To Hurricane, UT (Day 1)

Another summer, another road trip. Fullerton, California to Guelph, Ontario - 2,800 miles, 4,000 kilometres. A few time zone changes. Several distinct geographical regions. All in a Mazda5 compact minivan with two new tires, an oil change, and an air filter change. Crammed with a cooler, food, art and art supplies, three violins, and a suitcase of just the most essential clothing. No pet crayfish this time.

Day 0, Father's Day. Pure bourgeois self-indulgence. L.A. and Disney Hall to see Ludovico Einaudi for the second time in our lives (the first was when we lived in Italy). It's a more subdued performance. No lights or imagery but the house is packed and Angelenos are no less energetic than Florentines, which, actually, surprises me. The music is all new except for an encore piece.

Photos scare me. People think they ensure memory but they actually purge it. I did, though, leave the moment for this blurry thing at the end. The organ in this concert hall? Mental.

We leave officially on Tuesday morning at 5 a.m. All of Monday we spend cleaning, organizing, running last minute errands. I find someone to water my fig tree in a pot while we're gone. I saw some wood for a neighbour.

It's bleak leaving. Rainy. Cool. Traffic already. But it clears once we hit the desert around Barstow. Then smooth sailing through Vegas, a sliver of Arizona, to the stone kaleidoscope that is Utah.

In Hurricane, blazing hot, we find a canal that was dug over a century ago, by "pioneers" and penal labour - "the kind of men we need more of today," according to a commemorative plaque. It was dug to bring water from the Virgin River to this dry valley. We walk along it for a while, until we arrive at a long, dark tunnel the kids don't want to enter. The water has since been rerouted through proper municipal tubes and the canal is bone dry. Gloomy end to such historic blood, sweat, and tears.

We come across trees and trees of these, and scratch our heads. "They look kind of like ficus, or in the family." But those orbs? Pistachios! But too fresh to eat, darn it.

These are good, though. Pecans. We break them open and eat handfuls, until a weird guy comes around and gives me weird looks.

Hey, I break my pistachio- and pecan-tree virginity! Good start to the trip.