Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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Sunrise at Paris CDG My day started off early, with the unpleasant surprise that my shower in the apartment would only deliver cold water. I took the 5:03am train into Luxembourg city, where I arrived about 7 minutes later; and then had to kill time in the waiting area of the train station until my 5:39am bus to the airport. I arrived at the airport at around 6am, looked at the line for checking in and was glad that I'd done that the previous night already, and then proceeded to the gate immediately. The security check this time involved removing my camera and all lenses for a separate scan and a brief manual inspection of my bag afterwards. The flight from Luxembourg to Paris was eventless. I arrived in Paris, and took the bus to terminal 2E. There, I went through another security check, again removing camera and lenses for separate scan and brief manual inspection, and proceeded to gate E94. I found a power outlet at a "WiFi point" although I was too cheap to actually sign up for one of their ridiculously-priced passes (6eur for 30min, 10eur for 1 hour).

Once in the plane, we still had to wait for people, so the plane left with a minor delay. All seats were full, and I was sitting behind two families with small kids who would proceed to run through the airplane for the rest of the flight. The attendants made several kind remarks to the parents that it was dangerous to have the kids running around like that, but those seemed oblivious (or maybe overwhelmed is a better word). Time passed pretty fast, all things considered, but I was hit with another of those headaches I seem to get on long-haul flights these days, although I think that has more to do with the lack of sleep during the week leading up to them. I also must have eaten something bad, although that feeling passed once we had landed.

Once on American soil, both immigration and luggage retrieval went very fast, the fastest I've ever seen probably. (For immigration, it helped that I was sitting fairly to the front of the plane.) Outside the airport, I walked over to the nearest purple bus stop, to take the shuttle bus to the Alamo rental car station. Of all the major companies, the Alamo/National bus was the last to arrive, but I was still at the Alamo rental car center before 2pm, less than one hour after landing.

At the counter, the agent tried to upsell me on roadside assistance and personal insurance, and since that didn't work he wondered if a fullsize SUV was big enough for me or if I wanted something larger. While a Chevrolet Tahoe would have been nice to drive, if only because I'd never driven one, I still declined. I was quite happy with the price I'd paid for my fullsize SUV, so why should I pay more for one of their luxury ones? Instead, he noted "Commander" on my contract and told me to ask one of the security personnel outside for the key. As such, there would be no Choiceline, and I was assigned a gray Commander with New Mexico plates.

Congestion on the highway Once I was in the car and driving, the GPS sent me on a bit of an impossible route (I'd have had to go through a crash barrier to make it to the interstate where it suggested I go) so instead I drove south on I-405, and then joined SR 91 earlier than I would have otherwise. I'm not sure if SR 91 was the best option - traffic was dense, and over the course of the next hour I came to multiple stops. I stopped in Riverside to stock up on groceries, and then continued east on I-10. Around the Palm Springs turn-off the sun set, leaving me to drive the rest of the way in darkness. Near Indio, I took a smaller highway south, and after maybe fifteen more miles arrived at Salton Sea State Recreation Area, where I'd reserved a camp site.

The entrance station was unmanned, and there were no instructions what people with reservations should do, so I drove straight to the camp sites. Once I'd driven the loop I found the camp site host who told me to pick any spot, and then just check-in with a ranger at the entrance station in the morning. By this time it was past 6:30pm, and after I'd picked a spot and since it didn't take me long to unpack my stuff and transform the back of the Commander into a sleeping area, I called it a night at around 7pm.

Miles driven: 170mi (274km)

Accommodation: Salton Sea SRA: $24.50

Written February 17th 2008 at site 44 of the Salton Sea SRA campground