A continuation from Death Valley Bust: Part I
The wind stirred up layers of silt and dust, obscuring the road and making it difficult to see. I watched a poor crow try to fly towards shelter. Flapping his wings furiously, he eventually gave up and just let the wind carry him. I slowed down my speed drastically, straining my eyes to see the center yellow line. The wind picked up even more, allowing me to see only five feet in front – just enough to spot the taillights of another car.
I followed this Subaru for about 20 miles at a snail’s crawl. I could hear the sound of small pebbles hitting my car roof, sounding like a minor hailstorm. Larger rocks skittered across the road, along with uprooted plants. Eventually we reached an intersection.
Even more bedlam.
Cars had pulled over, simply giving up on driving. The National Park service had closed down one portion, and plows were being sent out to scrape dirt and debris off of road surfaces. I was so close to my camp, and determined to check up on Clarence, so I slowly edged my way through the impromptu parking lot.
After another 15 minutes of white-knuckle driving, I pulled into camp. Thankfully I had left the window closed, or else my MyPod would have been brimming with soot. I scavenged my wheel chocks, which had gone flying, and tried to hunt down my entrance mat. Putting these items back in their designated container proved another challenge; a huge gust swept up the lid, whipping it away at lightning speed. Off I went again, holding my shirt down so it wouldn’t keep blowing up.
I knew with 100% certainty that I wouldn’t feel safe camping tonight, so I went across the street to book a room. My heart sunk, when I saw the line, and heard the receptionist announce “all full”. With no reception or wifi, I had to get the heck outta Dodge as soon as possible so I could find a secure location to sleep for the night.
I raced over the Visitor’s Center in hopes to quickly get a refund on my site. When I opened the door, it looked like a airport terminal on layover. Long lines of stressed individuals waited to speak with a park ranger. Some couples exchanged heated words, while others whispered quietly in an attempts to provide encouragement. A gentleman came in with a gash down his leg due to flying debris and one couple reported car damage caused by a flying rock hitting their windshield. More road closure announcements were made. The lights flickered on and off ominously, causing the computers to keep resetting. My credit card refund would have to wait.
Hooking up Clarence, the MyPod, took longer than usual despite my harried pace. As I drove away from the park, I noticed a mother running with a crying child towards their vehicle. A group of three ladies linked arms, and then eventually sat down on the ground waiting for the latest gusts to somewhat subside.
I could handle rain, snow, cold, and heat, but my adventurous spirit had met its match with 60 mph bouts of wind.
I drove out of the park a little after 5 pm, slow enough as to not get blown off-road, yet quick enough so I could get to a hotel room before they were all booked.
It appeared that I should have left just a couple minutes earlier.
(to be continued… again)