A five hour plane ride from Albany International takes you to the heart of the Negev Desert and the Sinai Peninsula. Skip customs, don't worry about a foreign tongue, rent a car with impunity, drive about five minutes, and you are there.
Please note: you must avert your eyes from the endless parade of casinos and clubs which hang over every inch of highway as you leave the airport, having already tripped over about a hundred slot machines as you left your arrival gate, emerged from the rest room, and stumbled through baggage claim looking for the rental car shuttle. Avert, I say!
Avert we did, and, as noted above, we were in the desert, a beautiful desert, in five minutes...no casinos in sight (at least not until you get to the California/Nevada state line).
So, you have figured out already that I'm talking about Las Vegas and the Mojave Desert (Death Valley to the north of us, Grand Canyon to the south). And, it really does look just like the desert of the Negev, the Wilderness of Zin, or the Sinai....really. I honestly was expecting to see a Bedouin tent community as I rounded many a corner.
I can't tell you what Vegas looks like. When you go to Nashville you get a nice taste of Nashville music and Nashville barbeque in the airport. The wonderful folk of LV wish you to get a taste of their humble little town as soon as you step off of your plane. So they fill up every square inch of floor space with slot machines. Who could tell if they offer any sort of unique cuisine? All the eateries had their doors blocked with casino paraphernalia.
Enough sarcasm. We sent a text to our son who lives in LA as we began our two and a half hour drive to Barstow. He welcomed us with an invitation to enjoy a desert sunset; which we did.
To our right the sun was setting over the mountains (we were at about 4,000 feet, looking at 7,000 foot mountains). To our left a squall line, in harmony with the sun, was setting up some amazing rainbows and dust/steam clouds over the hot and dry desert lands.
Did I mention that the temperature was 101 degrees when we landed at 1700? It had cooled down to about 95 by the time we arrived in Barstow after sunset. But it is a dry heat.
We will drive through Joshua Tree National Park tomorrow on our way to Palm Desert. More to come.
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Location:Hampton Inn, Barstow, CA