Ok, here we go, Part 2. I'm writing these back to back, as I have only a short amount of time before we're back on the road and heading to our next camp spot.
I purposely left off in the middle of travel day as we left Las Vegas. Our travel from Las Vegas to Goldfield, NV and subsequently Alkali Hot Springs was spectacular. I know now that when I envisioned US road trip I was seeing long open roads of the state of Nevada. I don't think I've ever driven roads so 'open.' The engineers that built those roads must have had the easiest time doing so, they're SO straight and SO long that all they had to do was pick two points, slap some asphalt down and ta-da! There's a road. (ok ok, I'm hyperbolizing, I know). But, for all this talk...I have no pictures. *Sigh*
As I mentioned, the night before we went to bed feeling wet then listened to howling wind all night. Admittedly the following day was bright, sunny and warm but our bones had been chilled and we were in need of a bath. Seeing as people don't openly offer their baths for use and paying for a campground with a shower is just not our thing, I researched some free hot springs in Nevada, picked one and off we went.
We knew we had at least a three hour push from Las Vegas to the hot springs so we kept stops to a minimum; however, it was pretty much a mandatory stop when we spotted an odd looking mountain in the distance then passed a sign simply advertising, "BIG DUNE." Ohhhhh, that mountain is a sand dune! Yeah, we took that turn off. Twenty minutes later we arrived at "BIG DUNE" and true to name, it was a big dune. As we approached the large pile of sand we noticed a definite change in ground composition, sand...obviously, but sand brings with it the danger of getting stuck. Now, in the this instance I wouldn't normally use the word 'danger' but "BIG DUNE" is located pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. There is a small town just to the South but in the case of a stuck situation, if were to find yourself alone it could be a problem. We proceeded towards "BIG DUNE" with a little more caution and both nearly got stuck. Luckily both of us carry retrieval gear with us for just this kind of thing.
We arrived and quickly made for the top of the closest dune. If you've never stood on top of a sand dune I'll tell you that it's definitely a neat experience. If you think about it, it becomes quite surprising that the large pile of sand you're standing on (hundreds of meters high) was put there by the wind.
As we began to wrap up our playtime on the dunes a family approached us from out of the surrounding bush. We had noticed another vehicle out in the bush between the dunes and the road, and heard yelling but assumed that it was simply kids playing or just people talking, sound does carry a long way when there's nothing to block it. The family began to climb the dune and then the father came up to us and asked if we had a 4x4. Well, yes...we do. He had become stuck with his tent trailer in the sand. So, Cory and I walked down to the 4runner, hopped in and went to the rescue. A short time later we had pulled a van to safety and moved his trailer in behind him so the family could hook back up and be on their way. The family was quite thankful for the assistance and we were more than happy to help.
Feeling achieved, we returned to the girls, picked them up and continued on our way to Goldfield. We arrived after dark at the hot springs, went for a dip, ate supper and hit the sack. That night the wind hit again. Holy canoly! WIIINNNND! Some of us had some serious trouble sleeping, one of us was out in the middle of the night taping things down things that rattle in the wind.
Morning at the hot springs was cold and it had snowed a little over night. I went for an extra long soak in the tub after our naked hot spring-goers had left (Europeans and their nude bathing habits...am I right?).
We hit the road shortly after and were immediately assaulted with a snow storm. We traveled in the storm for the next 40 minutes till we reached lower elevation. The inclement weather kept up as we drove to Beatty, NV and continued till we were well within Death Valley National Park.
I've begun a list of return-to places on my phone. On the list goes every place that we've passed through that I think we haven't spent enough time at. A lot of these places I will likely visit alone one day, Death Valley National Park is on the list, officially. It's a pretty incredible place to say the least.
We finished our drive just outside of Joshua Tree National Park. Speaking of return-to places, put Mojave National Desert Preserve on the list. Unfortunately, to reach some more desirable places in a good amount of time we do large sections of road in the dark, not desirable but necessary when schedules are in mind. We slept on the outskirts of Twenty Nine Palms and enjoyed the warmth and beautiful starscape above. Then someone flicked on the jet engine again and we were hit with hammering wind again.
Joshua Tree, you never see enough of it. It was Alison and my second time being there and we're in love. I think plans will be made to stay there for at least a week next year. It presents a pretty perfect place for both of us to roll out of via bike or on foot. It's also a photographic cornucopia. Oh ya...and it started to snow there too, what the heck Nature?!