Everyone looks forward to vacation, or should, and this was the summer to mark off a minor bucket list wish.
It probably would seem odd to most people, but I’ve always wanted to drive across the Mojave Desert. Having been to Las Vegas so many times I’ve wondered about taking off on Highway 15 across that mountain range and cruising into California.
Having just finishing driving it, let me assure you the only thing breathtaking about it is the oppressive heat. For some reason they have hiking trails, but for a good reason no hikers were seen. Did I mention it was 112 degrees with no shade.
It is mile after mile of the same ugly terrain, although some patches have Joshua Trees that look like long-armed cactus.
On the way over, before reality set in, Monica Timpani suggested we take a side trip to the Mojave welcome center.
Before reality set in it seemed like a good idea.
Then reality set in and it was basically an extra hour-and-a-half of vast nothing with three more hours of stark reality ahead of us.
The highlights were seeing the smoke from the most recent California wildfire and the airplane cemetery near Mojave, Calif. Both witnessed at 70 mph.
Finally we rose to elevation 4,000 and rolled into Bakersfield and some truly beautiful farmland that later turned into lush grape fields in the heart of Central California wine country and eventually to the Pacific Ocean.
As we crested the last small mountain before Santa Maria, behind a tanker loaded with gasoline where we had been for 64 miles at speeds ranging from 14 mph to 54 mph, I realized that mountain range in the distance from Las Vegas was just ugly ugly hills and we had gone through an ugly ugly gap.
And the reality was we had the same drive back.