Lest you think that Zyzzx Road was the only highlight of lovely Interstate 15, we opted to do a little more research. Sure enough, a little googling had us checking out several exciting sights along the way. We didn't have lots of time, so we had to be selective in our choices. A stop in Jean, Nevada, for instance, didn't sound very appealing. We passed on a visit to the gravestones of America's favorite cowboy couple, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in Apple Valley. We opted to forgo a stop at the Victorville Landfill. We didn't want to overdo the excitement factor in one day.
Though we could see the massive array of mirrors, aka “heliostats”, of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System spread out in the desert expanse beside us, we just whizzed on by. It's the world's largest solar electric plant, but there's nary a sign indicating what it is. They have strict security and don't welcome guests, but they do extend an invitation to take a virtual on-line tour. We ogled the facility as we passed and settled for nicking a photo off the internet to share with you. It's pretty impressive. Differing from typical solar power stations that use hundreds of solar panels, the Ivanpah Station utilizes hundreds of mirrors that focus the sun's rays on tall water columns, superheating the water within. The steam that is produced turns steam turbines, producing electricity.
Primm, Nevada which rises out of the desert just inside the Nevada line is always a good place to stop for a restroom break. There are casinos and time shares and restaurants and outlet stores. There's Buffalo Bill's with an old mining town theme (most appropriate for this area) on one side of the road and Whiskey Pete's on the other. A quick pee break and we were on our way.
We passed by little towns on the map like Searchlight, Borax and Roach, but saw few signs of life … an old abandoned gas station here … a dilapidated one-room house there. The roadside here is dotted with Joshua trees. We'd read there are more here than in Joshua Tree National Park. We stopped long enough for a few pictures of this gnarled yucca-variety tree.
We saw signs for Alien Fresh Jerky in Baker, California way back in Vegas. It wasn't on the original “tour”, but hey, how can you pass up Alien Jerky … especially if it's fresh? This was a fun stop. The shop was all about Area 51 and little green men come to earth … with hot sauces, all flavors of jerky and alien memorabilia for sale as an added bonus. It was a hoot. They were doing quite a brisk business. We were just looky-loos.
Baker held other surprises. The world's tallest thermometer. We'd seen it before, but a thermometer this tall is worth a second glance.
We passed by the Mad Greek diner with all its fine classic statuary. Very classy, but we were holding out for Peggy Sue's 50's Diner in Yermo.
We'd seen strategically placed Peggy Sue signs all along the highway and we always chided ourselves for not stopping. This was the day to eat at Peggy Sue's. We bypassed the Yermo Agricultural Inspection Station checkpoint, by taking the Yermo frontage. We didn't have any fruit with us, so we weren't being scoff-laws. Then we arrived at Peggy Sue's! What a disappointment. It was ultra-crowded. We seated ourselves in an add-on covered patio area and waited 15 minutes. A waitress in pink 1950's garb mumbled she'd be back soon as she whizzed by, but never reappeared. We enjoyed the Elvis and Marilyn and James Dean posters on the wall. We were in “Happy Days” land. I fetched a couple of menus. It was typical diner fare … hamburgers, meatloaf, hot turkey sandwiches … but not typical diner prices. $9.50 for a hamburger? $11.50 for a salad? We decided we weren't all that hungry and left. No one noticed. We did check out their “diner-saur” garden in the back though.
We were looking for the Route 66 museum in Barstow, but never found it. We had a quick lunch at Burger King instead. Just as many calories for half the price of Peggy Sue's and much less crowded.
We hit traffic just before Barstow and it continued heavy stop and go for the next two hours … folks returning to LA from a long Vegas weekend. We crawled along at 10 mph, losing our adventurous spirit with each slow mile as the brown LA haze engulfed us. Now all we were anticipating was the drop off of the rental car and installing ourselves for the night in our budget LAX airport hotel.
In the end, the drive wasn't much longer in spite of our stops, but it was definitely more interesting than the usual, boring ride. Interstate 15 with all its wonders is behind us now … some sights reserved for future trips. Nine of Cups is waiting for us half way around the world, all ready for new adventures. And we're ready to head back to her.