Day 11

6 Jun

At 2:00 P.M., PST, the Joads pulled into the Burbank Labor Camp, with only one mishap: the ironing board fell out of the back window onto the Ventura Freeway. But we adopted a cavalier attitude and said, “What the Hell, California is the Land of Opportunity and soon we will be swimming in ironing boards and other such luxuries.”

Our room here at the hotel (Camp) overlooks what the locals call the 5. It has lots of cars on it, and they make lots of noise — the sound of opportunity. Also, the hotel’s lobby has a photo of Sonny and Cher in it. Swank — ee!! Something about LA just brings out the country in an old boy from North Georgia. I’m reminded of a line in a song by Nancie Griffith, “New York sorta brings out the stupids in me.” LA seems to be having a similar effect on me.

Our trip today was mostly driving from the wilderness of Zion to the wild-erness of LA. To be honest, the sixty miles or so from San Bernardino across the northern edge of LA to Burbank was no worse than driving I-75 through Atlanta, maybe easier than taking the Perimeter. The real difference is that Atlanta is familiar and LA is not.

We came through Las Vegas but did not stop. I took a few photos from the window.

We planned to switch drivers at the California Welcome Center, which we assumed was right over the line from the last city in Nevada, the oddly named Primm. “Why, yes I did lose the family fortune in Primm, Nevada.” I guess that’s better than losing it in Pahrump. The problem was that California did not have a Welcome Center. It had only drab, depressing desert. A sign said that a Rest Area was fifteen miles away. Fifteen miles later we discovered that the Rest Area was closed for repairs. Finally, in Baker, home of the World’s Tallest Thermometer, we were able to change drivers and take care of other matters. (The thermometer is 134 feet tall, one foot for each degree of the highest temperature ever reached there.)

I imagine that the Mojave is a beautiful place if you know where to go and what to look for. From a speeding car, it is not much. The CHP trooper, who we talked with yesterday, said he hated this drive. I understand what he meant. Unfortunately, there’s no other way back.

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