We have returned from our brief sojourn in Phoenix. We had quite an eventful
week and a bit, and I've sat down a couple of times to attempt to write it
all up, but I've been suffering a bit of writer's block (blogger's
constipation?), and I haven't got around to it. So I'm going to just do a
longish post covering the everything. It's probably not going to do anything
any justice, but if I don't write something down now, it'll never
It also gives me a chance to test out my modified seemore
plugin (only does a fold for RSS feeds, leaves my blog alone). After I just
spent 15 minutes grokking how it worked, and making the one-liner I needed,
it seems someone beat me to
it. Ah well. C'est la vie.
The Friday night drive down
We made it to Rialto, to the east of Los Angeles, by about 12:30am and
called it a night at the first
motel we found. Not the greatest lodgings, the walls didn't offer a lot
of sound insulation from the neighbours. The people in the room next door
wanted to play the same track of a CD over and over and over. Fortunately
there was a rent-a-cop doing the rounds, so we proxied a "turn it down!" via
him, which made it more bearable. The main highlight of the drive was seeing
snow on the mountains a bit south of San Jose on the 101.
Rialto to Glamis
We saw more snow on the mountains nearby. We Also saw an enormous wind farm.
Unlike the one we'd seen on the way to Tracy when we picked up the Prius,
this one was actually going at the time we drove past, which an impressive
sight. I think I'm an infrastructure junkie. Power stations, dams, anything
that is a big engineering feat, and I like to just look at it in awe...
We got to Glamis by about
midday on Saturday, which was about bang on when we guessed we'd get there.
We had a way cool couple of days there. I don't know where to start. So I'll
just braindump. It was like Summernats, but in the sand. I
guess people who are in a landlocked state spend their money on sand rails instead of boats. They sure
seem to put some money into them, and theme them and name them like people
would with boats.
There would have easily been a few tens of thousands of people camping out
in the dunes on the weekend. Craig said it wasn't normally anywhere near as
crazy, but because it was a long weekend on account of President's Day,
every man and his dog (literally, photos here) were out with their sand
It was a lot of fun. Craig and Sarah's RV/fifth wheel/bloody huge caravan
was an extremely comfortable home away from home. It had three queen sized
beds in it, two TVs, hot and cold running water, toilet and shower
facilities and a fully functional kitchen, including microwave. You sure
don't need to rough it, you just need to own a 7 miles-per-gallon pickup
truck to drag the enormous thing around.
They also had an Arctic Cat, a little 4x4 for fanging around in the sand in.
It went inside the RV for transportation to and from the dunes.
The campsite was really close to some train tracks, that had some seriously
huge freight trains go past at all hours (with the requisite honking at the
level crossing). When we woke up on Monday morning, there was one just
sitting there, and it stayed put for hours, so I snapped a few photos of it.
Arriving in a Prius immediately got us branded as tree huggers by all of
Craig and Sarah's friends. The duners are a bit apprehensive towards
environmentalists because they seem to like to close down chunks of the
desert for conservation reasons.
Glamis to Phoenix
On Monday morning, we broke camp and headed to Phoenix, where Craig and
Sarah live (in Peoria
precise). It was a fairly uneventful 4 hour drive. We did go past the Palo Verde Nuclear
Generating Station from afar, which is apparently the biggest reactor in
the US. I would have liked to have checked it out more closely, but time
didn't permit. I also don't know if any men with guns at the gate permit...
I was a little surprised that it was so clearly signposted from the highway.
It took a bit more work to find it again with Google Earth.
Phoenix was quite a nice place. Sarah and I both liked it. On the downside,
it had pretty ordinary public transport (buses were about it), but on the
upside, the roads were really good, with the exception of a few extremely
confusing cloverleaf flyover things that defied comprehension, even with GPS
navigation. Our navigation system's
maps were pretty lacking, for no apparent reason other than the manufacturer
hadn't kept them up to date. Housing was cheap a couple of years ago when
Craig and Sarah bought, and they have a beautiful, huge house out in the
first thing that resembles what I'd call typical Australian suburbia that
I've seen in the US.
My sightseeing was limited to what we could do after work, and still had
daylight for, so we went to the Desert Botanic
Garden and took a heap of
photos of cacti. Sarah also went to the Phoenix
On Friday night we headed back for Los Angeles for a day's sightseeing in
Hollywood on Saturday.
Phoenix to Hollywood
This was a fairly uneventful drive. We left Phoenix at 4pm, and arrived at
the hotel in LA at 10pm (this was with an hour lost when we crossed the
California/Arizona border and switched back to PST from MST). One of the
interesting things was seeing the California State Prison. We saw this
enormous brightly lit area to the left of the highway long before we saw the
signs (that included warnings about picking up hitch-hikers).
I wasn't really all that impressed by Hollywood, to be honest. At least not
in the bit we stayed in, which was apparently in the thick of it all. It
just seemed pretty grotty. The air was really hazy/smoggy/foggy (take
your pick). We did a couple of tours on Saturday, one that just basically
drove us around to a decent vantage point of the Hollywood sign, and another
that took us around Beverly Hills and showed us a few of the celebrity's
homes. After that we wandered around the Kodak Theatre, got a photo
holding an Oscar, had some dinner, checked out Grauman's
Chinese Theatre's forecourt and went home. I don't believe we saw any
real live stars.
Hollywood to Mountain View
We left the hotel at about 9:30am, and made it back home by 4pm, with a bit
of a lengthy stop for lunch at Casa de
All in all, it was a good trip. The car performed well, and we've doubled
the number of miles it's done. I think I can count on the fingers of one
hand the number of times we had to refuel, and it still performed fairly
efficiently on the open road (as opposed to city stop-start driving, where
it's supposed to go better).
Oh yeah, one interesting observation was how bug-free the trip was. We drove
the equivalent of Canberra to Brisbane and back, and if we'd done that trip,
the car would have been completely covered in bugs from the trip, whereas we
came away more or less unscathed from this trip. No complaints there.