Thursday, February 7, 2008

Just a little difference in geography ...

... going down historic Route 66

So, now that your eyes are full of the lovely green of Aberdour ... Off to the desert of Southern California.


In the summertime, when it is a blistering 120 degrees, I can feel my eyeballs desiccating, rolling around in their sockets like raisins in a cup.

We took a trip this summer to Las Vegas and I took a few pictures on the way. As my husband says, it is a trick to find someplace that is actually hotter than home, but we managed it.
We traveled down fabulous Route 66. The name should conjure up traveling down the highway in the 1950's, wind blowing through your hair, big sunglasses and all.

Nowadays, it is a little less glamorous. We are traveling to Las Vegas. I decided to take my husband there for a romantic weekend of sleazy casinos and Spamalot!

I love Monty Python. Just to let you know, I don't like to gamble. I find casinos a little scary, as people look a little like rats in Skinner Boxes, pressing the bar on a variable-ratio reinforcement schedule ...

Every so often, when we are in Las Vegas, I will gamble.

About a dollar.

And then I get bored and wander off to do ... well ... almost anything else. What I do like about Las Vegas is the beautiful view at night, and the hotels, and the way all of the big hotels have a theme. I love the Luxor. Especially at night. I don't know who thought up the UFO attracting beam, but I find it delightful.

And I love lowering the air conditioning to about 50 degrees and sleeping under a pile of blankets. That is probably my favorite part.

So, I surprised my husband with tickets to Spamalot, which was very nice. However, one must travel through a whole lotta nothing to get there. Join me for a virtual drive down Route 66.

We head up Highway 62, and turn right at the Marine Base. The day (as usual) was clear and bright.

You can see the faintest of little white boxes in this picture -- the landscape is dotted with them.
I am not exactly sure about this, but I think that these are old homesteads, back from the time that, if you put a house on the land and lived on it for some period of time, you got the land.

Here is the same thing, a little closer.

The houses come in all sizes and colors, and some seem to still be inhabited, but all are tiny.

Some have been abandoned for years. I wonder what it was like to live here in the relentless heat of summer. No running water. No air conditioning.

Some have been lived in more recently. I wonder how much water you would get in a year -- not enough to even fill one cistern, I would think.

We stravaig on, toward the salt flats. The road curves and we begin to see some hills.

The salt flats are ahead.

This is a genuine salt mining operation. There was also a former borax mining site here.

The official name of this stretch of desert is The Devil's Playground.

It does seem otherworldly. Whenever we drive through here, we get out and walk on the salt. It is like walking on panes of glass -- it crunches and splinters underfoot. I usually cannot resist looking for a piece to taste. There is something beyond salty, and this is it. The minerals make the salt bitter. You can only taste it for the briefest second.

Did I mention the extinct volcano? The Devil's Playground, indeed, has it all. You can just see the crater in the distance.

We head to Amboy -- which has a wonderful history. It has been an Army depot and a railway stop. It has been abandoned. More recently, someone bought the whole town and is trying to preserve it. As you drive into town, looking through the back view, the first thing that you see is an old church.

On the opposite side of the street, is Roy's Diner. I love the quintessential 50's shape of the sign and the building is just wonderful. You can buy shirts and batteries in what used to be the old gas station and cafe. It is now a store. A lot of bikers sit in the shade.

The post office is open.

But I don't see any customers.

A view of the church from the front. The steeple has a bit of a list to it.

This used to be a school, I think.

Now totally abandoned.

As we leave town, we pass a tree and it first looked like there were a bunch of birds roosting. As we passed, I saw that they were really pairs of shoes.

I had my husband stop the car, so I could really look. There is one pair of little tiny shoes.

I asked my husband if he had a tender sentiment that he wanted to immortalize, but he just looked at me. He was not feeling the romance. However, we did have a lovely time in Las Vegas -- despite the suffocating heat.


rowan said...

Hey! What a great post. The pictures are indeed a contrast. I love the desert shots, and the charred chunks of rock, and the salt-flats, and the tree. It must feel like wandering somewhere unchanged since the dawn of time. Amazing. I liked the raisin-in-a-cup eyeball description!

A large part of the northerly county of Caithness, where I used to live, is barren landscape. It is by far the biggest county in the UK, in terms of land, but has only 20 000 inhabitants in two wee towns, and a lot of the rest is called, "flow country." I think it is very different from the desert landscape, though...wetlands, and full of bog-myrtle and the sharp calls of snipe.

The Route 66 picture is fab. I think it is cool that you pronounce that word differently than we do in the UK. I did not believe you at first. I thought everyone pronounced it, "root".Transatlantic language differences are the boogie.

The Luxor...wowzers! It is wonderful, but a little spooky. I would hope not to have to sleep in a sarcophagus with a dessicated cat sealed up in a coptic jar. I would love to see Las Vegas some day. Lena spotted a huge framed picture of it at night in an art shop after church one Sunday, and drags me there to look at it every week, with aquisitive intentions. "Oh Mummy, it is soooo beautiful. Can I have it for my bedroom?" I may give in sometime soon. She knows my weak spots.

Glad you enjoyed yer visit to Las Vegas. What is this blistering heat of which you speak?

Dr. Bob said...

Lena will indeed have her Las Vegas poster at some point. It is a beautiful drive at night.

And the route in Route 66 is pronounced "root", but other routes are pronounced "rout". I am not sure why.

I would like to see Caithness.

rowan said...

Hee hee...we were ogling the Las Vegas posters this lunchtime. There was also gorgeous one of a hot air balloonfest in Albaquerque.(That spelling does not look right. Sorry.)

Caithness is an amazing place. Like going back thousands of years, in some cases. Some very atmospheric neolithic tombs, out in the middle of nowhere, called the Camster Cairns. 4000 years BC! It is so barren and wild out there. Raquel Welch would have had no use for her fur bikini. The sun shines about two days a year there, but the winds are second to none. Actually, there is a lovely unusual song about Caithness, by an American band called, "The Thicket Clearers." It is called, "Caithness Winds." Must try to track it down, cos the cd was a promotional one I got a listen to, and has long gone.camster Cairns: you can crawl inside!

Ah on the Root 66 pronunciation. I have heard s song with that therein, so was a bit confused. How interesting though! I wonder why that is.Language quirks rock.Maybe one day I will learn to drive, and wheech doon that spectacular route!

Dr. Bob said...

You did indeed misspell Albuquerque, but no harm done. No one knows how to spell it -- except the Duke of Albuquerque, for which the town was named. I grew up there, and we would watch the balloons drift by ... very beautiful. Sometimes we would go to the actual Balloon Fiesta as a kid. When we were in fourth grade, we got to draw our own not air balloons -- the ones that we would enter if we had the chance. Mine was bright yellow, with a smiley face. 9_9.

rowan said...

Really? You grew up having to spell that word? Great training for academia. And you have been to the balloon fiesta, and designed yer own balloon! Cool. Lena will be agog. There is nothing wrong with yellow smiley faces! Perhaps you had an early blogging propensity, but nowhere to post.

The balloon poster was lovely. It was fifteen pounds, though...without frame. I think I may just have it, nevertheless, at some point.

Talking of spelling errors...I have another faux-pas to acknowledge. In my first post, I wrote coptic jar, rather than canopic jar. Yeeeeesh. >_< My intermittently befuddled brain likes to seize on soundalikes, and it was early in the morning. Gak to making goobery errors live on the worldwide web.

I like the "Roy's" sign too. A great pic for a groovy t-shirt! Why do you think the shoes are tied to the tree? That looks quite poignant, in that lonely setting. You must have to really load up with water, travelling through such landscape, and know all about car radiators. At least your cars have air-conditioning, though. How long does it take to travel that amazing journey across the desert?

Dr. Bob said...

Just to clarify -- it was just a school assignment. I clearly remember the huge pieces of butcher paper. Not a real balloon design.

It takes about five or six hours to drive through the desert.

rowan said...

I caught on to the school assignment thingy, but it seems like a lot of fun. I would have loved to have done that as a kid. We never got to design diddley-squat in primary school. I don't think the word "design" had made it that far north, in the Seventies. I think we painted and repainted our families, pets, parents at work and the cars in the school car park. sadly, our teachers had little imagination as to setting painting tasks. As a teacher myself, I like to store up good ones for future reference.

Michty me!That is a looong drive in the blistering heat. You Southern Californian types are fell hardy.

Bama said...

Hey y'all! Ooooh Bob! I loved this photo journey through the dessert...and I think it's just as beautiful as...although completely different than....the beautiful Scottish scenery. I love all the different ways God chose to create this earth.

And...for the record, I say the word route both ways...rout and root. I don't know why...but it flip flops!!

rowan said...

I love the bar-pressing rat! B.F. Skinner really spooked me. That rat is actually searching on Ebay for plus-size hippy tunics, without as great deal of success, but having the intermittent reinforcement of finding one she really loves and can't live without,in a size four. So...she keeps on scrolling. She deserves a large McChicken sandwich with bacon, mayo, and hot sweet chilli, but alas, recieves only the grilled strips o chicken with garden salad. I feel for her.

I am not a gambler in any way either, but am wondering if you might one day have to drag me from one of those machines, yelling, "Just one more coin...I feel lucky..."

You know, I am embarrassed to say that I only recently found out that a dime is not the smallest unit of American currency. I thought it was a bit like an old British farthing. Gak! I hope my transatlantic sistahs will still speak to me. I read that American notes are all the same colour, whatever the denomination. Ours are colour-coded, so when I am stravaigin doon yer way, I will have to peer closely at the printed numbers!

Bama said...

Haha! I don't understand any other currencies. I like to think ours is pretty easy and self explanatory!!

Poor little rat...I hope that she finds the tunic she really wants!

P.S. The store I was at today had Easter stuff on display...and there...staring at me...taunting me...was the Cadbury Creme Egg.

rowan said...

Hee hee! Creme Eggs, eh? Cadbury's better watch out. They are not giving the customers what they want, and may be laying themselves open to a bit of passive resistance: sit-ins, and stuff. Well, eat-ins, mayhap!

Maybe if we shout loud enough, they will hear us. We have done the international market research for them, for goodness' sakes. We want a giant creme egg, filled with the proprietary creme, entitled, "The Girls' Night-in." Perfect for hen nights! (Do you call them hen nights in the US? Female bachelor parties.) Or just for a guilt-free one item solitary munchfest. One item can't ever count as an actual binge. :)

Dr. Bob said...

Currency and Cadbury. The haverers are here. Yay!

rowan said...

Hee hee! Here's tae us, wha's like us!

Bob, that comment alerts another theobromian axon! I like the idea of chocolate coins, cos they can survive in a coat pocket for a very long time, without melting. However, they are cheap choocy, for the most part... though Marks and Spencher's branched out and produced some last Christmas.(Cough.)

Cadbureee....can you hear me....we want chocolate currency and giant creme eggs!

Wry Mouth said...

I presume the haverers note the consistent, washed-out blue of the open desert sky in your pics. Part of that is overexposure due to the strong sunlight, but mostly that is its true color...

Bama said...

i noticed the reminds me of the sky here in tx. least until the storms roll in...

rowan said...

I have gone back and checked-out the sky! It does look very bright and luminescent. When we have blue skies in the summer, they are a more intense blue... sky blue, I guess! maybe the intensity I am imagining is just fuelled by nostalgia, cos they aren't always that frequent. Last summer was lovely, though. Abnormally consistently warm, but enjoyable all the same.

Wrymouth - Is that Bigfoot I see as an avatar? I did not know blogger comments did avatarz. Shelley had her Monkbot head, I guess they do. That means I must get one, being a horrible competitive person, without, in this case, the technical ability to back it up.