Day 39 – Ehrenburg, AZ to Imperial Sand Dunes, CA (71 mi)

Today I drove Andy to the airport in Phoenix for him to fly back to New Jersey. Carsten, Nalani and I were sad to see him go. The last few days represent the first trip that the four of us have done together. We hope to have a chance for another sibling trip in the future.

Carsten and Nalani had the scariest biking conditions of the trip thus far. The road was narrow without much of a shoulder, and the traffic was heavy, fast and comprised mainly of RVs and trucks. They comforted themselves by buying ice cream sandwiches towards the end of their ride.

As I drove west the landscape changed abruptly. The shrubs and cactuses disappeared, replaced by windswept sand dunes devoid of vegetation but crawling with dune buggies and all terrain vehicles. The map that we are using for this trip indicates the location of campgrounds but gives very minimal information about said campgrounds. This means that we rarely know what to expect. Some evenings we are pleasantly surprised by a RV park with a pool or game room. Other days we find ourselves at fairly rundown RV parks.

Tonight’s campground was perhaps the most unexpected of the trip thus far. Campground, however, might not be the best descriptor, for there are no sites and no picnic tables. Rather there is a series of large gravel parking lots with occasional pit toilets. Clusters of RVs claim their area by placing out orange traffic cones, so that off roaders don’t come too close. We, of course, are unprepared for this campground for we lack traffic cones, a table and an ATV.

I arrived at the campground before Nalani and Carsten and drove around for a while searching in vain for an area conducive to tent camping. The entire time that I drove, I could faintly hear the familiar jingle of an ice cream truck. Ever since I was a young girl, I have had a minor phobia of ice cream trucks. The combination of the barren dunes, the ice cream truck music, and having spent my drive listening to a novel about a kidnapper gave me a strong case of the creeps, so I sat in my locked car until Carsten and Nalani arrived.

After they arrived and successfully pulled an April fools prank on me, we set our tent up as close to the prius as possible for fear of somebody accidentally driving into us in the middle of the night. We set our coleman stove up on the ground and ate dinner, leaning against the side of the car for support. All the while, the two young boys of the neighboring RV continually rode their mini-off roading motorcycles too close for comfort, shooting sand in our direction.

Shortly after we finished eating dinner, a man came by selling beef jerky. A short conversation revealed that he grew up in South Bend and he proudly rolled up his sleeve to reveal a fighting irish tattoo. We briefly had fun exchanging South Bend stories and he generously gave us two free bags of beef jerky, but quickly our conversation deteriorated when it became clear that we held very different ideas when it came to racial issues in the United States. We argued briefly, but then parted ways before things got too ugly.

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