Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Westward Ho, Part III: Striking Beauty and Dangerous Apples

Remember where we left off? In Utah! Right! Well, after a short detour during which we tried to tour the Hoover Dam and failed, we headed back to Arizona to spend the night and then took off for California. A couple of things stopped us from getting to see the dam. First, we had my little Dodge Neon and my dad's Suburban which was pulling the U-Haul trailer. Well, after 9-11, the powers that be do not allow trailers across the dam. That is certainly understandable, but it required us to adjust our route- the only time we had to do that during the entirety of our trip. So, we were making plans to try to move all of the bags which were packed into my car into the Suburban so that we could all four pile into the little yellow Neon and take the tour of the dam. However, they decided it would be a good idea if we called first, and thank God we did! The elevator was broken down! We could not take the 2 hour tour without the elevator, and we decided the 30 minute tour was not worth moving all the luggage out of my car. Thus, no Hoover Dam. The good news, for me anyway, is that I live just a few hours away, and I could go and take the tour another day. Enjoy some of the pictures of our drive from Kingman, Az to the California border.

Here is my dad and his wife, Debra, getting excited to be ditching the trailer. I hear that thing is not easy to pull. I didn't even attempt it. I stuck with my little Dodge.

Ah, 1o states, counting good ol' Georgia, and finally we were arriving. I had never set foot in California, so it was an unusual feeling to be not only arriving there, but planning to call it my new home. My first stop was a memorable one. I had my apple confiscated at a border check- yes, a border check at a U.S. state line! Take a look.

So, it seems that because my apple was not labelled (GASP!), it posed a danger to the entire fruit population of the state of California and therefore could not be allowed in. I bet some California state employee ate my apple and unknown numbers of nameless bananas and oranges that Friday afternoon while laughing gayly at the ignorance of the Golden State's new inhabitants. Or maybe I'm paranoid. Anyway...speaking of paranoia, the same border patrol made Dad and Debra open up the trailer, I suppose so they could make sure there were no deadly ferns in there. Thank the good Lord they did not make us empty that trailer! It was packed to the gills, I tell you what!

Seriously, though, apparently one of California's main industries is agriculture. Who knew? I would love to venture up into the middle part of the state where there must be so much farming land. I suppose it would cause a great deal of harm to have some kind of disease-ridden fruit brought into the state which could infect its produce.

Before this trip, I had no idea that California was such an agriculturally important state. I thought the main industry for the state was movie-making. Now wouldn't that be something- if they stopped all "artists" at the border and made sure they could deliver on the talent they claimed to have, or at least that the rotten ones would not infect the rest of us with their tripe. What a prospect! Just think- we could have been spared such wastes of celluloid as American Pie: Band Camp and Battlefield Earth (L. Ron Hubbard's scientology-based "sci-fi" attempt, widely considered a disaster.) They talk a lot about wasting resources out here, but I wonder how much precious time, money, and material has gone into ridiculous films that never should have been made in the first place. Well, sorry for that little tangent...let's get back to the trip!

The Mojave Desert...............................................................................................................

And here we have some lovely black lava rocks. I wonder how old they are?

And then, across the desert, after the most isolated part of the entire trip during which we must, at one point, have gone at least 50 miles without seeing anything but the road and the desert, we spotted snow-covered mountains.

Seeing the mountains, but still in the desert...I know there are a lot of these, but I just found these mountains so beautiful after driving through the desert for so long, though the desert certainly held its own beauty. And I just had no idea how beautiful California would be. I suppose I knew on some level that it was, and I knew that it had mountains, but I was truly stunned by the landscape as we drew closer to Los Angeles. Even now, a whole 12 days later, I thrill at the fact that I can see mountains from the street on which I live- through a haze of smog, yes, but still...We saw quite a few trains coming across the West. There was something different about being able to see them coming or going for miles. At one point, in Mew Mexico, I believe, or just after entering Arizona, one rode beside us for many miles, sometimes closer, sometimes further away, but running parallel to us, and running fast. There were few variations in the path they had cut through those rocks to slow that engineer down. I was impressed, then, by this one in California as well.And then we were really getting close.

Here is the view from the gas station we stopped at about an hour outside of Los Angeles. This was one of my first looks at some of the architecture of the area. They make great use of the adobe-style building or house, but instead of the square adobe roofs of New Mexico and Arizona that I saw so much, there were these tiles on the roofs. I'm not sure what they are called, but I suppose they are made of clay. Many of the houses out here, or most of them, are shingled with these tiles. They are sort of difficult to see here, but maybe you can make them out.These tiny specks are actually houses near the gas station. I wish I could remember the name of the town- still about a mile out of LA- starts with a "T", I think.And here we go- entering the outskirts of Los Angeles and Hollywood, though we swung around just a little Northwest of them, I believe, and headed for the San Fernando Valley. Here are some pics I took along the way as my cousin Shirley drove through the Friday afternoon rush hour traffic for me. That was so nice! Thank God we made it in one piece!Behold the creepy mannachins perched to wave at the passers-by on the freeway. Wouldn't that be a driving hazard? Welcome to Hollywood!And here is the apartment building in which I now reside! Impressive, huh? Actually, it is not a bad neighborhood, and the security in the building is great. I have a gated parking space, and there is a gated front walk-in entrance to the building that must be opened with a separate key. I feel safer here than in most of the places I lived in the Atlanta area. As long as there are no earthquakes- no bad ones, anyway. Let's hope.

And then, here's my dad generously buying me new mattresses and getting them loaded onto the top of the Suburban. The whole reason we had to get new ones is because the ones I had in Atlanta would barely fit in there as advertised, and these would not fit at all, even though they had stated that this trailer would indeed hold a queen-sized mattress. Below, we have the blessed ditching of the trailer. I know my Dad, Debra, and Shirley, who took turns driving it, were glad to be rid of it.

The Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica. They took me down here before leaving to help me make sure I could find the location of my job interview that was coming up Monday morning. Santa Monica and Venice are right next to each other, and my interview was at Venice. (I got the job, by the way. I plan to write more on that soon.) Then we made our way down to the Santa Monica Pier. Simply amazing. I had not seen an ocean in probably five years, and I love the ocean!Here is Shirley, with whom I shared most of the 3000-plus-miles trip across country in the little Dodge Neon, which so faithfully pulled us through with no trouble. But of course, I know who really pulled two vehicles, a trailer, four people, and a whole bunch of stuff across country with no problems- the one true God. Thank You, Lord, for a safe and wonderful experience, and the opportunity to pursue my dreams!And finally the pier, where the "Circus by the Sea" has existed for a long time, and street bohemians thrive. So, we have an amazing country (and I only saw part of it)- and that's only one country on this earth. If this is the fallen creation, and I believe it is, let us lift our hearts toward the real home which awaits us and wonder what dreams may come.


  1. I had to laugh at your talk about the confiscated fruit. You do realize that's what your uncle-in-law does with the USDA, right? Try to keep foreign bugs and diseases out of the crops. And remember the two or three times he's had to go spend a month in California fighting some outbreak? Yep, that's because somebody slipped something nasty in! Northern California is indeed a wonderland of agriculture and very beautiful, too.

    When you first got into L.A., did it amaze you to have freeways and heavy traffic and mountains all at the same time? That was very bizarre to me. Like the Blue Ridge Parkway had exploded or something. Mountains are supposed to be where you go to get away from the cities and the traffic. What's wrong with these people?!

  2. This was fun and fascinating for me, Kristi. Thanks for sharing! I've never seen anything west of Oklahoma.

    And wow, you already have a job! That's amazing! God is amazing.

  3. Yay Kristi! This was fun to read. I felt like I was with you :) I'm SO happy you got there safely and that you got the job. What an amazing blessing!!! Those two things don't happen everyday. God is really looking out for you as you follow the dream He's put in your heart. I will keep you in my prayers :)

  4. Really a fun commentary, Kristi. I lived in CA for decades, (though the Lord blessed me by sending me to western Oregon!) so it's fun to see it all through your eyes. Things that I've just thought were the way everyone did them seem funny to you, which makes it funny to me! We used to live in the Mojave Desert, in Ridgecrest. And for a number of years my brother and his family lived in Northridge. Now they're in Simi Valley.