We low desert dwellers occasionally find a reason to go up to Las Vegas. This time we were going to attend a wedding at Graceland Chapel. For our drive, we chose a different route; rather than jumping into Friday afternoon traffic toward LA, then going north past Victorville, we went by way of Yucca Valley, passing the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. You can see lots of Joshua Trees along the way, even without entering the park. They thrive at about 2800 to 3000 feet. We continued up and around the Twentynine Palms Marine Base, and onward toward the Mohave Desert.
This route we were taking was famous long before interstates even existed. For us it was shorter, with little traffic, and it offered stunning panoramic views, especially when we descended into the valley where the small town of Amboy is located. The valley floor shimmered like white water. As we drove closer, we discovered that we were driving through fields of sodium chloride, drying in the sun. Amboy is basically a ghost town now. Located on Route 66, it was once thriving, but business literally died with the construction of I-10 in 1973. To make matters worse, the then owner of most of the town destroyed his buildings to avoid having to pay any tax on them. So not much remains other than the famous Roy’s Motel and Cafe with its landmark mid-century sign, along with a train stop for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. A mega-scary movie, The Hitcher, was filmed, in part, along the road through Amboy. If you are a fan of Rutger Hauer and like horror/thriller movies, this film is a must. It might be a good choice for viewing on Halloween night!
Now on the far side of Amboy, we were in the Mohave Desert, driving along a narrow desolate road. It was interesting to see black lava rock and the crater there that was once an active volcano. As night fell, we were still in the middle of the Mohave Desert, really in the middle of nowhere; it was black, deserted and a little spooky. I felt relieved to reconnect to the interstate heading north for Glitter Gulch.
Once in Las Vegas, we had a blast attending the Elvis wedding. Our Elvis was tall and thin, had big side burns, a big Brill Creme pompadour, a suit all in black ornamented with studs and rhinestones, and finished off with a giant glittery low riding belt. He was sexy and fun. As he spoke the vows for them to repeat, he wove in the titles of most of Elvis’s songs. “And I promise never to step on your blue suede shoes….” We laughed the whole time. So if you are looking for a weekend away, we can certainly recommend both this drive to Las Vegas and the chance to have a really fun wedding once you get there.