Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is advertising-free, and is supported by my subscribers on Patreon. History adventuring posts are shared there daily. The basic tier is a dollar a month, and the PhD tier, which includes "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos, is five dollars a month, and is discounted for seniors, veterans, and students. If you're a subscriber, thank you! You make this happen!

Traveling between Phoenix and Los Angeles without a roadmap


As a history adventurer, when I'm out traveling I try to imagine how people did it before the days of roadmaps, and signposts. And no, I don't mean Boy Scout stuff like looking for the lichen on trees, I'm just talking about knowing which way you're going by looking at the mountains.

Obviously, nowadays it makes sense to look at a map, and then match up the information there with signs. That's how most people that I've known travel, and essentially all they're doing is looking at signs, matching up numbers. Real "left brain" stuff, which I've never been good at. The mountains and the rivers don't factor into their navigation, and are ignored. In fact, when I say things like "we need to go south, cross the river and keep the mountains to our right", it can kind of freak people out. But I love seeing Phoenix and Los Angeles that way. Luckily, I'm not a delivery driver, or your package would probably not get there on time! But I can get us to Los Angeles, and the only thing I need is to look at is the mountains. Please put away your map, with numbers. We won't be guided by numbers. I was never very good with numbers!

Come along with me, and let's travel between Phoenix and Los Angeles guided by the mountains. If you're puzzled by the map up there, Phoenix is in that greenish area to the right. The brown mountains north of it are the Mogollon Rim. And we're headed west, towards the Pacific Ocean. Actually, a little northwest, as we're headed for El Pueblo, the original name of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula, which was at first was shorted by most people to just "the town" (El Pueblo) and nowadays it's usually called "Los Angeles" (The Angels). It sits just inland from the coast, next to a channel that's created by a series of islands.

Since this is a journey of imagination, I'll magically transport us over the Colorado River. Of course there are bridges there, and have been since the 1930s, at Blythe and Parker, and before that there were ferries for cars, and before that there were railroad bridges (which are still there, of course!). And before that, we would have had to cross at Yuma, and wait until the river wasn't running very hard. But I'm impatient, so let's just jump it in our imaginations, and stay on track.

We're now in California, and we still have a fair amount of desert to cross. But luckily, there are several passes that we can take through the mountains. It will take a bit of climbing, going up in elevation, but it isn't as if we need to climb up mountains! As we get to the high desert of where Palm Springs is now, that's as high as we'll need to go.

Those are the San Jacinto Mountains to our left, and now that we've crested the grade, I swear I can smell the ocean. Certainly the temperature is more comfortable, and everything from now on will be more green. The desert is behind us, and I can feel the moisture in the air.

We're now in El Pueblo (Los Angeles), but what the heck, let's go a little farther, and see the Pacific Ocean. There's an old road down to San Pedro, where the boats can dock. I just want to smell the ocean!

Thank you for traveling with me!

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History adventuring posts are shared there daily. The basic tier is a dollar a month, and the PhD tier, which includes "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos, is five dollars a month, and is discounted for seniors, veterans, and students.