Friday, November 03, 2006

Report From The Road: 100th Entry

This is my 100th entry on this blog! Woohoo!

We're here in Barstow, Middle of Nowhere. The hotel has free Internet, so I'm writing a lil update with pics, of the Desert Adventure.

We drove down I-5 last afternoon/night, heading for Bakersfield, home of Buck Owens and his Crystal Palace. The drive down was mostly uneventful, although it took us awhile to get out of the Bay Area because of the rain. But then it was a pretty clear shot down to Bakersfield. One small oddity: we stopped a rest stop, and the air was filled with this bizarre (loud!) chirping, twittering sound. It sounded like we were in a bat cave (filled with awake bats) or an overstuffed bird store. It was almost dark, but finally we figured out that the trees were filled, absolutely filled, with small dark birds, who were twittering and chirping like nobody's business. I have no idea why these trees were filled with birds. It was almost freaky. Very spooky and strange. One little bird left a deposit on Terri's hair. Thank you very much, birdie.

We finally made it to Bakersfield. And let me tell you... middle freaking nowhere. Geez. And the town felt icky the moment we drove in. It's not a small town, either, it's about 300,000, more or less. But it felt like an icky, dirty small town that got bloated out of proportion. The bad feeling never left us the whole time we were there. We got lost a number of times trying to find a hotel, but then we finally found one, oddly enough, right next to the aforementioned Crystal Palace (I was unimpressed. No crystal in sight!).

The hotel was strange and for some reason smelled like a fart (no, really). We couldn't find our room for the longest time (up and down two staircases, through a courtyard, etc.). Finally got to the room and then walked over to Denny's for dinner. I swear, the minute we walked through the door it was like we passed back into 1987. Bad decor, girls with big hairsprayed hair and cheap party dresses (maybe it was homecoming?), women with even bigger hair, etc. At least the salad was crisp and the fries were fresh. The whole time, we both had frightened looks on our faces. It just felt bad. And the free breakfast this morning was beyond horrible. All we could manage was the (cold) toast.

So anyway. On to the desert! Once we finally got out of Bakersfield, it got better. The air cleared, and the desert opened up. It really was sort of pretty.

Miles and miles of open desert. Then, we got to the Borax Mine. Yes!! Of course we stopped and took a look around. Pretty interesting.

In front of the 20-mule team (used in olden days to haul the borax from the mines)

Don't let those mules get over 37-1/2 mph, ya'll.

Desert from up on the view deck.

Terri overlooking the mines.

And then we made it to Barstow, where we're resting until... well, until the next thing. Haven't heard from the family yet so not sure what the plan is, but I'm hoping for that ghost town tour!

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