Monday, May 03, 2004

Trip to San Diego

I wanted everyone to see the beautiful scenery between Las Vegas and the LA area. We used to drive from San Diego to Phoenix to visit relatives, and I thought the 100 mile stretch just east of Yuma was pretty barren and boring until we started regular runs from SD up to Vegas. Five or six hours of this beautiful shrub flatland. At least there are mountains in the distance and a town every hour or so.

On Friday morning we left LV for a road trip down to San Diego. A son of our old neighbor down there was getting married, and our son was scheduled to be the minister at his wedding.
Don’t get too excited about the ‘minister’ thing. From what I am told it entailed an internet site (Church of the Electronic Ministries or something), a $30 credit card charge, and the receipt of a piece of paper that makes it legal in California to officiate at weddings and stuff. I don’t know if it entitles him to tax deductible donations or anything, but he did get non-deductible donations periodically from his parents when called. Anyway, he was the only friend with a license that could stand up in front of the group and sign the papers.
We left Vegas in the morning, about 9:30. I tried to take pictures of the drive down, to show you all of the scenic highlights of the trip. Looking at it, probably one photo would be sufficient, but here are a half dozen or so to give you the feel of it.
This is the same trip that everyone takes in going to/from LA. Most visitors to Vegas come by driving from LA. Every weekend I-15 is packed, Friday coming north and Sunday going back south. Whenever we would drive here we would try to avoid those two days, or at least try to arrange our schedule so that we were going in the opposite direction to travel. I-15 is only two lanes in each direction for the 200 miles or so between Vegas and I-10, the main road west into LA. There is a lot of construction in order to increase this to three lanes each way, but the construction itself offers tremendous opportunity to slow traffic. If there is an accident, then usually the entire I-15 is closed in the direction of the accident, and as there are no parallel roads for much of the drive then traffic just sits for a few hours waiting for cleanup.

Here’s the first view, heading south from LV. We are about 35 miles from the California border, and there are now two ‘towns’ between LV and California. The first driving south is the town of Jean. The town is comprised of two big casinos, two gas stations, a Burger King and some trailers for employees. On the hill east of the freeway is the Correctional Facility, which is featured quite often in CSI whenever Grissom has to visit a prisoner. The casinos are owned by the same company, one on each side of the road.
The town on the border was called Stateline, but I think it’s called Primm now. It also is composed of two casinos, two gas stations, and a MacDonald’s. There is also a really big roller coaster, and one of those fashion outlet malls that’s so popular on the west coast. Sorry, but I had problems with my camera at Primm, but it looks a lot like Jean and you can use the web site for a virtual tour of it’s scenic beauty.
Driving further south – the road changes from three lanes each way in Nevada to two lanes in California –

This shot shows a downhill run to a construction area, where they have been working on two bridges over dry washes for about three years now. Construction is not quick in this area, either because it’s hard to build (doubt it), hard to get workers that will work there (probably) or people just work slow on this type of job (also probable). It’s twelve miles down the hill to the bridges at the bottom, and ten more up the hill in the distance. The road curves to the left, just to the right of the dry lakebed at the left side of the photo. Due to construction you can see that the speed limit is 55, which means that most people limit their speed to about 80. Going south we didn’t see any CHP (California Highway Patrol) units in either direction. They do use radar and spotter planes on this strip, so it is possible to get a hefty speeding ticket anywhere along this road.
An hour south of the border is the town of Baker. Baker is the home of the famous ‘Bun Boy’ restaurant, and the ‘world’s tallest thermometer’.

It was 76 when we drove by.
Further south there is more scenery:

And another hour south:

I thought these mountains looked interesting – it’s about ten miles down to the bottom of the hill, and ten more to the gap between the hills towards the middle of the photo.
You eventually get to the town of Barstow, which has a really big train yard, and not much else. Lots of fast food joints and gas stations.
I copied a map page from MSN maps to show you how busy the area is:

You eventually get to Victorville and Apple Valley. This is where the Roy Rogers Hall of Fame used to be located. You could see the big statue of Trigger from the freeway, but the parking lot was never really full. Last year Dale moved all of Roy’s stuff to some place near LA, and sold the museum. It’s now being plowed up to become more tract homes. Too bad for Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
A little further south and you come to Cajon Pass. This area is about 4,600 foot altitude, and the road is sometimes closed due to snow in the winter. It’s a warm spring, and there is still snow on the mountains to the south.

After this there is a long hill down into San Bernadino, the road widens and traffic becomes pretty horrible. Sorry, no shots between here and San Diego.
Next episode – the wedding.

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