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I was somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when…..

December 29, 2009

I was somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the boredom began to take hold………….. The ride from Death Valley to Barstow/Calico was un-eventful and actually a bit boring. The speed limits in the high California desert are either 55 or 65 and there seems to be an endless supply of CHP officers just about everywhere. I’ll take a moment to mention that I’ve had ONE ticket in about 19 years. This is no big deal when you consider my primary vehicles have almost all been a Land Rover of some sort and most of the pre-Ford era Landies won’t go over 65 mph even downhill with the mirrors folded in with your foot flat to the floor. In the past year I’ve been stopped two times in approximately 14,000 miles. The first was in Texas by a confused Texas highway patrolman who started the conversation by asking me “you just getting off work?” I guess he completely ignored the Vermont plates, state oval stickers, camping gear, etc. He let me go. The second time was in New Mexico and I was 25 MPH over and he let me go, and that absolutely was a gift. I think that for the most part if you pay attention to what’s going on around you and observe the flow of traffic, you can go at whatever speed you like and avoid tickets. The biggest radar detector in the world is common sense.

Let’s file these pictures in that favorite of all categories we like to call – WTF. Why, oh why would you lower your dualie? Does this retard have an equally schweet lowrider horse trailer or low riding camper to go with the truck? It’s like taking a perfectly setup Braun F-1 car to the retards at West Coast Motors or Will and his ex-convict “auto tuners’ at Unique Motorsports and asking them to “Pimp it out” Some things are perfect to START WITH, leave the pin striping alone. Believe it or not this was not the only wacky low-riding, wing spoiler clad, body kit idiotbox I saw on the highway. Perhaps the most serious offender was one sporting 22’s and chrome spinners. I would have gotten a picture but was unable to get to the camera as I was paralyzed with shock and awe.

Barstow, CA is not much to look at. So much so that I kept the camera in the tank bag and kept riding. During my brief idle through town I saw no less than 5 individuals being led away from no-tell motels in handcuffs by the police. Nice. My destination for the evening was the Barstow/Calico KOA campground. The KOA was fairly nice but a bit run down and had coin operated showers – something that I think is insane when you are already paying to camp. Quick tip – if you see one of these coin op showers check the handicapped bathrooms as they usually are free. One interesting feature of this KOA was that each tent site had a tar paper roof shelter that was a nice change from the typical picnic table alone setup.

I never get tired of seeing my “condo in a pannier”

Everything I need to be comfortable while camping. Tent, air mattress, pillow, sleeping bag, and camp light.

At this point in my life 50’s Diners scare me more than Clowns or any of the Saw Movies. This diner had personal celebrity appearances by “Anson Williams’ and “Donnie Most” of Happy Days fame. I’m assuming their careers are going fantastically. It was either this place or Jack in the Box.

This huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge breakfast was actually very good but the check came to almost twenty bucks without tip and that is simply too much $$$ for a single meal on the road.

Looking for something to do I took a look at my trusty guide book – Lonely Planet’s USA Guide. This book has been an absolutely fantastic companion over thousands of miles. It’s the size of a brick and a pain in the ass to lug around when space is an issue, but it always has great intel. I decided to visit the ghost town mine in Calico. Why Calico? Perhaps it was the enormous CALICO script carved into the side of the mountain that I could see from my campsite at the KOA. The Calico Mine was developed in 1881 during the largest silver strike in California. Located at the side of towering King Mountain (Like I said, they actually carved the name into the hillside), the town was named for the variety of colors in the mountain that were “as purty as a gal’s calico skirt.” Calico boomed during 1881-1896; but the end came to the silver rush in 1896 and by 1904 Calico had become a ghost town (info from the Calico website). More info about Calico can be found here.

The best Iced Tea I had during the trip. The rest of the lunch was forgettable.

Calco was an interesting side trip. I headed back to the KOA and crashed for the evening. It had been an interesting couple of days, from the casinos of Las Vegas to the stunning vistas of Death Valley. This was finally turning into the type of trip I has always imagined.

Next up: The City of Angeles – on the movie set of The Green Hornet, Beverly Hills, and The Rock Store

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