Thursday, October 8, 2009

Road Trip: Days 19, 20, and 21

Hello to all my blog followers and others who may have dropped by! I apologize for having been MIA for a few days. I encountered a couple of days with no internet access, and to be honest, yesterday I was so exhausted at the end of the day I just didn't have the energy to tackle the project of bringing you up to date on my cross-country sightseeing trip. The last time I posted, we were in San Luis Obispo, California, where we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Silent Sunday night.Then it was Monday morning; we'd had a great breakfast and were ready to hit the road again. The freeway entrance was closer to our hotel than we had remembered, so we were already on the highway when we realized that we hadn't stopped for gas. (first mistake) Then we missed the turn Mabel (our GPS) told us to take. (second mistake) We could have made a U-turn, but Mable "recalculating" told us to continue 17 miles on our current path, so we did. (third mistake) We thought that after 17 miles we would have the opportunity to get back on the highway; wrong! Mabel instructed us to turn left onto a secondary, though paved road. After several more miles, past one or two isolated ranches, we found ourselves on a dirt road.
The road was narrow, winding, and of course, had no guard rails. At this point, we had alread put 25 or more miles between us and the spot where we made the wrong turn; rather than backtrack, we decided to forge on. (fourth mistake)
We rounded one curve and came upon an elk standing in the middle of our path. He was startled and so were we. He scampered on up the mountain side before I could get him in my camera's sight.
The road narrowed to the point where if we had met another car, we would have been in trouble. But, it seems we were the only idiots traveling this road, so that never became an issue. We drove for miles, and miles, wishing we had purchased that 4-wheel drive vehicle we had considered the last time we traded cars.

In the picture above, the light tan area in the middle of the mountain ahead is actually the road we were traveling. As you can see--no guardrails, steep dropoffs, and hairpin turns. It was at this point that I noticed that the message center on the dashboard read "low fuel;" I didn't dare mention it to Hubby, as he had enough to worry about just keeping the car on this footpath loosely called a road! The low fuel alarm had yet to beep, so I was hoping we would be okay.
Then the road improved a little; it even widened to a distance that might allow a car and a horse to pass without touching. We also began seeing trees again on both sides of the road, which meant we had come back to an altitude below the tree line. I mentioned to Hubby that I was seeing the no fuel message, and he might want to try coasting on the downhill sections of the road, which he did.

Finally, we re-encountered signs of civilization: a little wide spot in the road town with a mini market. The gas pumps outside looked like they had been out of service since Carter was President. We stopped, and I went inside and used the restroom--at least they had one of those!--then asked the one of the customers inside how far it was to the nearest gas station. My question was met by laughter from the customers and the clerk. When they saw by the look on my face that I wasn't kidding, one man offered, " can go 17 or 18 miles in that direction, or 17 or 18 miles in the direction you're headed, and you will find a gas station."

"One that is open?" I asked.

"Yep. Just stay on 58; don't take 33."

When the fuel alarm beeps, I know we have about 40 miles left before we run out of gas, so I knew we were safe. We continued on Route 58 and did find fuel.

We began to see a few oil wells, some farms, and even some cotton fields.

We saw a wind farm on the mountain tops in the distance. I counted no less than 200 wind towers! It was the larges windfarm I had ever seen. You can just make out the white towers in the picture above.

The road became very flat, with mountains way off in the distance. We were in the Mojave Desert.

The road was flat and straight for as far as you could see, which was a welcome change from the mountains and hairpin turns we'd had to negotiate earlier in the day. We spent Monday night in a small town called Barstow. There was no internet access. The one outstanding feature of the town was a dumpy looking donut shop called Frosty's Donuts. I didn't want to stop, because I didn't like the looks of the place, but Hubby felt the donuts calling him and pulled into the small parking lot. (NOT a mistake) I had the most delicious apple fritter I have ever, ever had! Hubby said his choice was outstanding as well. The owner was a twenty-something young man of Cambodian descent, who had moved to Barstow from Hartford, CT. He had been living in Barstow since age 15 and he and his older brother had started the doughnut shop. Doughnuts are not a temptation to me, usually, but if this place were in Saco, Maine, I would be in serious trouble!
Then we reached the Nevada border. It wasn't very long before we saw the Tower of the Stratosphere in the distance; the hotel at which we had made reservations for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Even from a distance, it was quite impressive. The black area is actually a rotating restaurant, topped by a couple of amusement park rides, 800 feet in the sky. Although I did want to visit the tower, I wouldn't dream of getting on those crazy rides!

We parked outside the registration area, and I couldn't resist taking this picture of the reflections on the hotel doors.

Then I had to take a few shots of the view from our windows.

The Sahara was nearby, as were several other skyscraper hotels. The Stratosphere is a fairly new hotel with over 2200 rooms, several restaurants, a 50 store shopping mall, several lounges, and a huge casino. My luck at previous casinos didn't hold here; I lost more than I won, as did Hubby, but it was fun!

On Wednesday, we went to two shows. We caught a matinee of The Price is Right. No, we didn't see Drew Carey, but it was still lots of fun, and we had great seats for the show at the Bally. There were over 750 people in the audience. We didn't get called on to come down and play, but enjoyed watching others try their luck. The big winner of the day won a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer. Both of the showcase bidders way over-bid on the showcase, though, so the car, the trip to Paris, and assorted other prizes went unclaimed.

Wednesday evening, we attended a dinner theater presentation at Fitsgeralds on Fremont Street. The play was an inter-active mystery/comedy called "Marriage Can Be Murder." If you've never been to an inter-active performance, it's great fun. The audience becomes part of the cast. Two people of the six at our table were "murdered." We were invited to help solve the crime; at times between courses of our dinner, the audience was encouraged to mingle and question people we thought might be suspects. Some of the men in the audience were enlisted as pall-bearers to carry out the dead bodies; men and women were given toy musical instruments and served as the jazz band following the funeral procession, and the women in the audience were mourners...meaning we had to sob and wail each time a body was carried out.

David, from Texas, who sat across from me had been enlisted to be the key-board player in the jazz band. I thought his behavior was suspicious: he hid half of his face behind his keyboard when I tried to take his picture, and he turned down the cheesecake desert--you know someone is up to no good when they turn down cheesecake!

Eric, the police officer who was called in on the case, interviewed witnesses, trying to find the killer.

The actress who played Mimi the flakey hostess/former hooker was hilarious. She had a great singing voice and was a terrific comedianne. We all had great fun, and the killer turned out to be someone no one suspected! The dinner was very good, and the show was dynamite entertainment!

videoAfter the show, I took some video of Freemont Street. It is a unique street in Vegas because it is closed to motor vehicle traffic. It's lined with casinos, bars, and restaurants, and a really "jumping" place to be.

When we finally returned to our hotel room, I was so exhausted, I went to bed. This morning, requested to stay another night here, and will be hitting the road again tomorrow.

I'm sorry this was such a long post, but I had to cover 3 days. Tomorrow I should be able to go back to one day at a time...if I have internet access! Thanks for coming along!

P.S. I have received a couple of awards in the past week, and I apologize for not posting them. I will do that and pass them on to other deserving bloggers after I get home. It may be another week or so, but I will post them!


Meeko Fabulous said...

I'm glad you're having such a good time! :) I live about 30 minutes from Barstow (on a good traffic day). You're in Vegas! I love Vegas! You're making me miss Vegas . . . sigh . . . I guess I'll have to wait until November . . .

Eva Gallant said...

Meeko: Have you ever stopped at Frosty's Donuts? They are the most awesome donuts I have ever eaten!!

Joanna Jenkins said...

I thought for sure you were going to tell us you got suck on that dirt road with no gas. Phew! Glad it worked out.

You are covering a lot of territory and seeing so many things. Thanks a million for the "tour" and all the photos. It's almost like being there.

Safe travels.

lakeviewer said...

Watch out. You'll go broke in Las Vegas.

Cathy said...

I love your adventure on the crazy windy dirt road! That's what vacation is all about! Glad you didn't run out of gas, I was worried, too.

When you hadn't posted for a couple days I figured you had been 'discovered' in Cali;)

The Retired One said...

We PURPOSELY put in our TOMTOM (GPS) that we DON'T want major roads or tollways just so we can have the adventures you described! (except the gas thing). You got to see a part of the country few get to see, you got to see an elk and you got to have the best fritter ever...wasn't it worth it???? Loving these posts, keep it up!

ethelmaepotter! said...

I was astonished to see cotton fields!
That winding road looks familiar - was that the road where the car chase took place in the beginning of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World? Where Jimmy Durante's car went off the side of a cliff, and he "kicked the bucket?"
And, one more thing: was it you who suggested to me on my blog that I needed to give my Garmin a cool name? I ADORE Mabel, but I think mine will be Lolita!

dogimo said...

"The road was narrow, winding, and of course, had no guard rails." - sounds like my life's itinerary!

The vicissitudes on the way to Sin City only underscore how much bigger a gamble life can be, than any game of chance. But when the outcome's in doubt: take a chance on donuts.