Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 15-Aug, Part 5

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘Day Two of our trip, as I remember it, was really pretty nice, with the possible exception of traffic and crowds in Las Vegas. The weather was beautiful and rainstorms swept across the Mother Road after we joined it at Kingman. It was glorious scenery and weather and is why the desert southwest is still my spiritual home …

Day Two

‘Day Two — Tonopah, NV, to Flagstaff, AZ

‘Today’s statistics:

‘We travelled 478.3 miles from Tonopah, NV, to Flagstaff, AZ. Spent $58.00 on gas, $45.49 on food, and $84.24 on a hotel, the Best Western King’s House Inn on Historic Route 66 near Beautiful Downtown Flagstaff.

‘Here’s the boring, exhausting details, almost as they happened:

‘—US 95, between Goldfield and Scotty’s Junction, NV, 11:35 PDT | 15-Aug-04

‘Our day began with a blaring alarm clock at 8:30 a.m. I slept like a log, but a certain beagle who shall remain nameless kept kicking Frank awake all night. I still think he managed to get some sleep. He’s taking the first half of today’s journey; the 208 miles from Tonopah to Las Vegas. I’ll take over there, we’ll do a brief run down the Strip so he can see the … interesting place that Las Vegas is, then it’s over Hoover Dam and 250 miles to Flagstaff. No, we will not be stopping at the Liberace Museum or Wayne Newton house or well, anything else. One stop for gas. That’s all we can stand.

‘The beagle is starting to get in the routine of sleeping some while we’re going. He didn’t sleep at all yesterday on all the twisty, turny, curvy, up and down roads of the Sierra. But today’s route is on roads with barely any curves and he’s lying down and snoozing now. He’s a very, very tired beagle.

‘It’s hot out here in the desert; not unbearable, but probably in the low 90’s. It’s not great weather for dogs, especially pampered, fat beagles who are used to sea breezes and fogs cooling them while they lie in comfort on their couches. Speaking of couches, I hope the beagle’s couch is now on its way to Ann Arbor. After Yellow Truck took so long to deliver and then pick up the trailer, I’m wondering if it will actually be there by Friday the 22nd. We shall see. ValueMoves already took the payment, so fingers are crossed.

‘In the meantime, while it’s quite barren, Nevada is still, I think, quite beautiful, with the exception of the places where human habitation has been dumped on it. Not to mention all those nukes. We’re approaching Nellis Air Force Base and the Nevada Test Site and the Yucca Mountain site, which the Bush Cabal wishes to turn into a toxic waste trash heap over the objections of … well, pretty much everyone except for his corporate cronies.

‘Also, there’s a site on the map near Las Vegas which is simply marked, ‘Danger Area.’ No explanation or anything, just bordered in red on the map and ‘Danger Area.’ And in Nevada, that could mean just about anything.

‘A few miles back, we passed the Cottontail Ranch. No, they don’t raise bunnies. They provide a service which is [ahem] only legal in the state of Nevada. We’re counting the bunny ranches … that was number two.

‘No sign of any aliens …

‘—US 95, Bailey’s Hot Springs, NV, 12:10 PDT

‘The beagle owns a hot springs RV park in central Nevada!

‘Oh, and we just passed the third brothel, just north of Beatty; this one is named ‘Angels Ladies.’ Hmmmm.

‘—US 95, Beatty, NV, 12:16 PDT

‘Saw our first wreck of the trip, here in Beatty. A Jeep Cherokee broadsided and lying on its side in the street. A Jeep tipover is not exactly what I wanted to see on this trip. Well, that’s ugly …

‘—US 95, Amargosa Valley, NV, 12:43 PDT

‘Just passed big huge signs for Area 51 and the Yucca Mountain Visitor’s Center … Hmmmm. I don’t see no aliens … or black helicopters.

‘—US 95, Indian Springs, NV, 13:16 PDT

‘Indian Springs Air Force Base—sign that says ‘Military Exercise in Progress.’ On the side of the highway, an unattended ambulance with its lights going, no one around. Hmmmm. On the base is a military barracks-looking structure that says ‘IS Hilton.’ Some soldiers or airmen standing around in cammies with very large guns. IS doesn’t look like a fun place to be at the moment.

‘—US 95, Just North of Las Vegas, NV, 13:25 PDT

‘Getting rained on as we pass a ‘correctional facility.’ And we just saw our first double-trailer Wal-Mart truck. Unlike the brothels in Nevada, Wal-Mart trucks between here and Ann Arbor will be far to numerous to count.

‘Well, my computer battery is running dead, I’ve been doing lots of work with it. So that’ll be the end of the periodic updates for today. Need to find an adapter to fit this thing. More later …

‘—Best Western King’s House Inn, room 111, Flagstaff, AZ, 23:00 MST

‘478 miles today and I’m pretty pooped. I’m finishing up a veggie lasagna meal from a delivery service; it’s been pouring in Flagstaff and we elected to stay in and let someone else make the effort to feed us.

‘I took over driving from Frank in front of some casino in downtown Las Vegas, then promptly made two wrong turns, almost got us broadsided by a very large van, and made another wrong turn. Finally, we hit the Strip in front of the Stratosphere and were promptly overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of Las Vegas, which always brings up the phrase, ‘Wretched Excess’ in my head whenever I hear that name.

‘While downtown is awash in a huge amount of money, there were some not-so-nice sights in other parts of town. On the side of a boarded-up Payless Cashways big box store in North Las Vegas, someone had spray painted graffiti which read, ‘Broke.’ A few old studio-type apartments stood seedy, neglected and leaning drunkenly just three blocks from the massive Stratosphere, where tourists were paying big bucks to ride to the top in order to pay more big bucks to ride a rollercoaster and a thrill ride which bounces you up and down a very tall spire on top of the Stratosphere itself. On the Strip, illegal immigrants stood on street corners making what is probably a pittance to hand out flyers to tourists advertising strip clubs and $1.99 prime rib dinners. If there is any spot in America where wretched excess co-exists side-by-side with extreme poverty and desperation, it is Las Vegas Boulevard.

‘After driving down the Strip and taking some pics, cashing a check at Wells Fargo and sitting through 1.5-million of what are surely the longest red traffic lights in the entire world, we made our way to Boulder City, where we gassed up and then stopped at a Jack-in-the-Box. While Frank went inside to eat, I watered and fed the beagle, who enjoyed stretching his legs. We walked out in the desert, then returned to a grassy strip in front of the Jeep. He laid in the grass and panted and drank some water. After I got some food, we headed out and drove through downtown Boulder City, which is surprisingly nice. Cresting a hill, we spied Lake Mead spread out in the valley below.

‘A few miles later, we hit the security checkpoint for Hoover Dam. Anyone with an RV or rental moving truck was being searched. We wondered if we would be, what with the Jeep being so packed full, but we were just waved through. Crossing the dam is … an exercise in dodging tourists and drivers who are driving without realizing that they are driving and aren’t paying attention to the driving. But the dam and the area around it are truly spectacular. Today’s photo gallery has some very nice pics of it all.

‘South of the dam, US 93 follows some curvy hills, then straightens out and heads towards towards Kingman. The wind that Frank had fought all morning in Nevada now whipped up good, and I had to fight it myself. A fully loaded Jeep isn’t exactly streamlined, and we did some wandering over the road. But it was a good trip and we reached Kingman in no time, finally joining the Mother Road.

‘As we approached Kingman, we could see in the east a solid wall of dark blue cloud. Thunderstorms were causing flash floods all over northern Arizona. I’ll be the Grand Canyon was spectacular. As it was, I-40’s route was a grand spectacle of dark cloud, green sagebrush and trees, and brown, rocky mountains, hills and mesas. The weather was perfect for me; thunderboomers (a word Frank had never heard) and wild western scenery. Lightning struck all around us and the booms were occasionally so loud that they could be heard over the wind and engine noise in the Jeep.

‘Bayley slept through all of this; a straight road is good for beagles to have a nap on. No tossing side to side.

‘The 150 miles to Flagstaff seemed to go by rather quickly; there were bursts of heavy rain, followed by completely dry zones and for awhile there, it just rained steadily. We hit one construction zone that slowed things down, but it was only three miles and not too bad.

‘We hit Flagstaff at 19:49 and I promptly made yet another wrong turn, driving a few miles east on Route 66 instead of just half-a-block west. Okay, in my defense, it was dark, raining and I was tired. Sue me.

‘But we did safely arrive and the hotel was ready for us, the card already charged, the room waiting. Bayley cost me an extra $11.01. We ordered in and now we’re decompressing and I’m catching up on two days of lost internet access. I had 168 spam e-mails waiting and uploading my photo galleries is taking forever.

‘It was raining hard the last time I was in Flagstaff, 16-Sep-96. I seem to have come full circle. It’s a beautiful night, there are wailing Santa Fe trains outside, and we’re snug in a little room on Route 66. All is well. And the best thing of all: I go home tomorrow, my home state beckons and La Villa Real de Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assis—The Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi—is our very next destination, where we’ll spend two nights, is a mere 385 miles away. Can’t wait!! My heart is already vibrating with the anticipation and excitement of the reunion with my spiritual home.

‘Today’s trip stats:

‘• 11:00 — Left Tonopah, NV — 0 miles | 0415 total
• 11:20 — Goldfield — 27 | 0442
• 11:48 — Scotty’s Junction — 61 | 0476
• 12:16 — Beatty — 95 | 0510
• 12:43 — Amargosa Valley — 125 | 0540
• 13:14 — Cactus Springs — 166 | 0581
• 13:16 — Indian Springs — 169 | 0584
• 13:51 — Las Vegas — 211 | 0626
• 15:37 — Boulder City — 244 | 0659
• 16:32 — Hoover Dam/Arizona State Line — 252 | 0667
• 17:43 — Kingman, AZ — 325 | 0740
• 18:38 — Seligman — 397 | 0812
• 18:56 — Ash Fork — 421 | 0836
• 19:11 — Williams — 439 | 0854
• 19:49 — Flagstaff — 478 | 0893

‘Good night from Flagstaff, AZ, y’all!

‘—Posted by Steve at 23:55 | 15-Aug-03