On the road again
June 13, 2013 | Day One of Paul's most excellent roadtrip adventure of 2013 began in the most predictable way — with a panic attack: Did I close the garage door?
It always happens when you leave on a long trip. Before you are even five miles down the road you begin to rehearse a long list of Did-I's. I knew I had shut off the waterfall. I knew I had turned off the water to the toilets. I knew I had set the thermostat. But OMG, did I close the garage door after I backed the car out?
The first surprise of the trip was to discover that Roy's Gas in Amboy is open again!
There is an effort underway to restore the ghost town of Amboy on historic route 66, now known as the National Trails Highway. The gas station is open and the motel units have been painted. Whenever I've driven through Amboy I've bemoaned the fact that such an iconic landmark had fallen into a state of utter disrepair. I used the restroom there, and I must bemoan the fact that it is still in a state of utter disrepair, but at least it's available now and they are making progress.
I used Google Maps to plan my trip, and the first leg was quite straightforward: Desert Hot Springs to Las Vegas and on to Hurricane, UT, just a few miles from the entrance to Zion National Park. My idea, and Google map's idea, was that I would go through through the Mojave desert to Las Vegas. But of course Sophie had ideas of her own. Her idea was to go around the Mojave National Preserve, instead of through it. I debated whether I would quarrel with her and eventually gave in. She can, after all, be almost belligerent when she senses that her driver is resistant to her guidance. "Make a legal U-turn ahead ... Make a legal U-turn ahead ..."
So, instead of turning off onto Kelbaker Road, I continued along the National Trails Highway for several more miles and encountered the second surprise: the large number of "classic" cars from the chrome and tailfin era of automobile design being driven along old route 66. I almost expected to meet Martin Milner and George Maharis zipping along in their red Corvette convertible.
Eventually Sophie directed me to turn off onto Goffs Road and eventually join US-95. For much of this stretch the road paralleled a very busy railroad track. It seemed that another freight train came along about every half hour. The roadbed appeared to be in excellent repair and solar-powered control stations were alongside the track every few miles. It's a shame that we understand the need for a rail infrastructure to move stuff around, but when it comes to moving people, our railways are sadly lacking.
The next surprise was to learn that Sophie's route would take me through Searchlight, Nevada, home of Harry Reid, Democratic Senate Majority Leader. I've always seen the signs pointing to Searchlight, but never gone to see the town. I was getting a bit tired and was looking forward to finding a nice coffee shop in beautiful downtown Searchlight to refresh myself. It pains me to say that I found nothing evocative of downtown and certainly nothing worthy of being called beautiful. Searchlight is a wide spot in the freeway with a few small casinos.
When I joined US-95 near Needles, California, it was a two-lane highway. As soon as it crossed the cattle guard at the Nevada border it became a divided 4-lane freeway. Nearing Searchlight I noted a US Coast Guard LORAN station and two airports. At the border of Searchlight, the 75mph speedlimit suddenly reduces to 25mph, the better to enjoy the town I presume. I'm guessing that what I saw reflects a few of those notorious "earmarks."
As I went through Arizona and approached Utah, the I-15 went through some extraordinarily spectacular scenery. After checking into my hotel I drove to the Visitor Center at Zion National Park to check out the lay of the land and pick up a map and brochures to plan tomorrow's adventures. It is going to be awesome!
Last updated on May 12, 2016