Day 25 (June 21): Staying at the Joshua Tree National Park was an experience all its own. It was hot and dry, but cooled off nicely as evening fell. Surrounded by Yuccas and Joshua Trees, a hot wind, and the caution to reserve water, I felt like I was in an adventure movie. We were actually really glad that we got there late enough to see the park in the evening. We drove around at 4:00 an hour or two, and as the sunset further, it blazed across the bar and land creating gorgeous backdrops for the Rocky formations and the trees.
Camping in the desert also had a lot of pluses. There were fewer bugs, but definitely the fear of rattlesnakes. Thankfully, we did not experience such, and, although I admit that I had a little bit of fear of drawing every critter in a 2-mile radius by cooking, spent the morning poaching eggs, slicing avocado and jalapenos, and packing up. Despite my fear, we attracted no more than some birds, and much to our surprise, a few squirrels. Of course, we weren’t the only people camping, so I don’t know why I thought it would be unusual to cook in the desert. Anyway, it was a lot of fun and as Daniel pointed out, even if I’m still not a big fan of camping, I am excited about all the cool places that we camped.
We headed from there toward Las Vegas, stopping in Barstow at the Route 66 museum. It was closed, as we knew it would be, but it was still fun to take pictures in front of the trains. And I was especially delighted to discover that there was actually an old Harvey house there! It was also pretty cool to see the historic route 66 signs. And, we got gas at less than $4 a gallon! That means $3.99 a gallon, but we were still excited.
Calico Ghost Town was also along the way, and we wanted to make sure to fit in at least one ghost town! We were a little surprised to have them charge us to even enter the town! But, it was pretty much worth it, strolling through the old buildings, those which were open anyway, and getting information on how the old mining town used to function. We stopped by the general store, the old saloon, some of the old mining shacks, and in general loved seeing the old town, outside of giving a little overheated. I think the coolest part were the buildings built into the rocks themselves. They did a great job restoring the general store to something similar to what it may have looked like, but still offering all of the modern tourist souvenirs. We had to get Route 66 soda, and, predictably, I bought a couple sets of retro paper dolls. And Daniel bought me an adorable pocket knife with a sheath!
I insisted we stop at the Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings, Nevada when I found out that Clark Gable had once been there. More specifically, he had been there for 3 days while waiting for the body of his wife to be recovered following a plane crash. Which is obviously depressing, But it was still super cool that this was the saloon in which Clark Gable sat. It was just as one would envision an old saloon, and the bartender was precisely what one would expect for a bartender in a little town in Nevada. It was small, didn’t you, had a jukebox, and an assorted array of beverages, along with a few things for tourists. It was far less crowded than I expected, but that was a delightful surprise for an introvert. There were really only a few locals with us, and a couple of other passers-through. We had a perfectly delightful time, and I even got pictures next to the old cigar burns where Clark Gable fell asleep waiting for news of his wife.
We finally landed in Vegas at 9:30ish, checked into our room at The Venetian, and collapsed. We’re on the 32nd floor, with an amazing view, and an amazing room, and it’s really pretty surreal. I’ll tell you more tomorrow!