Saturday, September 20, 2008

Travel Log: Four States in One Day

Yesterday we drove up I-15 from San Diego through Las Vegas across the corner of Arizona and into southwestern Utah.

I grew up in San Diego, and my grandparents lived in Grand Junction, Colorado, so I have made that trip up I-15 many, many, many times over the years. However (comma) this was the first time in I've been along that route in several years, and things have changed.

Mojave Desert

For one, there's the speed limit. When it was a 55 mph speed limit, it used to be a 16 hour drive for us, so we'd always stop in Mesquite, Nevada as the halfway point.

Yesterday, I felt like a massive boulder standing immobile in a futile attempt to quell the raging frothy white flow of a roaring river.

The speed limit across California was 70 mph.

I had my cruise control set at like 73 mph.

I felt like I was standing still.

Cars and trucks of all shapes and sizes FLEW past me on the left and the right, annoyed that I was impeding their progress.

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We stopped for lunch at the In-N-Out in Barstow, CA. It was a HUGE place with at least a hundred customers, and WOW what a cross-section of America. Every combination of age, gender, body mass index, race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, political affiliation, education, and income bracket were represented there. Out of all the examples of America in the restaurant, the one sitting at the table next to me really threw me for a loop.

Imagine if you will...

WWII Era Army Helmet... spray painted black.

Those gawdawful stretched-out earlobe earring disk things... glossy black.

T-shirt... black.

Scraggly tufts of coarse black hair sticking out around his helmet and hanging from the goatee on his chin.

One of those spiral phone-cord things that people use to keep a key around their wrist... only this one was like a choker around his neck... and it was neon pink.

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We also stopped in Baker, California for a pit stop. Baker's claim to fame is the world's largest thermometer.

World's Largest Thermometer

As I recall, when I was a kid, Baker was one exit and one gas station. Now, it's grown to three exits and several gas stations and restaurants. It's quite the thriving metropolis.

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Apparently the traffic gods read my blog and weren't amused that I got away scott free without any holdups in LA, so I had to pay my dues in Las Vegas. Just before we got to the first big casino hotel on the strip, the traffic came to a screeching halt and inched its way forward through the city.

Even so, we made it to our friends' house in North Las Vegas for dinner in 5 1/2 hours (including our stop for lunch and a stop to grab two geocaches at the Nevada state line). That's pretty darn good time compared to what it used to be when I was growing up.

We had dinner with a friend of mine who was a submarine quartermaster in San Diego and gave me my first salute when I was commissioned at University of San Diego.

Then we hit the road again to make it to my cousin's house in Utah.

Man... Getting the kids out of the car after 5 1/2 hours to relax and then cramming them back into the car for another hour and a half? BAD idea. YB had a meltdown in the backseat about 15 minutes after we left Las Vegas. He was really tired and cranky.

After much agonizing, crying, and wailing, it got suddenly quiet in the back seat. YB had fallen asleep. Hallelujah! [Cue sound effect: angelic choir singing hallelujah chorus]

About 90 seconds later, ES in a very excited and noticably LOUD voice declared to the occupants of the car,

"[YB] FELL ASLEEP!!!!"

YB wasn't asleep anymore.

He started whining, "[ES]!" because he was mad at ES for waking him up.

So let me pause here and ask what you think. If YOU were a 7-year old cooped up in the back seat of the car with your 4 year old brother, and your 4 year old brother was tired, cranky, and whining, what would you do?

a) Be vewy, vewy quiet. Hopefully he'll go back to sleep.
b) Speak very softly and gently to him to soothe him back to sleep.
c) Sing him a lullaby.
d) Offer him a shot of Benadryl.
e) Haul off and WHACK the holy bejezus out of him as hard as you can with your pillow in his face.

Well, I don't know if options (a) through (d) would have helped poor tired cranky YB, but I DO know ABSOLUTELY, positively, without-a-doubt that option (e) royally pissed off the 4-year old. Thanks a lot, ES.

Thankfully, he eventually fell asleep again and made the last 30 minutes or so into Utah a peaceful drive.

Statistics for Today:

1 Number of totally disgusting gas station bathrooms I had to use. I mean, it was SO bad that I didn't want to TOUCH anything and used my foot to flush the toilet.

20 Number of minutes waiting to get our lunch at In-N-Out in Barstow.

20 Number of seconds between my wife handing YB his cheesburger, and YB dropping the cheeseburger on the floor. If it had landed intact, then I might have claimed the 10-second rule, picked it up, brushed it off, and handed it back to him (or at least take off the piece of bread that landed on the ground). Unfortunately though, it landed open-face with the hamburger patty on the ground and the bottom piece of bread laying next to it. I took a look at the black-helmet dude sitting next to me and decided to go buy another cheeseburger for YB.

3 Number of bites YB took out of his second cheeseburger before declaring, "I'm full."

1 comment:

C said...

Reading about In-N-Out is making me hungry.