I set the alarm for 05:30 AM but couldn’t sleep past 03:30. I don’t feel wired for this next leg of my trip, but I do feel focused.
04:30 AM. I have been dithering about the route to take. There are three ways I’ve considered but now, at this sitting, I’ve decided on the shortest, most direct route even though I am unsure of the road conditions.
I will take the route in bold blue, the light blue route being obviously more complicated and longer. The original route I had fixed on was to get first to Flagstaff, then head due west to Kingman. I have just calculated this to be around 450 miles, which now seems ridiculous, given I can use ‘bold blue’ and travel only 289 miles.
That’s it. I’ve settled on it.
At 09:30 AM, Andrea will follow me in her car as I return the rental car to a local retail outlet, then deposit me and my goods at the Phoenix airport (PHX) where I’ll pick up the next rental car, which is a one-way rental. I’ll return this car to the San Jose airport (SJC) no more than a week later.
Last evening, I once again had a delightful time at the home of granddaughter Sabrina, her husband Chris and their three-year-old force of nature, Quinn. Andrea was there too, of course.
Chris had been preparing the main dinner item for several hours, marinating and cooking pork ribs. As I told Chris at the dinner table, while my hands were covered with pork fat, words cannot convey the actual experience of the animal joy in eating cooked pork just waiting to drop off the bone with the slightest touch. There was corn on the cob and salad, as well, the latter prepared by Andrea. We had, as dessert, the last of the Quinn’s birthday cupcakes.
Here is Chris’s cooker, the Traeger Pro 780:
I will forward this picture to Eva’s son Simon who, as a dedicated outdoor griller, will be envious, I reckon. I hope this doesn’t get me in trouble with his wonderful wife Josefine.
Here’s the view from the hotel room:
I arrived around 5:30 PM after leaving Phoenix around 12:00 Noon. I stopped once, briefly for a cup of coffee to go at McDonald’s.
The highlight of the trip was to see, at certain elevation levels (I think between 2000 and 3000 feet), many square miles of Joshua trees and saguaro cactus. There were some large and fantastic blooms on other plants I couldn’t identify. This and my earlier experiences tell me that May is the time to see the desert.
The highway, US 11, seems to be new one, bypassing and replacing US 93, which you can see below. As it passes over the Colorado River on Hoover Dam, all one can see is concrete—no views.
The practical values of the dam are water supply and electricity. The electricity part is evidenced by a forest of electrical towers and transformers as one approaches the dam from the Arizona side of the border.
When Las Vegas comes into sight from the heights above it and Henderson, the larger hotel/casinos seem to jut ingloriously from the desert, which is now covered with urban sprawl. And, everywhere, we are surrounded by mountains, including during the major portion of this trip.
There were few sights similar those I saw in northern and eastern Arizona; that is, the rock and landscape formations and colors. The colors seen from this highway are mostly black and grey and dull brown. Other than the aforementioned plants and chaparral, the vegetation seems to have a difficult time to find suitable rooting opportunities.
The hotel is a palace, but almost all the guests are casually dressed. I did not feel out of place as I approached the front desk in my rumpled cargo shorts and sandals, with my shirt untucked (but buttoned, of course). The hotel is proud of being the home of the Raiders football team headquarters, so Raiders imagery and paraphernalia dominate portions of the hotel and integrated casino.
The room, despite I paid the same as for a motel room through a third-party service, is (I’m writing from it now) too grand. Two king-size beds, a glass-enclosed area containing a shower, a separate bathing tub, a sink with two bowls, an ‘electric mirror’ with a control wand (I have no idea), and more.
I needed to eat. In my tired state I chose the nearest restaurant adjacent to the hotel lobby. It was expensive. I chose the least expensive but appealing item on the menu which could constitute a meal: seafood louie. It was unusual but was an excellent meal, with crustaceans, molluscs, avocado and finely chopped vegetables contained by a cordon of thinly sliced cucumbers, all in a circular pile. There was other stuff in it too; I’m not a foodie.
I made notes on the trip before the food arrived. My final note was that it didn’t feel right that Eva was not with me.
I did my gambling pretty much as had planned, but there was no Caribbean stud poker. Instead, I played ‘heads-up hold’em poker.’ It is a variation on the game I hadn’t played before; it was entertaining, and enjoyable because of two other players who were pleasantly sociable. I think I broke even in my betting. I had already played at the roulette table, in the manner described in a previous journal entry, and I was able to walk away with at least half the money I had allocated for the game. Then the poker machines and one-armed bandits (which no longer have arms) gave me no joy, and I walked away before they reached too deeply into my pocket.
I got to sleep at 10 PM, but couldn’t sleep past 3:30 AM, hence my finishing up this journal entry at close to 5:00 AM, on May 25.
Next: breakfast in the hotel, then on to Ojai (after I pay the valet parking attendant). I will stay in a motel in Oakview which is around 5 miles farther down the road toward Ventura, and cheaper than those in Ojai.
The following day I will have dinner with son Alex, whom I haven’t seen in two years.
PS: the rental car I used when based in Chandler showed I put 1,864 miles on it.
For the next journal entry: GO HERE