Hello and welcome to my blog. This is a compilation of travel stories, photos and places that I have visited over the years (although once in a while I will include places that I WANT to visit!). I love to travel and am also a bit of a "foodie" so every now and then I will probably start talking about my favorite restaurants too. Enjoy!

Sunrise at Kruger National Park, South Africa

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Desert Rat for 36 hours

I apologize for the lack of posts lately but I have been kinda busy interviewing like crazy for that new "dream job". I wish there were some way for me to just travel, take photos and write my blog all day but unfortunately for now I need to get back to work! But until then, I might as well have fun and enjoy my freedom! :-)

So this weekend I was treated to a uniquely San Diego experience thanks to my friends Robin and Stephan: a trip to the desert! Now many of you might be asking why "the desert", or what is there that might be fun to visit or do, but I promise after reading this post you are either going to want to go immediately to see the show or just shake your head and say "this is definitely not for me"!

Thanks to my crazy interview schedule and multiple day trips up to the Bay Area this week, I was only able to meet up with Robin and crew on Saturday morning. I crawled out of bed in the morning, grabbed a Venti coffee from Starbucks and a Lemon Loaf and headed southeast. The drive from Del Mar is about 2 1/2 hours to get to their campsite which is located in the middle of the Glamis Sand Dunes (also known as Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area) in the Imperial Valley. The area of dunes where you can "play" is approximately 45 miles long by 6 mile wide and hosts up to 1.4 million people per year! Wow!

(Dune buggy wheelies were a common occurrence)

The closest town to where we camped is a place called Brawley about 20 miles away so you are literally in the middle of nowhere... When I turned onto Gecko Road to get to the campsite I was amazed -- there is a paved road straight into the desert and people (thousands of people!) have parked RVs all along this road and made campsites with RVs, Motor homes and of course their desert toys (Quad bikes, Dune Buggy's, 4X4's, etc). Since this is actually an official "recreation area", permits are required to enter the site and camp overnight. You need a permit for every "primary" vehicle (i.e. your car or motor home) but not for "toys" that you bring in on trailers. Permits have various costs but can essentially be bought when you enter for $40 for a week or $120 for the season (costs are lower if you purchase ahead of time).

The "MOHO" and the broken down buggy :-(

When I arrived the crew was getting ready for their first ride of the day so I go there just in time! We hopped into two Jeep's, had a few folks follow us in their dune buggy's, and headed into the dunes for the ride of my life. I swear this was better than a roller coaster ride! :-) Now kids, please don't try this at home... but I was with a group of folks who have been coming out to the desert for YEARS -- I mean, the average number of years these guys and gals have been coming out here is more than 20 so they know what they are doing! We flew (literally) across the dunes to a place called "The Hill" and went and parked down at the bottom with the rest of the crew that Robin and Stephan usually hang out with when they go out there.

"The Hill"

Robin and Carly -- Chicks Rule! :-)

Carly and Me digging this really hot Camaro! And no, I did NOT drive it but I wish!

The Hill is a place where people congregate, check out each other's toys, drink beer and socialize. Oh, and they show off in their fancy souped up cars/buggy's/etc! What an interesting place to see and observe. And I swear I have never see so many Confederate flags in any one place in my ENTIRE life! I think it is really just a macho, cool thing to do but that is just my opinion after being there for a couple of days...

The Dukes of Hazzard General Lee was a common theme but my favorite was the buggy at the top! I ALMOST got a ride in it... maybe next time!

Anyway, I digress... Being here at the dunes for the weekend was an experience to remember for sure. The people were very interesting to watch and are definitely adventure-loving, thrill-seeking, adrenaline-junkies! And of course, I was very impressed with all the fancy toys all over and definitely wanted to go for a ride in a few of these phenomenal cars (but to be honest, I was a little scared so I didn't go through with it, but there is something to look forward to next time!). I don't think I could do this every weekend like so many of the people do, but it was definitely a FUN experience for the weekend and I hope to go back again sometime and maybe get up the courage to ride in a dune buggy and possibly even drive some sort of vehicle in the sand (or maybe I will just stick to being a passenger for the time being!).

So a big THANK YOU to Robin and Stephan for hosting this weekend and introducing me to this different world. It was a great experience and I hope to come out and visit again soon! For all you readers who would like to experience this place -- be careful, don't drive with people you don't know and trust, and HAVE FUN!

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South African Wildflowers