Michael and Sarah's Great Cross-Country Adventure

This is a blog about our 6-week trip driving across the USA. We set off on March 18, 2008.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sunny Southern California

We left Tucson for Los Angeles. We were going to drive the whole way, but Peter (my brother) had plans and couldn't host us until the following day, so we took a detour into Joshua Tree National Park. Much of Joshua Tree looks like the Tucson desert, or some version thereof. But then suddenly you hit some magical elevation and there are all these Joshua trees everywhere. I'm not sure what the link is between Dr. Seuss's the Lorax and the Joshua Tree--everyone seems to compare them, but I don't know if Dr. Seuss made the link explicit. In any case, it's a bit of an eerie (if false) feeling to look at these trees and pretend they're the last trees on earth. (Mike says it's a copyright violation to post someone else's pictures, so you'll have to search Google images yourself.)

We camped at this campside with two huge piles of boulders. There were lots of other people, and I don't normally like camping when I feel like I'm there with everyone else. But in the evening, when the sun is low, the Joshua trees caught the light perfectly and it was really nice to be there. We also hiked up a small mountain before heading back to the campsite for sunset.

Los Angeles is a total change from all that. There have been a few places we have been where I feel like you can really see how damaging we humans are to the earth, and LA is one of them. You drive over those mountains and all you notice is the smog.

On the other hand, LA is also the first place we've been since Pittsburgh where the people are "like us". This is the first time I haven't felt out of place, as if we come from two different countries. It's strange to have driven all this way and lived through all the space that separates the Northeast from California.

One of the first things we did was drive all the way to the coast. We sat and had a drink on the beach, and even though it was chilly it was that perfect blue sky that is the cliche of Southern California. The best part was that a school of dolphins passed by, really close to the shore. We could see them jumping out of the water and kicking up their tails. It was great.

Our time in LA has mostly been spent seeing art and hanging out with Peter. The museums here have some really great pieces, and the Getty center is an incredibly pleasant space to just hang out. It's cool that they have managed to create a space for fine art that has the feel of a spa or some expensive resort in the hills. It would be a great place to host an awesome party.

Peter has a really great house in the Hollywood hills that he shares with three friends. They live on this narrow street that looks more like Provence than LA. The landscape in LA is my ideal--steep green hills all over. That's exactly what I was missing in Berlin.

The other feature of visiting LA is being in the car. It is amazing that you can get on the highway at 2pm and it's stop-and-go traffic. It's also amazing that there are so many highways everywhere. It's such a different city than New York. I think it would take me a while to get used to. And can you really appreciate the sun when it's gorgeous every day?

With love from LA,



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