Archive for June, 2012

Day Two: Las Cruces

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

We began our second day adventure with Tucson, Arizona after a drive through the Sonoran Desert. The closer we got to the city of Tucson, the more cacti began to fill the scenery around us. This being so, and Tucson being home to both sectors of Saguaro National Park we decided to make a cacti stop in the Western section of Saguaro National Park.

This park is filled with unbelievable amounts of cacti, tall and towering, the stand like sentries over the dry land of the Tucson desert. Driving into the park we climb a hill that at its peak allows for a grand view of a huge valley blanketed with this type of cactus. This landscape, unique to Tucson was quite a sight to behold driving around that top corner of the peak. The quirky twisted and jumbled arms of the Saguaro cacti are amusing and beautiful. Some even looked as if they were hugging themselves. Others had beautiful flowers standing on the tips of their arms. It was quite a nice park.

This nice stop made up for our morning, which, before we reached the park, seemed would spell a disastrous day. We had a late start because we missed the alarm and got all turned around in the city itself. Along with injured ankles which were swollen, it was a worrisome morning that quickly turned around and became a long but interesting day. Especially with our epic old western stop at Tombstone, Arizona.

The sight of the OK Corral gun fight which is starred in many famous movies like the awesome old western movie with Val Kilmer and several other great actors called Tombstone which is about the story of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday in the rough and tough town. This was such a great little authentic piece of old western history where reenactments are held as well as actors in character all the time wandering the dusty streets and saloons. It was “the town too tough to die”.

We spent a lot of our time in the Boothill Graveyard, which holds many famous and infamous residents of Tombstone. On the graves where the ways they died and it was truly fascinating to look into this little piece of history.

After Tombstone we headed out to visit a little national park I had never heard of before that was actually quite interesting. The park, Chiricahua National Park feels a little like a mixture of Bryce National Park and Yosemite National Park. Primarily a hiking destination we sadly didn’t get to go very in depth because it was just too hot to go hiking. However it looked really interesting and I wish we had come at a cooler time so we could go into Echo Canyon. With huge monolith like structures that look like the hoodoos of Bryce and deep valleys filled with strange and intriguing rock formations, it was a fascinating stop.

This was a last stop of the day as we made our way out of Arizona and into New Mexico where we would be staying the night with my lovely relatives in Las Cruces.


Bootjack or Bust: Day One- Gila Bend

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Today my mom and I left for our third adventure across the USA in our car moving towards (albiet on a somewhat random and very indirect course) our final stop in Upper Michigan, Bootjack where we will spend the summer. This years course is a very different one than in our past. We have really out done ourselves this time. We will be heading out from Santa Cruz on a nearly two week excursion across the very bottom of the US all the way until New Orleans and then heading almost directly up, through lower Michigan, to our final destination.

That being said this is either going to be the best trip ever… or the longest one.

3am wake up- out of the driveway by 4am, we like to start early and end late. Sunrise to sunset everyday. As we made our way through Gilroy at 5am, the smell of garlic was thick around us. As gross as it sounds somehow even then, before we had eaten breakfast, or let alone woken up yet, the smell of garlic was mouth watering. What can I say, I am a Gilroy girl. Anyway, besides trying to take pictures of barns in the dark and relentlessly googling questions that we had always wondered but never had time to ask but now have all the time in the world to wonder about, we didn’t do much in the morning. By the afternoon when we had left behind the traffic and smog of Los Angeles, my mother had a request, a single request: to go see the dinasaur park near Palm Springs. So of course, we did because road tripping without odd and unrelated stops every so often is rather boring. So the dinosaurs, a gigantic, plastic T-Rex, and a hollow Brontesauras that you could climb in, where our first real stop on our adventure; they were fantastic in the best, most childish way.

After that brief but joyous stop we headed down towards the very bottom of the state via a road that went along a little known (at least to me) lake called the Salton Sea which is actually the biggest lake in California. It is also saltier than the Pacific Ocean, similar to the Great Salt Lake but not that salty, Salton Sea is an odd and somewhat mysterious place. We past it and decided on a whim to drive into a tiny little RV town called Salton Sea Beach. This little detour was very worth while.

This odd sign was just the beginning to this strange detour that actually wound up being rather creepy and eerie. Driving slowly down this sole road lined with trailer homes that were either being lived in with no present sign of life, abandoned in a state of hollow dishevelment, or burned. There was no one around. At the end of the road was a turn into a section of only abandoned and burned down trailers that was extremely creepy. It felt like if we left the car, people would slowly begin to emerge all around us, all waiting to attack. I am not paranoid, it was really kind of scary. Only when another fellow tourist (possible lost) drove up hesitantly obviously feeling the same way did we get the courage up to get out of the car.

First thing I noticed upon getting out of the car:

  1. It was 111 degrees out and I was dying of heat
then began a slew of other realizations:
  • it smelled of death and decay in a horribly fetid way
  • there was no sand just a mixture of dried, dead coral, and bones from fish that had been left to wither, dry and die in the desert sun.

Needless to say, I was horribly intrigued by this place and wandered around taking pictures of this mysteriously eerie place. There was furniture ripped and worn on the beach and extremely large tires lodged in the ground. It was the oddest scene I had seen in a while.

The furniture strewn on the beach obviously had been stripped from the graffitied and burned buildings behind us that seemed to lurk like ghosts just beyond what the sign had called a “marina”.

Other odd and baffling things like this boat where strewn about. This faded pink motorboat which was buried halfway in sand amidst a palm tree grove seemed to sum up the atmosphere of this place rather well.

Regardless of the eerie feelings, paranoia, and other shiver inducing things we found in this odd place, it was beautiful in an eccentric sort of way. The blue water nestled below the jagged mountains in the back ground as pelicans and great blue herons flew around, all made up a very pretty scene.

Leaving behind the sea we continued all the way to the bottom of the state as far as you can go before hitting Mexico and then turned for the beginnings of our eastward journey. We saw two interesting things: Sand Dunes, and the Center of the World.

Odd, I know, I didn’t really get it at first and I still don’t really understand. So apparently this town, if you can call it that, with a population of four called Felicity, is the certified center of the world. A man, one of the four residents, is a writer who made up  a children’s story about a dragon who lives under the center of the world or something which is Felciity. And somehow, he convinced several nations including China and France to help him certify Felicity as the Center of the World. And they did.

This pyramid marks the center of the world… and I was there.

We also made a pit stop in the newly booming town of Yuma as we crossed over into Arizona. Right on the Colorado river this town, featured in the movie 3:10 to Yuma, is a historic gold mine, not literally but figurateivly 🙂

With the old prison yard and railroad systems, Yuma was once a huge crossing where prisoners where sent. It was seen as Hell. The cells looked like it too, six men to a room and just the length of a single cot and the width of maybe three, seems like Hell to me. It was great poking around this old city and seeing the historic areas and crumbling adobe facades of century old, or older buildings.

Our final stop before settling in was a little rest stop called Dateland. Not for dating but the fruit dates!! I had never actually eaten a date before but I love stops like this that are just weird and fun. This place is world famous for its date shakes. Yes… smoothies made from dates. So I went from never having eaten a date to being a date veteran in a few minutes. It was so much fun and surprisingly good! It had a nice cinnamon like flavor and was delicious. A fun must do 🙂

Our last stop today is a special little spot called Gila Bend. This little hell hole is notoriously the hottest city in the US, it is so proud of this title it often likes to inflate its temperatures just to maintain its title. It is supposed to be near 120 degrees tomorrow. Yippee for me! We are staying in the Space Age Lodge… which has a space ship on top of it, no joke. Oh and a train that runs right outside our window every hour… also no joke. LOVE IT!

Sarcasm doesn’t read well on the internet. But another 4am start tomorrow as we continue on ward towards Las Cruces New Mexico to see some of my lovely relatives!