Thursday, September 11, 2014

Really Time to Roll for Home

Vacation is coming to a close and it is time to head for home. From Fresno, we headed south on Claifornia 99 back toward Bakersfield, CA. Again, we saw the fallow fields where crops would normally grow. Again, we saw the signs "Water = Jobs" and "Water = Food." It was really depressing. To be fair, many fields had corn, soy beans or grapes. There were a few groves of citris trees, probably oranges or lemons. At Bakersfield, we took California 58 east.

California 58 took us past the famed Tehachapi Loop, where the Union Pacific Railroad uses a spiral to climb high enough to cross through Tehachapi Pass. Unfortunately, due to time pressures, we did not have time to stop and watch the trains. My wife's late father brough our son here to see the trains, museum and other attractions.

California 58 took us on to Barstow CA. Now, we had a decision to make. The remains of Pacific hurricane Norbert had just run up through the deserts of southeastern California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah, causing extensive flooding. We had the choice of three routes: Interstate 10 as the southern route, Interstate 40 as the central route or Interstate 15 and US 89 as the northern route. As of this morning's news report, all three were still closed due to the damage caused by Norbert. To make our decision more complicated, Pacific huricane Odile was quickly moving north toward the Baja Pennisula. Barstow is where we could take either I-15 or I-40. If we took I-40, we could drop down through Lake Havasu to catch I-10. Decisions, decisions, decisions....

Looking at the speed of Odile, we expected to meet it in southern Arizona, if we took the I-10 route. Beside, it would mean getting on I-40 which was experiencing very heavy truck traffic. I-15 was closed north of Las Vegas, NV, but they expected to have it open by tomarrow. This route was north of the mountains which we hoped would slow Odile down. We have driven the I-10 and I-40 routes before, so we decided to take I-15.

From Barsow, we rolled north on I-15. We got about ten miles out of town, when my son hit a pothole wrong and tore the sidewall of the passenger side front tire. We put on the spare and backtracked to Barstow and the nearest Wal*Mart. Maybe we should have taken this as a warning....

After getting a new tire, we got back on the road and rolled for Las Vegas. We could tell when we crossed the border into Nevada - there were casinos on both sides of the highway. It quieted down for a while until the glow on the easter horizon grew to become the lights of Las Vegas! We quickly found lodging at a Super 8 Model that was one block from the famed Las Vegas Strip. To our suprise, the rates were very reasonable.

Since we had to find some dinner and could use a little exercise, we walked over to the Strip and headed south toward the MGM Grand Hotel. The Strip has a barrier to separate the pedestrians from the vehicles. It definately keeps the drunks safe. We saw more people walking with alcholic drinks while on our walk than anywhere else we have been, including Luchenbach, TX. At irregular intervals, staircases rise from the sidewalk to pedestrian bridges to allow people to cross to the other side of the Strip. We walked up on one of the bridges and took a few photos. They are not too clear because of long exposure times and the vibration of the bridge. Looking north:

Looking south:

We headed south along the Strip to the MGM Grand Hotel. There were a number of strange characters along the way. Unfortunately, it was too crowded to photograph them. We were offered free tickets to events, offered free rides to parties, were assailed by buskers with their amplified instruments and much more. By the time we reached the MGM Grand, my wife's knee was causing significant pain.

Inside the MGM Grand, we found the Rainforest Cafe. This chain restaurant serves good food, expensively priced, in an atmosphere simulating a rainforest. Along the walls are animitronic animals - gorillas, zebras, monkeys, birds and so forth, who move and call at regular intervals. This meal cost us ... (ouch!!)

After dinner, the children had to walk back to the hotel and get the car. My wife's knee was too painful to walk on.

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