Let’s depart from the coast and head inland to Fallbrook, where we’ll start to wind north-northeast through the avocado & citrus groves and vineyards of De Luz Canyon, curving up into the Santa Ana Mountains on a private road along Sandia Creek. When we reach Temecula we join CA-79 to head out to the desert via Winchester and Hemet, and finally get onto I-10 at Beaumont. We head east into San Gorgonio Pass, the valley between the southern edge of the San Bernardino Mountains and Mt. San Jacinto, both of which climb from the pass floor to 9,000-foot peaks.
Here we find the climate transitions from one supporting Mediterranean-style agricultural crops into the Mojave desert. It gets hotter with each passing mile, but keep your window down and the A/C on your feet to help acclimatize. We’ll pull off at Cabazon to see the dinosaurs, of course. There’s plenty of wind — and due to that, the San Gogonio Pass wind farm sprawls across the open land on both sides of the freeway, the rows of wind turbines spilling out nearly to the horizon like enormous, rotating mecha-sunflowers.
What better than a tune with some big, gusty brass to push us from the pounding surf through the pass and into the beautiful, treacherous wastes? We get three trumpets, a trombone, and a flugelhorn-wielding accordionist on a ripping hot track. Pair it with some nopales, grilled onion, & charred corn tacos slathered with an extra picante chile guisado & lime crema. Just be careful despising that cactus…
(Oh, right; Sergio Mendoza’s other band is Calexico.)