Mar 10, 2010

California Roads: Indio Outio

Day Three (08.25.09) Blazing sun and miles of interstate in front of us, we left the neon of Vegas behind for the scorching heat and stark beauty of the Mojave desert. It was blistering in the middle of the afternoon, but in my mind this is exactly how I had pictured the road to Indio.

We played Send Me An Angel by Real Life and You Don't Get Much by BoDeans, both songs becoming the undisputed theme songs for the trip thanks to a not-so-classic-movie called The Wizard. You may remember it starred Fred Savage, a Nintendo Power Glove, and featured a scene with the infamous Cabazon Dinosaurs (coming up next).

Dave and I couldn't help but use The Wizard, a piece of childhood nostalgia for each of us, as inspiration during our own trip. This often lead to us quipping about Jimmy running off or one of us slowly pronouncing every syllable of California like he did in the movie. As Joshua trees started to appear we also had to play, no surprises here, U2's Joshua Tree album to further remind ourselves of our location.

Of all the road time we had, this was probably the most defining. We knew we'd be in Indio by the end of the day to relax, drink, swim, and shoot the breeze. At the same time we had already seen some pretty memorable things in both Salt Lake and Vegas, which only helped to fuel our conversations and keep us guessing about the remaining days ahead. The foreign landscape around us created a rare ambience, and with good (or campy eighties) music playing and a willingness to explore, there didn't seem to be anything to distract us from being in the moment.

I had made it clear early on that I was interested in picking up some kind of Route 66 souvenir, so as we reached Barstow we stopped at a roadside convenience store and I picked up a shirt. Not quite satisfied, I actually found a large wooden Route 66 sign the next day in Newport Beach that was more in tune with what I had in mind. There's nothing quite like a stereotypcial memento to mark the occassion.

As we headed further west it wasn't long before the terrain started to change. We hit the Cajon Pass and the expansive desert was replaced with richer hues of lush vegetation and a steady increase in traffic; the pass itself acting as a funnel between the populous of southern California and the desert to the north. We were just barely skirting the greater Los Angeles area, but as tall palms, overpasses, and billboards appeared, the interstate became expectantly urban.

Through the pass and San Bernadino, the traffic cooled somewhat as we changed direction, heading southeast towards the entrance of the Coachella valley. It was all happening pretty fast. The signs and sprawling urban landscape became a quick reminder that over the last couple days we had traveled across the USA, north to south, roughly 1500 miles (2400km) and 22 driving hours. And then there it was, the first hint of our destination clearly marked - Indio 64 miles. 

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