Me: Do you see all the desert sand?

La Niña:What! Sand! I though that sand in the desert was just a myth and that it was really made of lots of grass.

Me: No. That would be savanna. Deserts are made of sand.

This road trip was a learning experience for both of us… because this was our very first trip to a desert, in this case the Coachella Valley Preserve, in the Colorado Desert. The name is a misnomer because much of this part of California’s desert extends southwest in North America but doesn’t creep into Colorado.

The drive is rather straightforward: head east from L.A. and follow the traffic to Palm Springs, which is a popular vacation destination for Californians. July and August are the low seasons because no one wants to contend with the 108F heat.

The road trip started with a typical SoCal surprise:

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The normal 1:45 hour trip grew to 3:28 and unfortunately GPS was correct.

In order to get us to our destination faster, GPS took us on a twisty, bendy, side street, stop sign filled, bizarre back route. This included lots of time in Beverly Hills, attempts at left hand turns through gridlocked intersections (without lights), a trip through messy downtown L.A., and a pause at every fricken stop sign in Los Angeles. Somehow this was the “fastest” route (which I questioned) and I debated whether sitting on the freeway parking lot was a better option to saving an extra minute or two — but GPS doesn’t give you details about the experience; it just gives you the fastest route.

We joked for a while because never ever in all my time in California have I been to the centre of Los Angeles. And, yet on this mysterious never ending journey through L.A., GPS kept taking us into the core and driving us around in circles. At some point I had no idea where we were but somehow GPS got us out of the traffic snarl by using a series of illogical left hand turns onto back alleys and side streets.

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By the time we reached the Coachella Valley it was dark and the sand looked like grass, so I can understand La Niña’s initial confusion. The only other things we saw along the way were box stores, Starbucks, and other cars. I guess you can say it’s not the most scenic of routes.