Flagstaff, mile 781.7

Downtown Bakersfield.

We started in in Bakersfield CA and ended the day in Flagstaff AZ, 518.9 miles later. Much of it on back roads. The first part, out of Bakersfield and over Tehachapi pass into the high Mojave Desert at Mojave CA – strangely enough – then down to Barstow however, was mostly on freeways.      

Climbing up, out of the San Joaquin Valley up towards Tehachapi Pass on Highway 58.
Tehachapi Pass, covered in windmills with new, much bigger, windmills filling in the empty spaces.
Tehachapi Pass from the Mojave side.
Mojave Air and Space Port is the center of much of the burgeoning private work on getting into space without giant rockets. Both Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch are leading the charge. Mojave is a strange place in that it is both a dusty out-back desert town and one of the high tech centers of the Universe.
To the casual observer, the most noticeable part of Mojave Air and Space Port is the boneyard of parked planes. Some will be sold and refitted, some poor derelicts parted out.

On Highway 58, driving through Hinkley CA, made famous by Steven Soderbergh’s Erin Brockovich. To my way of thinking, this is the most desolate section of highway in California.
A view of Barstow CA, from the semi-official view spot.
We got gas in Barstow and quickly moved on.

Several miles past Barstow, near the famous Bagdad Cafe, we got on Route 66. The first thing we noticed about Route 66 is that almost all the non-locals were foreigners, “75% French”, we were told by Bagdad Cafe’s Bass Lady Andree Pruett.  Well, that was probably the second thing we noticed, the first was how dilapidated everything was; when the new I40 went in, bypassed most of the towns that had sprung up to service Route 66’s  travelers and the towns just dried up, people just got up and left, taking everything they could carry. The buildings are now old enough to be picturesque but there is still an air of lost dreams. The road was washed out before Needles, so we got back on Interstate 40 and stayed on it until we crossed the Colorado River at the border between California and Arizona, then got back on 66 and wandered through the hills/mountains under impossibly blue skies, through Oatman AZ and, eventually back to the freeway as it got dark. 

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