Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Heading Home across the Southwest

After a week in LA it was time to head home. Out first thought was to return by way of he mountains and their spectacular scenery. Then we checked the weather. Snow was predicted at Vail Pass on Tuesday and the temperatures were low. We decided that we didn't want to risk ice and snow on the road so we chose the route we had taken in 1989 when we traveled with our kids. It was the old Route 66 as in the famous song "Get your Kicks on Route 66," although the place names unrolled in reverse order. We were heading back to St Louis. 

We left LA on Sunday morning after Amanda, John and the kids had left for church.
It was a bright blue day as we headed to the Mojave Desert. In November the temperatures are in the 60s by day instead of the hundreds. It is dry and barren. Joshua Trees are the indicator species, and we learned that both Death Valley and Las Vegas are in the Mojave. 

We were amazed by the impossibly long trains that passed us, some westward, others eastbound.  They were pulled by orange locomotives, at least three and sometimes four to a train. The cars were often double decker containers that numbered in the hundreds. There were still trucks on the road, but not as many as in Ohio and Indiana. 

As we passed San Bernadino and Barstow, the sun beat down on the rocky hills. We found a desert rest stop, a modern oasis in the desert, complete with picnic tables and bathrooms. But there was no question that water was precious. 

When we reached Kingman, the road began to climb. We reached 4000 feet of altitude, and the desert receded behind us. The shadows lengthened and the sun set long before we reached our destination and we had many miles to drive in the dark. One disadvantage of heading east is that we are losing hours instead of gaining them. And the total daylight has shrunk to under 11 hours per day. 

When we reached Gallup we were too tired to find a restaurant. Instead we made sandwiches from our lunch food and warmed them in the microwave. Sleep was sweet. 

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