This was my front yard yesterday. It’s been that way for three days now. And, that lovely whiteness is mostly ice. Sideways-blowing freezing rain and sleet (O.K., with a little snow) that barreled down on Wise Monday night and all day Tuesday. Thirty-five-mile-per-hour north winds. About 2 inches of ice, with drifts of 11 inches. Temps in the teens. Wind chills below zero. Brutal. Bone-chilling. Coma-inducing cold. The above photo was taken during a 5-minute break in the clouds yesterday. For the most part, it has been gray, and threatening snow since Monday. Which was also the last day Wise kids went to school.
Yep, we’re kind of shut down.
So, due to a combination of cabin-fever and Seasonal Affective Disorder, I’ve decided to pull out some pictures from last year’s summer vacation. Instead of, “…we need a little Christmas, right this very minute…”, we’re going to focus on the hellish good time we had in the Desert Southwest back in July. Because, only now, wrapped in my three layers of clothing, can I truly appreciate the liberating effect of 128 degrees…Farenheit.
I have always been fascinated by Saguaro cactus. Cacti? Must have something to do with all the TV and movie Westerns I watched as a child. Anyway, the Saguaro is so commanding and stately and wise. So multipurpose. When the boys were little, I bought the book, Creatures of the Desert World, which detailed the diversity of life in the desert. We also had 101 Questions about Desert Life. Both told of how the Saguaro provides food and shelter for desert animals. So, of course, Saguaro National Park was one of my scheduled destinations when we headed West in July. Such a great time to visit the desert, don’t you think? Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.
Continuing west, we ended up at an RV Park in Gila Bend, AZ, on the edge of the Sonoran Desert National Monument.
Beautiful, wide open spaces and a gorgeous sunset. It was 109 degrees in the travel trailer and hot water coming from the faucet, no matter which handle you turned.
Next morning, we ventured into California and made our way to Joshua Tree National Park. This was another place I had been curious about since U2′s The Joshua Tree album. We started at the south entrance and headed north. Loved these teddy bear cholla and the Joshua trees, which is a type of yucca.
I think it was about 117 degrees at this point…and getting hotter. Also at this point, the thought of braving the Mojave National Preserve was not appealing, especially after crossing this salt flat between Twenty-Nine Palms and Amboy.(But, we do want to visit Mojave at a later…cooler…date.)
After exiting Joshua Tree NP, we drove north towards I-40, hopefully climbing out of the desert floor, to the coolness of Lake Mead. Along the way: scorching, dry-to-the-bone heat, and a convection-oven wind to go with it:
It was about here, between Needles and Boulder City that we lost the tread off one of our trailer tires.
Did I mention it was hot?
But, we made it to the engineering marvel that is Hoover Dam, where we were greeted with a miles-long line of traffic, waiting to clear security before crossing the dam. Our trip was just months BEFORE the opening of the new by-pass bridge, which is an incredible sight, too.
Forgetting the fact that Hoover Dam is a massive chunk of concrete located in a gorge surrounded by rock…..we soon came to know what 128 degrees feels like.
As you can see in our obligatory, super-cheesy souvenir photo, evidently I was the only one feeling every molecule of that 128 degrees. Son #1 and Son #2…no problems.
So, there you have it. A very small sliver of a very hot, but memorable trip to the U.S. Desert Southwest.
Hope you didn’t mind the travelogue.
I feel much warmer now.