The title should have been “A boating expedition with camping”, but due to the unfortunate circumstances of this week it is the opposite. Boat hitched up to the van, Chris & I left first for Squaw Lake on the Colorado River. It was east on Interstate 8, climbing over four thousand feet from San Diego & then down in to the desert. To say the hills were rocky was bit of an understatement:
Of course, at over ninety degrees (I’m slowly learning to think American) & with no AC & the sun it started to get reasonably warm in the van. The desert was as you would expect a desert to be, but still interesting so far. I was surprised to find the All-American Canal supplies irrigation & drinking water to much of the area we drove through (part of Imperial County) & it is the largest irrigation canal in the world – there was an awful lot of crops growing & some huge lines ups of various baled hay & grass. Also of note on the long straight drive was the intermittent sightings of the US/Mexican border & the Border Patrol vehicles careening around the desert. In to Yuma (only of note to me due to the film “3.10 to Yuma” that I think I saw on a plane somewhere) to gas up the van & boat. Through the back blocks to the Imperial Dam & the turn off to Squaw Lake (really a bit on the side of the Colorado River) & the campsite – the rest of the family arrived within half an hour of us. Funnily enough, camping in the desert is rather different to the camping I was used to – rocky, hot brown.
Putting the boat in we were frustrated to find that it didn’t go – after exhausting the jumpstart packs, Eliot moving batteries from car to boat, boat to car, van to boat & boat to van & pulling the battery shield off, we found that the workshop had not earthed the battery correctly – nuts. We would have to wait for a new battery from Yuma tomorrow to give it another go. Still there were tents to put up (we managed some sort of grass by a couple of palms) & dinner to have (poor Andrea still on the soup diet throughout the weekend due to the teeth situation). Eliot got a great fire going & then it was off to bed – I didn’t sleep well, probably due to the heat & small tent.
Chris & Beverley went in to town to get supplies & a new battery. The boat started first time after the new battery was installed, so we loaded up & prepared for a day on the river. Predictably, the boat didn’t start second, third, fourth or any time (we may have worn the starter out the day before) so we spent most of the morning anchored about fifty feet from our campsite lounging in the sun, playing on tubes & getting thrown in the water. With the boat u/s, Eliot & Andrea took off back to San Diego & the rest of us went on a bit of a drive to Arizona (just across the river). Passed the military’s rather large Yuma Proving Ground (a big testing range – one of the biggest in the world), stopped for ice cream at some swanky riverside village (a lot of RVs, condos all in the middle of nowhere), found another settlement & looked down on where we should have been playing on the water.
Upon our return we took a walk up one of the hills behind our campsite – it wasn’t too big & all the rocks reminded me a bit of the Tongariro Crossing. As it was dusk, the light was pretty cool:
Here is our campsite – our tent is below the right had tip of the small island.
Another scrumptious camp dinner & some strange story-telling rotation around the campfire (mine was at its usual woeful standard) & it was off to bed. With the whole tent to myself & it being a bit cooler I slept much better & did not wake to the brilliant sunshine until 6.30. With not much else to do we packed up early, loaded up the boat & paddled it back to the ramp – we must have looked quite strange amongst all the ski boats, party boats & jet skis going out. With out the thrust of the boat’s engine, we struggled to get it to sit on the front of the trailer (the full tank of gas didn’t really help much). After much adjustments we were on our way. Of course, with in five minute of leaving we were on the side of the road dealing to this a blow out on the boat trailer. That was dealt with without a problem & we were on the road yet again. Back through the same desert & the boat rocking around on the trailer soon had me dozing off. After lunch just past El Centro, I was awake again & looking forward to the change in scenery climbing the hills.
Unfortunately, in the heat the van didn’t much like towing a boat from sea level to over four thousand feet. As the engine climbed in temperature & started steaming we pulled over at one of the conveniently placed radiator water troughs on the side of the I-8 & topped up the radiator. The temperature dropped, but we didn’t quite make it to the top. Not surprising really after all that had happened in the previous few days. So Chris & I were stuck on the side of the interstate that a van that didn’t go without making some awful noises & a boat that didn’t start. But I did get a ride in a towtruck to Jacumba & we waited for Andrea to come out with the pickup to tow the boat home. The van is still up in the Sierras somewhere with a cracked radiator. I think we finally made it home at 6pm. An eventful, but enjoyable camping trip.