It’s been roasting hot in the desert the past two weeks — the kind of hot that everyone warned us about and said they dreaded. It’s so hot that you can feel how thin the air is — it’s a bit hard to breathe. When you step outside, it feels like when you open the dishwasher before it’s done and you get a blast of heat, minus the moisture. We don’t have air conditioning — only a swamp cooler, which I prefer — but I haven’t been able to turn on the oven to bake bread because I know I’d be completely overwhelmed. Yes, the days have reached upwards of 118, and the hottest recorded temperature in Ridgecrest is 119.
So for the 4th, we headed to the coast to the ocean breeze. Along the way, we said hello to James Dean (his last stop before his car accident) and bought almonds in Almond Country.
We stayed with my aunt and uncle in Atascadero and celebrated the 4th of July at my cousin’s near Grover Beach. It was so chilly, I had to borrow a sweatshirt as the sun set and we watched neighbors light fireworks in the street.
We took a bus up to Hearst Castle and visited the guest houses and the kitchen and the majestic pools (19-month-old C. was not impressed, and kept saying, “bus, bus!”).
We had no agenda, and it was Friday. So we kept on driving. And driving. We tried to book a room in Monterey. All booked. We stayed in Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world, and planned to eat some garlic ice cream, but C. melted down at the restaurant and we fled to the hotel for sleep.
On Saturday, we dropped in on A.’s cousin just north of Berkeley, knowing we’d be in town for less than 12 hours. We read books on their deck in 70 degree weather. We played soccer and chowed on slow-roasted ribs.
And then we drove 9 hours home yesterday. Back to the heat, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was when we left. I might even be able to make bread tomorrow before heading to the Midwest for a couple of weeks.
The summer desert heat, I’ve found so far, isn’t so bad if you get breaks from it — whether planned or not.