Today we drove around the Barstow area looking for Americana. This area is rich in strange and wacky desert folks and, accordingly, rich in Americana. Quite a bit of it seems to have been created by the truly nutty so we were delighted to search the local area for examples of bizarre stuff created by the…uhhh…shall we say, profoundly eccentric.
Before we even got on the way, I glanced up at our RV park’s electrical pole and noted they may have some wiring not in strict compliance with the National Electrical Code. It seems they have violated sections on wiring, festoon lighting, insulation, electrical box wiring fill, low voltage/line voltage separation, electrical enclosures, wire rating, safety and reason. Since our trailer is not located directly below nor in close proximity to the naked conductors, we figured we were safe while on a short trip to see all Barstow’s beautiful parts.
It turns out that Barstow does not have any beautiful parts. However, right near our RV park there is a parched dirt lot filled with wacky, Road Warrior type yard art or vehicles created by a local welder. We know this because while we were looking at these vehicles, a strange man in an old mini-van skidded off the road and started explaining all there was to know about the vehicles, Barstow, his grandmother, a store somewhere and a big bridge. He had very few teeth and even fewer white ones. He talked incessantly and we found it was quite difficult to even get in any words, particularly words like, “We’re outta here!” We eventually escaped but we now have knowledge of many disconnected Barstow facts.
Barstow’s downtown, at least that section called Main Street, is a unique assortment of pawn shops, ancient abandoned motels, empty storefronts for rent, many traffic signals although there are few cars, some gas stations and many locals scurrying about on the sidewalks attempting to find shade. Today the temperatures have dropped to a balmy 102 degrees so some of the pedestrians found shade before they were incinerated. Pity.
Barstow is hard to admire. It is ugly, dusty, unbearably hot, windy and absolutely without any redeeming features but some folks seem to like it here, particularly the dentally-challenged. Go somewhere else. We have not seen any towns more miserable than Barffo since we left West Virginia.
Check out Barstow stuff. Click the asterisk *
We are still in the Barstow inferno although it was cooler today than yesterday. Yesterday the temperature was around 111 but today it was a much-improved 106. We hung pretty close to our air conditioned trailer for most of the day but serious boredom set in late in the afternoon. We decided to go for a spin around the local area in search of a liquor store.
We left our very rural digs at Shady Lane RV Camp and got on Old Highway 58 (there doesn’t seem to be a New Highway 58 anywhere near) for a short foray into town or what we thought was town. Like other similar municipalities we have been to like Barstow, we noted many types of strange Americana due to the nature of people that live in places like this, large yards full of wrecked or possibly operable but ugly cars and trucks, many abandoned trailer houses dissolving into the desert landscape, burned out residences with considerable vegetation in the former living rooms, yards almost completely filled with old trash and virtually no landscaping anywhere. Landscape areas we did find are landscaped with rocks of many different sizes. Other than some Palo Verde and mesquite shrubs, there appears to be no planting of green stuff. Flowers are right out.
We found a liquor store so we were able to consider our trip a success.
Today was another travel day and we were happy about having the opportunity to escape the dreadful, soul-sucking temperatures in Las Vegas and, hopefully, heading into some environment where the temperatures are lower. Unfortunately, it ended up with us leaving the 106 degree heat in Vegas only to head into the 112 degree temperatures in Barstow, CA. It is plainly evident to us why real estate in Barstow is cheap.
I-15 south from Vegas moves along well until crossing the border into California where we were obliged to stop at the state fruit stand where well-armored produce inspectors didn’t ask us if we had any fruit. The gatekeepers merely made the traffic stop and then waved the drivers through the alfresco shade structure. Unfortunately, this makes all those towing trailers or operating other heavy vehicles lose all their engine revolutions right at the bottom of a 2,000 foot climb. Peggy figured this is because it makes it easy for the fruit police to run down rogue banana smugglers who somehow made it through the rigorous inspection.
Although the desert was miserably hot, we had superb air conditioning on our side so we were able to enjoy the unique and dramatic desert landscapes along I-15. Crossing this desert is certainly more interesting than passing through the I-8 corridor between San Diego and accursed Yuma, AZ.
Arriving in the hothouse of Barstow, we pulled off I-15 and into the Shady Lane RV Camp which does not actually have very much shade. They do have full hookups, cable TV, wifi and ample rest- and shower rooms but no pool. It looks like some of the park tenants are never to leave, instead choosing this spartan torture chamber as the place they will spend the remainder of their lives unless they forget to pay the rent. The park operators are very sweet, however, and made every effort to get us into our RV space quickly so we could get the air conditioning in the trailer turned up to full blast.
We have a Vegas-mobile and Barstow temperature reading photos you can see by clicking the asterisk *
Today started out like yesterday with the indoor/outdoor weather station we have showing slowly rising temperatures indoors and double-digit then triple-digit temperature readings outside changing so rapidly as to be almost unreadable. Although it is technically autumn, the weather here is still horrible if you are one of those reluctant to vacation in Hell.
We did leave the comfort of our air conditioned trailer for the comfort of our air conditioned truck for a spin around this broiling wasteland. I initially drove Peggy to a place called Soft Surroundings, a clothing merchant. Peg said she was only going in for a minute so I stayed in the truck. When the seat belt hardware became so hot that I could feel it through my clothes I started to wonder about the wisdom of my choice. Fortunately, Peggy was true to her word and returned to the truck in a remarkably short time considering where she was.
After the clothing store, we drove what seemed like a very long way across Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area. It is a gorgeous array of steep cliffs and brilliantly colored rock formations, particularly when viewed from inside the truck cab. Outside it was close to a million degrees so we mostly kept the windows rolled up and the A/C running.
Coming back to our RV park we passed through some typical Las Vegas traffic that consists of wild-eyed swervers, abrupt lane changers unburdened by using their turn signals, high speed motorcycle racers following serpentine paths through the traffic and artificial islands painted on the road and a small contingent of clueless operators slithering along on the freeway while going 15 or 20 mph less than the chaotic traffic around them. Despite traveling at or above the speed limit, numerous comedians would ride my rear bumper for about a mile and then cut abruptly into the slower lanes to the right in an attempt to pass while going slower than the vehicles they wanted to overtake. I hate city traffic, particularly the pernicious, dickheaded morons filling the highways here in Lost Wages. Tomorrow we leave and that is none too soon.
We got a few pix in the park. Click the asterisk *
We awoke to another torrid, miserable, cloudless day in Lost Wages. Offering no respite from yesterday, the temperature was again 106 today. We don’t know how the locals can stand the ferocious heat. I did note that most of those spotted outside buildings had heads that look like lumpy tomatoes.
We cowered bravely for most of the day inside our air conditioned trailer although Peggy made a few trips to the RV park’s laundry facility to do our wash and I thought she was very brave. I made airline reservations for an upcoming trip on Alaska Airlines’ website. They like you to use the website to purchase tickets but it is the most circuitous, negative progress site known to man and getting two bulkhead seats on a round-trip flight requires dogged determination and an ability to take setbacks without spitting fury. I hate their website. Maybe I can get some school child to do it for us next time.
It is difficult to explain why we have come to Las Vegas at this time of year. I figured, wrongly, that since it was technically autumn, maybe the temperatures would be suitable for humans. What a dope I was. Today we got a reprieve from the 106 degrees of yesterday. It was merely 105 today.
We took showers without needing the water heater because our water supply hoses pass through the outdoors on the way to our trailer and that alone was enough to provide nice, warm showers without being required to crack the hot water valve. Before the temperatures got up to the inferno stage, we hopped in the truck and went to a place called Hash House a Go Go where they served us very tasty and amply-sized breakfasts. Their strawberry jam was shitty but everything else was great. Without drinks, the bill came to around $35 so it ain’t cheap but we ended up taking some breakfast home with us for consumption when we are less likely to pop.
Peggy also shot into the local Costco for coffee and Irish Cream while I circled the parking lot avoiding the terrible drivers and parking space trolls who had the entire lot in gridlock. Peggy has a notification on the phone that dings when she spends more than $50 so I know exactly when to start making my way to the store exit to collect my spouse and her loot. Since we have a terrific air conditioning system in the truck, I only felt compelled to scream at a few of the tangle-inducing trolls and didn’t feel like killing any of them.
Today was a travel day. We have been camped in Overton, NV, the last few days and the temperatures have been torrid. We topped out at a bit over 110 degrees yesterday so we figured we would get up early, dump the tanks, hook up the truck and depart before the sun could barbecue us. We were out of the RV park by about 0900 which is very early for us.
We wandered through Overton and Logandale, two bleak desert communities with absolutely nobody outdoors, on our way back to I-15 where we again turned south. Nevada is mostly desert and the stretch of I-15 between Logandale and Las Vegas is no exception. If they want to run one of those survival reality shows and really want to challenge the contestants, they could plop them down in the middle of Nevada awarding the prize to any one of the suckers that makes it to a road or water. We spotted some coal-fired power plants and some massive photovoltaic solar arrays but not much else on our way toward Lost Wages.
We skirted the downtown area of Vegas on I-515 until turning off onto Boulder Blvd. A few blocks and a U-turn further and we pulled into the Las Vegas Thousand Trails which is located behind some auto parts stores and the Boulder Station casino complex. This TT facility is very tight but seemingly always full. There must be lots of RV types who are fervent gamblers because, despite there being a couple hundred RV spots within the park, there are rarely any vacant ones. We were assigned a site that the folks in the entry kiosk insisted was ample for our 34′ fifth wheel trailer and our F-250 pickup. I expressed some reservations about their assessment of adequacy and headed off into the park. When I got to the site, it turns out I was correct. Our trailer fills the entire space and our truck is squeezed in next to the trailer, only encroaching on the neighboring space enough to make it difficult to access.
The weather is about 4 degrees cooler than Overton but that still means it is 106 outside. Our air conditioner was running continuously until 11:00 PM when the temperature finally dropped below 90 degrees.
Overton, where I weirdly suspected we may want to go, is quite toasty despite today being the first full day of autumn. It was 110 degrees outside. We had a day of trailer maintenance activities scheduled for today but as of now (5:30 PM) those activities may just have to bugger off due to the exterior barbecue-like temperatures. We are delighted our fifth wheel has suitable air conditioning and it is becoming more likely we will enjoy it right up to bedtime.
Check out today’s photo of our weather station. Click the asterisk *
We awoke in brilliant, hot sunshine this morning. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised since our RV park is located in Overton, a broiling enclave about 60 miles from Las Vegas. Happily, Overton is also only about 10 miles from Valley of Fire State Park which is a colorful break from the otherwise gray-appearing desert surrounding it.
Due to some interesting geologic action in the last couple million years, Valley of Fire is an expanse of pastel-colored gigantic rock formations. The predominant color is brick red but large sections of beige, white, yellow and purple are spread around. It is gorgeous here.
We did not expect to see any large mammals in this section of desert but were happily surprised with multiple sightings of desert Bighorn sheep. We were able to pretty easily spot more than two dozen of these normally reclusive critters in the fabulous park landscape. Most were grazing but we also spotted some massive males calmly resting in the holes and shaded sections of the park. The males are big hombres – I would guess they weigh in excess of 200 pounds.
It was 108 degrees when we got back to our trailer. I’m glad we don’t live around here although the scenery is pretty nice.
Check out today’s pix. Click the asterisk *
Today was a travel day. We left the St. George KOA, not actually in St. George, and jumped onto I-15 southbound. I-15 passes out of Utah and crosses a tiny portion of Arizona before plunging into Nevada. For the few miles in Arizona, the interstate closely follows the Virgin River which has carved a massive gorge alongside the Grand Canyon – Parashant National Monument. Although the road is curvy and grades steep, the gorgeous scenery more than makes up for the driving challenges. Cliffs in excess of 1000′ border the road for about 15 miles. At the bottom of the hill, the grade flattens out into the mostly flat desert of eastern Nevada.
About 100 miles from Hurricane we pulled off I-15 and wandered about 20 miles across desert until we arrived in Overton which is a small community at the northern end of Lake Mead, held back by Hoover Dam about 65 miles away. We pulled into the Robbin’s Nest RV Park which is dirt cheap this time of year because it ain’t winter and this town is apparently a Mecca for snowbirds. It is even hotter here than in Hurricane. It was 107 degrees outside this afternoon. Thank God for air conditioning.
See today’s drive pix. Click the asterisk *