The day after Christmas we left Vista, driving south to pick up highway 8 East. This is not a horrible road, but it is prone to bad weather - in January of 2013 we ran into sleet here. This year we got very strong winds, along the whole route. And this stretch is full of signs that indicate how tricky it can be.
And on both sides of the road, the mountains still look like heaps of rubble.
We got out of the elevation and onto flat land before the dust storm hit. The Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area is just north of 8, and with winds like this, the recreation area moves.
To me, the vegetation on the side of the road, stripped and dried by the wind, looks like huge, dead spiders.
It was so windy that we lost one of the air conditioning covers off the roof, and our slide-out awning began to come off. Randy was able to secure it enough for us to continue.
We made it to Yuma in early afternoon and went to the Quechan Casino parking lot. For several years they have let RVs park here overnight for free. That works in the Casino's favor because after people go across the border to shop, there isn't anything else to do except go into the casino to eat or gamble. But Quechan finally changed the rules: now they charge $10 for up to 3 nights. There are no hookups, but it's still reasonable if you don't mind dry-camping overnight, so we stayed. The wind was still very strong; we had to hang onto the RV door with both hands every time we opened it. So we didn't extend the RV slide-outs. We just took the dogs out for a quick potty break, got our passports, locked the RV, and drove a couple of miles to the border. The Quechan tribe also owns the parking lot at the border, and charge $6 to park there. They do a tidy little business just by being in the right place!
We crossed the border and got a surprise - Los Algodones was almost deserted. A few of the medical services and the larger pharmacies were open, but the vendors who normally fill both sides of the sidewalks were absent.
It turns out they all take the holiday off! Even our favorite place to eat, the stand that sells fish and shrimp tacos, was closed down. So we got a few meds at Mary's Pharmacy, just around the corner from the Purple Store (Mary has better prices). Then we went to the Purple Store to look around. They specialize in medicine, alcohol, chocolate and vanilla. We didn't actually need any of those, so, since we couldn't get fish tacos, we decided to have lunch there. They have a kitchen section in back that serves mostly the locals, but anyone can place an order. The young lady who took our order spoke no English whatsoever, but another customer helped translate for us. When it came to writing Randy's name on the order, however, she gave up. To her, we were "Gringos" so that's what she typed as the "Nombre del Cliente".
When our food was ready, we went outside and sat at a table to eat. I had ordered an omelet, but I wasn't sure if I was getting ham or chicken; turns out, I got both. The omelet was made with ham and cheese, with a side order of grilled chicken. Pretty good!
Back at the RV Randy had to check the tires again. We had so much tire problems in June that he has decided to check the tire pressure every day.
And it's a good thing he did, because the front left tire was low. He aired it up and then we went into the Casino for dinner. The cold wind just kept blowing really hard, so when we returned to the RV, we decided to keep the slides in overnight.