October 7, 2005

Start: Las Vegas

End: Sunset Beach, California

Miles: 298 miles

Route taken: Interstate 15 south to Route 66 south at Helendale to Interstate 15 south to Highway 91 west to Highway 55 south to Pacific Coast Highway west, exit at Sunset Beach.


It was only fitting that because I began my trip on one of the most beautiful roads in the world, that I should end it on one of the worst.

Interstate 15 is a bland, viewless stretch of highway in which the primary purpose is to ferry gamblers and truckers from San Bernardino to Las Vegas. The only scenery is certain town markers that remind the frequent visitor of this path how close they are to their destination.

The first one when leaving Vegas is Stateline, Nevada. There are two casinos that straddle the California/Nevada border where an old truck stop used to be the only structure, 37 miles from the strip.

I never understood why people would endure four hours to get to Las Vegas from Los Angeles and then quit 30 minutes from their goal and stay at Stateline.

Now it is more appealing. There are two golf courses, and the hotels have features like a rollercoaster, but still, you are only a half hour from Vegas, why not continue?

The next marker is the town of Baker. It is another little rest that truckers would use. The town’s claim to get people to stop is that it has the world’s largest thermometer and that it is also the gateway to Death Valley.

It also has some of the highest gasoline prices in the country. Fortunately I got some gas at Stateline and didn’t have to stop and fill up there, learning my lesson on a recent bike trip to Death Valley. Gas was $3.30 when I went through in May and was at $3.89 this time around.

When you reach Barstow you are half way home and when I saw the sign telling me there were 11 miles remaining until I reached the town I grew a little anxious. I was now two hours from home, though I had one more stop to make.

It was in Helendale, which is between Barstow and Victorville and a town that was forgotten once the interstate was built.

You have to go on Route 66 to get there and it is like a time machine. The rail road runs alongside the highway and trains are constantly running up and down the tracks.

When I got to the town, I went right on Helendale Avenue and headed out to a far corner of the city. It was there I was to meet Dixie Evans.

Evans, now 80, is a former burlesque performer and has built a museum on a 40-acre ranch that she lives on.
Dixie Evans shows off pictures of her during her Burlesque career.

        The museum is a tribute to the burlesque era and the strippers that worked at the shows.

There is an incredible amount of artifacts on display, including pictures of some of the famous strippers, such as Gypsy Lee Rose, Tempest Storm, Sally Rand, Chesty Morgan, and Blaze Starr.

The museum was started by Evans 15 years ago and every year hosts a pageant that brings back the stars of that era, as well as strippers of today.

The stage for the Miss Exotic World Pagent.

Evans gives tours of the museum to people and groups, often dressing up in costume. She is as polished in providing the tour as she was as a dancer 50 years ago.

It was a nice break on the monotonous ride and gave me the second wind to go the rest of the way home.

When I reached Wrightwood, which is above San Bernardino, it was hard to not get excited. It is a notorious speed trap so I had to really watch not to fly through the area.

It would have been faster to take another route home, but I wanted to see the Pacific Ocean, so I got off the freeway in Newport Beach and headed for the water.

The ride to my house had the ocean to my left and I stared at it for most of the ride.

I crossed Bolsa Chica Beach and into Sunset Beach and drove past my street to the end of town and turned around. I wanted to see my town.

        There was a the water tower that has been converted to a home, Taco Surf restaurant, where they make a great grilled red snapper, and Mothers, a quaint little beer bar that used to be a ticket station for the Red Line cars 70 years ago.

        I pulled up next to my garage and went up to my apartment. I stripped off my clothes, thinking I wasn’t going to be wearing jeans for a while and threw on my bathing suit and went to the beach. The water was a bit cold, but it didn’t bother me.

        As I treaded in the Pacific Ocean just letting the waves knock me around a bit, I noticed a ship off in the distance. It was leaving the port of Long Beach. It was one of the cruise liners that dock at the port frequently. I looked at the ship and smiled. It was going somewhere, Mexico perhaps, or maybe Hawaii or Alaska. While the water from the ocean at my beach surrounded and supported me, I wondered what Alaska would be like on a motorcycle.