Davin and I recently celebrated our 20th anniversary together and to REALLY celebrate we are going on a road trip through the Mojave and Sonoran deserts! !!!!! !!!!!!
[Infinite exclamation points here.]
We both have an interest in desert landscapes and have talked about doing a trip like this for about as long as we’ve been together, but were always impeded by the fact that neither of us had a license to drive. We did not plan to be drivers. As city dwellers we felt contented with a life riding bikes and public transportation with the occasional cab ride. But then came a horrible bus experience in Florida, and then later, what can only be described as a 13 hour bus tour from hell just so we could spend one wholly insufficient hour at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. And so it was with much trepidation that we embarked on the journey to becoming people who can operate a motorized vehicle.
In a way this trip celebrates the freedom we are finding in being able to (sort of) drive places (we are super slow and still can’t do major highways, but getting there) as much as it also celebrates our lives together so far.
Our original plan for this trip was quite different than the one we will be taking. We originally planned to go more than a month earlier, flying in and out of a completely different state. But plans changed for various reasons and the trip we are taking now begins and ends in Phoenix, Arizona. There are countless national parks, amazing landscapes, and interesting places that I would love to see around southern California, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico, but we’re trying not to overdo it and want to keep things fairly flexible.
Our trip will take us to:
- a few days and nights just outside Joshua Tree National Park — to see the Yucca forest!! So excited!
- Mojave National Preserve
- the Salton Sea
- Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument — I truly hope we see a fasciated cactus.
- We hope to stop at Desert Rain Cafe in Sells, Arizona, a restaurant that serves traditional foods of the Tohono O’odham, including Saguaro cactus fruit, cholla buds, mesquite, and other local desert ingredients that I would never get to try elsewhere.
- A few days in Tucson, Arizona, specifically to see the Saguaro National Park
- We really want to see White Sands National Monument near Las Cruses, New Mexico, but that’s a big maybe since the distance may be too great for this trip, especially given the heat we’ll be traveling in.
- I also want to see Chiricahua National Monument and that trip is definitely more doable from Tucson.
- Tucson Botanical Gardens — I’m particularly curious about their Native American Crops Garden.
- Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona — I am especially interested in their Plants and People of the Sonoran Trail as I am eager to learn about growing food in this environment.
- The Native Seeds store and seed library in Tucson, AZ.
Any one of these stops will be so thrilling to experience in person, that I don’t feel let down about having to forgo Death Valley and a few other national parks that were on our original itinerary. Still, we are hoping that there will be time left for a few unexpected stops. We especially want to find more places to eat that specialize in local foods, much like the Desert Rain Cafe listed above. We also want to make some time to stop in at flea markets, farmers markets, and antique and thrift shops. If you know of any places like this that you think we should see, please let us know in the comments. Your suggestions are greatly appreciated.