Barstow California and the Calico Ghost Town
Las Vegas, Nevada
|Calico Ghost Town|
Campground: Duck Creek Rv Park, Las Vegas. Passport America rate: $14. Full hookups, 50 amp, back-in site. Next door to a nice city park, great for early morning or evening walks. Swimming pool. 60 over-the-air TV stations.
Distance traveled: 153 miles
The drive heading north into California was to say the least, windy. Especially on the portion where I drove on I-10 between Indo and Palm Springs. I should have guessed it would be, especially after seeing large wind farms on both sides of the highway. Needless to say, my diesel/gas mileage went down drastically. Once I was off the main interstate though the winds calmed down as I drove along the edge of the Joshua Tree National park. Sorry I didn’t stop and get any good pictures of those wonderful Joshua trees.
|from a series of paintings, Sheriff's of|
the old west
Calico Ghost TownJust outside of Barstow which is on the original Route 66 highway, I’ve landed at the Calico Ghost town and campground, a once thriving silver mining town. It is all on the original Calico town site (1881) though most of the buildings have been reconstructed after Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farm fame purchased the land in the 1950’s. At that time there were still about 150 people living in the town. I’ve met folks that used to tent camp in the area do some rock hounding looking for agates and maybe a piece of the famous silver from the surrounding mountains. Only five of the original building remain, though Knott has done a fine job of re-creating the town to look as close to it’s original state as possible. Even using the exact foundations to rebuild each building upon. It’s not what I’m used to seeing as far as ghost towns go, but it is still a nice place to visit and tour, though I was disappointed that there was so little in the way of the history of the mining town on display. Or should I say, poor displays when found. Also a last note on Calico, the shops and restaurants are quite overpriced so take that in consideration if you come here.
|this series of shots was taken before the ghost town opened for|
business in the morning... staying in the campground gave
me early access
So after touring the town over the past couple of days, I headed into Barstow to visit the small Route 66 museum, a Train Museum and the original Harvey House all at the same complex. Wouldn’t you know it, the two museums were closed, only being open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I did get into the renovated Harvey House (8 million dollars ) as it is now used by the Chamber of Commerce for meetings, social events and the large rooms are rented out to the public. Harvey houses were built along the Santa-Fe railroad and provided fine dining and hotel space. The two restaurants in the hotel catered to different crowds. The fine dining one required men to wear suites and ties and the ladies were expected to be well dressed. The other diner had a circular counter and less formal tables for the common man. This was the most elaborate hotel in the Harvey House chain, having a bowling alley, swimming pool and much more that was not the norm back in 1910. At one time there were 8 tracks that trains would stop in Barstow and the Harvey house provided meals to all the passengers and crew every 35 minutes. Many tourists made this a destination stop because the hotel had such fine accommodations. Lots of older motels/motor courts line the original route 66 and most all are well maintained and are in use today.
|The Harvey House name the Casa Del Desierto "Hotel"|
|vintange picture of the counter style seating in one of the restaurants|
|The Harvey Girls|
Not far from the town of Barstow, in the small community of Newberry Springs, along the old Route 66 sit’s the Bagdad Café. It was originally under a different name, but when the movie was made Bagdad Café, it was renamed and has become a world wide tourist attraction. The movie came out in 1988 and I had seen it in the movie house as well as on TV over the years a couple of times. Each time it seemed to carry more meaning to it. Perhaps that feeling we all get sometime in life when we’ve been dumped out along the side of a road and have had to start all over again. Making the best of what has happened picking up what baggage we need and hopefully discarding the unnecessary baggage and moving on. It’s a great movie and when I realized I was so close to the café where it was filmed, I just had to go visit it. Not much has changed over the years except that people from all over the world, from as far away as Japan, France, Germany and England all seem to find their way here. Drawn by the message and the movie. I met Shaggy, a guy who has traveled the world and lived on three continents as a military brat. He grew up in England and speaks French, Spanish and English. Over the years he too has ended up at the Bagdad Café on and off and after what he says amounted to about $90,000 in surgery recently, finds himself sleeping in a corner on a sleeping bag in the second dining room of the Bagdad Café. Helping out the cook and working in the café. This is another one of those places on my bucket list which I’ve mentioned gets things crossed off the list but more often gets things added to it as well. Although I don’t watch many movies, being at the location of this movie seems to add another dimension to my life and wanderings. So grateful to have the time and means to be able to visit unique places like this. It’s so well known, you can even google it on google maps and it will direct you right to the front door.
|the cafe used in the Movie "Bagdad Cafe"|
|the Motel next door was also used in the film|
|the Motel is now closed|
|people from all over the world leave pictures, messages and cards|
|and have their pictures taken from behind the counter|
|this is "Shaggy's bed in the restaurant|
Distance Traveled: 158 miles
|downtown Las Vegas Strip|
The drive from Barstow to Las Vegas on I-15 is the main thoroughfare between Las Angeles and Las Vegas. The local radio stations provide road traffic updates especially on weekends when the traffic can get very heavy. I’m driving the route on Thursday and the traffic is fine. It’s a gradual climb from around 600 ft up to 4,000 ft once you hit Baker, home to the tallest thermometer in the world and gateway to the Mohave desert where temperatures can easily reach 125 degrees. The highway boarders the flat dry desert as I begin the rise in elevation. An extra lane has been added for slow trucks and we Rv’ers for the 16 mile stretch. Although the rise is gradual, it can take quite a toll on vehicles, with reminders to turn off A/C to keep from overheating. I stay in the slow lane following the trucks usually going only around 40-45 mph. On the decent into Nevada, a 6% grade over a few miles, shifting down to a lower gear and a few taps of the brakes is all it took to keep at a decent speed.
Neon Boneyard Museum
|The La Concha Lobby was moved from downtown and has|
become the main entrance to the Neon Boneyard
I’m playing at being more of a tourist this week in Vegas and my first stop is to the Neon Boneyard. It’s where all of the old neon signs are stored and many are restored when funds become available which can easily cost upwards of $50,000 to restore one sign. It’s all a part of the history of Las Vegas and the neon sign industry. Our tour guide provided us with much of that history and it was one of the best tours I’ve been on in a long time. What a fun tour. If you decide to go reservations are a must as the only way to see the signs is by a guided tour. I had also planned on going to the Liberace Museum, but found out it’s been closed now for a couple of years. My third major thing is to attend at least one of the shows and I’ll describe it in the next week as I attend the Beatles show “Love” tomorrow.
|The Silver Slipper restored and now on the main strip|
|cost $100,000 to make this sign|
|one of the very first signs in Las Vegas|
|great tour guide|
|from the Aladdin Casino|
|night time tours are also available as about|
25 of the signs are bit lit up at night
Until then, enjoy your own adventures “one mile at a time”.
Ps Six more albums on Picasa.