This one comes from the parking lot of a small motel in El Rosario, Baja California (BC – only this one is in Mexico.). We are stating at Mama Espinoza’s, a checkpoint on the Baja 1000 car race. We actually have paid five American dollars to park here for the night, after finding ourselves in need, in the dark.
Since Louisiana, we have covered many miles and are beginning to cover some kilometres again. The truck is American and so thinks in miles. In the USA, not thinking in miles makes getting to places take longer than it should – psychologically – for the driver. 5694 miles in total, including some wrong turns, missed turns, missed roads, back and forths, and some around the blocks.
We have seen some amazing, breathtaking landscapes. Our shoes have crunched the dry trails amongst cacti in Texas, taking us to see a wild Javelina and then to dinosaur tracks. They have descended nine hundred feet and three miles below ground to view the absolutely unbelievable subterranean world that is the Carlsbad Caverns. They have been abandoned in January as we walked ran and played in the bone white and endless desert sand dunes of White Sands National monument.
From the south of New Mexico we drove to the north to see the famous Monument Valley . On the way, our hearts were stolen by the beauty of the desert. Every corner was a new view, fascinating in it’s strangeness. Weird shapes rose out of the desert, stone turned brown, then the deepest of red. Abandoned adobe houses looked up at us forlornly as we sped by. The abandoned trailers didn’t look up at all- numb from the loss of care and an indifferent world of speeding automobiles passing alongside them. Our route to Monument Valley took us through The Valley of the Gods. Unbelievable rocks and colours.
At last we crested a hill and before me lay an image that has, from movies and pictures, haunted me as the quintessential stretch of road in the American landscape. It is old and pebbly, stretching out toward the rocky butte that is one of the famous monuments, almost vanishing before taking a hopefull cat-stretch to the right, climbing thinly away, away from sight. It has been in many films, (most recently it was where Forrest Gump finished his run.) It was snowing over the desert monuments! My famous stretch of road in the desert. If there is a god, it has a sense of humour.
We ended the day with the Grand Canyon. A foot of snow. Cold. Bout our minds were blown by the scenery. Finn sniffed and stared.
Even the dog didn’t know how to take it all in!
Not a bad day.
Flagstaff, Arizona sits at an altitude of about seven thousand feet. It’s vibe is like a cross between Nelson B.C. and Whistler, B.C.. Paula picked up her Yellow Fever shot there and after a stop at the REI, we picked up Historic Route 66. To get our kicks.
Since I had my first working car, a 67 two- tone maroon Plymouth Valiant with a Slant -6, which I bought from my brother in law for four hundred dollars – I have dreamed of doing the Great American Road Trip. I was seventeen and maybe only had a vague notion of Route 66, but the idea it represents as the great road through the USA, was like a magnet pulling at me. Now, over thirty years later, I am finally on it.
I love the shield with the numbers, the abandoned places, the names – Flagstaff, Santa Fe, Barstow. I also love the pebbly crumbling asphalt, the slow pace, the fences in the desert. We drove the 66 from Flagstaff to Amboy, CA, through an abandoned twisting narrow mountain pass that would have incomprehensible transported large trucks across the country. In Amboy, we would leave the 66 and go south. But first, we visited the Amboy Crater, a small volcano rising perfectly out of the Mojave desert. We hiked to the top, Finn enjoying a drink of water and Paula and I a beer, all on the rim of a crater. We visited Roy’s Cafe in Amboy, where a Vancouver film crew was doing a documentary on abandoned places. We chatted with them and the caretakers. Perhaps Finn will be on television.
South to camp on BLM lands in the Mojave, waking up on a dry lake bed to a frozen solid gallon jug of water! An easy day and a well needed break. Through Joshua Tree National Park to camp again on BLM lands on the south side. Paula has taken a shine to desert boondocking.
Onward to the border. Lemon orchards, grapefruit orchards, Mexican pastries. the Salton Sea. Oil change in El Centro. We watched the US Navy Blue Angels practice while Finn did his constitutionals next to a spinach field. On to Calexico to buy car insurance for Mexico, which doesn’t honour ours, and a dive of a motel, waiting to cross in the morning.