Our change of plans leads us to some unexpected places.

Feeling pretty delicate after last night’s drinking session, we set off desperate for a bit of isolation. Picking a spot on iOverlander that was far enough from the hustle and bustle of Vegas, without having to drive very far.

We quickly left the big city behind us, and soon turned off the interstate and headed into the Mojave Desert. Our landscape now comprised off Joshua Trees as opposed to buildings. We found a spot at a long ago abandoned cattle hold. Happy that we wouldn’t be disturbed, we let Aimee out to explore, and spent the rest of the day chilling out, trying to catch up with our blogs. Willow had some how managed to stay within a week of current events, whereas I was now more than a week behind.

Bit nicer than a Vegas car park
This is what I live for!
We were all feeling a bit more chilled out

We woke the next day, no longer feeling then consequences of our Vegas partying. As we had made the decision to seek solitude in the warmth of Mexico, it meant that we could visit places we had originally planned on seeing, but were unable to fit into our plans. The first stop being Joshua Tree.

It felt so refreshing to be driving out in the desert, no crowded roads or stop signs to deal with.

We must have been driving for just over an hour when we realised we had rejoined the historic Route 66. In the distance, we could see an iconic looking neon sign for an old motel, and we couldn’t believe our eyes when we pulled up outside it.

It was very similar to the Swallows Falls Motel that we stopped at in Tucumcari, one was more picturesque in the desert sunshine. Pulling up next to the sign, we took some great pictures for our next year’s calendar.

Iconic picture
Not a bad ride

We also took a pretty awesome picture on the road, next to the Route 66 symbol. It turned out we were in a town called Amboy, which was located ten minutes away from an extinct volcano. Not wanting to spend our entire day driving, we decided to park up and check it out.

One of my favourite pictures on the trip

The weather had really picked up since our time in Lake Havasu. Hopefully this was a sign of things to come as we headed into Mexico.

Desperate for a walk, even if it was only a couple of miles, we set off. If you know me well, you will know that apart from work, I pretty much spend 90% of my time in shorts. So it was nice to spend some time wearing them in January and to not be cold.

The trail to Amboy Crater was a winding dirt trail. There really wasn’t much to see other than the long dead volcano in the distance, and it was just what we wanted.

Wasn’t a concern for us that day
Back to what we love

After a short scramble, we made it into the centre of the crater, and rested for a few minutes. Once we had caught our breathe and taken a few pictures from the ground, we sent Steve up to get a better view of the volcano.

From Vegas to a volcano in 24 hours
Lovely views
Cheeky selfie

Amboy Crater was only small, but with nothing near for perspective, it looked far more impressive. We walked around part of the craters perimeter, before setting off back to Ruby.

Getting our walks in

As we were in the middle of nowhere and there was not another soul to be seen, we decided to camp in the car park for the evening. Aimee was having a great time exploring the nearby overgrowth and we were no longer in any sort of rush to be anywhere. And that felt amazing!

This car park was much cheaper

We woke the next day, feeling more chilled out than we had felt in a long time. I think subconsciously, we have always felt the urgency to keep moving to reach Vancouver before our visa ran out, and all of a sudden it felt like we could take as long as we wanted to reach the Mexican border.

Feeling revitalised, we spent the morning working out, something we had hoped to have done more, but never felt the urge to do in a supermarket car park. We then set off to towards Joshua Tree National park.

Sadly, there were no free camp spots near the North entrance to the National park, so we had to park in a designated camp ground. Apparently, Joshua Tree was popular, many of the spots had reservation signs on them, but after a bit of searching, we did find a spot right next to an awesome rock formation.

This will do I suppose

The temperature had dipped a bit as we had gained elevation, however we were still surrounded by blue skies. Itching for a walk after the morning’s drive, we set off on a small trail leading out of the campground.

Surrounded by more Joshua Trees, the path led us to a natural rock archway, formed over the years through erosion.

More walks
Weird looking trees
What incredible natural architecture
Where’s Vegas guy when you need him?

Whilst taking some pictures, I climbed up to a small window which had formed on the rock, forgetting that I was wearing my red shorts, which were the destroyer of phones, I attempted to climb back down and felt my phone slowly slip out of my pocket. Instinctively, my hand shot out to stop it and slammed it against the jagged rocks I was stood on.


Now my phone screen was already cracked, it fell out of the very same shorts only a couple of days after I bought the phone. It’s predecessor lost to the depths of a festival portaloo. I have never had much luck keeping phones safe. My former neighbour found great joy in buying me a plastic infants play phone for training!

Surprisingly, my phone still worked, even if it did have a hole all the way through to one of the back lights. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about some one stealing my phone anymore. They would probably feel sorry for me and give me a dollar.

Once we were done taking pictures of the rocks, we headed back to Ruby and spent the rest of the night blogging again. Convinced that I would never be closer than four weeks behind ever again.

After a tranquil night’s sleep, we left the camp site fairly early. Willow had identified a cactus field that she wanted to explore.

Morning tea
Aimee prefers it away from cities

Having moaned constantly since hitting Texas that she hadn’t seen a proper cactus, we were now surrounded by the things. But alas, she still wasn’t content.

Well duuuuur
Not what Willow was looking for
She still found some of them interesting

“They’re not the right ones!” She grumbled.

Apparently, she really wanted to see the stereotypical cactus. The one with arms. And we still had yet to see many of those.

“They’ll be loads in Mexico.” I told her reassuringly.

Leaving the cactus field, we didn’t really have much planned, so Willow drove us to the southern exit, whilst I scanned my phone for walks and camp spots.

Driving through Joshua Tree

As it happened, we were in luck! Ten minutes from our location, was a highly recommended hike to a secluded tropical oasis. And fifteen minutes from the walk, was BLM land that we could stay at for free.

The weather was really starting to pick up again. There was a heat in the air that we had been missing for some time. Excitedly, we parked up, changed into shorts and T-shirt’s and set off, actually having to bring water for the first time in a while.

Our destination

The track to the oasis was fairly easy to navigate, and as a result it was a fairly popular walk. Thankfully, we were walking at a slightly quicker pace than most and so didn’t spend long walking with the company of others.

Started promising
Weather was gorgeous
Getting closer
Salton Sea in the distance

The walk to the oasis took almost two hours, but after scrambling down into a small valley, we were gifted our first view of the oasis. It was gorgeous. It was so hard to believe, that out in the middle of a barren desert, such beauty can find a way to grow. Natural never ceases to amaze me.

Found it
Hidden tropical oasis
You’d never know it was here

The oasis wasn’t large and so we were soon retracing our steps back to Ruby. The walk gave us time to think more about our plans, although we were still unclear of anything past Mexico.

Gorgeous sky

Back at the van, we drove the short distance down the road to the BLM land. It was clearly popular with people who wanted to spend time at the national park, but didn’t want to pay the camp ground fees.


We had not long parked up, when a couple walking their dog approached us. As it turned out they were from England also. Their names were Hughie and Julie and they were over visiting family from Yorkshire. They had not long arrived in the states. We had a good chat about back home and said that we might pop over for a chat later in the evening.

We never did pop round to see them, getting caught up in a recipe which had many components to prepare. We did stop to say goodbye before we left, grabbing a quick picture to remember them. And then we were on the road again, briefly stopping off in Coachella for supplies. Sadly, we were a little late for the big party.

Our new English friends

Willow had found a potentially outstanding site to spend the night. A golf resort, with a heated pool and jacuzzis. Washing and shower facilities. And if it is your first visit, you could dry camp for just $10! It sounded to good to be true.

Pulling into the club, we checked in and the host confirmed it would be $10 and we would have full access to the sites facilities. We couldn’t believe our luck.

This should be fun

As it was late afternoon, we dug out our swimming wear, grabbed some beers and jumped straight into the jacuzzi. This was a lifestyle which was normally way beyond our budget, and so it was nice to be able to treat ourselves to a bit of luxury, without blowing a massive hole in our already inflated finances.

Chilling in the Jazuzzi

Enjoying the facilities well into the night, we eventually returned to Ruby feeling more relaxed than ever. We cooked ourselves an easy meal and sat back and watched a gripping English crime thriller.

This sure beat sleeping in a Walmart car park!