Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?

We left the world of boondockers and desert dwellers behind today to re-enter Starbucks chain-gang territory in San Diego, California. It is a mere two hundred miles, and a few hours in Betty, but the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Bedroom Communities are on totally different planets.  As we departed YPG, we waved goodbye to the hundreds of RV’s camping (aka living) on vast expanses of government land, for free.  These boondockers are using sunlight to keep their batteries charged, living on canned goods, and foregoing showers.  Whatever you may think of that, lots and lots of folks are doing it, and not just in a 25 year old tin can, tow behind trailer.  There are plenty of six figure Tiffins and Newmars with late model Wranglers in tow, camped 500 yards off of I-8. They could probably pony up a saw buck for an RV site if they were so inclined but the fact that they don’t tells us that the phenomena has more to do with unplugging than anything else.  Maybe we will give it a try it one day, if only for a night or two. The drive out of Yuma took us through fields that grow 90% of the lettuce consumed in the United States in winter, including Sheri’s favorite, Lacinato Kale. If there would have been a stand, we’d have been stocking up.

The drive also took us past miles long caravan of Jeeps. Called the ultimate off-road trip is the 750 mile Arizona Peace Trail – a loop that runs from Yuma north along the Colorado River to Bullhead City and Kingman, then south through the desert east of the Kofas to Dateland, then west back to Yuma. According to arizonapeacetrail.org, the loop encompasses dramatic terrain variations, elevations from 170 to 7,070 feet, scenic landscapes, gritty history, and an amazing variety of plants and wildlife. Makes us wish we owned a Jeep!

Leaving Yuma on I-8 West, we stopped at The Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. Unfortunately all the information we could get was on the posters outside, as the visitor center was closed due to the government shut down. These dunes are the country’s largest active erg, or sand sea, with sand dunes 40 miles long and 5 miles wide. Eric used to fly in the Chocolate Mountains over the dunes.

It also happens to be a BLM campsite, attracting dune buggy enthusiasts and other off the grid dwellers.

Climbing out of the desert, the passage through the lower Rockies is easy with elevations topping out at 4140 feet.  Betty had no problem on the 6% climbs as longas you were not in a rush, or wanted to listen to the radio.  The big V-10 in third gear at 35 mph is sufficient musical accompaniment to the strange fields of giant boulders that cover the mountains.

Enormous wind farms stood idle as we passed with a rare heavy rain blanketing the normally dry, windy mountain pass.

After a hard rain through a Border Inspection Station, the vista gradually began to turn green with vegetation. Housing complexes popped up and suddenly we were in San Diego.

In true California fashion, we exited I-8 onto and then off of three other freeways in rapid succession until Google maps told us we had arrived at Zumwalt’s bicycle shop.  Two chill dudes performed a quick fix on a missing spoke on Sheri’s Como after hearing our sad story of the Como’s being our only practical means of getting around.  Waiting 20 minutes sure beat the 48 hour turn-around advertised on their website.

Four more freeways and three flyovers later, we pulled into Admiral Baker RV Campground.  It does not look like much, but the small sites offer a concrete pad, full hook-up and cable.  In any case, the campground is at full capacity which makes us think that our options are limited this close to town.  As the rain continues to fall, tomorrow begins an new urban adventure.