Before leaving Vegas a second time and heading for Death Valley, we popped back to the first hotel to collect more of our sample merchandise that had arrived after we had left. Annoyingly, two items still hadn’t arrived, and the shipping information reckoned it would arrive imminently. Unable to wait any longer, we gave the hotel a forwarding address for Willow’s parents hotel in San Francisco and asked them to forward them when they arrived.
We then set off, Death Valley was our destination, we had a fair bit of driving to do, although we would be passing through Badwater Basin, another of Ian’s recommendations. Badwater is 282 metres below sea level and is full of large salt plains due to the constant hot weather. In the hottest periods, the temperatures are inhospitable, with temperatures rising over 40°c. And too think people moan in England when it hits 30°c!
Leaving Vegas, we took the main Interstate west, to California. As we drove through the surrounding mountains, we left the bright lights of Vegas behind us and followed the road into the desert.
Around thirty minutes in, we turned off and followed a minor road which would lead us into Death Valley from the south. Choosing a picturesque scenic route over the boring interstate.
The drive was surreal, as we drove up steep inclines, however our elevation was incredibly low. After a lot of driving we dropped right down into the South of Death Valley and drove until we arrived at a recently built car park, next to a trail that took you right down the the salt plains of the desert.
Carole had a guide for driving through Death Valley which recommendation the best stop offs on our drive, and so we stayed briefly At Badwater Basin, before continuing on our scenic drive along the 178, heading for a spot named Artists Pallet, hoping that we would be rewarded with a plethora of colours.
Midnight was approaching in England, and none of us had signal. A wave of sadness hit me when I realised that I would get to speak to my family to wish them a happy new year. It was the first time that I really felt some form of home sickness. I’d prayed that we would find some signal in time, but I wasn’t optimistic.
On route, we started to divert and head down a dirt track which would take us to a hike out to a natural bridge, but we turned around deciding that the hike would take too long. We would want the best lighting possible for our drive through Artists Pallet.
We arrived at the loop for Artists Pallet, by this point I was in a foul mood, and had a meaningless falling out with Willow over something trivial. So I drove us through in silence, whilst Willow took pictures of the gorgeous surroundings. I think Willow and her family could sense my silent brooding, and so they decided to head off for Beatty, the town we would be staying in to celebrate the end of the decade.
Still unable to get signal, we stopped off to get fuel and made our way to Beatty also. Stopping to take in the last sunset of ‘The Teens’. And what a sunset it was!
We arrived in Beatty under the cover of darkness and pulled into the motels large car park. Willow joined her parents in there room, whilst I tried to find some signal to phone my parents. Eventually succeeding, waking my mum uptakes around 3am. Feeling slightly happier speaking to my mum, I tried again to find enough signal to call my signal was poor and when I did find enough to make a call, I only got through to my dads answer phone. After trying for almost an hour, I called it quits and headed inside to join Willow and her family. Not wanting my frustrations to spoil the rest of the evening.
We ate a lovely meal, cooked in luxurious space of the motel room. With a couple of hours left until midnight; Willow and I popped down the road for a quick beverage in the local bar. Leaving Antony and Carole to rest up. We had done a lot of driving over the last couple of days, and I think everyone would have been great full for a good night’s rest.
The local bar was small, but full of locals ready to party. Some probably desperately to see in a new decade, hoping for a change in fortune.
Sat reflecting on the past ten years, I couldn’t believe how different my life had become. If you had told me ten years ago that I would meet a girl, buy a house and renovate it top to bottom, whilst going to university to retrain to become a teacher, at the same time buying a 1976 VW project, I would have probably laughed in your face. And that would be before hearing that I would ship it to the US and live in it permanently.
Sat in the random bar in Beatty, I couldn’t help feel proud of what we had accomplished in the past seven years. But somehow, it felt like our story was only just getting started! I was now determined to make the most of our American adventure, and would work tirelessly to build up our Kombi Chronicles brand. We were only a couple of clothing sales a month away from being self sufficient enough to carry on our road trip past August. I also had hopes of publishing my previous blogs on Amazon as books, all we needed was time to do everything. Which felt ironic, as in theory we should have had all the time in the world, yet our visa deadline was closing in fast. We were two thirds into our visa, and would soon be making the long drive north to Canada.
With midnight approaching and the bar man preparing champagne for when the clock struck midnight, we wished him a happy new year and made our way back to the motel room. We had a bottle of bubbly waiting to be opened.
In previous years, my New Years experience has always been a bit ‘hit or miss’. Many times in my youth, I felt it necessary to head into Birmingham to celebrate, only to find it overly busy and ten times more expensive than a normal night out.
The previous year, Willow and I joined Antony and Carole on the Island of Sark. A small channel island with no cars or street lights. It was probably the most simplistic of New Years, but one of my favourites. It was also the technically the start of this adventure, as it is where we started our visa application.
Gathered together in the room, we watched as Arizona celebrated the start of 2020. Forgetting about the different time zones across America.
Soon enough it was our time to celebrate. What a year 2019 had been. We had travelled so far. Driving all the way to the south of France in Easter, and then driving all the way to Death Valley from New York City.
“Here’s to 2020!” I cheered.
With the champagne drank, we left Willow’s parents to sleep, stopping off for a few cheeky drinks in the bar. Start as you mean to go on.
Just as we were getting ready to sleep, my phone started to ring… It was my dad. Delighted, I answered and we had a long chat into the early morning.
I went to bed exhausted, but everything seemed to have worked out in the end.
I wonder what surprises await us throughout the next decade? What ever comes our way, hopefully you will still be following along with us!
This seems a suitable time to thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings!
I left school with hardly any qualifications to my name, and never dreamed I would write anything that would be of interest to anyone else! Whether this is the first post you have read, or you have read that very first post when we set off to Scotland and all of this started.
From the bottom of my heart…THANK YOU for following our journey…You crazy beautiful weirdos.
If you have enjoyed reading this far and continue to read our adventures, then you too are truly on this adventure with us!
My dream is to continue to share my mad ramblings with the world and I want to continue to improve the production of our YouTube videos, as mobile phone recordings don’t do justice to the amazing places we frequently visit.
If you would like to help support us achieve this, you can do so by following the ‘support us’ tab in the top right corner, you can make a donation through PayPal.
Every dollar we receive will be reinvested into keeping Ruby maintained, as well as going towards an actual video camera that will help improve the quality of our YouTube channel.
Seriously though, thank you for being a part of this journey and here is me wishing you a belated Happy New Year! I hope 2020 is a special year for all of you.