My second day wasn't quite so strenuous. Still a bit of up and down to begin, but then I had 4000 feet of descent down to below sea level, over about 10 miles. It was amazing. The road wound through really beautiful scrubby boulder-covered mountains. But on the way down I came across a load of emergency vehicles. At first I thought it was just the border patrol busting someone (I was a few miles from the US-Mexico border here) but as I got closer I realised a truck had lost control on the highway going down hill and had pulled off at an exit thinking it was the emergency truck exit (which was the next exit). It hadn't been able to stop and had gone off the edge and got really smashed up. It was carrying paper for recycling, and the paper was spread everywhere. The driver was being cut out as I pulled up - he was in a really bad way, but was still conscious. It was horrible.
I carried on and came out of the mountains and crossed my first desert - the Yuha desert. It was strange cycling through this area of the Imperial valley with nothing but flatness all around. It wasn't very sandy desert - more gravelly. And it was a dead straight road for 14 miles, then a corner, then straight for 10 miles! Then I reached the farmland of the Imperial valley, and got chased by a horrible dog that got within about 6 inches of my ankles. And I was really tired by this point and struggled to out-pace it for ages. Bloody scary.
Eventually I reached the town near where there was a campsite marked on the map, El Centro. I passed an RV (recreational vehicle, basically massive american camper vans) park, so I went to see if they had space for pitching tents. The guy said they did, but it would be $20. That seemed a bit steep, but another guy there persuaded him to charge me less, so I offered $15. I figured it was worth it as I was really tired and couldn't be bothered hunting around the town for somewhere else that would probably be the same price. And then the guy, Gary, offered to let me stay in his RV as he wasn't using it! That was so kind! And it had a gas stove and a really comfy mattress! And a TV. I had a great hot shower and cooked some cous-cous with an avocado that a guy had given me earlier that day at a stall at the side of the road (another really kind gesture) and had a very chilled-out evening infront of the TV watching a Bond film. Also saw the news about the awful tsunami out by Indonesia. It's shocking what's happened there, it really upset me. I'd considered cycling out there instead of the states. I'm really glad I didn't.
The weather forecast was really bad - storms coming in with heavy rain. Gary offered to let me stay another night for nothing, but I decided to press on.
But my time on the computer's running out again, so I'll publish this bit and come back and write some more in a few minutes.