I remember when I was a boy taking long trips in the car and my parents taking turns to drive all night. This way us kids would awake to find ourselves already at the destination. While taxing, I’m sure it saved my parents from hours of “When are we going to be there?!”
So in an effort to pay homage to my parents’ sacrifice, as well as to take my turn continuing the proud tradition, I drove into the night.
In another homage to olden times, Jessie and I consulted our atlas and debated the various possible routes to Vegas. No matter which way we went it was too late to stop into a town for dinner, Sarah Michael was about to go to bed anyway, so we agreed to just follow the instructions from the GPS navigation system: US 395 south to Hwy 168 to Hwy 266 to US 95.
This was going fine, but I was a little bit concerned when Hwy 168 turned off from US 395 and was only two lanes, I worried it might be an old route, perhaps windy and slow. But the GPS said this was the fastest route, and the GPS knows, right?
Check this out:
- You have Google Earth installed, right? If you don’t, download it from here.
- Next, download this GPS track, it is essentially the trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas. Open this file in Google Earth.
- Now that the track is visible, download and open this file, it will orient the camera to look into the ancient winding narrow mountain pass I was about to enjoy.
- Explore the route with Google Earth, you can even click to see photos other people have taken on the road to give you more of the experience.
Can’t be bothered? Here’s a boring static view.
I crawled over slowly up the pass and watched as my Henderson ETA went from 2am towards 2:30 and finally past 3am. Why is this so slow I kept asking? Why is the GPS so wrong?
“Oh well” was all I could say to myself in reply.
At one point I needed to stop for a scherdling when I was on a very straight, very flat, very dark section. I got out of the car, didn’t turn off the engine just in case it wouldn’t restart (not that it wouldn’t start, but this was one of those places on earth where you wouldn’t want to take the chance) but did turn off the lights. The valley was slightly illuminated by the moon and it was beautiful. There were so many stars in the sky. It was neat. View the approximate spot by opening this file in Google Earth, rotate around so you can see all sides of the valley. Then pee. That’s the experience.
As I approached the right turn onto Hwy 266 I saw emergency lights traveling south on 266. A few miles later, around midnight, I caught up with the emergency vehicles. The highway was essentially closed by a serious accident. Apparently the driver of a south-bound car fell asleep and crossed the center line running into the trailer wheels of a north-bound semi truck.
The driver was alive, though I don’t know how injured she was. They used the jaws of life to open the vehicle up and they brought her out on a rigid board then put her in an ambulance.
Turns out this section of road had a very side shoulder so we were able to get by the accident and proceed. Though I didn’t go on much further. Perhaps partly because of seeing such dramatic evidence of what driving tired can lead to, but also I know because I was getting bored, I found a good spot beside the highway to pull over and go to sleep.
I awoke about the same time as the sun and took the picture to the right. The desert is beautiful in the morning. The sky has pretty colors, it is quiet, the sun has not yet heated to air to become lethal.
Speaking of lethal, one of the things we passed was Creech Air Force Base, one of the places where pilots command drone aircraft that fly over Iraq and Afghanistan. I had the thought to stop and ask the guard at the gate if we could come have a tour, but I imagined he would not have taken kindly to the offer.
I wanted to give the Garmin GPS device a chance to redeem itself, so I when we arrived in Las Vegas asked it if there were any attractions in the area and it suggested the Neon Museum.
Then we finished the drive to our friends Eric and Chrissy’s house in Henderson where we will spend the next two nights.