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James R. Stout

Day 3 of My 2019 Big Adventure

            And so, Day 3 of my adventure is coming to a close. It was a day of extremes. When I left the hotel at 5:50 a.m. it was 47 degrees. When I checked into the hotel here in Ridgecrest, California it was 102 degrees. Of course, this is the desert. I also went from an elevation of 500 feet to over 8,000 feet today. My ears were popping like Orville Redinbacher. I had thought that I would spend the night in Lone Pine, but there are no hotels there that fulfill my expectations. They are all bed and breakfast types and I don’t much care for those. So, I checked for other towns not far from Lone Pine and learned that there are beaucoup hotels in Ridgecrest. As I drove into the town of about 29,000 people, I had to wonder why all these people are living in the desert. Another question was why everything is so new? Well, it turns out that the China Lake Naval Base is here. I guess I’ll never understand why there’s a naval base in the desert.

            Some of the scenery that I saw today was spectacular. But I have a bone to pick with the Arizona and California and Nevada highway departments. There were some incredible views that were just begging for me to take photos of them, but there are no places provided to pull off the road to do that. In fact, when there was a shoulder, there were signs stating that pulling off the highway for other than emergencies can result in a $1000 fine. There was this one place that was at the crest of a mountain pass with gorgeous views of the mountains and the desert below and a railroad track down in the desert. I would have loved to get a picture of that train from that vantage point. You could see the entire train with 4 engines, and I don’t know how many railcars. Which reminds me. I miss cabooses. Does anyone else remember how the guy in the caboose would wave at you when you were stopped for a train? The rail line that used to run near my grandparent’s farm had a small depot, but the train didn’t stop very often. Mostly it was for mail and there would be a hook that the caboose guy (what would you call him?) would hang the mail bag on as the train slowed down and went passed. All hail the Cabooser! Come to think of it, maybe that’s why he was let go. Too much booze and he might have been found hanging from that hook with his arms and legs flailing.

            I made several stops along old Route 66 today as well. It’s sad to see how some of those little places have nearly died out. A couple of the towns have “Historic Route 66” areas and they cater to the tourist and nostalgic crowds. I kept looking for the stars of “Cars”, but they were nowhere to be found. Not even Tow-mater. He’s languishing in a parking lot near Alto, Texas these days.

            I drove through a little slice of Nevada and in particular Laughlin, Nevada. The drive was beautiful but getting through Laughlin was a job. A light every 100 feet and Ski-doo rental shops for venturing out on Lake Mead seemed to be a big business. Of course, there were a couple of big casinos. I think I saw Elvis in a pink Cadillac pulling into one of those casinos. I could be mistaken. My GPS in the truck kept warning me that I was about to go for several miles on an unpaved road. I thought that can’t be right and it wasn’t. The GPS hasn’t caught up to the new highway. It showed me that I was driving out in the desert, which I was, but not on an unpaved road.

            I got to my hotel at a little passed 2 o’clock this afternoon. I thought about driving around to see what there is to see, but I have driven 1600 miles in the last three days, and I decided a nap would be better. It was. There isn’t much in the way of restaurants here. Unless you want fast food. That seems to be all that they have.

            I’m looking forward to tomorrow because it’s going to be more of a leisure day. Not nearly the long drive. I will be exploring some old film locations near Lone Pine. There’s a road that goes out to a back way to Mt. Whitney that looks interesting as well. I’ll be looking for Clint, Randolph, The Duke, and Spencer Tracy along the way. Tomorrow night I probably will stay in a place called Lee Vining, California. But I’ll play that by ear. I hope you are all doing well and thanks to everyone is keeping up with my adventure. I should have some interesting things to report tomorrow night. Say goodnight, Gracie!

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