Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Trifle bazaars

The Halls rose early on their way out of town and stopped briefly at Old Tucson, a quaint recreation of the wild west and frequent backdrop for western movies. They opted not to take the guided tour and just wandered around by themselves, though their paths mostly crossed that of the tour guide anyway- long enough to hear the litany of films that had been shot in and around the premises. After playing around in the old steam engines and peeking in every shop, they hit the high roads again- on to Yuma and points West.
Until this trip, Mrs. Hall had believed that if you've seen one desert, you've pretty much seen them all. This was, of course, based solely on her research in that field¹- (¹ Mr. Wile E. Coyote, Mr. Yosemite Sam, et al.) So it was with with true surprize that she viewed the ever changing vistas of the different deserts as they rolled along. There were lots of Yucca cactus in various shapes, hovering over the highway like dancing warriors along the road. Some deserts were merely scrub and pale sage bushes, others lush with Saguaro cacti standing tall against the chasing winds and some so forbidding it was terrifying even to race through them at 85 MPH. Most were over 100 degrees, generally running anywhere from 104 to 113, with hard ground like paved orange dusty concrete. "It's a dry heat..." Mr. Hall said, in a conciliatory tone.
The only high points in the desert were the interesting and off beat truck stops and watering holes along the way. One of those was the Best Western Space Age Lodge and Restaurant. Essentially just a diner, it had been gussied up with Jetson's style space ships and bric-a-brac, and with some cagey advertising along the way, managed to eek a living out of the scanty tourist trade. Another favorite: a friendly little shop decorated with every sort of living creature rendered in rusty metal, offering the world's best cactus burgers (no; having already eaten, they did not investigate those.) Through valleys at sea level (112 degrees), to mountain passes over 4, 700 feet high (only 77 ), they journeyed on, until finally in the distance they could see the suburbs of San Diego stretched out before them.
Mr. Hall's adopted family resides in Escondido and it was their gracious hospitality that drew them to the San Diego suburb. After an afternoon of listening to the strains of "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" running endlessly through her head, Mrs. Hall could not get into a shower and some fresh duds fast enough. Eric Pierce and his daughter Tabitha were only too happy to show them around their hometown, so with Tab as the navigator, they hit some of the nearby high spots. Next episode: Victorville and the missing cowboys- stay tuned!

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