Monday, March 14, 2005

Random Road Thoughts

Although our week-long road trip produced some serious back-ache and a little digestive irregularity (as they say), it did not produce any blog-worthy breakthroughs. It did, however, leave me with some random thoughts.

  • On the way down to Mojave-land, we stayed the night in a Reno casino, in a room that is best described as a small cell in a people warehouse.
  • In the morning, we spent more money in the casino coffee shop (two coffees, one muffin, an order of french toast and a three-dollar glass of orange juice) than we would have if we would have moo'd our way into the buffet with all the cow-shaped people. Although we didn't save any money, I suppose we saved ourselves a few thousand calories.
  • It's a good thing, too, because I happen to know of a great bakery in Carson City (just south of Reno) and used all the calories I saved on cookies for the road.
  • Why does sitting around in a moving car make me crave snacks? It's not right and it's not fair.
  • Okay, living makes me crave snacks.
  • I learned that there's a place worse than Ridgecrest, California, which sits on the edge of a dry lake bed in the middle of the Mojave desert. It's called Trona. Trona would be a spectacularly bad place to choose to live, especially if you were not required to live there to work in the only (legitimate) industry in town - a mining venture that scrapes the adjacent dry lake bed floor for the borax and other minerals it gleans. This mineral sorting activity produces, along with a constant dry,white dust that coats the town and all its inhabitants, an odor that is sulphur-foul and chemical-sour. Turns out it's a great smell to camouflage the cranking out of a lot of crank, the other industry in town. This town is so soul-achingly ugly and smelly, it's almost endearing. Almost. I feel sorry for the inmates of Trona High School.
  • Yes, on account of all the rain in Southern California this year, it is an outstanding time to visit Death Valley. Since I've never been to Death Valley before, it was a little difficult to gauge the amazingness of the vegetation and wildflowers blanketing the valley floor. Since I'm not sure how death-y it is normally, I don't think I can fully appreciate the undeath going on right now. But I can assure you, it is as unnatural as the warm, dry winter we continue to experience back here in Portland/Vancouver. On the valley floor, 282 feet below sea level, where there should be dry beds of salt baking in the concentrated heat of a sun bouncing off the steep sides of the big basin, there are actual lakes. There was even some dude paddling around in a canoe. Freaky.
  • I can now say that I have seen the dreaded pupfish of Death Valley. Cute as a guppie, but I understand it's much more interesting to fish people. Lives in a pretty hellish bit of hot, trickly water most of the time, I guess. This year the pupfish is living large.
  • At the Scotty's Castle gift shop, we played our usual game of looking for the tackiest souvenir possible. Rules: no rules, but you get extra points for: (1) use of plastic, (2) sparkliness, (3) use of the name of the attraction, and (4) pointlessness. Oh, and there is no real counting of points, and often, no consensus on a winner. However, my choice for winner this day (although the competition was abundant and varied) was a fake railroad spike with a tiny miniature choo-choo glued to the top, sprinkled with some sparkly mica (I guess to look like Gold Rush gold) and the name Death Valley stamped on the side.
  • There's no accounting for taste.
  • Drew told his little niece that there are fairies and Ewoks living amongst the trees in Vancouver. He's gonna have some 'splaineen to do.
  • On the drive home, we upgraded our room. We felt much less warehoused and I found a new thing to aspire to: a jetted tub.
  • Every time I go for a long drive, I remember why I hate long drives. I shall redouble my efforts to avoid them in the future.

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