The most direct route from the desert, especially from the side of the Coachella Valley that I live in is to go North up into Yucca Valley, before turning Northwest towards Barstow and then across the Mojave desert and through the Tehachipi Mountains, down to Bakersfield and then up the Central Valley, on past Mt. Shasta and into Oregon. There is a point shortly after Yucca Valley that the road takes a gradual turn and points itself Northwest. Whenever I left the desert in the years past this always was the point in the journey that it truly felt like I was headed "home". My inner compass, the direction of the road, the light in the sky always said "homeward bound". This year, surprisingly, it didn't.
But this year it feels almost like a business trip. There isn't the sense of urgency, or the mixed emotions. Yes I'm looking forward to visiting friends for the holidays up in the Northwest, and I'm excited to see them after three months. But it's just a short visit -- a few days in Portland and then Seattle, before heading back to the Mountain West and my family. That too is "home" and always will be -- it's where I was born and raised and where I am compelled to go back like a salmon headed swims upstream to it's birthplace to spawn.
But I'm truly looking forward to returning to the desert in a few weeks. The desert is home now. I can feel it. And I'm sure there will be a spot in the road, likely somewhere south of Salt Lake City or more likely Provo -- I don't exactly know where yet -- that my inner compass and the direction of the road and the light and my head and heart will all tell me "you are homeward bound". I'm looking forward to finding that place.