Wednesday, October 31, 2012

DAY 70- Sultan Sea, Dunes, & Border Patrol...

Having regrouped and gotten a few days off from my BIG Adventure, I was ready to head out again.  This time I was heading south east to Yuma, AZ.  I had already covered most of the northern territory of Arizona but really felt like I needed to get south.  I will admit that this wouldn’t be my first time to Yuma.  I was there years ago during a couple of Spring Breaks in college.

Before I was even headed out of Palm Desert, I was stopped at a light when the guy in a pickup truck rolled down his window to talk to me.  “Hey, I lived in Salt Lake for 16 years!” he said.  “What part of the valley are you from?”  He continued to ask questions while we waited for the light.  He moved to southern California because you can have it all and he hated the cold up north.  He said that he could ski in the morning and then drive a couple of hours and be surfing on the ocean.  The light changed and he gave the parting comment of “… You’ve got to love California!”  As he stepped on the gas and left me and my station wagon in the dust. 

Okay, I thought; as I headed east on I-10 and shortly after went south on the Hwy 86 split.  I went along for miles with not much for scenery in this southern California area and then out of the blue comes the Sultan Sea.  Yeah, Sultan!  Of all of the names to choose for a name of a lake.  The Sultan Sea is like an oasis out of the middle of nowhere and just happens to also be below sea level.  This sea was created by accident with a flood in 1905 and is still maintained through yearly run offs of water from agriculture and is fed from New White Water and the Alamo Rivers in the area.  It is the largest lake in California and is the second saltiest lake in the US; The Great Salt Lake is the first.  I just drove by the lake but there didn’t appear to be much going on its surface.  There was a fair amount of green areas with houses and I’m sure businesses along its shoreline on the west.
Photo- The Sultan Sea, a huge lake in the middle of California's desert country. 

I continued southeast direction.  My plan was to drive through the Imperial Sand Dunes in southern California.  I had seen the dunes years ago once and I figured it would be something scenic that I could see along the way; there’s really limited scenery between California’s and Arizona’s borders.  I went through a couple of smaller towns and in each one I kept on seeing signs mentioning about purchasing your Glamis permits.  What was this?  Well, it turned out if you wanted to do some off road time or do any recreational things around the sand dunes you needed a permit.  The Imperial Sand Dunes surround a town called Glamis; which is really more of an outpost in the middle of the sand dunes where you can purchase supplies and hook up RV’s.  I drove through and didn’t purchase a permit.  I stopped only once for a quick opportunity to take some pictures.  It was like a giant sand box and I didn’t see that many people playing in the sand box which I found disappointing.
Photo- The Imperial Sand Dunes near Glamis, CA.

I continued on the same road and the landscape changed dramatically to a red like mountains.  There was a HUGE mining operation I drove by that had tall chain-link fences and razor wire along the top.  I’m guessing it was a successful mining operation that REALLY didn’t want trespassers.  Of course, every few feet there was a no trespassing sign; that was a big clue too.
Photo- From sand dunes to red rock mountains in a matter of miles.

The road started to change and the scenery and road began to get really dippy.  The suggested speed limit went lower and then there would be a series of dip after dip after dip that you could see on the road.  It was a little like driving a car on a smaller version of a roller coaster; which is totally not my thing.  I felt my stomach lurch up and down as I drove along; hoping I wouldn’t have to hurl.  The next thing I know I see a warning signs about all vehicles must stop and the speed limit keeps on lowering.  I see stop signs and a covered area above the road where four guys and a dog are standing.  What’s up with this?
Photo- Driving on a mini roller coaster ride and hoping I didn't hurl.

I pulled up and stopped.  The guys are all wearing dark green uniforms that say border control.  One of the guys asked me,” Hi mamm.  Are you a US Citizen?”  Yes I say and then I teasingly say,” Did I wander in to Mexico by accident?”  Oooops! NOT the thing to say to a border control officer.  His face got stern and serious.  He then asked where I started my day, where I was going, and where I had last driven through.  I answered them and thinking to myself all along-”Oh great!  This guy has no sense of humor and he’s going to make me unload my car.” 

Then, he says that did I know that I was heading north to Blythe.  No, I thought I was heading south and hoping to find I-8 to head into Yuma.  I must admit that I played up the dumb part a bit more than I normally would have.  I got out my atlas and asked if he could show me where I was.  I must have really gotten turned around and I needed help I said as I tried to look as dumb and doe-eyed as possible.

He showed me where I was and said that if I turned around.  I could take the second left turn and then I would be about 25 miles to I-8.  I thanked him profusely and he said to be very careful of oncoming traffic when I turned around.  The whole time the other three guys and the German Shepard dog were just standing on the other side of my car.  Okay, I thought as I drove away… Note to self- The US Border Control does not have a sense of humor and to just play it straight the next time.

The rest of the drive was uneventful and I managed to get checked into my hotel for the night in Yuma.  I ended up deciding to stay close to the hotel for dinner since it was dark and went to an Olive Garden.  No one interesting to talk to at the bar, and it was just an over stressed woman who was bartending.  This was no fun and the food was just okay.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for a friend who called to see how I was doing on my adventure; I wouldn’t have had any dinner conversation at all.  Boring!  Note to self- maybe no more Olive Garden meals for a while.

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