Monday, 1 September 2014

Day 10: Yuma, AZ - Hemet, CA

Deserts be damned, I feel like some more mountains.  They look nice and, being closer to the sun, tend to be cooler ["Are you sure about this?" - Ed.].  The only flaw in this plan is that the nearest available mountains lie quite some distance away, across some very dulk deserts.

Mostly dulk anyway.  Not far into Stullifornia are some ripping sand dunes:
Peter O'Toole & camel just out of shot
The road in the foreground is the westbound carriageway of I-8, the rest area at which I stopped being built on the central reservation.  Just behind the bushes in the middle is the All-American Canal.  It's a bit rubbish - no locks, no pubs and, indeed, no boats.  It instead serves to supply water to the Imperial Valley, with a subsidiary use of drowning illegal immigrants - such is the number of people killed utterly to DETH in the canal that it has been called "the Most Dangerous Body of Water in the U.S."

The Imperial Valley is not much different from a fair amount of the terrain crossed yesterday i.e. it is dead flat.  Almost.  It actually slopes down towards the Salton Sea; thus much of it is well below sea level - as far as seventy metres in some spots.  The only thing worthy of note here is the aforementioned Salton Sea.  While the area has frequently been filled with water for natural reasons, the current Salton Sea is the result of a cock-up in the opening overs of the twentieth century which caused the Mighty Colorado to turn sharp right and inundate the area to a depth of about 16 metres in the middle.  The pelicans like it, though.
The Salton Sea at Bombay Beach, CA
What you cannot see in this picture, because it is behind me, is the Mudstang up to its axles in soft sand.  Yes, like Wild Billy Childish1, I am a Stuckist.  Fortunately a Nice Man showed up armed with a pickup, some sturdy chains and equally sturdy webbing straps and a  SHUVEL.  With these we were able to tow the Mudstang back to Terra Firma.  I disrecommend any SHUVEL-related activity on a shade-free beach when the temperature is in three Fahrenheity Digits.  You may, should you so desire, call me a twat.

Just this once.

Leaving the smelly old Salton Sea behind we encounter the area of urbanisation and golf courses that is the Coachella Valley.  Either side of this there are, at last, mountains.  I pick those to the west, the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto ranges, find CA-74 and enjoy a splendidly twisty climb to ~1400 metres and a commensurate temperature drop to around 32 Celsius.  Mountain Center sounds like it should be a nice place to stop but alas is too small to support much more than a caff and a road junction.
The bustling heart of Mountain Center
So here I am in Hemet, which is down the other side of the mountains about 500 metres above sea level and about ten miles long.  Nice Lady Tonya at the motel and I have a good chat while the housekeeping staff work frantically to get all the rooms ready - apparently they're usually fully booked every weekend, not just Labor Day, so I was lucky to get in.  Alas my window faces west and the air-con is not up to the task, but the free cookies and already-in-the-fridge bottled water help make up for it.  I haven't ventured out since arriving but will have to do so soon in order to buy milk.  Hat, sunglasses and Native Bearers with tinned quail and copious quantities of Gin are all ready to move out...

On being Stuck: On the whole it is probably better to be in the company of a taciturn Hispanic bloke with a SHUVEL than having Tracey Emin shouting that you're "stuck! stuck! stuck!" in your ear'ole.

  1. OK, not much like Wild Billy Childish...

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