The Jundland Wastes are not to be travelled lightly!
With Miss Nicole back behind the wheel and properly chastised, we cruised through some amazing scenery down 95, as well as an abundance of trailer parks, until we got to Quartzsite, which besides being home to overstuffed 55 gallon drums of quartz, is also home to something called "The Main Event," which apparently involves thousands of people in motorhomes trading rocks. It's also famous as the only place Dan Gurney and Brock Yates were ever pulled over on the Cannonball, a traffic stop that prompted Gurney to stretch the Kirk F. White Ferrari Daytona's legs, eventually hitting 171 mph. Ours only tops out at 130, but for the next few stages, that top speed is primarily useless, and the stealth factor will prove invaluable.
"Leaving Lake Havasu" doesn't quite have the same impact as "Leaving Las Vegas," but we left anyway.
Cutting across on I-10 from Quartzsite to Blythe and having switched drivers, we loaded up on bonus cups at a drive-thru Starbucks, cut across town and caught CA 78 south, which turned out to be one of the most incredible drives of the trip. Rory Camagian of Los Matadors took the same route with a camera guy on board their Gallardo SE while Emil relaxed on the Bullrun bus and watched Beverly Hills Cop and drank beer. When we convened that evening, you could see the awe in his face. We went from farmland to straight-up Tatooine-style desert, and then once we took a quick run down the 111 to I-8 east of El Centro, we passed through mountainous, rocky terrain, the likes of which we'd never seen. It was like a micron-sized being's view of piles of sand.
Keri was really giving the long-wheelbase Audi's throttle the business on this leg, and the Valentine One didn't start chirping with any regularity until we got into the San Diego metro area. We were craning our neck and straining our eyes, staring out the back window through the tint, trying to make out telltale Crown Vic grille-and-headlight combos.
We pulled into the parking lot across the street from the W Hotel, not having placed well due to the morning's Garmin goof (we really can't thank you enough, Noah!), but we were proud of ourselves, having shaved an hour and a half off the time predicted by the Audi's Nav Bitch, and somehow, even though the only moments of real levity were laughing about random signs and business in Quartzsite and Blythe, we were friends. There's something about spending more than the better part of a day trying to beat the clock, other drivers and the po-po while doing it safely and taking only reasonable chances that really bonds you to people. We know it sounds somewhat cornball, but it's a trial by fire, and by the end of the day, we were working really well as a team, with the right-seater running the Nav Bitch, the driver doing her driving thing, and Los Jalopnik studying the road atlas, watching for cops, and disembarking in an attempt to figure out why a train hadn't kept a-rollin'.
The next morning, when we ran into Keri in the parking lot while shooting cars, we gave each other a big hug and she asked, "Do you want to ride along with us again today?" While we had other options, we immediately said yes.
More on the Bullrun [Internal]