The road opened up before us into a wide expanse of land. Outstretched as far as the eye could see was an arid and rocky desert. The sun shined bright and everything underneath it was drenched in 115 degree heat.
The hot asphalt cut through the wasteland as straight as an arrow. Besides the road there was only a small fence that separated the road from the land cordoning off Big Brother’s property. Nothing else populated the landscape. The road signs displayed cautionary notes stating, “No Services” and “Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft.” The rolling, green hills of Missouri were a thousand miles away.
Entering the state of California was much of the same. It was a dry and hot desert. Driving further, my father and I escaped the heat wave by driving up to Big Bear Mountain.
The road twisted back and forth with sharp turns and risk of falling rocks. The engine revved as it fought the ever-increasing elevation. The trees became more prominent and the land turned from a hazy brown to a dark green. On top was a small town catering mostly to the ski bums that populate the mountain in the winter time.
Big Bear Lake sat quiet as it stretched across the horizon. The deepening peaks surrounding the lake were scarred with the remains of ski slopes which lay barren in the middle of summer. The most perceptible change was the decrease in temperature. The air was cool, breezy, and smog-free. It was a welcome relief after the blazing drive through the desert.
The southern California coast could not be more different from its interior. From Newport to San Diego, California was gifted with a beautiful coastline where every individual beach is somehow unique. The wide sandy beaches of Newport and Huntington, the hills of The Strands surrounded by millionaire homes, and the family packed Crystal Cove area are all beautiful and different at the same time.
Along with the arrangement of the sand and the terrain, the waves are also something to consider as each beach brings a different assortment of crashing waves. A mile or two inland California is connected by its lifeline.
The freeway. Without them traffic would be unbearable, with them traffic only creeps along. Whether it is rush hour or early afternoon, the freeways will be clogged with thousands of vehicles all going a thousand different places. To the unacquainted they are a complex web, passing over and underneath one another and rising high into the sky. Some are newer than others, but all are used just the same. Driving is part of life in southern California and traffic is practically a second home.
Driving out west really helps one appreciate the geographical diversity of the United States. By being able to observe mountains, deserts, plains, the dry land, the green, and everything in between it helps one appreciate the vast expanse. The road can be a monotonous place, but go far enough and everything begins to change.