Wednesday, September 12, 2012

America the beautiful

All good things must come to an end.

We're back home, trying to remember our normal routine, catching up with friends and family, sorting through thousands of photos, catching up on sleep. We've been privileged to have seen a wonderful part of our world.

We've also experienced a different culture and note the following:
  • Americans like guns, knives and hunting. It's a bit of a shock to see people walking around with knives hanging off their belts, hunters dressed in camouflage gear in parks and reserves, the number of gun shops, bistros with gun door handles.
  • It's very hard to find good bread and cheese.
  • The same country that embraces a city like Las Vegas stopped a girl from graduating high school because she used the word hell in her graduation speech.
  • Americans are very friendly and polite, and it's genuine... even on the highways (they let you merge!!)
  • Americans must be religious. There are huge churches everywhere.
  • Americans are patriotic if the number of flags flying in suburban front yards and outside small businesses is an indication.
  • They love the Australian accent but can't understand what we're saying.
  • Paul Higgins' weather reports run rings around any we saw in the US. (I'm not parochial, no way!)
  • They are big consumers ... of food, assets, water, resources. I'm generalising.
Have a good day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


There is a monument, on a high point on the coast at San Diego, to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. I'd never heard of him but I've been educated - there's a very good information center on the point as well. He was the first European to set foot on the west coast of the USA having built and captained the ship that sailed up the coast from Mexico in 1542.

There is an added advantage to having a large reserve on the coast. Rare plants and animals are protected as is a coastal habitat that is endangered.

We drove north to Los Angeles from San Diego along sections of the old coastal road rather than the freeway. If it wasn't for a naval reserve there would be continuous coastal communities between the two cities but I have to say that the beach and the beach towns are delightful. We were there on a weekend and the weather was very pleasant so it seemed that everyone was out and about - lots of people on the beaches, in cafes, playing on grassed areas, riding bikes. It must be a good place to live I think.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Southern California

California, southern California, Sunny California. The navy has an air base here because they can fly almost every day and Yuma has the Guinness record for the sunniest place on earth.

We drove through a section of a sandy desert just west of Yuma, the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, where hundreds of people each year injure themselves badly or kill themselves in the name of recreation - dune buggies, motor bikes and 4-wheel drives in large numbers and unregulated. It's a horror story.

Also winding its way through the sand is the Coachella Canal, built 80 years ago, that takes water from the Colorado River almost 200 km north for irrigation. It's wide, cement lined and surely must fill with sand, leak and evaporate.

To get to San Diego we had to go over a steep mountain pass 4000' high. There were radiator filling tanks every mile or so.
The country is naturally dry but any areas that can be irrigated are. I wonder if they have salt problems like we do. They certainly have water supply problems - or will have in the future.

PS All of the above photos were taken from the car as we were zooming along at 75 miles an hour. They don't have pull overs on the National Highways.

Friday, September 7, 2012


As we left Tuscon to head west there were dark clouds and lightning all around and we noticed the dust starting to lift in the valley. We were soon in the think of it and struggling to see. Traffic slowed down marginally. We saw a news item later that showed a huge dust storm rolling in over Phoenix not far to the north.

Dust limits visibility on International Highway 10 west of Tucson.
Then it started to rain. Heavily. We couldn't see a thing. Traffic slowed down, marginally. It rained for the next 150 miles as we drove west through the desert. There were flash floods in some places I heard, and one person is missing believed drowned.

The desert was awash. 
And then the sunlight lightened the clouds and I could see the sun through the dust that was blowing up again near Yuma on the Californian border. What I had thought would be an uneventful three-hour road trip turned out to be quite dramatic.