Leaving Death Valley National Park, we headed south on route 127 as with our destination Ventura California for a trip to Channel Islands National Park the next day. Now, I do not ordinarily write blogs about a travel day which I anticipated would be tedious, boring, of very little interest to the reader… But this is an exception. What I did not know was that this route was the prime time route from “Tinseltown” to “Sin City ” or “The Strip” back to “Hollywood and Vine.” It was Friday afternoon and the Vegas-ites were headed to LA and the Lost Angels were on their way to Vegas, and we were mired in the muck of a major artery designed for traffic in 1934! But I am getting ahead of myself and there will be more on that down the road!!!
What we thought would be a rather dull driving day, making time and arriving in short order, did not play out that way. Now ordinarily I would not consider Baker a place to be, to visit, to live in etc…. a town of 735 people, 215 households located in the Mojave desert. The only reason I can think of for its existence is that it is a pit stop when driving through a desert devoid of pit stops. But Baker has risen to the occasion by becoming the next great tourist trap and I am sure they hope a destination in itself. I must applaud Tasia for finding these breath stopping unique spectacles in downtown Baker. So if you have never been to Baker CA make sure you leave plenty of time (perhaps 5-10 minutes) to visit these two kitschy attractions there.
# 1. Now I am not necessarily a fan of the world’s biggest things but my son Nick had quite the selection of photos of “biggest things,” so not to be outdone by him, I was all in on taking a little side trip through town. My photo probably does not do justice the World’s Tallest Thermometer (especially since it is growing out of my head) as it was not displaying it’s sizzling hot, egg frying maximum temperature of 134 but a mere 57 degrees. But 134 is there since that is the world’s hottest temperature ever recorded with Death Valley, which holds this record set on July 10,1913. In August 1995, the Baker thermometer recorded its highest temperature 127.
#2 We stumbled upon the Alien Fresh Jerky Store down the street from that super-sized thermometer and it is truly out-of-this world or perhaps I should say outlandish, with UFO’s and little green men decorating the exterior and parking lot of the shop. Strange? Quirky? Weird? Wacky?
If you are a fan of beef jerky or just into a cheesy establishment STOP! You might want to try such delights as Weed Killer Hot Beef Jerky, Abducted Cow Beef Jerky, Road Kill Original Beef Jerky, Space Cowboy Pepper Beef Jerky, Barbecue on the Moon Beef Jerky and Texas Style Ghost Pepper Beef Jerky. Now if you still have an appetite for jerky after perusing this partial menu of their offerings, you should perhaps consider upping your credit limit on the charge card you might wish to use. But even more exciting to think about is next to this market, the owner envisions construction of a UFO themed hotel. May the Aliens be with you!
An update on Hugly: after long boring days left in the hotel at Death Valley, Hugly was excited to be back on the road, watching for roadkill, and drinking an ice cold coke (I think Hugly is thinking about making some desert rat jerky). Now, after so much excitement, we just motored on through California, acquiescing to using Interstate 15 to Barstow but opted to exit and pick up a bit of old rout 66. From there, not so cautious Siri, using iMaps, routed us onto Pear Blossom Highway (US State Route 138). Now that sounded like a lovely name for a road through the Santa Clara Valley, along the Santa Clara River and perhaps through a lovely corridor of lovely pear orchards. (It’s name, Pearblossom, came from the multitude of local pear farms in Antelope Valley but few still exist today.) Tasia began reading about the surrounds and learned the stretch we were driving on was one of the most dangerous roads historically as it has been the location of numerous serious and fatal automobile accidents. Though it became clear that improvement have been made to the road, I breathed easier when we were through that heavily trafficked road filled with freight trucks and a multitude of LA’ers hitting the road most travelled and rushing to the slots and craps in Las Vegas.
That state of calm did not last long before we were routed onto State Route 126. Years ago, In February 1996, the Los Angeles Times published an article about the dangers of California 126, writing that “despite the beauty, to drive along the 126 is to flirt with mortality… especially on a “two-lane, six-mile segment of 126 known as ‘Blood Alley.’” with head on collisions common on this older, curvey, two lanes sections. Though the highway has since been improved in most areas, traffic fatalities are still quite common.
I was grateful to be pulling into Ventura around sunset but before checking into the hotel we decided to scout out the harbor area where we would be boarding for our Island Packer Cruise to Santa Cruz early the next morning. We arrived at Ventura Harbor in time to witness a magical sunset.