Day 12: Las Vegas, NV to Ventura, CA.

Trip Start May 29, 2010
1
14
19
Trip End Jun 14, 2010


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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Final Push from Las Vegas to California!

As planned, we left the Treasure Island Casino at 6:30 a.m. (local time) as we did not want to make the push through the Mojave Desert too late in the morning.  We had heard dire reports on how hot it can get along I-15, and, just before we were leaving the casino, no less than three people expressed surprise that we were leaving so late to cross the desert!  We began to second guess our decision to leave as late as we did, however, on a daily basis it became an exercise in futility trying to get Kevin to wake up and get moving! If left to his vices, he would have partied all night, gone to bed late, and sleep until noon each day!

Upon leaving Las Vegas proper, we headed south along I-15 and found the road to be mostly deserted at that time of the morning. We also found that as we ascended through the mountains it became somewhat cooler than we've been used to. In any event, we also knew the cool air would be short-lived, and the temperature would start to rise....and it did.

Not too long after we saw Las Vegas disappear in our side view mirrors, we stopped to gas up the bikes in order to be sure we had enough fuel to get us to the small Town of Baker, CA., which is located between Las Vegas and Barstow, CA. Barstow is another small town, also located right off of I-15.

We found Baker, CA., to be a quaint and friendly town. We did gas up once again upon arrival in Town to ensure an adequate supply of fuel until we reached Barstow, CA. After filling our tanks, we stopped at a new Denny's Restaurant located right along the main street, and we found the staff to be very welcoming and they went out of their way to assist us and make sure the coffee and water glasses were filled at all times.  The high level of service we received went well beyond what was expected and we appreciated their efforts. Most employees appeared to be from Baker, or nearby, as there were very few Towns located along Rte 15.  Most employees appeared to be of Mexican heritage, and although they spoke broken English, they communicated very well with the customers, and it was clear that they were thrilled to be employed, and just as important, happy to be employed in a new restaurant. Their attitude exhibited a great deal of pride.  As an example of how accommodating they were, when the manager realized my cell phone battery was low, he allowed me to plug in my charger at the cash register station.  Now, that was service!

Baker was founded in 1908 and named after R. C. Baker, President of the local railroad at that time. He developed this small Town and brought essential services to the Town, to include gasoline and other services, in order to meet the needs of local people and travelers in this desert area (Mojave National Preserve) between Las Vegas and Barstow, CA. 

A primary and interesting attraction in Baker is the 134 foot thermometer located at the Bun Boy Restaurant which is situated right along the main street.  The thermometer was erected back in 1913 to commemorate when the local temperature topped out at 134 degrees one day! And here we thought the 105 degrees we experienced while in Town was hot!  We were also glad the temperature didn't climb to 134 degrees! 

We departed Baker and continued on our southwesterly trek to Los Angeles. Approximately one hour later, we entered the Town limits of Barstow, CA.  We did make yet another stop for fuel and, unlike the friendly service personnel we met in Baker, the attendant in the gas station was rude when we asked her why no credit cards were accepted at the gas pumps.  Interestingly, the station allows only cash or debit cards to be used at the pumps, and each pump had a machine that could be used for this purpose. Credit Cards....not!

Our visit to Barstow was as brief as a fly landing on unattended hamburger just prior to being swatted. We jumped back onto I-15, and eventually reached the San Bernardino mountains. Once we reached the mountain area, the highway terrain climbed and dipped resulting in elevation changes. What we found was that the fluctuation of the temperature was consistent with the changing elevation of the roadway! 

Ultimately, we did reach San Bernardino County, followed by Los Angeles County as we drove along Rte 10 toward Pasadena, CA.  Eventually, we passed through Los Angeles, at about 1:15 p.m. (local time), and, pleasantly, we were not met with excessive traffic in the area.  This was a break for us!  Although it took some time (I never said there was no traffic), we eventually made our way to the Santa Monica Pier. Enroute to the pier, Mike was hoping to spot Cheryl Crowe walking along Santa Monica Boulevard, but it was not to be. We understand she was busy getting her guitar restrung!  As a side note, I am most thankful for the Garmin Zumo Motorcycle GPS on the bike, as this has proven to be a great investment, and a time-saver, as there is no need to constantly refer to maps, especially as we made our way from San Bernardino, through Los Angeles, and into Santa Monica.

The Santa Monica Pier was as nice as described during the trip planning process.  Not unexpectedly, Kevin's first priority, upon arrival, was to locate a seafood restaurant. Mike, on the other hand, was more focused on local scenery; taking pictures; and looking for 'deals' from the multitude of vendors hawking their wares along the boardwalk.

Santa Monica proved to be a memorable seaside city that has a well-known (famous) pier that houses a carousel as well as an amusement park.  The pier, as well as the adjacent Ocean Avenue, provided an array of award-winning restaurants, with diverse menu's sure to please anyones palate, even Kevin's. In spite of the many fine restaurants at our disposal, we elected to 'head north' after visiting the pier for a few hours. Our objective was to make up some time in our travels in order to give us enough sightseeing opportunities in San Francisco. 

We exited Santa Monica via the Pacific Coast Highway, a 90 mile highway that begins in Santa Monica at its southern-most point. The ride was very scenic as we traveled through Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Oxnard, and ultimately into Ventura, CA.  Upon reaching Ventura we were all tired, hot, and ready for dinner and a pool.  Kevin's bike also needed to take a rest (as he did) after a long day on the road.

Ventura is located between Malibu and Santa Barbara on the Pacific Ocean, and while riding through Town, it became apparent that the Town was steeped in tradition and the area was historic as well. Although much of the Town was void of redevelopment and new construction, the downtown buildings were very well maintained and the entire downtown was spotless. Numerous restaurants lined the main street and we had a choice as we could eat at a local restaurant or make a stop at one of the many food stands that lined the main street during the large street festival that was underway at the time we arrived.  We chose the former, and ate at a (you guessed it) Italian Restaurant.  The restaurant we chose was Capriccio, located at 298 Main Street, Downtown Ventura, CA.  As good as the restaurant was, and the food was good, it could not compare to our fine dining experience in North Little Rock, at Ristorante Capeo.  It became clearer over time that this North Little Rock restaurant was truly a gem, and it became the benchmark for all other eateries we stopped at.

Following dinner, we browsed through the downtown street festival which featured Ventura merchants selling both products and services.  It was a great visit to the downtown area, a visit we all enjoyed. 

For the history buffs, and those interested in learning more about this historic Town, the following link is provided: http://www.ventura-usa.com/

Following our visit to the downtown area, we headed back to the Country Inn and Suites and called it a day.  We were tired.

Today's Mileage: 381.8
Total Mileage: 3484.2
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