Today, after a late wake up, a leisurely breakfast and a swim, we checked out of our lovely Comfort Inn in Escondido and headed inland. Our plan, evolving as we go, is to head towards Joshua Tree National Park – to find somewhere to stay for the night nearby, head into the park tomorrow morning, and then head inland further towards the Grand Canyon.As we drove inland from Escondido it became cooler, as we went up into lush, green hills.
We passed through a couple of fascinating towns as we went, including Ramona where the shops were still in the style of an old Western movie (well, a modern version anyway), and Julian, which was full of cutsey curio and pie shops. We stopped for lunch (had our first taste of a ‘corndog’ – yeuch!) and then carried on. Soon we were in the desert, passing signs for ‘Hellhole Palms’ and ‘Desert Lodge’ – amid scenes out of Mad Max. There were groups of RV’s and old buses circled around, with jeeps and pickups clustered outside. We passed through Ocotillo Wells, which at 112-degrees F was the hottest place in America today. Fortunately the air-con on our Nissan ShoeBox works fine.
And about 10 miles afterwards the heavens opened, and we were reduced to driving at 30mph to see the road. Then another hour and a half of dusty, dry driving to Indio. As we approached we were swamped by sand storms, with dust blown off the fields of date palms nearby, and then suddenly the heavens opened again. It rained and rained, and huge flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder broke nearby. They obviously don’t expect too much rain in the deserts – most of the roads simply flooded, and when we drove into our motel parking lot we found it covered in 6 inches of water! Turns out they’ve got freak weather conditions, and Las Vegas had 2 inches of rain in 20 minutes. I hope it gets better before we get there – I don’t really want to stay in a flooded motel!