which probably wasn’t a bomb (although I chose to believe the little old lady sat next to me, who was clearly a munitions expert, and was convinced we were under attack).