We are tired of the desert. That’s pretty much an understatement. We knew going into the walk that it would be tough, and it has been exactly that. 95 degree plus days have come one after another so far, without any end in sight.
It is pretty amazing really, how anything other than your typical desert creatures, lives here, and that includes people Some people do it by choice for heaven’s sake. We are here in October, not necessarily the hottest time of the year, and the thermometer has reached 105, with more 100 degree days ahead. Kate actually said, “I wouldn’t even want to be a bug here”.
The nights offer some reprieve from the heat, generally getting down into the low 60’s, however, as soon as the sun comes up over the mountains the next morning, it’s game on. But that is enough about the weather.
The landscape is beautiful, albeit repetitive. There are areas in the mountains/desert that you would refer to as an oasis, which have gatherings of Palm Trees and shade. Some are local parks or walking trails like the Coachella Valley trails, and some are cities like Indian Wells. They mix a little green in here and there with all the brown.
As for the walking, we have built up to about 15 miles a day on our way to our goal of 20. 20 is just not possible in this heat and elevation for an old guy with duck tape and baling wire holding his legs together. Kate is holding up extremely well, however succumbs to the heat when we are nearing 10 miles for the morning and the heat starts to take its toll. I call her RoboKate, but there are times when she proves that she is still mortal.
On another note, my friend Daniel walked with us for the first four days. They were pivotal days as they allowed us to navigate out of Oceanside and get us 40+ miles into the hills and on our way. He owns a tax business and has been up against it with the October 15th deadline. It seems a lot of people file six month extensions. Anyways, those first four days set the tone, and Daniel deserves a lot of credit.
I can’t thank him enough for his support and efforts. He sacrificed a lot, including 4:30 AM wake up calls, in order to get us off on the right foot. He also provided a lot of important tips and information about enduring the grind, diet and nutrition, and handling certain situations including the elements. Navy Seal guys know all about that stuff and I took to heart every piece of information he was offering. It was also fun to chit-chat while walking, especially dogging the Tigers and their recent managers. Hat’s off to a good man!
We are moving camp tomorrow to a city called Blythe. We currently stand at 143 walking miles in, with a few more to go tonight, and Blythe should be our last destination in California. During the week or so there, we will have the requisite number of miles in to reach the Arizona border…I hope!
Whether you have been to California or not, you may find the following a bit interesting:
Things I found out about California
- Traffic: Well, one thing I haven’t figured out are the traffic lights. Seems there is a light for each lane. Two lanes typically turn left, and I’m not sure that Google has that figured out. At least she, we call the Google voice Judy, doesn’t account for the fact that the right lane, of the left two lanes, becomes the third lane just before most intersections, when she tells you to take the two left lanes to turn left. You try to figure that one out. Thanks a lot Judy, you have caused me to look like a tourist on the roads, who has no idea how to drive. Anyways, it takes forever to get through a light, whether you are walking or driving.
- Can and bottle deposits: California appears to have a knack for taxing things. There are however a lot of things they provide for those extra taxes (like the global warming tax on gasoline). I mean, they are going to stop global warming right? Sorry, that’s off the point. Bottles and cans have a deposit when you buy soda or beer just like back home. What is odd is that most retailers don’t take them back and reimburse you. We found out from a friend that you can take them to a local recycle place, but get nowhere near the 5 or 10 cents per can or bottle that you paid when you bought your beverage. Pretty sneaky California.
- The people seem to be nice. We get waves and hello’s when walking. The locals are mostly friendly. This might be because they don’t have to deal with the seasons like we do in Michigan. You know, almost winter, winter, still winter, and construction season.
- It is multicultural here for sure. I’m not sure about northern California, but it is nice to see all the cultures blend together. I found it interesting that it is even more apparent on the TV stations that we get in the Desert. Some are in English of course, some are in Spanish, and some are Japanese. The Japanese station left an impression on me as they had a panel talking politics relating to the North Korean issue, and nobody was arguing or cutting other people off. A good old honest discussion. How strange.
- The weather. It was hazy by the ocean. There is a marine layer that seems to come in during the morning hours and takes some time to dissipate. The temperatures never seem to vary, or at least in three weeks we have been here. It is always mid 70’s near the ocean, and freaking hot in the desert. What is funny as well, is that there has been day after day where there are no clouds in the sky. None. In the desert, the lack of cloud cover leads to a relentless pounding of the sun’s rays on you. I told Kate today that it almost feels like your skin is on fire. She could barely grab the handle of a retail establishments entry door due to it being in direct sunlight today. Crazy stuff.
- All in all, it appears to us at least, that California is a nice place to visit, but not where I would necessarily choose to live. It’s different, some good, some not. The beach where we initially stayed, Oceanside, is nice with a lot to do and see. There are beautiful sunsets and all, but it is different from the good old Midwest, I’m not sure exactly why. That may require some time and additional thought to peg.
That’s it for now. We trudge on. We have found in the desert that the best way to proceed is for Kate to move the car a couple of miles forward at a time so there is a place along the route to beat the heat for a few minutes and restock the water supply. I’m not sure how long we will be able to do that as the location changes. I will share more on the logistics of it all in the next blog.
Until then, Cheers.