Andrew and I made our first trip to the desert early into our California vacation. We spent our first days in Laguna Beach and Encinitas, and while there was something intoxicating about the ocean, the amazing and cheap Mexican food and the surfers walking barefoot around town (actually that last detail weirded me out), we wanted to see something we hadn’t seen before. Andrew had recently heard of the Salton Sea, so with that destination in mind we drove inland.
It’s strange how quickly the landscape and the climate changes within the span of an hour or two – from ocean breezes and lush plants to unescapable sunlight and pale green and yellow, low-lying shrubs.
The desert didn’t look the way I imagined. I pictured vast, empty stretches of whitish, bleached out sand and the occasional cactus, but when we pulled the car over to explore, the dirt was hard beneath our feet. Dusty and dry. There was more vegetation than I expected, but not many cacti.
I liked the feeling of being in the desert. It’s kind of scary, prickly – you feel so small. There is so much open land, hardly any other cars on the road, and the heat is astounding, a huge, thudding presence, but dry so that you don’t really start to sweat until you’re back in your car with the air conditioning cranked up. We liked to press our hands against the insides of the car windows to feel the warmth.