Saturday, September 10, 2016

Summary of the 2016 Western Trip - Part Six - Through the Mojave Desert to St. George, Utah

Friday, August 19 - We woke up a bit more sluggish than usual in the Bakersfield hotel, but did manage to have fun swimming. It woke me up quite a bit as well, which was good, since there was no continental breakfast to help wake us up. This day, I knew, would be mostly filled with driving, and not as much with visiting much. We drove through the Mojave Desert, and it was startling to see the temperature go up to 113 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit! Pure insanity! Never before had I seen temperatures that high, although already on this trip, the record of 110 degrees that we had seen during last summer's trip in Phoenix had been overtaken by 111 degrees in Las Vegas. Frankly, I just do not know how the people there take that kind of heat not just for a day or two, but for months at a time! Unbelievable! The desert was long, and there was not all that much to see. We stopped at a place that had connections with Route 66, which was a cool addition to our growing collection of such places that we managed to visit. It felt like we were driving forever, and I was impressed by just how big California was! Days ago, we had entered on California's eastern border with Nevada, and driven for hours heading north towards Yosemite. The next day, it was hard not to notice just how big Yosemite National Park was. Then, another three hours northwest to get to Sacramento, and still another hour west after that to get to San Francisco and the Pacific Coast. We drove for several hours to reach Fort Bragg, and when we reached the Redwoods the next day, we were told that we were still two hundred miles south of the Oregon border! After that, we drove for almost eight hours down south to Bakersfield, which itself is about four hours north of San Diego! And we drove the opposite direction, heading east towards Nevada once again, and it was taking a long time to get there (and I was not exactly going super slowly, trust me!). Coming from New Jersey, where a three hour drive in pretty much any direction will take you out of state or into the ocean, this was impressive! Finally, though, we did leave California and enter Nevada, although we must have missed the signs and markers. Suddenly, it was just Exit 1 and Mile 1, and there was this huge amusement park, and we were in Nevada. The drive through there lasted fairly long as well, even though we really we clipping the southern portion of it, heading towards Arizona (which we were in for maybe twenty minutes to a half an hour at most) before arriving into Utah. For the first time upon entering Utah, my cellphone GPS announced it ("Welcome to Utah!), and we were in a different time zone. We had hotel reservations at St. George, which wound up being perhaps the best hotel that we stayed at on this entire trip. Great room, spacious and clean. The pool opened up early the next morning, and we managed to get a session of night swimming in, as well, as it closed at 10pm. St. George was not what I expected out of Utah, and ran counter to my climactic impressions, which was that Utah could be hot in the summer, but was cold in the winter. Here, there were palm trees! There was a family from Salt Lake City that joined us in the pool later that night, and they were a great family! Three boys, two girls, and the parents. The boys did some fancy dives, pretending to be Olympians. They actually were quite athletic. Then, the father, who kind of had the famous "Dad Bod," jumped into the pool with no elegance at all. The whole family laughed richly and often. They invited my son to play Marco Polo, and included us in their general fun. When I pushed and then threw my son into the pool, they laughed richly. I spoke to the father, and he talked a bit about that family, and how they were all starting school in a week, and were just taking the time for one last hurrah to enjoy themselves, as they were on their way to Zion National Park the next day. I had actually wanted to visit Zion as well, although we arrived much too late for that to be a real possibility. I enjoyed their company, and admired the energy and unity of that family, the name of which I never got. Before long, they wrapped up their swimming session and, a couple of minutes later, we wrapped up ours.

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