Desert Days and the 8,800 Km Mark

Trip Start Nov 17, 2011
1
5
Trip End Dec 14, 2011


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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I will begin the final journal entry of this travel adventure by saying that Maria and I have now safely returned to Canada and brought our road trip to a conclusion. I will also comment on my previous entries and apologize for the incredibly poor spelling and grammar that was prevalent throughout; after having just re-read my past entries, I shuddered at my poor writing too many times. In my defense, however, I will note that it is far more time consuming, physically challenging, and emotionally taxing to write an entire blog entry using a Samsung Galaxy 10" tablet, as opposed to a traditional laptop (with full keyboard).

But enough! Those of you that continue to follow along with my adventures are not reading this to hear me complain, correct? So where did I leave off...

After leaving the greater Los Angeles area, Maria and I drove to Palm Desert, CA., where we paid a visit to friends of ours from Waterton Park. Pat and Sue played gracious host to us for the better part of 3 days and their hospitality was (and still is) greatly appreciated! Palm Desert provided Maria and I with a few days that were far more mellow and relaxing than the fast-paced travel we had grown accustomed to. As a result, we were rather lazy - and enjoyed being so!

It was here that we finally found the wonderful weather that we had been seeking for the better part of a month. With day time temperatures that climbed to the mid-20's Celsius, shorts and t-shirts were the order of the day. However, being in the desert meant that temperatures still plummeted to close to freezing at night (but that was no longer our concern, as we were not camping).

Pat and Sue toured us around the city and surrounding area via bike, truck and on foot. We enjoyed excellent margaritas after a nice bike ride on our first day. The following afternoon, we visited a beautiful oasis just outside the city, which apparently sits directly above a significant section of a fault line, thus resulting in water seeping to the surface. As such, numerous types of vegetation (among them, wild, unkempt palm trees) grow out in the "middle of nowhere". The final day was spent lazing around the yard, reading and enjoying the hot tub and pool.

After we had had our fill of drink and home-cooked meals, we felt it was time to continue on with our adventure. So we bit Pat and Sue farewell, and followed a beautiful scenic drive through the desert past Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms, CA., and finally through the Mojave National Preserve. While the air temperature steadily dropped, we witnessed an interesting change in the types of desert vegetation. After a leisurely 4.5 hour drive, we had finally arrived at our final destination: Vegas, Baby!

I had only passed through Las Vegas, NV., briefly once before, so here I deferred to Maria's experience with the destination and let her show me the sights. I must say, Vegas is a pretty incredible place... but if you are planning to visit and enjoy the casinos, I would not recommend doing so at the end of a month-long road trip (when you are trying to pull pennies out from under the truck seats to pay for gas to get home - haha!).

So, No! We did not gamble. Instead, we chose to stay at Treasure Island and check out a number of the shows that were offered on the strip. We snooped through Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and glimpsed figures such as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Shaq O'Neil, Jonny Depp, Brad & Angelina, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Next up was a quick stop at the 4-storie M&M World store. We trekked down to the Luxor hotel and saw the BODIES show! All of the different displays portrayed different parts of the human body (thanks to people donating their deceased bodies - and parts). The captions below the different display cases did a great job describing the various systems (e.g. circulatory, excretory, nervous) and individual body parts (e.g. non- vs. smokers' lungs). While the tickets to this show were not cheap, they were worth every cent!

We then walked as quickly as possible back to the other end of the strip to get back to TI in time to watch the Cirque du Soleil Mystere show. This most impressive display of acrobatics was accompanied by a great light show. At 1.5 hours long, we watched in awe and laughed our heads off; the show was a lot of fun. By this point in the day (it was only 10pm) we were exhausted, and decided to call it a night... Yes, I know... we are probably the lamest visitors to Vegas in a long time! Haha! However, we had to get up the next morning at the crack of dawn and begin the long drive back to Canada.

Over the last two days, we headed north up the I-15, and after 21 hours at the wheel, we finally crossed back into Canada at Sweetgrass-Coutts as the sun set. As the trip odometer approached 8,800km, I reflected on the past month and thought of all of the incredible places that Maria and I had visited; the scenery we'd seen; the food we'd tasted; and everything we'd experienced. This has been a road trip to remember!
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