P1010054.JPGI drove from Big Bear Lake (where I saw my dream vacation house, pictured) to China Lake yesterday by way of Ontario airport. Moving from an alpine to a desert environment in the space of the day, via the Rim of the World catching up on podcasts with camera to the ready made for a good day. The podcasts were from ABC’s Philosopher’s Zone; the right level of seriousness to engage you without distracting you from driving. I will admit there was one moment of danger on a hairpin descent where anger took over after a philosopher took a position that language was simply symbol manipulation (but he was interesting so his blog is now in my RSS feed), but I had also been distracted by a chance encounter with a rattlesnake at Heaps Peak Arboretum (no threat but I didn’t get the camera up in time before it vanished so was frustrated). We had sight of Mojave desert to our right as the sun came down over Redhill in the final approaches and I was reminded of just how wonderful the desert is at that time of the day.

Throughout this I was sustained as ever by Starbucks. Four grande Americanos in all for just under 200 miles but no new City Mugs (sob). For the final purchase I had a tyro barista who did not know the rules if you come in with your own personal traveling mug: you get it cheaper and they wash it for you. Now I was not worried about the price, a few cents, but I didn’t want a cardboard cup. The guy was still confused (maybe my accent?) asked for help and the next thing I know I have what I have asked for plus a rather cool voucher for a free drink with the neat slogan A cup should never be half empty. Customer service and with flair.

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