Sunrise & The Mojave

I still have a few pearls from my road trip to mention. I’ve just been a bit busy settling in and dealing with the backlog.

When I left my the full service truck stop in Kingman, AZ it was pre-dawn. As late as it had been when I turned in the night before, I still managed to wake up that early without an alarm clock and still felt quite refreshed.

Grabbing a coffee and a terrible tasting sausage biscuit thing that, like airplane food, seemed like a good idea at the time but was actually quite horrendous; I fired up the KJ and rolled back out onto I-40 West.

(It wasn’t long after leaving the Kingman stop when I began to cross through the area that I’ve already described in The AZ Tire Massacre.)

As I approached CA, there was a fleeting moment where I half expected to see the landscape change dramatically or for there to be some obvious delineation between the two states other than a simple “Welcome To California” sign. I knew it was an illogical thought the moment it popped into my head and chided myself for it. I mean, it’s not like they are going to paint a thick, white, dotted line across the desert landscape like they would in a Road Runner cartoon!

Then, literally at the very moment that I entered into California and passed that quiet little sign, the sun broke over the hills behind me and flooded my way in glorious morning light. You can call it a sign or think of it as a fitting metaphor (I certainly did), but whatever your take on it is, being there in that moment certainly felt very surreal.

Unfortunately, the internal reflection had to be put on hold momentarily, as I was required to stop and speak with a CA state rep just over the border who asked me if I was bringing any fruits, vegetables or plants into the state. (Agriculture is serious business in CA and they don’t mess around). As fortune would have it though, peanut butter either doesn’t count or simply isn’t on their immediate hot-list of items to confiscate, so  I was quickly allowed to continue on.

Now, as a person who hates the heat and has been teasingly accused of being a vampire on more than one occasion; the only time you’ll usually find me in a desert is if it’s in my way, I got really, really, really lost the night before, or my plane crashed. But I have to admit, the Mojave in the early morning is absolutely breathtaking.

It’s also incredibly vast. When I had to stop for gas I don’t think I was even halfway through it. While I was at the gas station, I availed myself of the Dairy Queen they had in there and got a milkshake on a whim from a gruff girl who must’ve been originally from NY. I mentioned that it’s quite a long drive to get to work and she informed me, in an unpleasant “I can’t be bothered with you, I have boxes to stack” tone, that they bus the workers in. (Perhaps she just took offense to my Red Sox hat.)

Going out to the parking lot, I couldn’t help but think that the person who first thought of the idea to put a Dairy Queen in the middle of the desert was either a genius or certifiably insane.

Continuing on I eventually went up some fairly steep grades as I climbed my way out, which seemed kind of odd to me at the time because for most of the way across the Mojave I kept feeling as though I was on a barely perceptible uphill grade.

Coming into San Bernardino I ended up returning all of that elevation in one long, steep (I think it was a 12% grade) and winding drop. So it’s a good thing I was able to climb up in bits and pieces, because if I were going the other way I never would have made that hill.

There were some really beautiful views coming down, but there isn’t any reason I would ever stop on that hill. In fact, if I had suddenly gotten four flats all at once, I would have just let gravity drag me to the bottom.

Driving through San Bernardino and on through Burbank was just your typical ~8 lanes of traffic and bad drivers (though not nearly as bad as NM drivers!) and by the time I got to the coastal highway  it was getting dark so I grabbed a room. Which, lucky for you is a natural stopping point for the description of this particular day!

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~ by ghendar on January 25, 2009.