At 7.57 a.m. we left our hotel in Fresno, California, and the odeometer reading was 53421. We have now traveled 5,246 miles.
We stopped at McDonald's not too far from the hotel. Gregg had his usual, an Egg, Cheese and Bacon Biscuit and I had an Egg McMuffin.
I took a few photos of what I found interesting as we passed by. The almonds sign for instance.
It will be a travel day today. Six hours drive to Las Vegas, though we are only passing through via the highway. This is another place we have seen before and neither of us are interested in going this time. Our sights are on home now.
There will be a few passenger-side photos on the fly, which might not be related to the subject matter. Lots of talking about memories today.
On this trip there have been many pretty roadside wildflowers.
We are seeing slight differences in the scenery.
9.02 a.m. We passed Tipton (still in California), at 9.02 a.m. Tipton (UK) is also a town near where I grew up. I don't remember much about it except that when we used to come home from our holiday in Devon - long before we actually moved there in 1965 - when we saw the Tipton steam towers in the distance, we knew we were almost home.
I saw this interesting sign and noticed the website address. I cropped it and of course I had to check it out. This is The Tejon Ranch. I had a fun time reading all about it on line and am still reading through it.
I barely got this sign in frame and am glad I did because it set me on another search. I knew the name and knew who he was, but I wanted to learn more. Cesar Chavez was an American labor leader and civil rights activist who along with Dolores Heurta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers Union). If you click on his name you can find more information. It was a very interesting read.
One of the many trains we saw.
10.00 a.m. Stopped for gas. I am driving for a while. Gregg is making observations now, and taking photos. Instead of him asking me to, "Take a photo of that!" it is now my turn.
Great ride through Tehachapi Pass. Hundreds of windmills on the ridgeline. These are the smaller, probably older ones. There were also several larger turbines we have become used to out of frame.
11.05 a.m. We are about 15 miles from Barstow, California. The terrain is more desert-like now. The last time we were in Barstow was with Denise's uncle and aunt and our son. (Denise's note: during our time in San Diego we took my aunt and uncle to Las Vegas for the weekend. They were visiting with my parents from England. Mom and dad decided to stay put as they had already seen Las Vegas on a previous trip. We only had a small car and they were more than happy to have a quiet weekend.
Perhaps just as well as we broke down on the highway and were stuck on the middle median for a long time. Fortunately it was quite wide but still rather unsettling to have all that traffic whizzing by.
Gregg was picked up by a very amiable group of sailors who were heading for Las Vegas. There were four riding in the back of an open truck and they offered Gregg a ride to the nearest gas station. It was really good of them to stop and they were our heroes, but it felt very disconcerting to see Gregg waving to us as he disappeared down the freeway, shouting that he would be back as soon as he could. They dropped him off at the nearest gas station but it was several hours before he could get back to us. The one and only tow truck was out helping someone else.
A policeman stopped to see if we were okay and we explained what was going on. He said he would check on us when he came back this way, but by that time we were already on our way to Barstow.
My memory is a bit fuzzy but I think we rented a car. There wasn't a lot available and we were lucky to get that one. We spent the night in Barstow, leaving for Las Vegas early the next morning. We had to drive 156 miles which took us about two-and-a-half hours. My aunt and uncle were great sports about the whole thing. In fact, I think they thought of it as an adventure. They loved chatting to that policeman on the freeway, meeting the sailors, the tow truck guy, and then we had a super time in Las Vegas, which made up for everything. We just had a slight detour getting there. On our way back we dropped off the rental, picked up our car, and had an adventure to tell my parents about when we got home. No cell phones back in those days.)
The sign above says 'Shady Lane RV Camp in 35 miles. It sounds inviting, you would need a shady lane in this desert environment. The heat is palpable.
11.30 a.m. just passed 20 Mule Team Road. (Denise's added note: There were actually teams of mules that were used to transport Borax from the mines across the Mohave Desert to the nearest railroad spur.
If you are curious as to what a railroad spur is, I found the following on line. "An industrial spur is a type of secondary track used by railroads to allow customers at a location to load and unload railcars without interfering with other railroad operations."
If you click on the name in red above, there is a very interesting history about these mule teams. You can click on the red links in any of my posts.
I asked Gregg if he knew anything about them, and he said he used to watch a TV show with Ronald Reagan who hosted Death Valley Days, an American radio and television anthology series featuring true stories of the old American West, particularly the Death Valley area and who advertised the product Borax during their show. I got all this and the following here.
Hosts on the television show were Stanley Andrews alias 'The Old Ranger' - 1952 to 1963, Ronald Reagan - 1964 to 1965, Rosemary DeCamp - 1965, Robert Taylor - 1966 to 1969 and Dale Robertson - 1969 to 1970. There is also an old YouTube commercial for 20 Mule Team Borax right here. And all that and more because we spotted the 20 Mule Team Road sign. What a hoot!)
12.45 p.m. we ate at the Black Bear Restaurant in Barstow. (Denise's added note: fun stop. Each table has a plug in for using your iPads or laptops, and a phone receptacle if you need to recharge while you're eating. We decided to book our hotel from here using the hotel's app, and before we left bought water and snacks at the attached shop.)
A few photos taken at the Black Bear Restaurant.
1.50 p.m. we passed over the Mojave Bridge: nice bridge; no river. A lot of river beds are dry in the desert but I wonder about flash floods.
1.30 p.m. traffic has become heavier as everyone is heading to Vegas.
2.06 p.m. Gregg is driving again. I got sleepy but drove about four hours, and knew it was time to stop. It feels good to help out. Gregg does a lot of the driving.
2.30 p.m. we saw a car on fire. The people had gotten out and looked like they were all okay, well away from the fire and off on the side of the road.
We saw the engine explode some distance away as a ball of flame shot up. Two cars had stopped behind them and people were offering assistance. It understandably slowed traffic down.
We noticed the black smoke first, then the flames. It must have been frightening for the driver and passengers, but they had obviously pulled off the road when they saw things were amiss . Thankful that everyone got out and were safe.
We wondered if driving in the desert heat had something to do with it. Gregg says he always keeps his eye on the thermometer. We have seen several cars with their hoods up. Each time we always wondered if they had overheated, and then we saw this.
The elevation is now 4,000 feet.
I noticed the school bus in the distance. That night as I am apt to do, I look at the day's photos and noticed something interesting about this bus.
There is usually a name of the school on the side, but none on this one. There were also propane tanks on the right just above the bumper. Then I noticed the bunk bed and sheets as I passed by. Someone had bought an old school bus to convert it into an RV.
There are Joshua trees here.
3.05 p.m. we crossed the state line into Nevada....
and passed the town of Primm. Gregg wanted to know if the next town would be Proper. It took me a while to realize he was joking, "You know" he said, "Prim and Proper?" He always says I am a good audience, even if it takes a few seconds for the penny to drop. Forty-one years I am still laughing at his corny jokes. All part of life's journey says I.
Still have a ways to go before we reach Las Vegas, but we are passing lots of casinos, and one had a roof that looked like the Hotel Del Coronado in southern California. You can just about see it in the center of the photo below. The actual Hotel Del wasn't too far away from where we lived years ago, and when we had visitors we would take them there for Sunday Brunch. It was and is a great place to look around and it has an interesting history.
3:46 p.m. and we are almost through Las Vegas. It is a very busy freeway and we can see famous signs on hotels as we drive by.
Neither Gregg nor I are interested in going into the city. We have been here a few times over the years. We have no interest in gambling or seeing the sights. Home is calling.
I have tried to get the signs of each state as we cross into it but missed many. I managed to get the one going into Arizona....
but then we were crossing out of Arizona and into Utah.
5.46 p.m. Not too far from our hotel. Stopped in an outlet in St. George and found a burger place for dinner. Surprise, there is a Starbucks right next door.
For some reason I didn't enjoy my burger that much. I broke the news to Gregg I am getting tired of burgers! Coffee was as always, very welcome.
Unusual for me but I felt a bit grumpy. I think it was because we were in constant heavy traffic, and when I was driving the big rigs scared me, one in particular. I was passing a 16 wheeler and following other cars who had already passed. The truck pulled out without warning, to overtake a much slower truck in front of him. I am assuming I was in his blind spot. I had to break very hard and simultaneously watched in the rear view mirror as a car closed the gap behind us fast. That driver had to break as hard as I did. The rig was pulling two large container beds packed high with the same sized containers we had seen on ships and on trains. I could see them wabbling. It was a scary moment.
The speed limit is 70 mph here, 80 mph in the more remote areas further west, when there is a long, straight road. There is a tendency for some to drive much faster, and if you slow down you might have a car up the tail pipe. We saw several cars pulled over by the police. A police car overtook us on the inside lane at speed, and moments later we saw that he had pulled over yet another car, presumably for speeding. He must be kept busy on this road. Gregg and I try to stick to the speed limit. Our cruise control is on constantly.
We got to the hotel soon after our evening meal. The desk clerk told us there was an Ironman Competition in town and the place was full, as were many of the other hotels in the area. Good job we decided to book early that day, and even then I think we were lucky. We had no idea that this event was taking place. We learned that it is an endurance test that has been an annual event here for years. The Ironman Competition consists of: a 10.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle ride, and a marathon that is a 26.22 mile run. He asked if we were here to watch but we said no, we were just on our way home.
We aren't too far from Zion National Park but have decided not to go. We have been to the park twice before. Our focus is on getting home and we don't want to add any more days onto our journey if we can help it. Gregg and I think so alike but neither of us want to disappoint the other when it comes to site-seeing. Fortunately we can be totally honest with each other, and more often than not feel the same way. It is good that we are in sync. And we have seen so many amazing things on this trip.
Tomorrow we are heading for Denver.