Leaving Las Vegas – Day 71

Leaving Las Vegas

Day 71 – June 10, 2003 – Tuesday

Leaving Las Vegas.

We drove to Los Angeles today — went via Death Valley. When we stopped for gas in Shoshone (Death Valley), California (population 100), Anna at the gas station asked if we knew where we had gotten lost. When we told her we PLANNED to visit Death Valley, she was VERY surprised.

We didn’t meet many people in Vegas. Beads weren’t special there as a number of casinos give them away.

We went to Red Rock Canyon as we left the Las Vegas area. We saw a sign that said: “Danger. Wild burros on highway. Do not feed or harass burros. $25 fine and THEY BITE.”

We passed by a sign for “Summerland, America’s premier master plan community.” Of course, it was way out in the middle of the desert in the middle of nowhere so somebody wasn’t thinking too well when they planned. Then again, maybe this is a relative of Bugsy Siegel, so who am I to question things in the middle of nowhere?

We came across a poor man’s Cadillac Ranch. This guy could only afford one car. I couldn’t tell what model. One car buried nose down in the Nevada desert. No sign. No explanation. Just there.

We accidentally found our way to Crystal, Nevada today. Crystal is a tiny spot on a road in the only county in Nevada where prostitution is legal. It just happened to be on the route that I chose through Death Valley and on to LA.

We went down a road following signs that said “Cherry Patch Ranch” and “Mable’s” as well as “Madame Butterfly Bath, Massage, and Saloon.” These places are official houses of prostitution. There was a “Brothel Tourist Information Center” that appeared to be open, but I guess I was afraid to go in.

We passed near Area 51 and the Extraterrestrial Highway. We photographed some signs and other spooky stuff. Our son’s company does Area 51 tours. The tour takes Las Vegas visitors to seven famous locations used by UFO enthusiasts in their search of the truth about this controversial subject. The tour goes to Little A’le’Inn. This has been the host of numerous documentaries and movies including “Independence Day.” The next stop is the infamous Black Mailbox and then to the perimeter of Area 51 through the strange and deformed Joshua Tree Forest. The tour notes the guards (Men In Black), detection devices, listening devices, and cameras mounted among the cactus. Signs read: “The Use of Deadly Force Authorized” and we’re sure they mean it. As much as the United States Air Force has denied the existence of this base, we know it is there, but no one knows what it is they do there. Go to www.lostwagestours.com if you’d like to take the tour.

We didn’t see any UFOs today — a sign or two and a cafe, but mainly desert. It reached only 105 today in Death Valley, while it got to 108 on June 8 in Las Vegas.

We burned Pass #14 on a slow-moving motorcycle in Death Valley.

We met Anna at the Chevron station in Shoshone. Anna asked if we knew where we had gotten lost. When we told her we PLANNED to visit Death Valley, she was VERY surprised.

Anna knew everyone around these parts. She previously worked as a shift madam at one of the brothels in Crystal, Nevada. She was a very sweet lady. She volunteered that she worked there because her daughter had a serious illness, and they didn’t have the money for medical expenses unless she got a better-paying job. She said the brothels in Crystal City are very safe; doctors come in once a week; double-jacketed condoms are used, etc. She said they charge $150 for a half hour.

Getting a chance to talk to a madam was an unexpected pleasure in Death Valley.

The population is 100 in Shoshone, yet they have a place called the UFO that looks like a cafe and a place called the Saysee Bone Cafe which is an Internet Cafe featuring espresso. There were a lot of yard ornaments in Shoshone.

We drove on to the Dumont Dunes in Death Valley. It seemed like perhaps the lowest spot we reached. It is an area where people go off-roading.

We’ve reached the town of Baker just before 5 pm. The population is only 390, yet they have 5-digit address numbers. Maybe that guy selling the used car near Douglas, Arizona is the city planner here.

As we approached the town of Yermo, California, I spotted something that looked strange and interesting on the horizon. We never found out what it was. We did, however, learn that “The Incredible Hulk” was filmed here, so this might have been something left over from the filming. We stopped at what we learned was the original Del Taco restaurant.

The smog was absolutely horrible as we neared the Los Angeles area. What a shame that this beautiful part of the country is uglified by smog.

Mayte checked us in at the Embassy Suites in Monrovia, California. She recommended Rudy’s for dinner, so off we went. We both enjoyed Rudy’s California-style Mexican food. We had fried ice cream for dessert. It was nothing to write home about. Barbara didn’t like it all. We did enjoy meeting Rudy.

Random Comments:

Today marks the start of Week 11. It is hard to believe the trip is now well over half over. I continue to thoroughly enjoy the experience, though I am disappointed that 18-hour days leave little time to write. We are, however, taking an average of 150 photos a day, and the tapes are filling fast as we record the events and observations from each day.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this website. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest, and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Red Rock Canyon — Crystal Nevada — Area 51 — Death Valley — Yermo California

O – Day 69


Day 69 – June 8, 2003 – Sunday

Bozzie Jane is back! I picked her up at the Las Vegas airport this morning. We drove around Las Vegas a while, walked around a while, had lunch at the Harley Davidson Cafe, then went to the Bellaggio to see “O” as a birthday gift to Boz from son Ryan. Thanks Ryan!!!

Boz was to arrive around noon, so I slept later than normal, worked on the website, and then headed to the airport. I was really pleased to see Bozzie Jane’s smiling face!

The temperature on the car was 108. This was definitely the hottest it has been, and we were feeling the heat! We drove around a bit, and then we stopped for lunch.

Lunch was very good at the Harley Davidson Cafe — excellent barbeque brisket sandwich. The decor was great — lots of Harleys and one huge wall that is filled with an equally huge American flag. Bikers tend to be extremely patriotic. Boz and I both were so taken with our waitress, Amanda, that we were hounding son Ryan Windsor to go to Vegas to stop in for lunch to meet her. Amanda has an interesting story; she was a missionary, and she wants to be a teacher. There’s a big need for teachers in ever-expanding Las Vegas, so she finds herself in the most unlikely place for her — working as a waitress in a bar and restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip while she goes to school to finish her degree. Her friends are shocked because she hates motorcycles, and she is very religious, and to even be in Las Vegas was unbelievable to those who know her. But, she’s excited about teaching. She’s 25 but looks like she’s 18, so teaching high school students is a bit of a problem; the boys are always after her. I asked her what is unique about her (something I ask a lot of people), and she said she didn’t have a story, but I think her story has already been told.

My barbeque sandwich was good. Boz’s soup was good, but she immediately became sick. So, we went back to the hotel for Boz to rest.

Ryan arranged great seats for us at “O.” There isn’t a word to describe “O.” It was simply an UNBELIEVABLE show. Our mouths were hanging open, as were the mouths of everyone we saw. One minute, people were running across the stage, and the next minute, someone was diving from 100 feet above into a pool of water that almost magically appears at that same spot on the stage. The stage floor moves up and down over a very deep swimming pool that holds 1.8 million gallons of 85-degree water. You just can’t figure out how in the world they did the things that they did.

After the show, we walked around the Strip for a while and took a lot of photos. We did our patented $100 on red at a roulette wheel at the Bellaggio, and we lost. So, we are down $202 in our gambling thus far. Bozzie chose a different table than the first one we went to; you just have to follow your instincts. We slapped our $100 on red, and it came up black. We then managed to do something that may have never been done before — we put $5 into a slot machine a nickel at a time, and we never won once. That’s 100 coins dropped into a slot machine one at a time, and we never got a single solitary nickel in return. Down $207 and counting….

Boz and I felt the Bellaggio was the best hotel in Vegas (from what we could see just walking around), with New York New York ranked second. The inside of the Bellagio was just incredible. There were beautiful pools of water surrounded by real flowers; the glass ceiling was incredible; and the woodwork and just everything in the place appeared to be absolutely the best of everything. It was really fun to see the Bellagio.

New York, New York had a wonderful 9/11 memorial that was very impressive, and a lot of people were looking at it.

We were shocked that there were so many people handing out cards for “strippers” on the street. It is hard to imagine that many strippers even exist, but we saw hundreds and hundreds of these people. There must be thousands and thousands of “strippers.”

M&M’s World was fun — incredibly vibrant colors everywhere, and tons of M&M’s and M&M’s stuff.

Our overall impression of Las Vegas was that it was very clean except for the cards people throw on the ground that they don’t want from the people who hand them to them about “strippers.” There was a significant upgrade in the quality of the hotels and overall appearance of Vegas since we were both last here together in 1980.

I received a lovely string of purple dice beads from two brothers who own Nose Rings & Toe Things on the Strip. They saw the beads, heard the Floating Neutrinos story, and the rest is history. If you need beads, a toe thing, a nose ring, or even a toe ring or a nose thing while in Vegas, be sure to stop and tell them we sent you.

The temperature hit 108 today, so Vegas is a pretty good bet to win our Hottest Award.

Bozzie Jane started feeling bad again in the middle of the night, so we will head to the doctor in the morning.

We learned today that the craziest of ideas can become a huge success. Surely many people thought Bugsy Siegel’s idea was the craziest. Bugsy Siegel was a gangster. He envisioned building a large casino and hotel in the desert that would attract gamblers from around the country. His vision was fueled by the fact that gambling had been legalized in Nevada in 1931 to entertain the influx of construction workers building the Hoover Dam. This had launched a population boom, giving the Valley’s economy a significant boost during the Great Depression. Some gambling existed in Las Vegas in the 30’s, but it was concentrated in several downtown casinos along Fremont Street that catered to these workers. The famous Las Vegas Strip area was nothing but desert before it became a glimmer in Bugsy’s eyes.

Bugsy came to Las Vegas in 1941, backed by an organized crime syndicate, to establish a gambling service. He convinced his mobster associates to back his venture. He decided to call the new hotel and casino “The Flamingo,” his pet name for his girlfriend. He opened The Flamingo Hotel on what would become the Las Vegas Strip on December 26, 1946.

Las Vegas is now the center of gambling in the United States and the world. Las Vegas is commonly known as The Entertainment Capital of the World — famous for its massive and lavish casino resorts, availability of alcoholic beverages at any time (as is true throughout Nevada), and various degrees of adult entertainment (including “strippers). The city’s glamorous image has made it a popular setting for movies and TV programs. What a crazy idea, and what a success.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this website. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest, and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Las Vegas Nevada — Harley Davidson Cafe — Bellaggio — O — M&M’s World — The Las Vegas Strip

History Makes Traveling Fun – Day 68

History Makes Traveling Fun

Day 68 – June 7, 2003 – Saturday

Happy Birthday to Bozzie Jane!

I drove from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas today. Boz will be rejoining the trip in Vegas after spending the last 10 days babysitting Miss Madison in Atlanta. I didn’t expect to see much between Salt Lake and Vegas, so expectations were low, which often makes for a good day.

That’s exactly what happened as I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Shrine to the Virgin Mary on a Tree Stump, Anniversary Inn, the Great Salt Lake, the ill-fated Saltair Resort, the Great Tree in the Salt Desert, the Bonneville Salt Flats Racetrack, the Ely murals, the World’s Largest 8 Ball, and the Las Vegas Strip after dark. I had a nice chat with Gladys Knight’s bus drivers, and I encountered the only rude, nasty people I have met on the trip — the inhabitants of Major’s Place, Nevada.

I stayed at the Candlewood Suites in Salt Lake City last night. It had been time for the weekly wash. Unfortunately, the power went out shortly after my clothes went in the washing machine. It took five hours to do the wash as the power went out the second time right after my clothes finally made it to the dryer at 1:45. I finally got to sleep at 2:30 am. With the lights out, the phones were out, so I was thwarted in my efforts to get the web site photos all up-to-date. I spent three hours on the web site this morning and then hit the road.

I met Robert and Lucious, bus drivers for Gladys Knight, when they were checking in the Candlewood as I was leaving. I finally got away after talking to Anthony again at the front desk and seeing his new car — a bright glow-in-the-radar-red Mustang

Salt Lake City is extremely clean with well-dressed people. I’ve never seen so many men in coats and ties on a Saturday. The people here take their religion very seriously. Salt Lake City is a very pretty city; there are a lot of beautiful trees. It’s nestled down in a valley surrounded by mountains, which make it an especially pretty city to see as you drive into town.

I went to Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. I saw the Utah capital building.

After reading about the Anniversary Inn, it was a must-see. The Anniversary Inn has wonderful themed suites — THE place to take your honey in Salt Lake City. I learned that the most popular room is the Romeo and Juliet. Some people were just checking out who stayed in it, and they thoroughly enjoyed their stay.

I met Cheri and Steph behind the front desk. I handed them my card, and Cheri apparently noted that we were writing a book, and she loudly announced that she was famous. Cheri told me that as a little girl, she used to ride a billy goat in parades, and she once had her picture taken by some folks that had a travel company who used her photo in their promotional materials. I asked Steph what was the most unique thing about her. She informed me that she is not a Mormon, though she comes from a strong Mormon family. She chose not to be a Mormom. That makes her unusual. Most of the people in Salt Lake are Mormons, and there are probably very few who come from strong Mormon families who are strong enough internally to make the decision not to be. I asked them which rooms are the most unusual. Steph said “Lake Powell,” and Cheri said “the Mysteries Rooms.” The Anniversary Inn appears to be a really neat place to spend a night. I promised to return with Bozzie Jane someday.

Salt Lake has an excellent street numbering system that makes it pretty easy to find just about any address; it’s similar to Lubbock, Texas, where there is also a very logical numbering system in a city that is set up on a simple grid. So, I found it very easy to make my way from one sight to another.

It wasn’t a Camaro…but I did see the “Shrine to the Virgin Mary on a Tree Stump” in Salt Lake City. It’s right at the corner of 700 South and 300 East in Taufer Park in Salt Lake City. There are big industrial-strength stairs that you walk up to see it. There were a lot of candles, flowers, pictures, and rosary beads that people had left there. I do not even remember how I learned about this, but I had scribbled a note about it in my file on Utah. I learned that it was in 1997 when someone first saw the image of Mary in the grain of a knothole on the trunk of the elm tree. Someone put up a ladder so visitors could climb up and touch it. At the time, believers said water was coming out of the Virgin Mary’s head, and they believed it to be tears. As word spread, the number of visitors grew. Eventually, the city erected better stairs and a platform next to the tree for a safer view. The tree has become known as the “Virgin of Guadalupe” tree. I hate to be a party-pooper, but I wasn’t able to “see” the image that others want to see.

Hires Big H was my choice for lunch. I had the Big H Combo. Hires Big H has the second best fries that I enjoyed on the trip (Scooby’s in Hollywood was #1). Big fat homemade fries. Hires serves their fries with a dipping sauce that’s kind of a thousand island but not really. I love great fries. The hamburger was also great, served on a sourdough bun with that special sauce.

I saw The Great Salt Lake. It’s hard to miss. The lake has vared in size between 4700 square miles and 950 square miles because it is very shallow. I understand the water is much saltier than ocean water. No one could explain to me how it is possible to have a lake that is filled with salt water.

I saw a lot of people walking around in Salt Lake City; a lot more than we’ve seen in other towns.

Saltair has been the name of several resorts located on the southern shore of the Great Salt Lake. It is about 15 miles from Salt Lake City. The first Saltair was built in 1893 and was jointly owned by a corporation associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) and the Salt Lake & Los Angeles Railroad Company. Saltair was a family place, intended to provide a safe and wholesome atmosphere with the open supervision of Church people. Swimming in the lake was a major aspect of Saltair. The first Saltair was destroyed by fire in 1925. A new pavilion was built, and the resort was expanded at the same location by new investors, but it was not successful. Another fire did major damage in 1931. Then the resort was left dry when lake waters receded. Saltair was forced to close during World War II. It reopened after the war, but it closed again in 1958. A new Saltair was built in 1981. The new pavilion was constructed out of a salvaged Air Force aircraft hangar. Once again, the lake was a problem, this time flooding the new resort only months after it opened. The waters receded after several years, and new investors restored and repaired the facility only to see the waters continue to move away from the site leaving it dry. By the late 1990’s, Saltair was little more than a memory. It looked terrible. It looked to me like something built by amateurs. It appeared to be falling apart. It was simply a sad-looking place.

From Saltair and the Great Salt Lake, I drove west toward Nevada on I-80 as there were no two-lane roads available. At a tourist information office, I was advised to keep my eyes peeled for “The Great Tree.” I spotted it about 75 miles west of Salt Lake City in the salt flats. It was certainly an odd sight to see. There was nothing but flat, salt-covered land, and then there was this 87-foot tall abstract tree that looked like a pole with giant sports balls appended to it. The official name is “Metaphor: The Tree of Utah.” It was built by a Swedish artist named Karl Momen between 1982 and 1986. The sculpture was made from 225 tons of cement, almost 2,000 ceramic tiles and five tons of welding rod, and tons of minerals and rocks native to Utah. I wondered if Karl Momen had been to Lucas, Kansas.

Another 15 minutes down the road, and I took exit 4 off I-80 West for the Bonneville Speedway. I had heard about the Bonneville Salt Flats and the Bonneville Speedway over the years, and I was excited to see it. I expected something fancy, but I drove out to the spot indicated, and it was just a dead end. No one was racing. There wasn’t even an old checkered flag on the ground. There was a Department of the Interior sign, but that was it. It is a huge open expanse that appears to be flatter than a pancake. The Bonneville Salt Flats is one of the most unique natural features in the country; it covers over 30,000 acres. The salt flats were first used for racing in 1914.

It was interesting to me that the road to the Bonneville Salt Flats gave me a continuous mirage for about a quarter of a mile ahead. It looked like there was water on the road, but it was just an optical illusion. I got out and took a few photos of the salt. There wasn’t much else to do except to imagine how exciting it must be there when folks are attempting to set speed records.

There were signs all the way from Salt Lake City to the Nevada border promoting casinos in Nevada. I stopped at the Red Garter Casino just across the Nevada state line in Wendover. The Red Garden wasn’t one of your bigger casinos; it had one roulette wheel, quite a few slot machines, and a reasonable number of blackjack tables. I went in and placed the maximum allowable bet on red at the roulette wheel. It came up black. I lost $2. I left. Total elapsed time in the Red Garter Casino: 3 minutes. Boz and I have discussed several times that we would be independently wealthy if my chosen roulette color had been black rather than red. But I’m stickin’ with red…no matter what!

It is interesting to me how many character traits are revealed when writing about daily experiences and observations over a significant period of time. Yes, I am stubborn. I can also enjoy the humor of continued bad luck.

I remembered that the squadron that dropped the atomic bomb was from Wendover, Nevada. I’m not sure how I knew that — probably saw it in a movie. I took a photo of the Atomic Bomb Squadron Memorial.

I gassed up. The little girl at the gas station told me it would be 400 miles to Vegas. This would be one of the longest driving days — well over 500 miles. There was 25,103 on the odemeter when I left the Candlewood in Salt Lake City.

150 miles passed, and I saw a sign that said “Next Gas 80 Miles.” Nothing like a gas warning sign in the middle of nowhere! I realized that I needed to buy gas every chance I had.

I stopped briefly at a spot where the Pony Express Trail used to be. Not much to see but dirt and cactus. No gas station there.

Ely Nevada was my next stop. Ely is a town filled with murals, so I drove around and took photos of the various murals that caught my eye. I saw a giant 8-ball. Ely also provided a choice of gas stations, so I filled up.

I visited the historic Hotel Nevada in Ely. When the 6-story hotel opened in 1929, it was the tallest building in the state. Rooms rented for $1.50 and up, “all with private toilet; 85% with private bath.” The promotional material for the hotel claims the hotel building was designed by the same architect who built the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower. I assume the promotional material is true, but the hotel appeared to be just a big red brick building to me — nothing Taj Mahal-like at all. Prohibition was still in effect when the hotel opened, and from the beginning, bootlegged refreshments and gambling were available 24 hours a day. “Bathtub Gin” made from raw alcohol, water, and flavorings and “White Lightning” were conveniently supplied by local individuals. When gambling was legalized in 1931, the owners immediately installed blackjack tables and slot machines. Western memorabilia is displayed on every floor. I love old western antiques, so it was a lot of fun to walk around and see all the stuff. There was no roulette wheel, so I figure that saved me $100.

I went to Economy Drug Store to their old fashioned soda fountain; it has been around forever. I had a chocolate malt that was very good. Vaughn served me.

I visited the train depot in Ely. The Ghost Train features exciting train rides powered by authentic steam or diesel engines. I was sorry I didn’t have time to take the ride or see any of the nearby ghost towns, but I figured I would be lucky to hit Las Vegas by midnight as it was. There were a number of ghost towns throughout the area, including Hamilton, the former county seat and mining boom camp; Cherry Creek, a former boom camp where people still live; and Schellbourne, a former Shoshone village site before becoming a Pony Express station.

I was on Highway 50. There are a lot of signs for Highway 50; Highway 50 is kind of a poor man’s Route 66 I guess. It has a following of people who travel Highway 50. It’s called the “Loneliest Road in America” since it was referred to as that in a Life Magazine article.

A half hour after I left Ely, I reached Major’s Place, Nevada. The inhabitants of Major’s Place, Nevada are the only rude, nasty, vulgar people I met on the trip. Scary place. I advise travelers to stay away; don’t dare stop there! It appeared to be basically a bar and a gas pump. I simply pulled in, parked, and got out of my car with my camera. Several men sitting in chairs on the front porch of the place started screaming and cussing at me. I was scared to death when I realized this wasn’t a joke. I drove a safe distance away, and jumped out to snap a photo, and then I drove as fast as I could to try to distance myself from them as quickly as possible. It was certainly one of the worst experiences I had on the entire trip.

Pass number 12 came at 6:38 pm with 25,418 on the odometer. It was just a slow moving car out in the middle of nowhere, and I didn’t want to be any closer to Major’s Place than I had to be.

There wasn’t a gas station between Major’s Place, where I would have gassed up if I hadn’t feared for my life, and Pioche, Nevada. I was extremely relieved when there was one little gas station open in Pioche. I was beginning to worry as I had in Big Bend and Pie Town when I almost ran out gas when there weren’t any open gas stations for hundreds of miles. The gas station attendant told me I had 180 miles to go to Las Vegas. Pioche is the county seat of Lincoln County, and it is a historic town. It is named after Francois Louis Alfred Pioche, a wealthy San Francisco man, who bought the town in 1869. The area was settled just a few years before when a silver mine was opened. By the early 1870’s, it had grown to become one of the most important silver mining towns in Nevada. The town had a reputation for being one of the roughest towns in the Old West. As the story goes, 75 men were killed in gunfights before the first natural death occurred in the camp.

Pioche is also known for its “Million Dollar Courthouse.” The Lincoln County Courthouse was built in 1871. The original cost of $88,000 far exceeded initial estimates and was financed and refinanced with bonds totaling nearly $1 million.

Not far from the Courthouse sits the old Mountain View Hotel, where President Herbert Hoover is said to have stayed in 1930. It was built in 1895. The building no longer serves as a hotel. It has wonderful turn-of-the-century western architecture, but it appeared to me that it was falling apart. I hoped someone would step in and saves it before it was too late.

I loved the sign for Tillies in Pioche. They offer everything “from Vaseline to Gasoline.”

I also saw the historic Thompson Opera House in Pioche. It was built in the 1870’s. I was told it was built to provide the town with some “social standing.” It’s still “standing.”

It was a very pretty drive through the Humboldt National Forest.

Caliente has a really beautiful Union Pacific Train Depot — Spanish-style architecture.

At 8:15 pm, I was at the Oak Springs Summit, elevation 6,237. As I drove down the mountain, I saw a very unusual sight with the sun where there was a big, dark, low-hanging cloud, and the sun was peeking out from under it, just lighting one part of the landscape and some mountains. There was also a dark sky above me, and the view of the road and landscape just ahead and to the side of me was black. I jumped out to take some photographs, but it was impossible to capture it the way my naked eye saw it. I assume a true professional photographer would have known how to set the shutter speed and aperture to more effectively photograph this, but it may be one of those things that just can’t be photographed to deliver the same impact. It was a stunning sight — can’t think of a better word to describe it than stunning.

It certainly was an interesting drive today; I didn’t see many cars or people. There were very few towns, and it was an easy road to drive with pretty scenery — peaceful. Not counting Major’s Place that is.

At 9:13 pm, I noticed the temperature gauge, and it showed 95 degrees as I descended the mountain toward Vegas. I believe this would make it the warmest it has been. I watched the thermometer increase by one degree each minute for several minutes.

I passed my 13th car of the trip at 9:38 pm. Ten minutes later, I was pretty sure the glow I saw coming from the other side of the mountains was the lights of Las Vegas. And 10 minutes after that, I saw a sea of light. It was really an incredible sight driving in…I’ve never driven in to Las Vegas before at night. There’s just pitch black, and then you have lights for as far as your eyes can see from one direction to the others. No other place is like this, at least I don’t think there is. It just appears in the middle of nowhere.

I checked into the hotel at 10:30 pm — a long day of 546 miles. 25,649 on the odometer.

I walked around The Strip for a while. Las Vegas has gotten much prettier and much classier over the last 20 years!

What did I learn today? I guess I was reminded of a lesson I have learned throughout this trip: history is fun. I have really enjoyed learning the history of various things we have seen on the trip, whether historical or Quirky in nature. I never liked history in school. As I think back on it, I feel like the teachers were too concerned with having us memorize dates and places, and they didn’t focus on the big picture or motivate us by conveying to us why history is so important. If my history teachers did so, and I missed it, I apologize, but I just didn’t “get it” back in junior high and high school.

When I have trained managers in my various business enterprises over the years, I have taught that a manager must be a filter. A manager must filter all of the information that he or she receives about an issue, and then make decisions based upon filtering the information against their experiences in the business and as a manager. We all know and have experienced only so much, so we do the best that we can with what we have to work with. We make decisions in life the same way, and I believe the more history that we know, the better positioned we are to make decisions. I’ve mentioned this before, but I decided early on that I always felt it was best to have a gray-haired doctor and a gray-haired attorney. The older guys have more experience, and I value experience. And as I was once advised, the young men know the rules, but the old men know the exceptions. Any way you cut it, history is good to know, and it makes traveling so much more fun.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this website. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest, and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Salt Lake City Utah — Anniversary Inn — Shrine to the Virgin Mary on a Tree Stump — Salt Air Resort — The Great Tree in the Great Salt Desert — Bonneville Salt Flats — Ely Nevada — Pioche Nevada — Las Vegas Nevada