By highways and byways

| The last two weekends have been spent on the road. This past weekend the Brunch Bunch took a quick trip to Las Vegas, culminating with Cher's show at Caesar's. The weekend before, Réal and I went to the rodeo in San Diego.

San Diego rodeo

It was an absolutely splendid day, perfect for a drive to San Diego. And, as it turned out, for a bit of unplanned sight-seeing, thanks to Sophie. "Next exit on the right, then left turn," she said authoritatively. It was not where I expected to turn off the I-15, but then, perhaps Sophie in her infinite wisdom knew another way. And she did. Or maybe not.

She directed us through very interesting countryside with lots of horse farms and big houses. In one town, in fact, the traffic lights had two sets of buttons, one at normal level and a second at horseback level. After a few more miles we came to a T intersection, at which we had to turn left or right; straight ahead was not an option. There was a highway sign for Lakeside, our destination, and an arrow pointing to the right, but to our surprise, Sophie said to turn left. Okay. She must know something we don't.

After a bit of very steep, very sinuous road, Sophie said to turn left, and then left again — into a one-lane gravel path. Sophie! What were you thinking! We backtracked and followed the sign. Bad Sophie!

The rodeo had the usual contingent of Palm Springs cowboys participating in all the usual events, from steer roping to steer decorating, with barrel racing, pole bending, and the ever popular goat dressing in between. Everyone got a good laugh out of the young goat who tried to hide to avoid the indignity of being dressed in tighty-whiteys.

There was also a guy named Nick Something who rode bareback in all his events. Maybe he spent so much money on the horse he couldn't afford a saddle?

goat
Protect me! Please!
bareback
Doing it all bareback

Las Vegas

Months ago, the Brunch Bunch decided to go see Cher in Las Vegas, and we timed the visit to coincide with the Big Horn Rodeo. So, on Saturday morning we piled into a rented GMC Acadia for the drive to Las Vegas. To our great dismay, by the time we had reached Twentynine Palms (about 40 miles), the gas gauge had dropped more than ¼ tank. Yikes! We filled up before heading across the desert, hoping that the tank must not have been totally full when we started out. As it turned out, it hadn't been, and we got about the advertized 24 mpg in an absolute behemoth of a vehicle.

Ken — assigned the third seat for his own serenity — had brought his Gelly (Magellan GPS system) along, but I assured everyone we didn't need it, inasmuch as I've driven this back-roads route several times. (The Acadia also had a "never-lost" system.) The only problem was, in my mind our destination had become Tropicana Ave instead of the Flamingo Rd that it actually was. "Wow, look at all this new construction!" we exclaimed as we drove out to the end of Tropicana. "But where's the rodeo?"

When in doubt, read the directions: "5800 Flamingo Rd" — Oops! In the Las Vegas way of things, of course, we were really close to our destination, since Flamingo parallels Tropicana, but a mile farther north. Chagrin. C-H-A-G-R-I-N. Chagrin.

Once again, the rodeo consisted of the usual events and many of the same contestants who had been at San Diego the previous weekend. Even the goats were the same (except we didn't see the young one that tried to hide from the goat dressers).

There were, however, some things that you just don't want to see. Towit:

The horizontal stripes just ain't a-workin', dear
Way too much information

After the rodeo we checked into our hotel, the Stratosphere, and freshened up for our date with Cher. I wanted to go up and ride X-Scream, a sort of roller-coaster on a giant teeter-totter, but noone wanted to accompany me. In the interests of time, we ate at Roxy's Diner in the hotel (good comfort food, fun and funky 50's decor), then we braved the perpetual traffic snarl of The Strip for the drive to Caesar's.

Caesar's Colosseum is absolutely immense (4000+), but we had really good seats just off-center in the first mezzanine. The show was fantastic. Cher looks terrific — we should all have such a good plastic surgeon — and the cirque-style acts and video segments were also top notch. There does have to be some distraction while Cher changes from one exotic costume to another, dontcha know.

On the way home on Sunday we stopped at the Kelso train station, park headquarters for the Mojave National Preserve, for a pit-stop and a look-see.

Kelso Depot
model
Model, circa 1940

They've added new exhibits since we were there a year ago, including a model of the town as it was in the 1940s. I'm happy to have my tax dollars used for projects like this.

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Last updated on Sep 8, 2016

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