Our Honeymoon Journal
     Entry 23 - 12 September 2000
Left Las Vegas, through the desert past Death Valley and on to LA. The 12th was very warm and sunny.  Click here to see what the weather is like today.
  Las Vegas to Los Angeles

Vanessa The new suitcase came in very handy.We must have both been very tired, as we slept in to 8am! Breakfast was again downstairs at the Buffet. Then once more, it was the routine of pack, search the room for any possible forgotten items, check out at the registration desk, load everything into the car and set off onto the endless highway...
  Except, before we got back onto the highway proper, we had to drive along the Strip. As we did so, I managed to take a couple of photos from the car of some of the famous landmarks along the way.
  I also made a final note in our journal of some observations I had made of Las Vegas:
  • The sky always seems to be cris-crossed by a number of vapour trails, left by passenger jets flying overhead. As the day progresses, the vapour trails spread and join to form a light haze.
  • During the day, the sky has two colours. The grey-blue haze overhead and a thick, brown band near the horizon. It is so thick that it sometimes obscures the nearby mountains.
  • The city doesn't wake up until about 10am. There are very few things open before that. The casinos, however, never close.
  • Pedestrians are extremely rude and take huge risks. They cross the streets at any time, without bothering to notice if the lights are red or green. They also hurl abuse when cars try to turn or drive off when the traffic has a green light.
  Chris stopped at a petrol station on the edge of town to buy some necessary fuel. The establishment was quite large with a Burger King, a Taco Time and a small casino attached. Only in Vegas...
  At 11.35am, we were back in California and were 4,407 miles into our trip!
Chris Right on the state border on the Nevada side is the Primm Valley Resort. It's obvious that the sole reason it exists is to capture the drivers coming up from California. There's no other logical reason for it to be in the middle of the desert. In a way, you could probably say that for most of the towns we visited in Nevada, including Las Vegas. Gambling is certainly a huge industry.
Vanessa We got a bit of a fright soon after. There was a loud bang, like a gun shot. The truck in front of us had blown a tire. There was a horrible smell of burning rubber and hot metal and there were bits of tire flying through the air. The truck had been passing another truck at the time of the blowout and, fortunately, the driver managed to keep control of his vehicle. We passed it as he pulled over to the side of the highway, bits of hot tire still flying up behind him.
  It was nearly 38 degrees as we drove through Baker, a small town at the entrance to the infamous Death Valley. We saw a strange landscape, much like an ancient lake bed with hills rising out of a smooth plain which shimmered in the heat. There were no trees, only thin, brown bushes.
  Chris was not sure which was the more boring. This bit of highway, or the one in northern Montana. Mind you, we did have a few more scares with trucks to liven the trip up a bit. A couple of them abruptly changed lanes in front of us without indicating.
Chris As we drove along, I knew there was a road sign that would be coming up that I wanted Vanessa to photograph. It was the Zzyzx Road turnoff sign. I thought it was a very weird name for a road. I knew about this road because of my first holiday to the USA in 1992. I arrived in LA, slept overnight, grabbed a rental car and headed for Las Vegas on the way to the Grand Canyon. I had passed the sign on this journey, but I hadn't been able to get a photo of it at the time because I was by myself and couldn't stop on the highway.
Vanessa I managed to get a photo of the sign as we sped past. About the only other highlight on this part of the highway was some roadworks, but they weren't serious enough to even slow the traffic.
  The illegal immigrant.  What a bad apple!Some distance into the state of California, we had to stop at an agricultural inspection station. We declared our one apple and the officer let us smuggle it through with a cheerful "enjoy eating it!"

We drove through Barstow, a town worthy of mention as having possibly the world's shortest street name - "L" street.
  Not far from Barstow, we took exit 176, the Lenwood Road exit, to stop for lunch at a "Del Taco". This Mexican fast food restaurant is next to the large Tanger Outlet Centre and the Factory Merchants Barstow - another outlet centre. (It is also conveniently about halfway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles...) We decided to eat first and then stretch our legs afterwards with a bit of shopping. Chris had a chicken burrito, while I had a steak burrito. The food was okay, for what it was. The shops were okay too, but once again, we didn't find any real bargains. We bought a couple of items and then headed back to the car through the glare and dry heat of the desert sun.
  We were quickly back on the I15 again, driving through the arid landscape. Chris noticed, off to one side of the road, a very tight looking dust devil. It lasted for quite some minutes.
  Chris finally announced we had reached the outskirts of Los Angeles. All I could see was dry hills and a thick brown haze. The brown haze turned out to be smoke - we had to drive through it and it smelled strongly of burnt grass and brush.
  It was now about 3.30pm and the traffic was starting to build. We turned onto the SR60 and I saw some gum trees! I knew then we were definitely back in California. Around 4pm, we drove into the car park of our motel. It was the Best Western Courtesy Inn, in Anaheim - just a block away from Disneyland.
  It pays to do some research first!We did the usual, now almost automatic, routine of checking in and unloading the car. It was still a bit early for dinner, so we took the opportunity to rest for about half an hour. Then we freshened up, went to the motel's lobby and picked up some brochures on the local area. There were two nearby malls that looked promising as possible places to get our evening meal.
  The first mall we drove to is called Mainplace, in Santa Ana. (I later found out that the mall was a location used in the movie, "Kindergarten Cop".) We walked around and browsed in a couple of shops, but none of the food outlets there really appealed to us. Starting to feel a bit hungry, we jumped back into the car and drove to the second mall - The Block. The Block is a very large shopping mall in Orange County. While the shops of Main Place are indoors, The Block is mostly open to the sky, with paved pedestrian walkways between the separate buildings. We found it a little confusing to find our way around, as it isn't very well signed and the pamphlet we'd picked up about it had very little information. As we searched for a suitable restaurant, we browsed through a couple of stores, including a Wizards of the Coast. It was just like the store we had visited in Seattle, now seemingly so long ago...
  The jazz band was quite good.Hunger got us moving again and we walked past a live jazz band, entertaining a small crowd in the open air, to find a seafood restaurant called the Market Broiler. We had to wait a little while to be seated, as there was quite a crowd, but we didn't mind. If the place had this many patrons, the food must be good! Chris ordered Louisiana Catfish - Cajun style. My stomach was still feeling a little dicey, but I still went for my favourite seafood dish - prawns! Or rather "shrimp", as they call them here. Chris' meal turned out to be very nice. My shrimp, however, were very tough and tasteless - frozen and then overcooked, I think.
  After dinner, we headed back to the motel. We found a 711 on the way and bought some fresh orange juice and milk - for our room actually had a fridge! Back at the motel, we half watched some TV and scribbled up the journal notes for the day.
Chris One thing we did see on the TV was some news about the bushfires around the city. We had driven past a couple of the outbreaks on our way in and thus the smoke we had seen (and smelt and tasted...).
Vanessa I was feeling very tired and so I went to bed a bit early, eagerly anticipating two things. One was having a hot cup of tea in the morning with real milk in it and not the horrible powdered "creamer" that most motels provide. Two was that I was actually going to finally see Disneyland!