We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.
We picked up a camper van from LA. They upgraded it and it is officially the biggest thing I have ever driven in my life but it doesn't matter a bit because the roads are so enormous, almost comically so.
From LA we drove to the Joshua Tree national park. As we come into winter, the days are getting really short, much shorter than we anticipated. So by the time we arrived at the camp-ground a little after five it was well and truly dark. So we set up camp, cooked ourselves a little dinner and went to bed nice and early.
The other thing we didn't anticipate was just how thin the duvet we were provided with in the van could be. We knew the desert would be cold at night, but surely the camper van people knew that too.
It's always a lovely surprise arriving somewhere in the dark and then seeing it properly for the first time in the morning. Only this time it was one of the beautiful US national parks that we are now totally in love with.
We spent the morning driving around the Joshua Tree National Park which is really quite small, stopping for morning tea along the way. Then we started driving east, eventually hitting Route 66. The landscapes are amazing and constantly changing, quite dramatically at times. There are whole worlds out there just off the freeway in the desert that have me captivated. Who lives out there? Every now and then there's just a dirt road that leads off to a small complex of caravans or broken down fibro shacks. Who lives in them? Is it just like Grand Theft Auto V? Some of them have reasonably new looking cars our the front, am I right to assume they are all poor white people?
There are these trains as well that have three engine cars and around 80 to 100 carts that just crawl along and stretch out for hundreds of meters.
We were on our way to the Grand Canyon but knew we weren't going to make it that day so eventually decided to stop at Seligman, on Route 66, in a suitably kitsch hotel. We went across the road to the diner for a meal where one of the waitresses would tell anyone that would listen about the lights she's been seeing in the sky the last few nights.
The next day was another beautiful drive - picking up some extra bedding along the way - to the Grand Canyon. Holy shit. It's been said by many people that it's one of those places you have to see in real life to really understand how awe-inspiring it really is and this is true, I can confirm. It's over 20 km wide in some places and nearly two kilometres deep. My only disappointment was not spying a Californian condor.
Much to my dismay at one of the lookouts we stopped at there was a guy explaining to a small group of people in a manner that sounded very scientific how it was proof of 'the great floods' - you know, Noah etc. It reminded me of Conspiracy Road Trip.
The sad thing is that it's such direct proof of there being no God. Carl Segan says it best:
I think there's a Theremin playing in the background there.