We left Pasadena at about 11–we had to wait around for sheets to dry–but we made pretty good time in our packed to the gills car. Highlight of the day was a stop in the bleakest of landscapes right outside Las Vegas, in a little hole-in-the-wall town called Baker. Across the street from the Mad Greek Restaurant, festooned with Greek flags and garish plaster casts of Greek sculptures, was The Country Store, which I assumed would have only enormous bottles of Coke and beef jerky, but actually had gourmet sodas, including Bundaberg ginger beer from Australia. And then next to the store was this gem: The Bun Boy Motel, an utter dive whose name about which I do not want to even speculate.
As soon as one crosses the border into Nevada at a place called Primm, the phantasmagoria of Vegas-style Disneylandesque architecture begins. What is with the turrets and fantasy facades for casinos set in the harshest of desert landscapes? Then there’s Vegas, of course. SURREAL is the only word to describe it. I assume it’s all about sensual visual overload. Is that it? I just do not get Vegas at all.
After driving through seemingly endless miles of scrub, one does a little slip across Arizona, on the other side of the mountains from the Grand Canyon, and the scenery starts to change, first going through a stupendous gorge with fantastic angles and light shining off of the craggy rocks. Then you’re in Utah, and increasingly red rocks and greener hills as one ascends. We ran into some startling lightning storms outside St. George, and by the time we got to Cedar City, it was positively cool and wet. We went from 105 in Baker, to 66 in Cedar City. Had a classic American diner meal, and now back in a noisy roadside Holiday Inn. On to Colorado tomorrow!