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We woke up to a beautiful morning at Leavis Flats Campground in Hot Springs, California. We loved camping by the river and enjoyed the sounds of the water. Although it was almost the end of October, the weather was still pleasantly warm. We took our time enjoying the scenery and chatting with our campground neighbor who was from Austria. We met a lot of people from Poland on our first extended trip back in 2016, and on this trip, we have been meeting quite a few folks from Austria.

When we finally got on the road, we headed in the direction of Lake Isabella. Our goal was to make our way to Death Valley within the next few days but we were in no particular hurry. We had spent a night camping at Lake Isabella on our 2016 trip so we figured we would make a return visit. It was fun to drive through a familiar area and reminisce about our previous trip. We made it to Lake Isabella pretty quickly and took our time checking out various spots to spend the night. There were a number of different places along the lake but nothing was exactly what we were looking for. As luck would have it, our persistence paid off and we found a great free spot along the nearby Kern River. We were able to drive right down *onto the bank of the river. We had lots of space away from other campers, big trees for shade, and a beautiful view of the water. Throw in a decent outhouse a short walk away and we were very happy with our find. As it was a Friday afternoon, we decided to stay until Sunday. Weekends are the hardest times to find a campsite so we like to stay put when we find something good. It was lovely to stay in one spot for a couple of nights and enjoy the warm weather and beautiful scenery. We even got out our Knapbags so we could relax and nap out in the fresh air.

On Sunday, it was time to say goodbye to our temporary home on the Kern River and make our way out of California and into Nevada by way of Death Valley. We had visited Death Valley in March of 2016 and enjoyed seeing the tail end of the super bloom they were having that year. It is always fun to visit places at different times of the year to see how they change with the seasons.

When we arrived at Death Valley, the temperature reading at the visitor center had hit 100 degrees. Pretty hot for the end of October! The fact that it is dry heat does make it a little more bearable. We took a few short hikes before getting back on the road and making our way to Pahrump, Nevada. A colleague of mine back in Durham had recommended it as a nice small town to visit so we had booked a room at an Airbnb for the night so we could check it out. Francis was pretty sure we had actually stopped there for gas on our last trip and as we got closer, he became more and more convinced.  Sure enough, we came upon the very same gas station. Francis had not been very impressed by the town the first time, and he did not feel much different this time. I was looking forward to a shower and a real bed so I did not care much either way.

Our Airbnb turned out great as usual. Although every experience is different, we have never had a bad one. This one was a charming room in the home of a very sweet older couple. The room was very clean and comfortable with a cute beach theme. The wife has an antique store in California and the house was filled with all sorts of antiques and collectibles. Aside from the bedroom, guests also have a private bath and access to the “Frank Sinatra” room which is a den decorated exactly as the name suggests. It was a lovely place to relax for a night and enjoy a little luxury. Pahrump itself may not be the place for us, but we enjoyed our night in the “Sea Room” at Robert and Teri’s place.