Some highlights of Bridget and my first seven days on the âsouthern routeâ:
Monday, 17 December Sebastopol CA to Cathedral City CA
We were nonplussed in Sausalito on our way out of town, both by bittersweet goodbyes to dear friends and to the gobsmacking find of our wedding poem on the wall in the coffee shop, Ciboâs, where we first met.
Another beautiful omen driving through Oakland. The fulsome clouds were somehow flattened in appearance against a baby-blue sky, and we remarked that it was a sky out of Botticelli. These were the last clouds that we would see until we came to Louisiana! Very clear and relatively warm and calm weather for the entire week!
Tired in Buttonwillow, we tried a very funky downtown Mexican restaurant with mediocre food, which featured a loud TV showing a Spanish-language slasher horror movie. Yeeoww.
Tuesday 18 December Â Cathedral City to Tucson AZ Â Â
Wandered about the retirement suburbs in the morning, crisp and clear. Main sign of Christmas were the many collapsed Santas and such, like frat boys the morning after a bender.
Drove from the Mojave creosote and brittlebush to the Sonoran desert, as signaled by the saguaro cacti with their upraised arms. Stayed at a charming lodge to the west of Tucson, near the Desert Museum, named the Cat Mountain Lodge. The bed was two smaller ones put together, and oddly rubbing wood made a trumpeting horn sound at movements on the mattress. Wild! Ate at a roadhouse bar called Tinyâs.
Wednesday 19 December Tucson to Las Cruces NM
We spent a delightful morning at the Sonoran Desert Museum. Beautiful desert vistas and countless saguaros. Lovely spacy singing by several Cactus Wrens, and a good look at an unusual Rufous-winged Sparrow. Rest of the drive watching the desert turn Chihuahuan.
Thursday 20 December Las Cruces to Ft Stockton TX
A rather grim drive through El Paso, but there was a good exhibit at the Museum of Art, featuring the work of Posada and two contemporary women artists showing political responses to Posadaâs political art.
And then an endless seeming drive over the west Texas landscape.
Friday 21 December Ft Stockton to Austin TX, Winter Solstice
Very nice to reach Austin, where we had a wonderful walk along the Colorado River through the city, and greatly enjoyed the annual huge Christmas lights display in Zilker Park, along with the rising full moon.
Saturday 22 December Austin to Lake Charles LA
Tough driving through our first real traffic of the trip around Houston. Real nice to cross over into Louisiana at last, after about 850 miles of Texas.
Sunday 23 December Lake Charles to the Big Easy
Finally into our Christmas refuge! Enjoyed a morning walk in a state park just north of Lake Charles. Carolina Chickadees, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blue Jays, weâre in the eastern bird world now!