Tuesday, May 30, 2006

SD road trip

I went on a quick trip to San Diego last week – down one day, back the next. It’s a five hour drive – for short trips I’d rather drive than hassle with the airport (as I’ve discussed before). Most of the drive down is through the desert, wide open spaces with not much to see for miles and miles.

I kind of like the views – thinking about the poor guys that came through on horseback a hundred years ago. I wonder what the first group that came through back whenever, looking at all the dry hills, mountains in the distance, probably wondering where their next watering hole could be found.

About a hundred miles south of Vegas is the town of Baker.

Traveling south you go from the Vegas elevation of about 1,100 ft above sea level to Haloran Pass at 4,700 feet and back down again. Coming over the pass you are faced with this big long slope down to Baker at the bottom. In the above picture the city is about eight miles away (if you can see it in the picture). Every time I drive through I wonder why people live there. Baker is just a gas stop, it is the off ramp from I-15 most people use to get to Death Valley. There are a dozen gas stations, and about that many places to eat. Mostly the chain fast food joints, but there is also the ‘famous’ Bun Boy, site of the world’s tallest thermometer.

That’s the thermometer off to the right – I took this shot driving back, and you can’t see it but the reading is 111f. The top of the thermometer would read 130f, I don’t know if it ever has hit this. The population is about 2,000, it looks like most live in mobile homes (sorry, pre-manufactured housing).

Down in San Diego I stayed at the Town and Country Resort. It’s located in Mission Valley, fairly central. Not close to downtown, but right behind the hotel is a large shopping center and a trolley station. You can take the trolley downtown, to the waterfront, or continue on to Tijuana. It’s a really pretty hotel, with the grounds full of roses and other flowers, all green and cool. A little different than what we have here in Vegas.

I drove up to La Jolla in the morning, a good reminder of what San Diego traffic is like. Lots of lanes on the freeways, filled with lots of cars. The town of La Jolla is out on a point, with the only access from the old coast highway or over from I-5. I picked the major access, and planned for the usual half hour wait to get down the hill.

That’s the normal view coming this way – lines of cars, with the ocean down below and the normal morning fog. I was faced with two beautiful sunny days while in SD, the fog stayed out over the water and didn’t blow in as it normally does.

Driving back north on I-15 it was the normal path, up through Temecula, San Bernardino, the big climb up the hill to Apple Valley, into Barstow, and then an empty fifty miles until Baker. Here’s what it looks like coming north –

Still looks like not much, doesn’t it? Yes, it's down there at the bottom of the hill, about ten miles away. The road continues on past straight north, with the hills in the background another fifteen miles past Baker.

Then fifty miles until the Nevada border. There are two casinos there, one on either side of the road. It used to be called Stateline, but now has been renamed to Primm. There is also a big ‘outlet center’ mall, several gas stations and places to eat, and a big roller coaster.

I don’t know why anyone would stay and gamble in Primm with Vegas so close (another 45 miles). Back when Comdex was the world’s largest trade show, with over 300,000 attendees, all the hotel rooms in Vegas would be filled and late reservations would get rooms in Stateline just to be within driving distance.

I’m going to have to do a series on the roller coasters around town – they got a mention several years ago, during the first two years of CSI, when Grissom would calm down at the end of each episode by riding a coaster.

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