Friday, March 5, 2010
Over the River and Through the Mountains
“Over the river and through the woods” took on a whole new meaning for me except it was over the mountains and through the desert, to San Diego we go. You know that excitement as you take off on a trip except this was a marathon to make the miles we had to cover and get to Seattle on the appropriate day and still leave us time to stop in the key places we wanted to along the way.
The first night we stopped in El Paso. I had never been to that side of Texas and surprisingly it was prettier than I had imagined. I had big plans of showing my youngest child what old Mexico was like by going over the border. I inquired at the front desk about going over and the gentleman there looked at me like I was crazy. He quickly explained that was no place for Americans to be going. I mentioned a brochure I had about a bus service that left from the Chamber of Commerce that would take you over the border and back. He explained that this service no longer operated that bus run. Of course, I needed to know why. Too many American tourists killed. Well that was enough info for me. Time to move along!
As we entered New Mexico and then Arizona, the temperature on my rear view mirror starting climbing up and up. All the while the possible number of bathroom stops grew less and less. I mean we would drive for miles needing to go to the bathroom. Finally we spotted this one little Mom and Pop store and there was literally nothing else around – where do these people live? Who else frequents this little store? I will tell you who. As we pulled in from the Texas/New Mexico side there was this cute little two-seater Mercedes with California plates that wheeled in from the Arizona side with two California looking young men who has been drinking chilled long necks for a while. I quickly bailed out and headed for the rickety screen door that squeaked loudly as I pushed it open. I noticed the old, rusty metal advertisement on the push bar of the door. California boys were right behind me. They needed the restroom as badly as I did. Now you know where that little store was located, literally in the middle of nowhere, that we weren’t the first people that stopped in there needing to use the restroom. But guess what they said. You got it – those three little words that raise hairs on the back of my neck. No Public Restroom. Come on, who in this day and time doesn’t have a restroom! We left dust as we pulled out headed further west and the Cali boys left dust as they headed east, all of us still needing a restroom.
Anyway, back to the temperature. As we made our way through the last stretch of the mountain pass before crossing over into California, the temperature reached 108 degrees and it wasn’t even June yet. This was an incredible thing to see. There were rough, jagged, rocky mountains high on either side of us and in a couple of stretches, the highway was divided with mountain in between us and the oncoming traffic – you couldn’t even see the other drivers that were headed eastbound. The GPS had no signal, the satellite radio had no service and the cell phone...forget it. That is a little freaky. As we made our way over the pass and we headed down into the valley that was the outskirts of San Diego, the temperature immediately dropped to 68 degrees. Literally 108 to 68 in a matter of minutes. We were high up in the mountains as we topped the last hill and headed down. The lights of civilization never looked so good! We were finally in California.
Guess what? San Diego is 70 degrees, give or take, year around. It has moved high up on my list of places to go when it is unbearable in Texas during July and August! And guess what else San Diego has – a honking big zoo. We have a split family. Half of our family LOVES the zoo and the other half isn’t crazy about it. I figure we spend enough time at the barn that who wants to walk around eating popcorn looking at more animals – so guess which half I am! Actually since there are five of us, it isn’t an even split. Gary and Mallory are the zoo lovers. Katie and I are good for the first hour or so and then I would rather sit on a bench and people watch. And my youngest? Well during the marathon drive through Arizona, she informed me she had never been to a zoo. I hadn’t even thought of it. She actually was wrong. We spent a perfectly miserable, 150 degree day in July, 1996 or 1997 at the Memphis Zoo. The following year we went to the Denver Zoo. I was actually excited about it. It was Colorado. It would be nice and cool with no stinky animal smells. Wrong. It gets hot in Denver during July as well! Anyway, since my youngest had no real memories of going to the zoo, it was officially decided that we would spend our first day at the San Diego Zoo. I think now I am out numbered. Abby joined the zoo lover side of the family. After a full day at the zoo we had just enough time the next morning for a bus tour around San Diego to see an overview of the city before heading north up the California Coast. Hollywood, I am on my way….
Let me hear from you. Which side are you on? Zoo lover or Not so much? Everyone commenting between now and the end of the Oscars on Sunday night is eligible for our drawing for $25 in Glamour Bucks.