The scenery at Williams from our hotel!
Scott packing up the car once again!
It was a bit nippy in the morning - 53 degrees.
We filled up with petrol, then headed off. Lucy took this picture at the petrol station where there was the biggest American flag we've seen!
Williams is the town that the film 'Cars' is loosely based on!
Driving on Route 66!
The car was still feeling pretty organised - all the water bottles filled up, and everyone knowing what they're doing.
On the drive we realised we were all a bit bashed up! I had some impressive bruises on my legs and a sore back, Scott had hurt his left shoulder, right thigh and left Achilles, and the kids had various bumps, scrapes, bruises and dried skin! Everyone was quite happy though.
I spent some time searching through radio stations to find some Country and Western music to match the scenery (quite typical by now - long straight roads, mountains in the background, and desert or dry grass and little shrubs), and I found a good one: '103.3 Route 66 Old Time Oldies Radio Station'! Last time Scott and I had been doing a long drive through American desert we came across the 'Beer is Good, God is Great' song, and this time we heard the lyrics 'When I think of all the crap I learnt at school...'!! Country music is funny!
After a while we turned off the main road and drove on a smaller one (the 95) which carried on in a straight line for literally miles, through the Mojave Desert. After a bit we stopped at the side of the road, and took a couple of pictures. At some point we crossed back into California.
The long road through the Mojave carried on...
Gradually the scenery changed a bit and became greener as it touched the Colorado River. We saw lots of little tracks leading from the road in the direction of the river, with an assortment of mail boxes at the roadside.
We think we stopped off at the town of Blythe for a late lunch, at a Carl's Junior. The towns out here all seemed a bit dead - just long straight roads with billboards for fast food places, and nothing much telling them apart.
The long drive continued, passing some palm tree farms.
The further we drove, the warmer it got!
As we got nearer to San Diego we drove through the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
At one point, we stopped off, and went for a little walk (or run, in the case of Scott and the kids!) up a hill.
Lucy fell back and walked with me, and I told her there were all sorts of wildcats and snakes out here. I was totally making it up, but then I spotted these tracks (near Scott's foot print).
That totally freaked Lucy out and she decided she did NOT want to be on our little walk any more!! We were quite a way from the car though, so she had to carry on with me, so that she wouldn't be on her own! I said I'd carry a rock to protect her.
The boys making their way back to the car, which you can just about see. It was pretty wonderful, vast scenery, with absolutely no one around.
Me with my rock to save Lucy!
In some places, the sand was really soft and we kind of fell though it into lots of joined up shallow holes. I told Lucy they were snake nests, just to cheer her up! The boys quite enjoyed it.
Driving into Burrego Springs, in Anza-Burrego Desert State Park, there was lovely evening sunshine, and it was nice seeing the little community, all green and well kept after the desert.
We had to laugh at the parking spaces around the roundabout!! Apparently this roundabout is called Christmas Circle.
We then drove up into the mountains. Crazy to see the massive plain below, which we had just driven across. The mountains went on for quite a way. Very quiet, and with their own almost moonscapey atmosphere. I just can't get over loving the vastness of America.
As we got nearer to San Diego, the scenery gradually became more green, till some bits started looking like Derbyshire!
At last (after diving through Julian, famous for its pies) we reached Ramona, where our friends the Bleakleys live. They moved from England in summer 2013, and we couldn't wait to see them again!
We knew they would be at church for youth night, but stopped by their house first to see if they were already back. Their neighbourhood is lovely - up in the hills. We couldn't quite believe this was their home now!!
We drove the few miles to their chapel, and Young Women's was still going on. Lucy poked her head round the door, and we could just hear this ENORMOUS scream, and Abi came running out and threw her arms round Lucy. I was so happy to see them together again! Imogen and Holly followed Abi out, then Sam came from Scouts.
Abi noticing that Jack has grown a bit since she last saw him!
Imogen, Abi and Lucy.
Harry getting a hug too whether he liked it or not!
The kids (Abi I should say!) were so excited and making so much noise that it was a bit embarrassing!! More than anything though, it was just good to see everyone together!
We then headed back to the Bleakleys (met their new puppy, Max) and a little while later Tim came home too. We had some snacks, then got beds sorted out for everyone. Jack had one of the little girl's rooms, Tom and Harry had lilos in Sam's room, Lucy and the older girls (including Imogen's German exchange student, Amelia) slept in the living room, and Scott and I were given Tim and Holly's room, while they had the older girls' room. The Bleakley's house is fantastic! Really big!
Then we just stayed up chatting and catching up with everything!
The Bleakleys seem really happy in San Diego, and everything has worked out really well for them. It was like we hadn't been apart really, but strange that they have this whole new life instead now!