Date Drivin’

As someone who was born and raised in New England, the desolation of the desert still amazes me even though we’ve been in California for forty years.   As we make the 6.5 hour drive from San Tan Valley, Arizona to Anaheim Hills, California, I often wonder what it must have been like the first time settlers encountered the desert.  It’s not hard to imagine because for a substantial percentage of the drive, there’s absolutely no sign of civilization except Interstate Route 10 stretching out to the horizon to the East and West.   I find it ruggedly beautiful, especially as the sun sinks lower, silhouetting Saguaro cacti and casting shadows of the hills across the rocky flatlands.   And the sky is just bigger here.

When we first began making the trek to and from Arizona, we’d try to be on the road by nine or ten am.  This required starting our cleaning and closing routine for our Little House the night before departure.  It also raised the question of what to do about lunch on that long drive through the middle of nowhere.  There aren’t many options.

There's Quartzsite ...

there's Blythe ...

and there's Chiriaco Summit.

So, do you get my drift?

Then we came up with the idea of a Date Drive.  Just calling it a date changes the entire mood.   We get up whenever we’re ready, have breakfast and close the Little House at a leisurely pace, getting on the road just before lunch.  This allows us to have a lunch date at a nice restaurant (usually the Paradise Bakery and Cafe).  If anyone ever takes you to Quartzsite, Blythe or Chiriaco Summit for a lunch date, ask to be taken home immediately.   We take our time on the road and stretch our legs at every rest stop (important for oldsters), each taking a turn to nap before we reach the California border.  At some point, we’ll receive the Greatest Parents Ever text message from our daughter, telling us she’s sorry she didn’t appreciate us enough while we were there.   I hope someday she learns to appreciate in the present tense.   There will be oldies on the Sirius XM radio and laughs about things the grandkids did as we drive.  We’ll stop in Quartzsite or Blythe for gas and chuckle about how nice it is not to be eating there.

The late departure and leisurely pace puts us in La Quinta, California, at dinner time.   To call La Quinta an oasis would be an insult.   It is a city of beautiful homes built around spectacular championship golf courses in the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains, all landscaped with tropical plants and flora.   Our Minnesota friends, Barb and Stan vacation there every year so we have a list of fine restaurants from which to choose.   I think we’ll go to The Fisherman’s Market and Grill this time.   By the time we get back on the road, it’s dark and road trip fever starts to set in.   There are impromptu sing-alongs with old songs on the radio or even a cappella.   By the time we roll into Riverside County, we’re talking like our grandkids and laughing hysterically or saying, If this drive was a half hour longer, we’d be really crazy.   At some point, a text from my son appears … Could you pick me up something to eat? … reminding us we need to be grown-ups again.   Then, we’re climbing the hill up Weir Canyon Road, holding hands, ready to be back in the real world.  Date Drivin’ is the only way to travel.

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11 Comments on “Date Drivin’”

  1. You two have such a special thing going. Well done! Glad you’re home safely and that you took your time and enjoyed the ride!

    • oldereyes Says:

      We do have a special thing. On of my best friends … and 12-Step sponsor ,,, who has a fifty year marriage taught me that to have what we have you have to go through what we’ve been through. What we’ve been through has made it a special thing. I think many couples give up before that happens.

  2. marjulo Says:

    Sounds like the road trips my husband and I enjoy too. We love the desert, and we love our Rocky Mountains. I enjoyed traveling with you!

  3. This TOTALLY makes me want to go on a road-trip. I haven’t been on an adventure like that in what seems like forever!

  4. comingeast Says:

    When we lived in San Antonio, we once drove to San Diego to visit my brother who was living there at the time. We, too, loved the desert. We would leave very early in the morning from our hotel and eat our breakfast at one of the rest areas and watch the sun come up and bathe everything with the most amazing light. For some reason, it cast almost a blue and pink glow on everything. Breathtaking! Your post brought back those wonderful memories.

  5. territerri Says:

    You sure know how to take the ordinary (and even mundane) and turn it in to something extraordinary. You may be Bud Heavy at times, but what you’ve just described shows that you’ve got an equal ability to put a very optimistic and positive spin on things.

    • oldereyes Says:

      I don’t think you can experience the Light to the fullest if you don’t experience the Heavy. It’s taken a very good friend … my 12-step sponsor … to teach me to do this. It’s nice when someone tell me I do it … I don’t always notice.

  6. Back in 1970, I spent three weeks that July and four weeks that October in Phoenix. We stayed in Phoenix at the Westward Ho Hotel and worked from dawn to dusk out in the desert at the Black Canyon shooting range. The mountains that were the backdrop for the range, although not all that high by comparison to other mountains around the country, were beautiful sights to me. I described them to my Mom as looking a lot like the bony pile (coal rubble) in the backdrop of our hometown here in PA except that those mountains were really pretty to see! And the desert countryside around that area was indeed an awesome sight -so different from the green beauty I was accustomed to seeing back here in the eastern part of the nation. What a great way though to enjoy what otherwise could be a long trip home.

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