Straddling Severe Road

Earlier this year, my girlfriend and I took a camping trip to Anza-Borrega State Park for a long weekend. On our last day, we headed over to the nearby Salton Sea, and we were trying to find a viewing point recommended to us by the Park Ranger at the Visitor Center. She dropped a pin in Apple Maps at the place the Ranger had circled on the physical map of the area we had, and we duly followed the directions.

So, we headed down the highway that follows the west side of the sea, and turned left to get to this area. However, not far from our destination, the map had us turn off the highway onto a farm-access road. We thought this was a little strange, but despite not seeing any water in front of us, the map showed that we were very close, and so we figured that this couldn’t be too wrong.

But then Siri said something strange. “In two hundred feet, turn right on Severe Road.” I couldn’t see any road in 200 feet, so I slowed down until I came to a complete stop right at the junction. We both looked to our right. There was the sign: Severe Rd. However, this road was simply a raised line of dirt just wide enough for a car, rough terrain, and deep trenches either side.

I turned up to enter the road, Claire a little worried that this wasn’t a good idea, and slowly rolled over the rocky dirt and mud. It seemed the road had been named well. The road was perhaps a quarter of a mile long, and we could see a junction to another, paved road in the distance. Relieved, we continued ahead, assured in that we weren’t going to be stuck.

“Oh no,” Claire said. We looked ahead. A large plastic pipe, about 25 feet, lay across the road in front of us, right before the junction. We had to move this pipe, or reverse back down the whole road again. There was no way to drive over it. We pulled up behind it. It wasn’t attached to anything that we could see, but off the road on the right, it was between two telephone poles that would severely limit its ability to rotate out of the way. I looked to my left. A bush, buzzing with wasps, was inches from my window.

“Claire, do you mind moving the pipe?” I have a slight fear of wasps. I reasoned with her that someone need to drive the car while the other moved the pipe out of the way and back into place. She reluctantly did so, and we were through.

Little did we know, but another journey filled with peril awaited us on the other side of that pipe. But that’s a post for another time.