Day 6- Mother’s Day May 12, 2013 (yes, my kids both called. I was so happy to hear them. And we called our mothers, too. )
Off the deck and into the wild–driving for 8 hours.
I’ve come to the conclusion that women with straight hair have it the best on an extended road trip. I have semi-curly hair, and other than in the humidity of one of the waterfalls, it’s looked like I was dragged backwards through a bush the entire trip until today, when the flat heat of the desert made it lie down like roadkill on my head.
Mike thinks it looks “like usual.” This is both a blessing and a curse. (You ladies out there will understand.)
We didn’t set out to drive for nine hours. We’d planned to visit Rick Pantele at The Incredible Artist in Palm Springs, then go to Joshua Tree National Park to camp. Rick and the 100 degree-plus heat talked us out of it, and we ended up driving another six hours through the desert into Arizona, over the winding, empty and scenic Route 60 to Prescott, Arizona which is near Sedona and he thought we’d like.
Proper road tripping is all about a few things that I've clarified since we started: a reliable car with good visibility. Lots of tasty snacks of a good variety. A winning combination of “the Googly lady” GPS and an old-fashioned Atlas Book of Maps (which we found in Palm Spings.) Air-conditioning and music. Good music. (Pandora came back, playing some awesome oldies rock; ZZ Top, Eagles, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton… I could drive forever.)
We didn’t make a lot of reservations for this trip—we wanted to be able to go where people recommended, see what we were in the mood for, etcetera, hence the reroute to Prescott. My family had a place in Palm Springs for my entire childhood; I was pretty sure I didn’t need to see another pile of rocks and Dr. Seuss-like Joshua tree. (We ended up seeing baby ones blooming on the way.)
Highway 10 was scary to this little Hawaii bumpbkin—two lane and filled with speeding semi-trucks. I kept startling and grabbing for the nonexistent sissy handle, trying Mike’s patience for a several hours until we turned off on Highway 60 into the backcountry for Prescott. Then I took the wheel, and with a wide-open desert, saguaros raising their prickly arms, and foothills beginning to add a little interest to the monotonous desertscape, we began to relax.
We’d started the day with fierce sunrise at the base of Mount Whitney and Lone Pine, California, and ended it in the foothills outside Prescott, Arizona (pronounced “press-kit” for the noobs) covering a total of 507 miles and a great deal of deserty open space. We found rest at a Holiday Inn and food at Red Lobster at 8 p.m. when we were too hungry to say no to the Ultimate Platter and blew the day’s budget. (Oh well. I’m letting it be what it is, remember. Having seafood fettucine helped my zen return.)
I’ll say this: the desert has a subtle beauty in the supple spareness of forms, in the open bowl of sky, in trackless space filled with nothing but occasional birdsong and the rustle of a ground squirrel. Cacti flowers are lovely for their lush, delicate brevity. Nature finds a way to survive and thrive in the harsh heat of the desert, and I admire that, my lips cracking just from the dryness.
There is no waste, anywhere, no excess but that of the luxuriant and endless blue sky. That said, I’m still glad we are headed for the rumored splendors of Sedona today, and the Grand Canyon beyond.