Once more I find myself writing to you from the backseat of a car. This time, though, it is sweltering heat, rocky terrain, and cacti that whip past as I turn my gaze to the window. Last I wrote I was still a college student. I can happily tell you that I did, in fact, graduate. I’m back at home for the time being, taking up the job search with more vigor. At any rate, a graduation post will probably be forthcoming but I did want to get at least one post out before then.
Now – heat, cacti? I must be in the desert! The family and I are on a now familiar trek through the southwest of the United States for a family occasion in Austin, Texas. It’s a two day trip from San Diego, but we know how to prepare. Two days there, stay for two days, and then a two day drive back; our itinerary was set.
My sister was on snacks, taking notes on everyone’s favorites and dragging her boyfriend to the store with her to get the chips, apples, Luna bars, yogurt pretzels, and of course, the licorice (can’t forget that!). Next up was myself.
My expertise (and probably the most important task)? Entertainment. I put on my game face, armed myself with our newest piece of technology – the iPhone – and approached the iTunes library/store and our DVD cases with fervor (Little Miss Sunshine, anyone?). As a side note, I look forward to introducing my family to Cabin Pressure this trip.
My brother, unfortunately, would not be joining us this trip. His classes are just finishing up now, so his mission revolves around studying and kicking some finals butt instead (wish you were here!). The ‘rents worked behind the scenes. Their part in this mission included double checking the packing (did we have the right attire for both days? Did we pack sunglasses? Some things never change), pulled out the directions again, booked hotels, etc. etc. To be fair, my mom did help on my part by checking out a couple of audio books from the library as well.
So here we are in the car, half way through day one and the temperature just passed the 100 degree mark.
This drive is a unique one. You don’t pass through many cities or even towns. In Arizona you will pass the mysterious signs for “The Thing”. There are few trees until you really get into Texas and when you see a patch of green, it doesn’t last for long. There are a set of train tracks on each side of the highway, and you might find yourself racing an old train now and then. Overall, the picture is one of desolation and harsh environment. And yet, it has beauty to it that makes this drive an experience in its own right.
The sky stretches on as far as the eye can see, with large patterns made with whisps of clouds and so blue. There’s something about the nakedness of the landscape that is impressive and refreshing. Each rise of gritty mountain and flat-topped plateau lays bare the region’s geologic history. Without many cities or towns, you will go for miles and just see the land exactly as it’s been for hundreds of years. It’s easy to imagine settlements of indiginous populations or those first pioneers heading westward as you stare out at the saguaro and see a hawk circling above in the sky.
Look closely at the left center at the line at the base of those mountains. See the dust devil?
Life persists out here, and is all the more awesome for it. The first time we made this trip we made a few extra stops to the Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon. Driving through the southwest United States has its own charms, and definitely has its share of natural wonders to offer. If nothing else, making the trek is worth it just for the sense of freedom that the immense openness of the sky and land afford. Oh, and the sunsets are simply incredible, painting the sky with fiery red and orange streaks against the blue.
My camera just couldn’t do this complete justice (sorry about the crookedness, too…)
This is one drive that I really don’t mind making. It’s the fourth time for me, and I still find the landscape enchanting and breathtaking. The region is worth a visit for those of you that haven’t been. The desert is especially stunning in Spring when the plants that do live here flower into an intricate array of colors. I’d best sign off now to continue the trek – warp speed ahead!
Welcome to the Lone Star State (would you believe that half of the drive is through Texas itself?)
Thanks for reading, cheers! Until then…
You’ll have to humor me for the title of this post – I’m stoked to see the newest Star Trek. (Our road trip is pretty much similar such a space adventure…minus the Benedict Cumberbatch. And the Zachary Quinto. And the Chris Pine. And the space. But other than that, yeah, pretty much the same.)