Club Soda and Salt

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Roadtrip!: Day 1 – The desert is big

Posted by clubsodaandsalt on September 2, 2006

To give a bit of background: Jen and I spent a week traveling around the Southwestern United States. I’ve decided to make this into a lot of blog fodder. Here’s the first installment. I’d have had a “day zero” entry, but delays at JFK and interminable waits at baggage claim just aren’t that exciting. Anyway, we’ll see how long I stick with this…

Our route

Approx. 550 miles driven, 2 states visited.

After spending our first night at the Mission Valley Hilton, we headed north to enjoy the sights of the I-10 corridor, a term that I just made up to describe the desert between LA and Phoenix. First stop: the tiny town of Twentynine Palms, just outside of Joshua Tree National Park. The ride was my first real experience with desert scenery. Being from the tropics and living on the East Coast, I found the sheer emptiness stunning. I also, naturally, worried about my own demise; this trip saw me develop a habit of constantly glancing at the engine’s temperature gauge. Twentynine Palms itself has an interesting history — the town really took off when it became a haven for World War I veterans trying to recover from shellshock. Currently, the only things remarkable about the place are the murals painted on many a surface (but they are remarkable indeed).

After grabbing lunch, we set off for a drive through Joshua Tree. To be honest, while the park was amazing on first sight, it has some tough competition with the other places we visited over the course of the week. Of course, I might be being unfair; the park is clearly best seen through extensive hiking, and we passed on that due to time limitations and weather (hot!). Moreover, it’s likely to be much prettier in the spring, when the desert floor incongruously becomes covered with flowers. Lesson: If possible, don’t visit in August. Nonetheless, it was very much worthwhile; the view from Keys View was splendid, and the rock formations are the most compelling I’ve seen outside of Utah. The park also inspired a conversation about the biblical tale of Joshua and the walls of Jericho. I mentioned that I found it rather odd that when we learned this story in primary school, our scripture teacher felt compelled to note the sound science involved — sound made vibrations, and that’s what made the walls crumble! Isn’t it supposed to be all about the faith, Mrs. Ince? Why you gotta lay some science on me?

The rest of our day was spent on a looong drive across Arizona. A game time decision was made to reverse the order of sightseeing — instead of going to the Grand Canyon, we were going to head over to White Sands! Ker-azy! Anyway, I-10 is not exciting. Phoenix seems unimpressive. We did have some delicious ribs, though, at Bill Johnson’s Big Apple in Mesa. Why would you name your bbq place with a reference to a city famous for its crappy bbq*? Finally, I drove until I couldn’t drives no more, and we crashed in the little junction outpost of Globe.

In the next installment: Run for the border, white sand, loud crying.

*How on earth did Dallas BBQ get a 9.0 on Citysearch? This isn’t DC, people — we don’t inflate restaurant grades in these parts. I will never trust Citysearch ever again.

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One Response to “Roadtrip!: Day 1 – The desert is big”

  1. […] Posts IM IN UR GUGGLE, BRAKIN UR INTERNETZRoadtrip!: Day 1 – The desert is bigSouthwest Roadtrip: Day 2Southwest – Day 3: Ruins!Southwest Roadtrip: Day 4 – Living in a […]

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