Hot. Hot, hot heat. When you arrive at your first stop at 8:30am and the thermometer reads 96 degrees F, you know you are in trouble.
My journey began when my husband and I loaded our three children into the van and my two friends came along for adventure - at 6:30am there was not much talking or laughing, it was not quite jolly. I drove because I wanted to "recreate" this elusive past I've dreamt about; and so I was in charge of the playlist. Our travels started with the Indigo Girls "Get Out the Map"...I'm singing along and everyone else is asleep, all is good.
By the time we arrived at Hadley's Fruit Orchards for our date shakes, we all needed to stretch our legs and the kids were in need of a bathroom break. My daughter did not like the shakes, my eldest son did and the baby was just angry we woke him up to get out of the car. After about 45 minutes we were all loaded up again and had another hour to travel down into the pit of the desert. The Salton Sea is more than 200 feet BELOW sea level. As we merged back onto the 10 freeway, Sarah McLaughlin was singing about "Fear"...and it was so apropos.
After missing the unlabeled dirt road that I was suppose to turn down (thus leading to an uncomfortable argument with my husband and about 30 minutes of extra driving) we backtracked, found it courtesy of GPS and the memories were really flooding my brain.
This place is NOT a vacation spot, it is in NO way appropriate for children. I had completely forgotten about the tsi tsi flies and horse flies that will literally swarm you and try to eat you alive; I had completely forgotten about the stench of death that permeates the air - well, death mixed with sulfur. The old camping spot is pretty much abandoned - except for the creepy guy parked in his red SUV doing god knows what.
Remember, this is where I lived from the week after school got out - until the week before school began, three summers in a row starting when I was 5. Approximately six of the hottest weeks on the planet were spent in an illegal camp with no electricity, pissing and shitting into a bucket that was thrown into a trench dug by the various degenerates that lived down there year round. Dear god!
The most important lesson I took from this trip? How in the hell did my mother and grandmother ever let me go down there with my grandfather? Why did my grandfather think this was an appropriate place for a small child to be? What the hell????