Zzyzx and beyond. 1/22/23

This morning it is cold and windy as we leave Barstow, CA. The plan today is to explore Zzyzx, pass through Las Vegas, enjoy the scenery in the Virgin River Gorge, arrive in St. George for a late lunch, do some grocery shopping, and finally check in to our rental around 4PM. We are staying at a new place in Bloomington, UT and they have made it very clear that there are NO early arrivals.

We exit I-15 at the weirdly named Zzyzx Road. Who wouldn’t want to know what is down this road? Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Zzyzx.

“Curtis Howe Springer made up the name Zzyzx and gave it to the area in 1944, claiming it to be the last word in the English language. He established the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa in 1944 at the spot which was on federal land. He used the springs to bottle his water and provide drinks for travelers through the hot desert. Springer also imported animals from around the country to attract more families to visit his ranch. He used Zzyzx until 1974 when the land was reclaimed by the government.” In 1976 the BLM and California State University agreed to manage the land around Zzyzx and established CSU desert studies.

Exit sign on I-15 for Zzyzx Road

We are driving along Zzyzx Road along the edge of Soda Lake which is a dry lake bed. We have had a lot of rain in California lately and unfortunately the road is flooded after a couple of miles. Having stupidly tried to get through a small creek in the desert and gotten stuck we know when it is time to turn around.

John and Jonathan scope out the puddles on the road. John reports that they only get deeper and bigger as the road continues.

We spend a few minutes taking pictures before heading back to the freeway. It is important to document the fact that the Mojave River which flows under Soda Lake has some water in it. This is only the second time we have seen it with water in the last thirty years!

Water in the Mojave River!
Mom and Jon by the Mojave River

Now we are back on the road and heading toward the California/Nevada border. Primm, NV is the first town you come to. Near the border there are lots of gambling opportunities.

Buffalo Bill’s Resort and Casino, Primm, NV – We once stayed here with my sister, Peg and her husband, Ted.

Now it is on to Las Vegas which is about 40 miles away. You start to get the LV vibe way before 40 miles. Every year it seems that Las Vegas grows further south.

Approaching Las Vegas

Getting closer

The new stadium for the former Oakland Raiders
Near the strip in Las Vegas

Since it is Sunday the traffic is light which is not usually the case in Las Vegas. Not too much longer we are out in the wilds of Nevada. The wind is really blowing now. The forecasts said gusts up to 50 mph. I am really glad Jonathan is driving as the car is buffeted by the high wind. Even scarier are the big trucks lurching in the gale. The mountains are snow covered in the distance.

Desert, snow-capped mountains, and blue sky
As we approach the Arizona strip it looks even more wintry

On our trip to Utah we pass through the Arizona Strip. It is the 30 miles of Arizona between Nevada and Utah on I-15. The freeway passes through the Virgin River Gorge. It is a winding canyon sculpted by the river. The scenery is spectacular.

About to enter the Virgin River Gorge
The first turn
The second turn
The Gorge connectis the southwestern rim of the Colorado Plateau with the Mojave Desert
As you get closer to Utah the rock turns coral, pink, and cream
A cut in the rock to allow the road to go through. The mighty Virgin River which is the little stream in the lower right created the Virgin River Gorge.
Virgin River Gorge seen from 20,000 feet (Wikipedia)
Yay! We have reached Utah!

We only need to go 5 miles into Utah to reach our exit. First order of business is to have lunch. Most eating establishments are closed on Sunday since they are run and staffed by Mormons. We know that Tia’s will be open and make a beeline there.

Shrimp tacos at Tia’s

We make a quick stop at Harmon’s for kitchen essentials and then check into our villa at the Bloomington Country Club. We are trying a new place this year since Estrada raised its prices to around $500 a night. At BCC we get a three bedroom, 2200 sq. ft. place for $150. But will it be nice? Yes, it is and much better equipped than the units we have been renting in the past.

John on happy hour duty
Jonathan enjoying happy hour
Dining area

After an easy sushi dinner we watch a little TV but I am tired from all the driving and we decide on an early night.

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