We left the Umpqua River, the hot tub, the well-kicked can, and the LeMert family, heading south toward California with no clear destination for the night. It would take about three days of solid driving, according to Google Maps and Moneypenny (our nickname for the GPS), so we were planning to just get as far as possible each day. For Thursday, that ended up being a National Forest campground on Hat Creek, just on the edge of Lassen National Park. We stopped at about 11 p.m. and backed the bus into the first available spot, earning kudos the next morning from the campground host in an adjacent spot – “Nice parking job last night!” Ayrril smelled smoke but chalked it up to campfires until it lasted until morning. A forest fire was burning inside the park and we ended up driving through some heavy smoke as we came down off the mountain.
Day two of the journey stretched even longer and the vast stretches of open Mojave Desert landscape made the drive seem like a video on endless loop. We decided to bypass Death Valley National Monument in California (not the best place to break down in August) and instead drove down the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range. And then, like a mirage rising up out of the desert night – Vegas, baby! No time to hit The Strip and enjoy the nightlife but we did appreciate the overnight stay at Nellis Air Force Base at the end of a 14 hour day.
Saturday was our final push: south from Vegas to I-10, on past Phoenix and Tucson, and finally to New Mexico. We arrived in Silver City, New Mexico at 1:30 a.m. after 16 hours of travel. On the way, we stopped in Quartzsite, Arizona to visit a very unique used bookstore, saw a brushfire raging along the Colorado River, and drove through a serious sandstorm (also known as a haboob) blowing through the desert.
Total miles covered since leaving Corvallis, Oregon: 1651 (2657 km)! That’s the equivalent of driving from Stuttgart to Moscow, then another 200 km.