July 4, 2016 – Happy Independence Day
After spending a week in California, it was time to move on. We left Los Angeles and headed east. Before getting too far, we stopped at Ralph’s for provisions and ice. On our way out, we stopped at Pomona Valley Hospital, where I was born, so I could take a picture and see the town. Pomona seems pretty nice.
As we continued east, the mountains climbed ahead of us as did the temperatures. Soon, we were in the desert, and it was hot. At one point the gauge on the dashboard indicated 110ºF! Was it too late to turn around and spend the rest of the vacation in Los Angeles?
The coolest thing we saw on the drive, besides Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam, was a large solar farm just at the California-Nevada border. There were three massive fields of mirrors directing sunlight onto a collector atop tall towers at the centers. It was a sight to behold. We pulled off the highway and got as close as we could for a photo.
When we got to Nevada we stopped to take a photo at the welcome sign, as we’ve done at every new state we’ve driven into. Just behind the sign was a billboard for Larry Flynt’s Hustler Casino, or something. We were definitely in Nevada. When we got to Las Vegas we drove down the strip, then back down it the other way. The girls seemed to enjoy the many themed casinos and the oddness of it all, but had no interest in getting out of the car. I think they’re getting touristed out. We did stop at the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign for a photo before moving on to the Hoover Dam.
At the Hoover Dam we parked and walked on top of the dam and listened to some of the audio presentation about its history, etc. It’s an interesting engineering marvel. Sad, though, to see lake Meade so low. We then drove across the high bridge spanning the Colorado River and connecting the highway to Nevada and Arizona. We were trying to find the entrance to the pedestrian path for the bridge, and eventually asked the security guard near the dam. It was hot, well into the triple digits, and no relief of shade, but we had to get our photo of the dam, so we persevered out onto the bridge. After snapping a few pictures, we headed back to the comfort of the vehicle. I have no idea why anybody would want to live out there.
As we drove through Arizona for Flagstaff, the sun went down and the stars became visible, which excited Jenna. At one point, she asked if we could pull over so she could see them against the dark sky, so I found an exit without a town that looked pretty dark. I pulled off and on to the shoulder. The stars were brilliant, filling the sky. The Milky Way galaxy was clearly visible and stretched across the field of view before us. It was magical. After a few minutes there, a police officer pulled up behind us to inquire if we were okay. I told him what we were doing and he said there’s a great spot back up the ramp that would be safer for us, so he used his lights and we backed up the ramp with his as our guide. She showed us to the clearing and said goodbye. We stared at the stars for a few more minutes before getting back in the truck and continuing to Flagstaff. It was getting late, and I didn’t want to be rude by arriving too late.
We’re staying with Trent, Tyler, and Trenton in Flagstaff. The girls haven’t seen their cousins, my sister’s boys, since they were all very young, so it was nice to reconnect when we arrived. We stayed up late talking until it was obvious the girls were tired and needed to sleep.