Trip Start Apr 28, 2009
37Trip End Jul 03, 2009
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Joshua Tree, California
Lots to catch up on! Back to our last night at the Grand Canyon - we had a nice dinner out at the Bright Angel Lodge, then a sunset walk along the rim with the dogs. Not a spectacular sunset, but good enough!
Next morning, we headed out early, southeast towards Flagstaff. Through scrub country and then through some lesser mountains down to Flagstaff, which is still at a fairly high elevation. Walked around the downtown (in the Boulder/Burlington tradition, with Northern Arizona State nearby) and did some errands. Then on towards Sedona (south of Flagstaff) - through Oak Canyon approaching Sedona - rocky gorge, along a stream - Sedona is another red rock area - great buttes and views around the town, sort of set among all the red rock. Kind of touristy, but nice touristy. We continued on to a really pretty campground in Cottonwood - overlooking the lights of the valley, up on a bit of a ridge. it would have been awful if windy (ofen is) but it wasn't. Not crowded. Desert surroundings but with hills.
Next morning drove back up to Sedona - took a couple of short recommended drives to ooo and ah at the red rocks. Got coffee in town. Then headed further south towards Phoenix - started seeing the big saguaro cactus alongside the raod (they are especially prevalent in southern - way southern - Arizona) - met up with Jim Wiggenhorn, an old camp and Upper Valley friend who has been out in Scottsdale (greater Phoenix) for 5-6 years. Left the dog at his nice, cool house, and went to a nearby place for lunch. Great visit - a couple of hours of just catching up with someone John has been friends with for over 35 years! Temperature 102 but breezy and it really feels hot, but not THAT hot....
After lunch, on to the other side of Phoenix to visit the Wardwells in Avondale. Les worked with me for a number of years at DHMC and moved out to Phoenix 4 years ago. Again, lovely house (backed up to a sort of lake/lagoon, with orange trees, a pretty pool, and some nice grass that the dogs loved) - we just visited, had a cookout, drank margaritas and beer, and enjoyed the great company and the 3 kids (high school age) - as evening fell it cooled down - palm trees out back silhouetted against a blue-black sky and a sliver of moon - spent the night, and after the requisite computer consultation (Les has always been there....) and farewells, hit the road for California! (Staying with Les and Laura was our very first night not spent in the camper - thanks guys!)
The drive across western Arizona today was surprising because we weren't expecting mountains on the horizon all around. Really nice drive on I-10. After entering California, we headed off to the north into Joshua Tree National Park. Two desert environments, the Coloradan (lower) and the Mohave (higher) come together in the park, so there are different shrubs and cactus depending on where you are. In the Mohave part of the park (the famous part) there are many Joshua trees (are you surprised??) - which look like big cactus with gawky arms and spiky fingers - and big rock formations that people rock climb and go bouldering on, with tenting campgrounds tucked among them - Tom has spent time here and directed us to a place called the Hidden Valley - there is a trail into this cul-de-sac of big rocks, where historically the rustlers and cattle thieves hid their cattle. There were people (mostly daring young men) on tops of all the high rocks, and John was wishing he had been here 30 years ago (or more....) We have been getting our desert shrubs sorted out (we can tell mesquite and creosote bush at any stage of flowering or fruiting - the cactus are more confusing....)
We are here at a campground in Joshua Tree tonight, and are very excited about seeing Mary and Murray, our dear across-the-road neighbors in Post Mills all those years our kids were growing up (but now they live in Santa Monica!) We will swing into LA tomorrow, kennel the dogs for a couple of days, sleep in the luxury of their apartment, and be city kids for a few days. We'll let you know how it goes (it will be awesome, we already know that.... :-)
Thinking today of Jed Sturman and Megan Hull's wedding in New Jersey - such a happy day for everyone, and we are sorry not to be there celebrating with them. Also Thomas McCosker's graduation from Bard.
We are at the halfway point of our planned trip - now we'll see how long it takes us to head up the coast, turn east, and wend our way home!
June 1st, Santa Monica, CA at Mary and Murray's
We arrived yesterday at Mary and Murray's - our dear friends from Post Mills who have moved out here (last fall). En route, we stopped in Claremont and sought out Claremont-McKenna College where Bianca went. We called her (left a message), walked around, and had a picnic lunch outside the dining hall at a picnic table (no students around, summer vacation). Then on to the very end of I-10 and found their lovely apartment just 2 blocks from the beach. Flowers, green and lovely smells all around, a central courtyard in their building bursting with flowers. John and Murray drove the dogs up to Malibu to their "pet hotel" for 3 days. Mary and I went over to the park above the beach for a walk - later on (after visiting at length sitting around the living room) we strolled downtown through the whole pedestrian area - blocks of entertainers, restaurants, and shops - stopped for a margarita at a loud karyoke bar, then on to a sushi bar for a noshing supper.
Today was wonderful - leisurely breakfast, reading the paper - then off to central LA, lunch at Phillipes, a very old lunch place, where "french dip" sandwiches were invented - lines at the counter, all kinds of mostly men (firemen, construction workers, white collar businessmen etc) - we had the requisite sandwiches - then on to a place called Huntington Gardens and Museum - BEAUTIFUL gardens (a desert garden, a Japanese garden, a Chinese garden, museum in the old stately home, etc etc) - we took a tour with a nice young docent of the gardens - lingered at some length on the terrace. Drove home (their Mercedes, to down!) in a round about way (San Fernando Valley, Topanga Canyon, Malibu, then down the Pacific Coast Highway - the PCH) - now dinner at the apartment, Eliza is joining us (just back from a graduation trip to Mexico), a good chat with the Sturmans on the phone to hear about Jed and Megan's wedding. The for burned off by 2 or so, nice sunshine and yet back in S.M. with a cooling breeze.
It is SO good to be out of the desert. Back into flowers and trees and moderate temperatures. This could be pretty addictive!!!