After camping two nights next to the Salton Sea and enduring the horrific smell and the 24-hour freight train traffic past the park, we were ready for a new spot. As always, there were options.
- Circle the Salton Sea looking for a new campground.
- Stop at Slab City and try out life without laws (or toilets).
- Check out the Imperial Sand Dunes and camp on the sand (next to the dune buggies).
- Head t0 Yuma and camp next to the wintering snowbirds on the BLM land.
- Ditch the desert and head west, young man … to the coast.
And they all fell apart. We burned the day ticking of 1-4 and ended up beaten, broken, and stuck at a Travelodge outside Yuma. Here’s how it went down:
First we stopped at Bombay Beach where we found bulldozed lots and a closed campground and a few retirees hanging on. Bust. Onward to Niland, I said, the epicenter of culture in the area.
There’s a campground just outside of Niland on a peninsula. Learning it was on a peninsula, we had to pass it up — the smell would kill us. I had only researched up until this point, so it was time to turn to the Android. Help me, Obe-Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope. (I call my phone Obe-Wan, of course.)
Obe-Wan led us to Slab City’s outdoor bar … which is only open after sunset. It may as well have been the Mos Eisley Cantina. BYO gun.
Slightly scary, but we vowed to return — packing heat and driving an RV. We repented at Salvation Mountain and prayed for good fortune. Instead, we wound our way to the Imperial Sand Dunes only to be attacked by Imperial Walker-sized winds. Time to move on again.
We pressed on to Yuma, then north to the BLM land where camping is allowed. We found a possible spot, but it was exposed, lacked a table and fire ring, and was covered in warnings about emergency evacuations should the nearby damn blow. And then there were the Tusken Raiders, sand people … everywhere. We could feel their presence. We were not safe. Crazed snowbirds would surround and overwhelm us, forcing us to join their tribe or enslave us as dump-station jockies. We retreated again.
If you strike us down, we shall become more powerful than you can imagine. After settling in for a long, noisy night at the Travelodge, we listened to Emperor Obama’s state of the galaxy address. Our union was weakened, but not broken. Tomorrow, we’d head west aboard the Millennium Falcon (Interstate 8) and grow stronger.