Thursday, November 18, 2004

Traveling Trivia

From San Jose to Scottsdale

We left San Jose at 1:00 on Tuesday afternoon. To avoid the hellhole of 6:00 L.A. commute traffic, we took (85 to 101 to 152 over Pacheco Pass) to I-5 to CA-58 to I-40 (via 15) to Needles, where we stopped for the night around 9:45. The next day, we headed south from Needles on 95 to I-10, then swooped around Phoenix on the 101 loop to Scottsdale.

Mileage: 787. Hours driving at or near speed limit: 12.

Stops: 6, including: Needles overnight (got gas, too, and dinner--which was a bit problematic since everything near our hotel closed at 10:00), 2 other gas/food stops, 2 rest areas for us and the dogs, and a lovely half hour spent in the cool desert sunshine on 95, waiting for an escort through a construction zone; everyone got out of their cars and wandered around on the 2-lane road, craning necks to try to see over the next hill over which the line of stopped vehicles continued.

As we headed over Tehachapi pass in the dark, oohing and ahhing at all of the brilliant stars that our urban lights generally drown out, we stopped briefly and I was delighted to see the Milky Way in its pale glory, which I haven't seen in a good many years. Orion rose slowly in the east ahead of us, and I swear that with all the stars visible, you can actually see the outline of the entire man down to his fingerprints. Jackie said that the desert is actually quite beautiful when it's light and you can see it.

The drive from Needles along 95 was beautiful indeed; interesting mountain ranges of not more that a couple or three sharp and rugged mountains each; strangely shaped yucca of various types; saguaro cacti, mostly young (less than a hundred years or so) since most within our view had very few arms and even then mostly small; and the intriguing ocatillo everywhere.

From Scottsdale to San Jose

Because we left WestWorld at 6:30, we figured we'd be heading through L.A. around midnight and could take the slightly faster route through the L.A. area. We were right. We took I-10 to I-210 to I-5 (and back across Pacheco Pass, etc., just in time to catch a little bit of morning commute traffic headed from Gilroy up 101 towards San Jose.

Mileage: 741. Hours driving at or near speed limit: 11.

Stops: 10, including: Meet my cousin just off the freeway in phoenix for dinner, then get gas; one hour to fix the tire blow-out; 8 other rest and/or gas stops, mostly for me and Jackie to switch drivers and stretch our legs. After about 10:30 the dogs didn't even look interested in getting up; they are, after all, creatures of habit and this was all well within their sleep-through-the-night time.

I took over driving around dawn at the John "Chuck" Erreca rest area south of 152, and the scenery was stunning. I had my camera with me, but there were really no places to pull over. Tendrils of fog lay among the valleys, fields, and orchards; the deciduous leaves were all turning shades of red and yellow, so the vineyards and the rows of nut trees had an unusual beauty; and the rising sun bathed everything in a pale orange glow. Every time I wanted to stop, I couldn't find even a wide enough shoulder to feel comfortable about pulling over, so I have NO photos. Guess i'm not yet a Real Photographer--who cares if one risks death for a chance at a stunning scenic shot?

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