we had originally planned to drive directly from san marcos to williams, arizona, where i booked us a two-night stay at the grand canyon railway hotel so we could take the grand canyon railway up to - you guessed it - the grand canyon - for a day trip.
just days before we left woodland, however, my brother learned he needed to be in our neck of the woods for work, so he was able to come out and meet us for dinner. we were discussing our plans and he suggested that we take a different route, to come through phoenix instead. it would not add miles to our drive; in fact, it would be perfect timing for us to come and relax at his place for dinner and avoid the rush hour traffic. we haven't had much opportunity to spend time with my brother and his wife and their two children, so we quickly accepted his offer.
traveling along interstate 8 we made it pretty close to the border with mexico but never actually crossed it. perhaps some other time when we weren't facing a deadline.
the scenery changed from lush, deep forest greens to myriad shades of creams and tans and browns. the mountains were no longer thick with trees but imposing with huge mounds of rock, a zen garden for the gods.
we emerged from those craggy hills to an expansive flatness. i was grateful for this; having held my breath for nearly the entire time i drove on the winding roads, wondering if we would be pummeled into oblivion by a freak rockslide (not that we'd have to worry about the rented vehicle, as we purchased the bumper-to-bumper insurance), i could relax and settle in to a more relaxed driving posture. we gazed at the sea of windmills and realized how very much different the landscape looks where there is little water.
we amused ourselves by scouring the land for evidence of the djinn in charge of all deserts. we saw spontaneous pillars of whirling sand popping up around us; once, we even felt the car shift slightly to the side as the gust traveled across our path.
|capturing the djinn on camera is almost as difficult as documenting any other form of paranormal existence. if you squint, though, and let your mind be open to imagination, you can see the sandstorm.|
now, none of us are particularly fond of roller coasters. ander likes mild ones, diana has trouble even watching, steve and i will go on them to join others, but we don't have that thrill-seeking gene that some of my extended family members do. so the anticipation of 17 miles of little dips in the road through the sonoran desert national monument was perfectly suitable for us. you could see when the dips were coming, none of them looked threatening, and you knew that, at just the right speed, you could achieve that uneasy feeling in your gut that is simultaneously horrifying and thrilling. that was enough for us. the only thing that could have made it perfect would have been a camel sighting, but that was not in the cards for us (because there aren't any camels there, silly.)
|every once in a while, margaret the gps would tell us to go one way, when the road very obviously did not exist. technology is only as good as its updates, i suppose.|
|no camels, but we were to expect cows, based on these signs. i think we might have seen one.|
when we arrived at my brother's gorgeous home, a little later than expected, we were welcomed in with hugs and a delicious dinner. the four cousins, despite not having seen each other in some years, easily fell into fun playtime with legos and swimming as their gateways.
|i had forgotten to pack the kids' swimsuits for the trip. fortunately, their cousins had some extras to share that fit well enough.|
|snowball was so happy to be in her cage on solid ground.|
|diana starts her persuasive effort to get everyone else out of the hot tub and into the cool pool.|
|i love the expression on my niece's face!|
all too soon it was time for us to get back on the road. with much angst involved, we extracted our children from their aqueous bliss so that we could complete our day's journey. thank goodness ander was asleep by the time we reached 7000 feet above sea level - his poor little ears did not adjust well to the changes in elevation and, to this day, becomes anxious when approaching mountainous regions.
we were so glad it worked out in our plans to visit with family - an opportunity too good to pass up!
next stop...the canyon.
mileage via google maps, post-trip:
day 1 - woodland, ca to yosemite bug = 178 miles
day 2 - to san marcos, ca = 390 miles
day 3 - to williams, az = 576 miles
miles traveled after day 3 = 1144 miles
on to the next travel post