The drive from Vegas to L.A. can be fun. But it’s not something to underestimate.
We left about 8:30 on a Saturday morning. Mostly sunny. Slightly brisk with a light breeze, traffic on the I-15 South was heavier than I expected but most of us buzzed right along. The desert sky, a soft mix of yellow and crimson low clouds tucked against shimmering distant mountains, filled us with giddy optimism.
Of course, my wife and I are a little goofy already so giddy optimism isn’t much of a stretch.
One of our wedding CD’s was in the CD Changer. The upbeat blend of the Shins, Elvis, Beck, some ’80′s music and some Rat Pack served as perfect morning music. About an hour later we passed Barstow and switched the vibe over to Mark Twain’s recently released autobiography. Laura had downloaded it from Audible.com onto our new, way cool Samsung tablet.
We had learned in a previous attempt to listen to Twain’s autobiography that there was about 100 pages of scholarly preamble to it and that he never quite finished taking various stabs at writing it. Although unfinished at his death, his last will and testament forbid the release of any of it until 100 years AFTER his death which IMHO gave various scholars far too long to make their own interpretations of it.
So we skipped ahead and got to his actual words.
Though a little disjointed, we found Twain’s passages interesting, though lacking much of his world renowned wit. Twain’s reasoning for delaying the release of his autobiography was to protect the people he had been in business with during his life. If you ever read (or listen) to any part of his autobiography you’ll understand why he was so serious about withholding the release of his autobiography for 100 years. It was a very noble gesture on his part. As a 19th century entrepreneur and avid investor in many new technologies of the day, he got burned several times.
But many of the lessons he learned the hard way are still relevant for today’s inventor/investors, which is why I recommend giving the heavy tome a try. Plus, his candid dissection of his close personal friendship with Ulysses S. Grant will appeal to any history buff and appeal to fans of Twain’s famous wit.
Now, even without listening to a firsthand account of hundred year old history, driving across the Mojave Desert in the morning provides an ample infusion of Zen into any introspective person’s life. On a Saturday morning, the road from Vegas to L.A. is empty of the testosterone jubilation/rage that fills it on Sundays. The winners and losers that regularly engage in vehicular combat with each other between the lanes are still gorging themselves at the buffet tables in Vegas.
So, on Saturdays, if you glance across the morning sheen rising off the road, particularly the one that drifts into the pale horizon like a timeless veil, you might be lucky enough to glimpse an old wagon train slogging across the dusty flats.
A good day for those intrepid pioneers of yesteryear was getting across the dry gullies and spiky brush of the arid Soda Lake bed to the front range of the Cady Mountains. Today, that arduous journey of less than fifteen miles takes less than fifteen minutes in an air conditioned, self-contained habitat humming along at 65+mph.
I love those fleeting hours when the journey becomes more important than the destination. They’re magical and never very far out of reach, especially when you have a full tank of gas, a hopeful destination and live under the vast western sky.
Driving between Las Vegas and southern California is rarely arduous when you travel opposite the vacationing tides.