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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

We've Been Through The Desert In A Van With No Name

And the journey continues . . . .
On Monday morning, all 5 of us piled into the
rented minivan and headed for the desert.

We stopped for an early lunch at an In-N-Out Burger joint in
(wait for it)
Rancho Cucamonga!
Rancho Cucamonga is an actual place, with a name you have to
say really s-l-o-w-l-y to get all the goofy goodness out of it.
And I ate a burger there.  
Now, about my first visit to the Desert . . . .
I have probably seen too many old movies, but I was kind of expecting 
to drive along a dusty narrow 2-lane road, deserted, except the occasional truck, 
and with every 70 miles or so an abandoned-looking gas station/truck stop,
staffed by a dentistry-challenged old guy with 4-days' stubble, one bleary eye, 
and bleached out overalls.  Named Slim.  The man, not the overalls.

Imagine my surprise when our Van With No Name took
us in air-conditioned comfort on a nifty modern superhighway.
With lots of other vehicles.

And instead of Slim, with a cigarette dangling from his dry cracked lips, and a
malevolent gleam in his one good eye, there was a tidy roadside rest stop.

Carefully landscaped with . . . rocks.

Because that's what the desert seems to be, mostly.
Giant ones that rise up in the distance.
And eeny weeny teeny ones that make up the dirt and sand of the Mojave.

I'm an East Coast gal.
I'm used to hills that look like giant bunches of broccoli 
(remember putting broccoli trees into your supper helping of mashed potatoes?),
and dirt that is dirty, with soft, squooshy, sticky darkness
that gets under your fingernails.  

In my little East Coast world, sand behaves itself and meekly stays by the shore.
You brush it off your feet before you get back into your car, and that's that.

So this desert was a truly alien landscape to me.
Fascinating, and fierce looking.

And actually alien.  When the local high winds kicked up a dust devil,
I was reminded of seeing the pictures sent back from Mars,
where the local high winds also kick up dust devils.

We saw a lot of dust devils.  Some even crossed the highway, got a little
discombobulated in doing so, but re-assembled themselves on the other side.
Impressive.  Mars dust devils don't face those kinds of challenges.  Wimps.

But back to the desert -- it is mile,

after mile,

after mile,

after mile of spectacular big sky, and rocks, and sand,
with a few growing things and . . . 

the occasional old billboard.

Eventually, you cross a state line, and you find that the desert
can produce something entirely different:  Casinos.

Not Las Vegas yet, but getting closer.

Meanwhile, back in New Jersey, things were busily greening up while we were in the desert.
We came home to this - yellow tulips and pink and white bleeding hearts abloom.
With a hearty sampling of the obligatory That Old House weeds.

I know that my impressions of the desert are superficial;
the real life of this amazing place was hidden from me as we sped by.

If the desert landscape was printed on loose-leaf paper,
it would look like this:

 Ha ha ... Anne was sitting in the rear of the van and shot this through the defrosting wires in the glass.

Tomorrow - Las Vegas.
Slot machines, showgirls, and French Onion Soup.  
Today's post has gotten too long.  Even I am bored.

Oh! Wait till you see where we stayed in Los Angeles.
You will love it, I promise!  Think: Perfect little cottage hidden by
 masses of blooming bougainvillea.   -- Cass


  1. Thanks for taking us on your trip with you. I kinda had the same image as to what the desert would be. I kept waiting for a mirage and an oasis. LOL


  2. I will look forward to seeing the cottage. :-)

  3. I've never been to the desert (and living in Nova Scotia Canada, I may never get to see it). But you made "my drive" very very interesting. Thank you.

    (Good luck tomorrow!)

  4. These are really neat pictures and of course, you are as funny as all get out. We've only flown to Vegas so I enjoyed this post.


  5. I love this post and Slim *even if he doesn't/didn't exist* ;)
    My hubby travelled with friends from LA to LVegas on his last business trip out. He said I would have loved the solitude. Thanks for the pictures. He didn't take not one and now I get to see what the drive was really like.

    Jake's a Girl

  6. Years ago I crossed the desert, but the road wasn't this wide back then. Ex hubby ignored the Soft Shoulder sign and after we pulled over we found out the hard way what it meant. There was no getting out, the tires just got buried deeper.
    Thanks for sharing your pictures and memories. It was almost like going on vacation with you.

  7. Oh Cas, you are a JOY to read! staffed by a dentistry-challenged old guy with 4-days' stubble, one bleary eye, and bleached out overalls. Named Slim. The man, not the overalls." Meanwhile, back in New Jersey!!! Crack me up, girlfriend! The drive to Vegas is not the best for scenery. There actually is a lot of beauty here Out West, just not on that road! **kisses** Deb

  8. Yes, you described the desert to a T. Many a trip to and from Las Vegas - boring...... Your pictures were great.

    We are now having a Santa Ana Wind which blows off the desert and everything will be sandy. Have to go and get my umbrella's down before they blown down the street. Have a great time in Vegas!

  9. Very funny post! Looking forward to your next

    M :)


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