When I first got to California, I didn’t know much about the deserts here, but I knew a bit about the old Route 66 and its role in California’s history. I was curious enough about it that when I first visited the Mojave, I drove down the old Route 66 (now known in that area as the National Trails Highway) between Barstow and Amboy (California). Lots of people do that — it’s a popular, easy drive, and if you ever get the chance, do it — some of it’s ruggedly-beautiful, and you’ll see a lot of natural and human history, often within an easy walk of the road itself (and some of it — especially the bits around Barstow and Daggett — will give you a good feeling for the realities of life in the High Desert). Before I did the drive I looked at the map and noticed a string of places with names like Bagdad, Siberia, Cadiz, Ludlow, Klondike, etc., marked along the way on the map. I had to visit Siberia, California! I had to see Bagdad, CA! (The Bagdad of Bagdad Café — except that movie was actually mostly shot a bunch of miles west at […]
Everyone who’s driven from LA to Las Vegas knows where Zzyzx is, right? You can’t miss the mysterious exit sign on the freeway heading for Baker, and eventually everyone stops or detours at least some distance down the dirt track there (well, almost everyone). And like everyone else, I’ve been there and done that (a bunch of times), and have the pix to prove it. Just like everyone else. So I wasn’t really looking to take another photo of the place when I visited it (again) with a friend of mine earlier this year. And in any case, the light was poor — all those high clouds washing out the wintry light and making for a bunch of missed opportunities. And then my friend stepped out briefly onto the playa (wearing a green scarf on her head because she’d left her hat in the car)…. It’s a striking image — that small black vertical figure striding purposefully away from you on and into a harshly-textured, mostly-horizontal, and almost monochromatic landscape. I didn’t take a lot of other photos that day.