August 2nd and 3rd

Wow, this was a crazy day and a half.

We left Mono Lake, having decided to head East into Nevada. Straight into the desert! It is such a beautiful area, not nearly as barren as the term desert suggests. Although it was a long drive, it was interesting! We headed East of the USAF Test Area, and round onto the Extra-Terrestial Highway. More on that later, but first a bit more about what happens whenever Sarah drives -- ;)

Remember I told you about the madness in the dark and fog coming into SF? In addition, Sarah drove yesterday on the way out of Yosa-might thru all the windy little roads and (very) close rock walls and tunnels too low at the edges (so you need to drive in the middle of the road). And today, Sarah was driving down these very straight roads in Nevada, and we had been watching and photoing sandstorms/whirlwinds that seem to have a life of their own.

Suddenly, with traffic coming the other way (rare enough), we saw a whirlwind approaching across the desert from our right, then WHAM, it hit us as we drove straight through the middle of it. For the sailors amongst you, it feels a bit like being knocked down by a strong gust in a sailboat. The whole side of the RV lifted as it caught us, and we were blown into the other lane accompanied by a huge roar from the wind.

Just as it passed, Sarah managed to swerve back over, and we missed the oncoming traffic (which hadn't braked nor swerved out of the way) by a few inches. Seriously scary stuff. Sarah couldn't stop swearing for about 5 minutes, in between apologising to the kids for her language!!

The rest of the way, we were on sandstorm watch, needless to say.

Next stop was the famous Inn on the ET Highway. A very strange little place, really kitschy Americana! We (Lewis and I) had an Alien Burger for lunch (which was quite possibly responsible for giving me a stomach ache and Lewis explosive diarrhoeah (OK, more info than you needed) the next day. A bit more yodel down the great white telephone than phone home).

After that we drove further down the road, by now virtually empty, and decided to have a bit of fun on the deserted desert road. Included is a photo of us screaming as loudly as we could. There is ZERO echo out there, and no-one to hear your screams. (Remember The Hills Have Eyes? We freaked ourselves out and cancelled a plan to camp out in the middle of the desert ; ) ).
Very strange. A futher stop later as the sun set, near to the edge of the official secret area, and we got these amazing images, including the possible sighting of a UFO.

After all the fun and games, and canceling the mad idea to stay in the desert, we made an even madder plan to continue driving until we got to the Grand Canyon.

As somebody might say. Epic fail.

Not for want of trying though; we had a few hours sleep in a rest area, and then continued on through the middle of the night. Now, note the two following signs:

Now, in Europe they put these signs everywhere, just because there happen to be a few trees or a field.

But in the USA, they mean it, and they're accurate!

I must have narrowly missed 20 deer that night, and 5 cows. We ended up travelling at 40mph on an open road, just so that I could spot them coming out of the dark as they tried to steer themselves under my wheels. The deer seem to be a. extremely stupid and b. suicidal. When they could just as easily step off the road and on to the verge, what do they do? They look up, staring at you. The expression 'deer in the headlights' says it all. Eventually, while I am slamming on the anchors and trying to veer to the left to avoid, they seem to wake up, dance across the road Bambi-like in the wrong direction, change their mind twice, and then do a bit of a skip and a dance before finally heading for the trees. Stupid just doesn't sum it up.

Suffice to say, we got within about 90 miles of the Grand Canyon before giving up at 5 in the morning and pulling into a KOA campground. We slept well, and had a lazy day on the 3rd, with a plan to get up super-early the next day in order to get to the GC in time for dawn and the sunrise. We tried to get the times right (different states, general confusion with day of week, time of day, no internet, no watch between us), and ultimately just failed. But tht's tomorrow's story.

I'll leave you with a photo of one of our friends. Beth is convinced that they are really aliens in disguise, who are just trying to piss us off.

PS. We need more travel advice... and we have no SoD (Stone of Destiny), and we are trying to work out the days/time to get us back to NY in time. Which leaves us some choices:

a. Nashville
b.New Orleans
c. Cape Canaveral