Travel Journal: Southern California – Desert Driving, Finding Salvation and Oooh a Lake

So sometimes road trips are fun and even though it can be a long day the views can make up for it. Yeah, it is not really that kind of day when my group were travelling through the Southern California desert.

From San Diego it was an early start  heading to Lake Havasu with 7hrs of driving ahead and almost all of it through desert. To be fair the first hour of driving was quite interesting seeing all the Californian orchards and vineyards but somewhere along the path we seemed to turn a corner and that was us, on the road to nowhere.

We did stop twice on the long drive to Lake Havasu. The first was Salvation Mountain which is located in the middle of the desert in what seems absolute nowhere and was the project of one man who wanted to spread God’s love and so build a giant mountain out of clay and clement and painted it with bright colours and biblical quotes. It is an impressive structure and shows true dedication to a cause, if somewhat oddly placed.

The sign at the entrance to the Salvation Mountain site
Salvation Mountain

On our short visit we explored the mountain top, its array of matching brightly coloured tunnels underneath and the surrounding vehicles on the site. The places is a fascinating religious tribute and a wonderfully colourful monument in an otherwise rather plain landscape but it was also 40C out so we didn’t spent too long here.

Salvation Mountain created with clay and cement
The Painted Mountain

We did get accosted by a man who claimed to be a ranger a Salvation Mountain, who wanted to drive us out further into the dessert to show us a constructed waterway.  Our idiot driver Megan obliged the man and did indeed drive about 15 mins off of the road into the desert. Nothing like playing out the start of a horror movie where a bus full of tourists gets slaughtered in the desert. We did manage to get away from the extremely creepy man who was insisting we go a swim in the waterway but I was not very happy we had followed him in the first place. Something I would never have done on my own and another reason I why group travel just isn’t for me. I like to be in control of what I’m doing.

Our next stop is for lunch which we had quickly in  the near by town of Niland that has some welcome shade and we stock up on lots and lots of water to try and combat the excessive heat. Then it’s back to more desert all the way until we get to Lake Havasu, just over the state border in Arizona.

Californian Desert
More Desert

It finally gets cooler when we arrive at Buckskins Mountain Park, where we camped for then night but the sun was setting quickly on our arrival so it was a bit of a rush to get the tents up before the light was gone. We stayed in a big camper van site which turned out pretty noisy but had the bonus of showers so I was quite happy.

The sun setting in Lake Havasu
The sun setting in Lake Havasu

We decide that since we were camped on Lake Havasu just for the night we may as well take advantage of the lake and head off for a sunset swim in the water. While it was a bit cold but it was definitely welcome after the temperatures and long drive of the day.

After a thorough wash (in the showers not the lake) I head off to bed but definitely not to sleep. It seems the set of trailers we are camped next to were somewhat rowdy but soon turned into a full scale domestic which results in campsite security and then local police needing to come in to break up a very loud and large scale family fight.

Not a fun filled day but next stop the Grand Canyon