California Desert

Tempe, Arizona

I woke up an hour earlier than the alarm I had set, so I got a nice early start on the day. 

We drove for about an hour and then stopped at a rest area to smell a cactus.

At one point we had to stop for an agricultural inspection. I pulled into the inspection area and the guys inside waved me through. I guess they didn’t know or didn’t care about the two bananas I had in the back seat.
I saw a lot more of those finger cactus, but still didn’t capture a decent picture of one.

It got really beautiful once we passed into California. Here we are just passing the Welcome to California sign. Shortly after this, I was in awe.That desert is my favorite. I especially like how the long, straight highway has many hills so it’s like a roller coaster with scrub brush.

This picture didn’t come out, but it was amazing to see in person. The entire terrain is awash with scrub brush except for a single trail that runs for miles in a straight line and then juts off to the left in between two mountains. 

We made it to Twentynine Palms and the Joshua Tree Monument National Park, but this is what we saw:

So, now we had a few extra hours to kill; the time we were going to spend in the park. I didn’t want to check into the room and just sit there. And there’s nothing else to do in Twentynine Palms, so I went into the office and told them to cancel the reservation. We were going to keep driving and see where we ended up. I figured any driving we did tonight would take time off our trip tomorrow.

We ended up going all the way to the coast. I had made a reservation at a Motel 6 in Gardena for the next night, but I thought I could just check in early and have a break from loading in and out for a day. The Gardena location is a fairly new one so it wasn’t showing up in my Mini Navigation search. And I hadn’t written the address in my journal yet. Also, the battery on my phone was dead so I couldn’t look up my confirmation email or ask Siri to find the motel for me.

All I could do was try to remember the cross streets.

I drove around for quite some time, unable to locate the motel. River was clearly getting impatient, in the meantime. Finally, I stopped at a strip mall with a Starbucks thinking I could plug my phone in and get the exact address from the email. But first, I took River for a little walk around the parking lot. 

It turns out I’m glad I did that, because he had to go to the bathroom right away. He also had a ton of energy and frustration he needed to release so we did a bit of “PUSH” right there in the median of the shopping center parking lot. 

Once he was calmed, I left him in the car to go into Starbucks. I plugged my phone in and waited for it to charge up enough to get the address. It was actually on the intersection I thought I remembered, but it wasn’t exactly on the corner, so I wasn’t seeing it. 

Fortunately, they did have a room available for tonight, and it’s a fancy room with a big armoire and a separate sitting area with a big recliner in it.

River was again really worked up when we got into the room so we had to rough house a little bit to release it. Then we could eat. 

I’m glad we went the extra distance today because it’s always so nice on these trips to be able to stay in the same room for two days in a row.


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