Death to the Interstate Highway System! Long live the State Roads!
First off, let me say that I love Garmin.
This past Friday I had to drive out to Phoenix to service a console that's been acting flakey. As my old Magellen Roadmate 300 has pretty much given up the ghost after many, many years of faithful service, I decided to buy a new GPS unit. Best Buy had the Garmin nuvi 1300T on sale, so I bought it.
Now, my old unit, when told to direct me from S.D. to Phoenix, would have taken me straight up the 15 to the 215 to 10W. It was rather boring in that way. Fast? Sure. But no sense of occasion.
Not so the Garmin. Without even being told "follow awesomest roads" it decided that the best route was across the Anza Valley on highway 371, and then highway 74 through Palm Desert.
Those who own Miatas and live in SD will recognize highway 74 (aka the Pines to Palms highway) as being one of the greatest pieces of paved road ever laid down by man, and one of the regular features of SDMC's annual "The Puke"
It begins with a large yellow sign bemoaning tight and dangerous curves for the next 30 miles, and warning that trucks over 30' need not even consider proceeding further.
Then you start to get into this:
Whereupon you are rewarded with things like this:
And some of this:
And just for good measure, a bit of this thrown in at the end:
And to think, these are the same directions it gives to people in minivans...
Not long thereafter, I passed into the charming small town of Indio, CA. Now, I gotta tell you, I love these small towns. The sort that used to be right on Route 99, or Route 66, or whatever, and have been mostly forgotten as time marches on, yet refuse to fade quietly into the good night. Places like Gila Bend, AZ, the home of 1,700 friendly people and 5 grumpy old crabs. What, don't believe me?
Indio has got 'em beat.
I came upon the following billboard, just past Shields Date Garden (you know, the little fruity, nutlike things that were poisoned in Raiders of the Lost Ark), which informs me that, free of charge, I may visit their 108 seat theater to watch a film on the Romance and Sex Life of the Date (in sound and color).
It turns out that Date Palm trees are actually rather promiscuous little devils. The milkshakes are also surprisingly good.
Not long thereafter, I passed a sign which looked vaguely familiar. It took a moment for my brain to process the information, and when it clicked, I nearly drove off the road. Without even realizing what town I was in, I had just passed the fabled Rockafire Pizza.
Now, for those of you who didn't grow up in the early 1980s, in the southeastern US, this probably doesn't mean a thing. For everyone else, let me tell you- it's a sad sight.
The show is gone. All that remains is the name.
The stage where Dook and Beach Bear once jammed out their tunes under the heckling gaze of Rolfe deWolfe & Earl Schemerle is now set up with a PA system and some other random crap, to allow drunk people to belt out bad karaoke and, on really special occasions, lame cover bands to perform their rendition of Free Bird.
Not even a picture of Billy Bob hanging up on the wall somewhere, like the portraits of aviators long gone behind the bar at Pancho's Happy Bottom Riding Club saloon.
Oh, well. It was still a hell of a fun trip. And eventually, I even got some work done.