From California desert to Arizona desert.

Trip Start May 07, 2011
Trip End Nov 09, 2011

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Where I stayed
What I did
Spent the rest of the day driving across California on routes 62 and 95 ending up in Kingman, Arizona
Sat on motel porch, ate sandwich and watched the sun set
Passed a slow goods train with 174 carriages and 6 engines!
Went wildlife spotting at the Big Morongo Canyon reserve

Flag of United States  , Arizona
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Today we left Palm Springs behind and headed north to the Big Morongo Canyon Reserve. This is a nature reserve stuffed full of wildlife. We spent a few hours walking around in the baking sun looking for birds and other wildlife. 

We spotted some acorn woodpeckers which have black backs, white undersides and red hairdos. We also saw some mountain bluebirds. Got a blurry photo of one using the binoculars again. Probably takes years of practice and patience. There were some large birds that could have been turkey vultures or ospreys. Not likely to be ospreys since we are in the desert. We probably also saw two Feruginous Hawks as well.  Other than birds we saw the backs of some cottontail rabbits as they ran away, some cricket/grosshopper things and lots of lizards. As soon as you spot them they run away. There are also supposed to be snakes, bobcats and mountain lions around the area - happily we didn't meet any of these! (Well, Matthew wanted to see them. From afar...).

We left the nature reserve and drove on to a town called Joshua Tree and then Twenty-nine Palms. Joshua Tree is named after the strange twisting trees which look like they are reaching up to God in prayer. Apparently. The California guide book we have recommended some good places to eat here but the one we found was shut down and we couldn't find the other, so we ended up at Subway again. At least eating half for lunch and half for dinner is quite cheap and quick. The town called Twenty-nine Palms has street called Forty-nine Palms Street and not much else!

Next we have decided to head for Las Vegas. The road we were on takes us in the right direction for Vegas via a very long, very straight road through a desert. As you leave Twenty-nine Palms, there is a sign stating that there are 100 miles of desert until the next fuel station! 

We put the radio on and set off on our long straight road. After a little while there was only one radio station working. None stop Country music, naturally! You just have to sit back, relax, hit cruise control and enjoy the music. Here, the desert has some shrubbery and is edged by mountains so the scenery is still quite interesting to look at. It is incredible how far you can see in every direction with no houses of any kind and quite often there are no cars or trucks either. It must be easy to get confused in a desert since it plays tricks on you. The heat haze hides the road and cars appear out nowhere from hidden dips. At one point the road looked incredibly straight with only a slight wiggle in it but when we finally got to the wiggle, there was a stop sign and two roads split off at 45 and 135 from our road. Strange. 

We drove all the way to a very very small town called Needles. Needles turned out to be nearly completely deserted. It looked like most people had moved away a long time ago. Since there was nothing here we drove on to the next town, Topock which was even smaller so again we drove on to the next town which also didn't really exist. Luckily Kingman turned out to be a real town with somewhere to sleep (otherwise it would be a 100 mile drive to Las Vegas with 50 miles of gas left). 

We have now crossed the border into Arizona and the landscape has changed a lot. Flat topped, steep sided mountains have started to appear. Kingman is an old western town on the original route 66. The train line runs through and the trains honk their horns at every level crossing. Just as we were arriving in Kingman we saw a very long train with 6 engines carrying 174 goods carriages (Alison counted so it might be out by a couple). Four of the engines pulled from the front and 2 pushed from the back. Couldn't fit the whole thing in one, two or even three photos.

The motels we stayed in yesterday and today are the first where all of the light bulbs have worked! There does not seem to be a strong price to quality correlation. We stopped for the night in time to watch the sun set tonight so we took two chairs and sat outside. Tomorrow we'll visit the local wild west museum before heading to Las Vegas via the Hoover Dam. This time tomorrow night, we could be rich!
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