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24 October 2008

Thoughts on Recent Road Trip with Mom

So it's early on Friday morning, and I have about 3 hours until the end of my shift. I've had only about 3 patients since midnight. A good time to catch up on my blogs... :)

So, I thought I would take this opportunity to write about my vacation last week. I spent the majority of the week in Laughlin, NV with my mom. For those of you not familiar with Laughlin, it's a small gambling town at the NV/CA/AZ junction right along the Colorado River, just across from Bullhead City, AZ. It's just to the north of Needles, CA. Vegas is about 90 minutes to the northwest.

We go there because it's got a nicer feel than the craziness of Vegas, and the machines seem to pay out better. I play the slots, so the most play for the least amount of money is always best. We did drive to Vegas at the end of our four days and ended up spending the night in Primm, NV aka Stateline. Three casinos are there, and a lot of people just stop there instead of driving the extra 40 miles into Vegas. Fun stuff.

I think the thing I've noticed most is that I am enjoying the long road trips with my mom. She and I didn't really get along until I went away to college. When I came back home, we definitely had a much better relationship. Then, when I left for medical school, I think our relationship really started. You can really get to know a lot about a person on a long road trip.

From where my mother lives in North Orange County in CA, it's about a 4 1/2 hour drive to Laughlin. Interstate 15 takes you through Victorville, to Barstow, then you make a right hand turn onto the start of I-40. If you went straight you'd hit Vegas and then eventually Salt Lake City. From Victorville north, it's all desert.

We've driven the road so many times, it seems as though we have standing jokes. Driving up to Cajon Pass from Rancho Cucamonga we talk about the urban legend that it's a good dumping ground for bodies. We've made the journey many times in the wee morning hours, and if we see a car pulled off to the side of the road, we joke that they're making a drop.

At the top of Cajon Pass is Victorville. We've stopped many times for breakfast at the Denny's around the 2nd exit, and there's the Roy Rogers' Museum just off the road. If we're headed to Reno/Tahoe, we'd pick up 395 just before hitting Victorville, but I will leave that path for another time. Just past Victorville is Apple Valley. There's a Denny's there with a big green dinosaur out front. We used to stop there when my grandmother was alive. That was our breakfast stop every time. We remember her as we pass.

There's a new town that popped up from the first 2 or 3 gas stations that used to line the highway called Lenwood. They built a factory outlet mall there, and we always joke that when we hit it big in Vegas/Laughlin/Stateline we're going to stop there and shop. We haven't yet, but perhaps one day we will.

Just a bit up the road is Barstow. The first exit past I-40 is Main Street where they have one of the world's busiest McDonald's. All of the buses heading to Vegas stop there, and there's a train depot there as well. Now they built a Tommy's Burger where we stop for fried egg sandwiches, burritos to die for, and occasionally a hamburger if we're traveling in the late afternoon. However, on this trip we made the turn onto I-40 and missed all this.

Calico is a preserved western mining town that highlights life in California in the late 1800's and early 1900's. They call it a Ghost Town, and they're famous for the Running with the Burros that occurs during Calico Days in October. We passed a lot of trailers hauling both donkeys and horses headed to the event. I think I was there when I was younger, but I really don't remember. I'd like to take my husband there one day, I think he'd really enjoy it.

Now, you hit open desert with not much until you hit Baker. Baker is famous for the World's Tallest Thermometer on which you can read the temp from the highway. It goes up as high as the 130's, and I've seen the temp actually in the 110's on some trips. There's a rest stop between Baker and Needles which we've stopped at tons of times. I remember a trip with my aunt and uncle where we got caught in a flash flood. One minute it was clear, then a few raindrops, then the heavens opened wide. Within a few minutes the rain formed small rivers all around. Then it stopped and the sun came back out. We had only been on the road for about 15 minutes and it was as though it had never rained at all.

You then head up a big hill toward Halloran Summit. If you ever read Stephen King's "The Shining" then you might remember one of the main characters, the cook I think, is named Halloran. King did a lot of traveling in this area, and I always wondered if he named his character after the summit. When you get to the top you come upon a green valley where the Colorado River runs. This is Needles.

I can't tell you much about it except it's on the border of California and Arizona. Here's where you make the left hand turn for the road to Laughlin. You pass the Ferret Farm, you go up and down the rolling road, you cross the border into NV and soon you're on the back part of Laughlin.

I have to go now, patients are starting to wake up and come in... it's 0530. More later!


Anonymous said...

wow... it sounds like you had a busy time!

a corgi said...

my mom liked Laughlin; she/my brother would go there whenever she would visit him; they liked it over Las Vegas for that very reason you mentioned

I've been on some of those roads you mentioned; you described everything really well

I didn't realize your mom was in North Orange County; I thought she was further north

now we're not in So. Orange County; we're in the Temecula Valley

take care


Lisa said...

I'm catching up on the entries I missed! Your trip sound great, I think I would like to be at a place less hectic than Vegas too, especially if the machines are kinder!!!

You did a great job with explaining the road trip and I'm happy you had such a good time.

Jeanie said...

I enjoy the way you write it is succinct and to the point yet very full of imagery. I can so easily imagine your holiday journey. I too have a place for all my loose purse. Lol! Seriously we kept them in a very large, empty, whisky bottle. My grandchildren now have it for their parents change. Memory lane...its lovely visiting the same familiar places. Isn't it?
Chasing back the years...

Jeanie xx