Seven and a half hours from Napa, and we're in another world.
I haven't seen the desert since 1974, and the landscape of low scrub and occasional spiky trees makes me think of drawings by Dr. Seuss and George Herriman (Krazy Kat). It also reminds me of a part of Martha's Vineyard, on the north end of the Island, that's also sandy, scrubby and dotted with contorted little trees.
We're in another world when it comes to food and drink, too: Two nights after fabulous cocktails and dinner at The Thomas in Napa, our first sit-down meal on the road was distinguished by the worst mixed drinks I've ever had that weren't served in plastic.
The first "mojito" tasted so strange, I couldn't tell if there was alcohol in it (we dined at our hotel restaurant after parking the car for the night). For the second, I requested dark rum and received something that tasted even more like insecticide.
But the tortilla soup was fresh and filling, the service was friendly, the enchiladas cheesy and we were done with our first day on the road.
Still: If you're at The Thomas (Fagiani's) any time soon, try their lavender-honey cocktail and think of me, out here on the edge of the desert with a week of driving and questionable beverages ahead.
With thanks to the late Hunter S. Thompson for his unforgettable first line from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, "We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold."
Tonight: Gallup, N.M. Frankie is not happy about a second day in his carrier, so we've given him a fragment of vet-prescribed sedative in Barstow this morning.