So, one problem with the 4runner is that the air conditioning is non-functional. The cost to repair it exceeds my value for the comfort. Or so I thought, until I drove from Phoenix to the Salton Sea…
The plan – camp at the Salton Sea. Why? No clue, I’ve just never been there. And so I grabbed my map, and headed west, winding through farm land. As the hours passed the temperature rose. Three stops to buy ice to refill a cooler that couldn’t stay cool. Hours of not having a working phone because the thermal sensor shut it down. The dog throws up in the truck, he won’t eat, he only drinks if there is ice in the bowl. At times I feel as though throwing up might make me feel better too.
And water. I drink two and a half gallons throughout the day, and yet I don’t need to pee at all. All that water is escaping back out of my skin. We stop at the Glamis sand dunes simply to break the monotony. I take a picture:
As I drive out the truck gets stuck in the sand that has built up in the parking lot. I wasn’t paying enough attention, and now have to spend half an hour digging my tires out and placing brush underneath them. More sweat, and the aggravation of the situation sends even more water out of my eyes as tears. I am a leaking mess.
We get to the Salton Sea, but almost all of the campgrounds are closed. I finally find one that is open and pull in, relishing the thought of a cool swim. The sea looks great from a distance:
Up close though it smells of rotting fish. There are swarms of flies which are instantly on us, in my mouth and nose as I breath. I wander towards the water, but am stopped short. There is thirty yards of mud, algae, bird crap, and dead fish bodies which I will have to cross if I want to get wet. It is simply not worth it to me, the smell is horrible. Scrappy runs through the sucking mess to the water, when he returns he smells horrible too. We leave shortly thereafter.
With hopes of camping here shot down, I do not know where I am going. I simply follow the highway. We pass through date palm fields who seem to enjoy the smelly water. They are heavy with fruit:
The highway ends at a place called Thousand Palms. I pull into a walmart parking lot, planning to sleep there for the night. I cook a packet of ramen in the back of the truck and try to be happy:
I lay down to sleep, but can only toss and turn. The sweat is still seeping out of me, and soon I am rolling around in a puddle. It is too much for me to take. I decide to head for San Diego, it is 10:30 at night. Another look at the map, and asking somebody for directions.
And then something magical happens. As I follow the highway out of town it begins to wind upward. Upward into a range of mountains. As the elevation climbs the temperature drops, and soon I am comfortable. There is a scenic turnout which I stop at and breath in the cool air. I stop for a while, just looking down at the heat:
I’ve escaped! I am finally cool. The dog will finally drink water, and is able to stop panting. We drive with all the windows open until we reach the beach town. I get lost trying to get to the ocean, and end up parking on a side street and sleeping in the upright driver’s seat. It is 1:30 in the morning and I am tired. But we made it.