After spending a few days in Paso Robles, enjoying the local produce, it was time to start heading back east. We had camped for the past four weeks – that’s right, we hadn’t spent a night, or more than a few hours, indoors for a whole month. So we were ready for a reprieve (and nice, long showers). Which led us to Bakersfield.
Bakersfield…the only thing you had to offer us was a cheap, cheap hotel. The Vagabond Inn, South, populated by truck drivers who chowed down on the morning buffet’s biscuits and gravy and migrant workers who cooked their dinners on open flames in the parking lot. Next door, a new Carmax was busily being built to corporate specs. We could, and did, walk to an In-N-Out Burger. We ate a whole Pizza Hut pizza. Down with a month of healthy camp cooking!
But there was one thing even better than the indoor living and the fast food eating — the almond trees were blooming. The scent of these sweet flowering trees was all over the air (it smelled like a mix of chocolate, honey, vanilla, and pollen — straight up pollen). It’s hard to hate generic sprawl when it smells like this.
We formed a plan as we regrouped in Bakersfield. The new plan went something like this: we’d head to Death Valley for at least five nights, just to get warm. High, 80 degree temps were expected, and I wanted to get thoroughly warm after a series of cold nights. After that, we’d head to Phoenix for MLB spring training. We’re committed to the Cubs v. Brewers game, look for us on the lawn on 3/14 (Paul will be the guy in the Cubs hat cheering for the Brewers), but we may make some other unannounced appearances. In between, we wanted to hike down into the Grand Canyon, but apparently that’s not something you can do on short notice, and weeks to months of planning is not one of our strong points right now. So we’d take our time between Death Valley and Phoenix, exploring northern Arizona, and trek down into the canyon in a few months (when the canyon rim will be snow-free).
Then, what to do after Phoenix? Well, there’s the matter of taxes. All of our tax forms are impatiently awaiting us at our official address in Kansas City. So we’ve got to get back there to take care of our governmental duties before April. Tax duty isn’t the only thing drawing us back east…we also miss our friends and family quite a bit. So here’s how we’re hoping it will go: we’ll take the fun route to KC, spend some time with family there, then visit friends in Terre Haute, and then head up to Chicago to take care of some errands and visit some family, old friends, and new babies. Hopefully after that we will meet up with my parents, then head south towards New Orleans. Whether or not we’ll make it all the way east to Charleston is a matter of contention (thoughts? opinions?). Then we’ll head back west through Texas and Big Bend National Park and be back in the southern Utah/Rockies area in time for the right season: warm.