THE BACK ROAD TO VEGAS
By Barry Zander, edited by Monique Zander*, the Never-Bored RVers
This wasn’t part of the Grand Circle Series I mentioned in our last RV.net blog, but Saturday was too interesting to let go by without telling you about our drive from California’s “Inland Empire,” east of L.A., to Las Vegas.
You are in my target audience for this article if: 1) you don’t think it’s important to RV out West; 2) you’ve been to Vegas already, but you took interstates all the way; and 3) you think the destination is what it’s all about.
So, let’s address each of those as it applies to what we just experienced.
1) In my formative days in my hometown of New Orleans I didn’t have any concept of the grandeur of the Golden West, and, therefore, I didn’t care about what new vistas it held. I traveled expensively around the Eastern U.S. by car, but when I had business on the West Coast, it was by air.
Let me tell you easterners this – if you don’t point your RV westward at least once, you’re missing out on America at its grandest.
What we saw Saturday was desert … with jagged mountain peaks and ridges on either side of us … and desolate patches of land where people eke out an existence … desert vegetation and much more. For more than five hours, we were never bored.
2) We have a GPS to tell us how to get from Point A to Point B. A few days ago, I was trying to figure out Google route planning (Good Sam’s was down for maintenance), and as an exercise, I asked it how to get from our cabin to Las Vegas. It offered three routes, including one we would have never thought of, a scenic one on narrow roads across the burning desert. Being adventurers, we allowed Google to map that route. We probably won’t do it again, but we highly recommend it for a different view of the California desert.
3) We weren’t in a rush and we are able to drive 250 miles on a tank of gas, so this made the journey more important than the destination, our arrival in Las Vegas. And even though we’re always amazed … no, make that “stunned” … at the new casinos and changes to this city, today’s thrill was behind us when we drove from sand and scrub into glitz.
Briefly, our route took us onto Historic Route 66 for a few miles until we turned onto remote Kelbaker Road, which was reminiscent of wavy frost heaves on the way to Alaska. We entered the Mojave National Preserve, where we saw a flashing yellow light advising us of tortoise crossings. For the entire stretch we never saw another RV (or tortoise), except at the Kelso Depot, a fancy train station in the middle of nowhere. We saw two dozen tourists getting what was probably an interesting guided history lesson about the gold and other precious mineral mining days in the Mojave’s past.
The desert this year is almost lush. Green, healthy, gorgeous. Joshua trees, symbolic succulents of the high desert, are the healthiest we can remember. The yellow and white wildflowers added to the spectacle.
Now, we are looking forward to finding a place to wash our RV and then the arrival of Monique’s brother and sister-in-law Sunday.
From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved