Thursday, March 10, 2016

Roadtrip Intermezzo #2

Southern California as dry as a bone

Finally, the last episode of our trip before my memory gets too fuzzy. 
We spend most of the time in the car driving through a totally serene and abandoned landscape that could easily be the set of a movie playing on the moon. Strange and alien, amazing rock formations and cacti all around. Death Valley is the most arid and hottest place on earth, next to the Atacama desert in Chile in South America. the Badwater Basin is also the point of lowest elevation, 86 meter below sea level. In the distance you could see Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the United States. They have rain, if at all, once a year.
It's fascinating to imagine the earliest settlers trying to cross the surrounding mountains and then having to pass through this unfriendly territory. Survival of the fittest at its best, but the only way to get to the coastline of California.

We didn't want to miss Las Vegas, as it was very close by, but in the end the experience there was so bad and overwhelming that we couldn't stand staying there for more than 30 minutes. It's a real freak show, a lot of half naked people dressed in shrill costumes and everything screams at you and wants to suck your money in. At least I got a tasty yet overpriced milkshake before we took flight. I guess the contrast of the quiet landscape all around and then this island of consumerism was a stark contrast which you have to mentally be prepared for.

A short section of the drive through the desert was on the historic Route 66, and it certainly didn't disappoint. It looks very haunted and lost in time, which is what you also see in the movies and documentaries about the period when new interstates were build and the people living there found themselves forgotten and without any possibility to earn a living. The world found ways to turn faster and didn't care about those outside the fast lane.
We stopped at the only gas station around for a coffee, owned by a very nice guy who, to the question how many people lived in the town, responded wholeheartedly: "7 people, 6 too many."
When you have nothing else to do, you resort to quiet particular activities, like shooting signs. As a result, every traffic sign or ad you see along the Route 66 is perforated with bullet holes.

Yoshua Tree National Park, last day in the car and I had to put on new sun blocker every 20 minutes to not get roasted. The Mojave Desert with it's characteristic trees was the most beautiful so far. Fun fact: the rock formations are actually more than 100 million years old and were formed by magma cooling off underneath the surface. 
What a trip! I hope you enjoyed the pictures (the last two in this post were shot by my dad, he has a great eye for beautiful details) and the journey, it was fun to relive the experience while writing about it.
See you next time.


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