Our main goal on leaving Arizona and arriving back in California was to retrieve the tent and other equipment and get back to camping as soon as possible. We spent our first night in California in Indio, near Palm Springs in the California desert. It was a pretty uneventful stay in an Airbnb, marked by more gorgeous weather and a visit to Trader Joe’s grocery store to shop for some long awaited home cooked food. On leaving the next morning for a short drive up Interstate Highway 10 we were shocked to be caught in the middle of a dust storm.
This is not the worst dust storm we have encountered. Back in 1997, in Iran, we could not see more than 10 metres ahead but we were the only vehicle on the road and it was much more scary this time, being blown across the path of trucks in a three lane highway. Later on we were reintroduced to the terrible traffic in LA. Fortunately, we were going the other way. It was interesting to note that the electric train/tram goes down the central reservation, allowing train passengers to feel extra smug as they look out at the car drivers stuck in a traffic jam.
We left our camping gear with the parents of a colleague and friend from Berlin, Heather, who live in Pasadena (which is part of the LA conurbation, East of the city, near the mountains). We booked into a Airbnb nearby in Eagle Rock and enjoyed a lovely couple of days there. We have not experienced many walkable neighbourhoods in the US so far. “Shops nearby” usually means 10-15 minutes drive but Eagle Rock really was walkable and within 7 minutes our room we had a supermarket, cafes and restaurants and…a motorcycle shop that sold tyres to fit the Triumph. We invested in two more new tyres for the bike, a decent hair cut for me-the first for more than 5 months- and a pair of new bike gloves for Dave, as his old ones wore out.
Our Airbnb was in one of those typical Spanish-style LA homes, like you see in the films.
We had a lovely visit with Sandy, Heather’s mom, to collect our things. It was great to chat for a couple of hours and see where Heather grew up. This is a stunning neighbourhood and somewhere I would love to live.
The tent zips had failed on us before we left for Mexico, back in October and we knew we needed to repair them. We were quite chuffed that having unpicked the zips, removed the zip sliders and replaced them with new ones, the zips were like new. This meant we were able to head out straight for our favourite USA campsite in Idyllwild, the last campsite we stayed at in October before we left.
The campsite is a 6,200 feet and so we had to be sure we could stay warm. We invested in a pair of fleece trouser each (sexy, not) and hoped that with the thermal underwear, down jackets and sleeping bags this would be enough to stop us from freezing and keep us camping. You can see us modelling our new trousers below.
The ride up to Idyllwild was the best riding we have done for months and months. Winding, smooth roads, beautiful temperature and great scenery. It felt so good to be back.
After I had finished stitching up the tent.
Dave put it up.
And we celebrated with a couple of beers (European beers). As you can see we are the only people mad enough to camp in a tent in March and the campsite was empty (bliss).
I love this campsite because you have great facilities like a lodge with Wifi and a laundry but it still feels like a wilderness, right on top of the mountain.
I have never see pine cones this big anywhere in Europe. The squirrels are even bigger but there are no bears here, only rattlesnakes and tarantulas (apparently).
So we have spent a couple of days, trying to stay warm (mostly successfully), pottering on the campsite and in the village, doing some work on the thesis and on the bike. The bike has some new brake pads but we are still grappling with how to get all of the camping gear on (how did we manage it before?)
We are both extremely relaxed and happy with a lot to look forward to. We have decided not to go to Vegas as it is too expensive. We are heading to Palm Springs to see Elvis’s honeymoon house and other modernist architecture. We then have a lodge booked in the Grand Canyon National Park for 30th March. After this we head to Utah for Monument Valley, Canyonlands and Arches National Park.