Elder Son introduced tonight’s call by asking if the tale he was about to tell might remind us of stories told by someone we know. He then proceeded to tell of their journey from the southern coast into the highlands of the interior where Google Maps told them there was a campground about 60km/40miles inland, said campground offering campsites, hot showers, food, kitchen facilities, and all the comforts one could ask for in a campground. They traveled on highway F35, in red, above; the F signifies that there are bridges over streams, no fording required. (Good decision to stick an F road, m’boy.) Initially, the road was paved, but soon it turned to gravel, then became increasingly washboard-y and later presented them with l-a-r-g-e potholes. He said that he chose to do the driving himself on this leg because, if there were going to be damage to the undercarriage or other parts of the car that would not be covered by insurance and thus would be out-of-pocket expense, he wanted to be the one that did it.
Watch the full 1:04 video to see road conditions. Wind noise is accurate; he said it was very windy.
The landscape became increasingly desolate. NASA sent Apollo astronauts to train there because this was the place on earth deemed to be most like the surface of the moon; ES speculated that J.R.R. Tolkien may have been inspired by this area in his depiction of Mordor. The video above was perhaps taken closer to the coast; as ES and GF got farther into the interior it became increasingly gray. No buildings, no grass (and hence, no sheep), the only green being an occasional patch of moss on a rock. “You go, little rock! You sprout some moss! Someday you may grow a bit of grass!
As the road became more bumpy and the landscape more forbidding, they started to wonder about this alleged campground. The promised hot showers and food seemed increasingly unlikely. After three hours, Google Maps told them they had 8km to go, but after 8km there was still no sign of human habitation of any kind; optimistically, they decided to trust a previous sign that had said the campground was 10km ahead. And lo and behold, after 10 km they came over a hill and around a curve… and saw a green valley with tents, A-frame cabins, and a several larger buildings. Whew! The sun was getting low and they dreaded having to reverse their journey in the dark and getting back to civilization at 1:00 a.m.
As mentioned, the wind was really strong; tents were flapping, and between the wind and the chilly temperature, GF was really not looking forward to spending the night with nothing but a nylon tent, a sleeping bag, two pairs of heavy socks, two pairs of pants, three shirts. a lopepaysa, and a hat between herself and the harsh conditions. (ES, like his father and brother, does not feel the cold.) As luck would have it, there was exactly one room left in the *hotel* at the campground, and it was the equivalent of a room in a mid-range motel in the US. GF smiled happily at the sight of a bed and a shower.
Who else might have told such a tale? Smokey, of course. This could easily have been he and I 30+ years ago, before children.
It’s stunning in the starkness. But, those roads! (One might think they were in Michigan, lol)
Thanks for sharing this adventure!
I loved that “no off-road driving” sign – as if that were EVEN TEMPTING!!
Wow, that’s a neat (but desolate) area! I hadn’t realized that was where the astronauts trained for moon missions. Cool.
“Off-road”? How do you even delineate “off” and “on” right there?