Joshua Tree was supposed to be an overnight stop before I turned North to head up the coast. As I drove west from Saguaro National Park, the sun got higher and higher, the scenery got browner, route 10 got more shimmery and I watched the temperature tick up. 80….90…100….
I drove through the park, watching actual dust devils spiral on either side of the road. I came in through south entrance, which is the less well known part of the park, and drove north until I came to my first pull out, the Cholla Cactus Garden. Before I turned the car off I looked at the temperature: 113.
I stepped out into the white hot sunlight, and felt the air hit me like a wall. My skin tightened. This was officially the highest temperature I’d ever been in. I thought to myself, “at least its a dry heat,” and stepped out on the little garden loop, through some bizarre seussian moonscape.
When I got back in the car I texted Matt’s sister to ask if I could crash at her house in LA which, according to the weather app, was about 30 degrees cooler than Joshua Tree. Then I chugged half a liter of water and resumed my scenic drive through the park, with stops for casual strolls (they don’t deserve to be called hikes, I don’t handle heat very well) and pictures of cacti, joshua trees, and rocks.
As I rolled into LA I realized I now have the dubious honor of having driven almost all of I-10. The only part I’m missing is from Lake City, FL to Jacksonville, 60 miles out of about 2,500. Maybe instead of spending energy hiking I should go for the triple crown of cross country highways…10, 80 and 90?