Day 1

Sunday March 24, 2013

Today was take-off day on our trip back to Michigan.  It was planned to be driving all day, and that is exactly what it turned out to be.  We left the flat we had rented in Palmdale for the last month at 9:15am, dropping some last minute things with Courtney and saying a last good-bye, and then heading north on the  I14 to the I58, and finally to the I40, which is where we spent the most time.  We arrived at our hotel (Drury Inn in Flagstaff, AZ) at about 5:30pm, and immediately went down to happy hour.  Really impressed with the hotel so far.

As the day was spent mostly in the car, we got our travel arrangements pretty well settled.  During the drive, we listened to music from either of our iPhones, or my iTouch.  We have quite a variety, so it was not too bad, at least we were never in danger of listening to the same thing twice.

The scenery was the most fun.  It was desert for the most part, certainly until we were within 100 miles of Flagstaff, when it turned more mountain pines than desert scrub.  The desert in California was remarkably different from that in Arizona.  In CA, the desert had hills or mountains in the distance, and occasionally the hills were jagged on the top; certainly more jagged than the mountains, which appeared more worn down by the weather.  The primary scrub was tumbleweed, although there were a variety of small bushes (which I later decided were probably juniper) and of course the yucca cactus in the higher elevations.  Some of these Yuccas were 9 or 10 feet tall, with spreading branches.  None of the scrub was that big, even the tumbleweeds, getting to no more than three or four feet high.  The western part of the state has a lot of black-on-brown views to it.  The hills seem to be made out of a black substance, with the brown sand (much finer) falling down along the sides.  Where it was near enough to the road for us to see, the black looked like it might have been broken up old road surface, but if that were the overall explanation, there was too much black macadam, and it was spread over too large an area.

In Arizona, the first thing we noticed were the mountain tops, which appear flat on the top in many places, with vertical drops off the edges.  The vertical drops are not flat on the face, but rather look like they are made up of columns gathered together.  I assume this is the result of erosion.  The “columns” do not descend to ground level, but only to a point where sand begins descending at a steep angle, forming a skirt-like surround for the base of the cliff.   The overall impression is one of half-buried Parthenons with the columns all pulled in together.   Sometimes the horizontal veins that are very visible on the columns were parallel with the horizon, sometimes they are at an angle.

The scrub had a lot more variety on the Arizona side, and the bushes, instead of being primarily tumbleweed, were larger and more like evergreens, sometimes huge ball-like bushes of evergreen – as high as the Joshua trees of CA.  These evergreens are probably juniper.

The scenery was quite spectacular, and constantly changing.  It was great!

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