We could tell we were in Los Angeles as soon as we stepped out onto the curb at LAX. An ever-present brown haze hangs heavily over the city. Our eyes burned and we coughed and sniffled almost immediately. We anticipated that we'd be exhausted, so we'd planned to stop half way to Vegas and rest for the night. What should have been an easy two hour drive from the airport to Barstow during the middle of the afternoon, took over four hours because of heavy traffic and road construction. We fought to keep each other awake. We had the A/C on and the radio was blasting out familiar 1960s-1970s vintage singalong tunes.
We've driven this route several times in the past. Once we were out of the LA traffic (three of the four hours on the road), the drive became easier. The land was brown and parched, reflecting the severe ongoing drought in the area. Mesquite, sagebrush and yucca dotted the rolling hills with nary a wildflower around to provide even a tiny splash of color to brighten up the drab landscape.
We looked for certain landmarks along the way. Randy's giant donut
and Peggy Sue's 1950s diner.
The Direct TV blimp hovered lazily above us providing a short-term diversion. Move over Goodyear.
At last, the Route 66 sign in Barstow. We gratefully found our hotel, had a quick bite to eat and collapsed into a heap for a good night's sleep, only to wake at midnight ready to start a new day … unfortunately our internal clocks were set to Durban time.
After a restless night, we began the final two hour leg to Las Vegas. We traveled up into the foothills to an altitude of 4,700' and over the mountain pass. Crossing the California state border into Nevada is always a surprise. Primm, Nevada kind of sneaks up on you out of nowhere. The drab, brown landscape explodes into casinos and theme parks and hotels and outlet stores. Welcome to Nevada … which is anything but prim.
Then it was down, down, down as we made our descent into the Las Vegas valley. The brown cloud which had dissipated a bit as we drove further from LA, resumed its intensity as we neared Las Vegas.
A long, long trip home, but our family was waiting for us and the exhaustion of the trip soon melted away. Now if we can just get rid of the jetlag!