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Outside » Outside Features

Road Trip: With Jimmy Buffett and Dr. Seuss

Pam Stevenson road trips to California with Jimmy Buffet and Dr. Seuss.


At the far end of town

Where the Grickle-grass grows

And the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows

And no birds ever sing, excepting old crows...

Is the street of the Lifted Lorax.

Not quite ready to settle in for a long winter, I got first tracks at Dutchman on November 8 and then headed south. Looking just like a Life Is Good t-shirt, we loaded up the van with mountain bikes, boogie boards and dogs and drove straight through the night, arriving for a glorious sunrise at Malibu.

If you pick the right places and the right times, Southern California is not so bad. Like, you don't want to be on the Ventura Freeway at four o'clock in the afternoon. And you don't want to be in Palm Desert in July. But Zuma Beach on a Tuesday morning and Joshua Tree on a mid-November day are just about perfect.


Zuma Beach is a long stretch of soft white sand punctuated with iconic lifeguard stands. It's surfboards only at Malibu, but at Zuma you can ride the waves however you wish. When we were there, it was 80 degrees, three-foot, glassy, windless and uncrowded.

I rode the waves on my boogie board non-stop for a couple of hours until I wobbled out of the water. In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing as addictive as riding waves - you always want just one more. My heart stopped once when I spied a fin slicing through the water nearby, but then I realized it was a dolphin having a good time too. After that, Jimmy Buffett was singing in my head.


The 794,000-acre Joshua Tree National Park sits 140 miles east of Los Angeles, where the Mojave and Colorado deserts converge. It's a truly surreal landscape of rocks and trees. We decide to explore the desert by mountain bike, riding two loops in the middle of the park.

First, we followed the 17-mile Geology Tour, a lollipop ride on a sandy four-wheel-drive road that begins at 4,350 feet and drops to 3,200 feet. The visitor center sells a guide with sixteen "points of interest" for a quarter. They weren't really all that interesting, but our second ride, a 12-mile loop through the adjacent Queen Valley, was fascinating.

The flat sandy road took us through desert dotted with crazy Joshua trees and creative rock piles that made me feel exactly like I was riding through a Dr. Seuss book. I kept expecting to see a Star-Bellied Sneetch, or at least a Fox in Sox, around the next bend.

We rode through a couple of campgrounds filled with climbers near the Wonderland of Rocks, a labyrinth of uniquely sculpted monzogranite boulders and rock formations. Joshua Tree is a rock climber's mecca and I can see why. Boulders everywhere beg to be scrambled on.

I slept well that night, like I did as a child after a bedtime story. Silhouettes of twisty, tufted Joshua Trees against richly radiant rockpiles danced in front of my eyes as "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" floated through my head.


Today, we're loading up the van with mountain bikes, boogie boards and dogs and heading north.

Snow is falling in Bend. Last Wednesday, the ever-eager Tumalo Langlauf Club began grooming from the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center out to the oval and down Century Drive to the Todd Lake junction. Both a classic track and skating lane were groomed by the indefatigable Lloyd Vordenberg. I hear the Nordic Center is opening this weekend. Mt. B has gotten 61 inches of snow so far and is making more for a November 20 opening.

Last Friday, Rebound Physical Therapy hosted the SkiErg World Sprints. Contestants worldwide were timed for 1,000 meters on a Concept 2 ski simulator. Congrats to Marshall Greene for setting the Bend record in 3 minutes 18 seconds. No more dryland training and ski ergometers. Now it's time for the real deal.

By the way, did you know that "The Lorax" is an allegory for sustainable development? So-Cal can be a nice place to visit, but Bend will never be L.A. and that's why it's home.

And deep in the Grickle-grass, some people say,

if you look deep enough you can still see, today,

where the Lorax once stood

just as long as it could

before somebody lifted the Lorax away.

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