Friday, 18 September 2009

South West USA: Emptiness and full days

I love the desert. I can't put it any other way. If it weren't for the spiders living there, I'd adore it even more. We drove from San Diego past LA to Joshua Tree National Park and there is something very soothing about leaving the hubbub of cities behind and meeting nothing but boulders, sand, cacti and the occassional crawling insect beyond the stretches of civilization. In my Japan Diaries I reported about the cultivated emptiness of the Zen Buddhist temples – this is a natural void that is extremely good for my soul.

We each have our own aims in this trip. For my parents it is very much a vacation of a lifetime. It is something they would not have done on their own, at least not in this way, and each corner or turning holds new surprises for them. They also have their little things to do along the way. One of them is making a picture of one of those immense trucks on the US highways, for a neighbour who loves trucks. This means that we all have our eyes peeled for big shiny trucks all the time. It's like a group hobby.

My own aims, apart from just having a good time and generally soothing my soul, include taking pictures with the Dread Pirate and Jack Sparro, as well as gathering material for the blog. This is easily done since the whole point of the blog is to tell what my experiences are. However, I have encountered a slight snag. Let me elaborate a little.

This blog is written in English for a reason: many of my readership reads English. This is because many of my readers are, not to put too fine a point to it, Americans and therefore the very people I meet here every day. And while my Japan tales were a lot about the funny cultural stuff I encountered along the way... _You see the challenge ahead?_ It is just strange to write about weirdness of people when I know those very people will read them. (And probably comment, knowing y'all.) Besides, while a lot of it _is_ weird to me (sorry folks), it seems a little arrogant to write them out like this to you. Then again, us Dutchies are not exactly weird-free either, and I would be more than willing to admit that. I'll probably start. So I'm taking all this (weak argumentation) as a reason to take some liberties. Hope you will forgive me, and that you know I don't mean to dis anything or anyone. It's just that, well, you folks are funny. Keep this in mind, 'kay? 'Kay.

Having said that...
(After all, this is the country of disclaimers. "Careful! Beverage may be hot!" I hope so, I ordered hot tea.)
Having said this...

We slept in Blythe, CA, which is a remarkably unremarkable town and drove on to Sedona, AZ, which is a stunningly gorgeous place. It was our intention to drive right ahead the next day, after our night in Hotel Matterhorn (yes, really, Matterhorn), but we decided to offer my mum and dad a helicopter ride over the area. This was a bit of a 'thing' because on Tuesday evening, in the saloon restaurant, my mother declared that she would never ever ride one of those things. Ever. Yet on Wednesday morning, after a bit of private deliberation, we cheerfully invited them anyway. My father's eyes instantly started to shine, and although the guy and me really tried and tried we couldn't stop ourselves from being enthusiastic either. It was sheer peer pressure. Hah!

We did the helicopter ride. My mother sat in front. She loved it. My father said 'Incredible!' about fifteen times. We loved it, flying over the red rocks, sweeping over the vast planes and diving prodding into the little canyons.

The rest of the day included an Oak Creek Canyon hike of about four hours (it was supposed to be two and a half but we accidentally walked way past the end of the trail) and a long drive through beautiful country to Grand Canyon. We arrived just as the last rays of sun were on the canyon rims. It was a wonderful day.

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