Having been married a few days earlier, we set out to Las Vegas for a short honeymoon. But we didn’t stay put in Vegas very long…
We flew out very early Tuesday morning, arriving in Las Vegas at 7:50 AM. We picked up our Nissan Altima at the car rental place. And thankfully we were able to check into our hotel at the New York New York Hotel & Casino. We spent the rest of the day being lazy, taking naps and watching the Game Show Network. From our hotel window we were able to have a view of the Floyd Mayweather vs Conor Mcgregor press conference. Their big fight was taking place a few days later. In the evening we attended the Cirque Zumanity show at our hotel.
On Wednesday morning we headed south in search of new counties. We headed south on HWY 95 out of Henderson into California. Once we reached HWY 62 we headed east, crossed the Colorado River into the city of Parker, Arizona, and our first new county – La Paz. We continued south on HWY 95, drove through the city of Quartzite, headed south another 13 miles, and crossed into Yuma County. From there we turned around and went back to Quartzsite. The naked bookstore was closed. But we did find the cemetery and grave of Hi Jolly – camel driver from the failed U.S. Camel Corps of the 1800’s.
After leaving Quartzsite we headed west on I-10 back into California. We briefly turned into Joshua Tree National Park, vowing to return to it later in the day. We then turned south onto HWY 86 at the town of Mecca. About 10 miles later we entered Imperial County. Once we got into Salton City we went west on the Borrego Salton Seaway and entered San Diego County. Shortly thereafter we entered the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
We continued another 20 miles until we actually reached the city of Borrego Springs. The surrounding fields of the small city feature 150 metal statues created by artist Ricardo Breceda. The giant statues thrusting out of the California desert are an incredible sight to see, and was well worth the extra time it took to get there.
Upon leaving we headed back north, and stopped for supper at Bill’s Pizza in Palm Springs. After eating we went north on HWY 62 into the city of Joshua Tree, and into Joshua Tree National Park. We took a very brief hike then got back into the car to go back to our hotel. Our return drive took us through the Mojave National Preserve as night fell. And we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. Eventually we hooked back up with the I-15 and made it back to our hotel.
On Thursday morning we got up at 4:30 in the morning and headed out about 5:15. We had a long driving day in front of us. We headed north out of Las Vegas on HWY 93, HWY 318 and HWY 375 – the latter of which has also been dubbed “Extraterrestrial Highway.” From there we got onto HWY 50 – the which is known as the “Loneliest Road In America.” Are initial destination was the city of Carlin. Along the way we traveled through Lincoln, Nye, White Pine, Eureka and Elko Counties.
At Carlin we headed west on I-20 towards the city of Winnmucca. We went through Lander and Humboldt Counties on the way. At Winnemucca we stopped for lunch at Port O’ Subs. We also went a few blocks further to cross into Pershing County.
Our next destination was Lakeview, Oregon. At one point we had to double back about 10 miles because we weren’t certain we had enough gas to get there. And we had a long drive to the next gas station. We eventually wormed our way through on HWY 140 and crossed the border, picking up Harney County. A few miles later we entered Lake County.
We filled up the gas tank again in Lakeview, gearing up for the final stretch south. About 10 miles south on HWY 395 we crossed into northeast California and Modoc County. We continued south almost all the way to the Nevada border, and traveling through Lassen County on the way. At HWY 70 we turned right, went about four miles, and crossed into Plumas County – our final new county of the day. From there we had another 30 minutes to go. So we headed directly to our hotel – the Nugget Casino in Reno. After 16 hours and 1000 miles on the road, the hotel was a welcome sight.
On Friday morning we left around 8:00 AM for our final drive back to Las Vegas. We headed east on I-80 towards the city of Fallon, and Churchill County. At Fallon we turned south on HWY 95 and drove all the way through Mineral County. As we left Mineral County, we crossed into Esmeralda County – thus completing the state of Nevada for us. But we were not done for the day!
At the city of Coaldale we went southwest, eventually getting onto HWY 264. We followed it all the way into California to the small city of Oasis – population 22. Once we crossed the state border we found ourselves in Mono County. We even found a lone cow on the side of the road. In Oasis we turned south for about a mile until we crossed into Inyo County – our last new county for this trip. But we still weren’t done for the day!
We got back onto the main highway (which took us back into Nevada). From there we continued southwest until we reached the city of Beatty. Just to the west of Beatty stood the ghost town of Rhyolite – which featured the impressive Tom Kelly Bottle House. The ruins of the town have also been featured in a few films.
We continued west for about 10 miles, crossing back into California, and into Death Valley National Park. We drove through the park, eventually reaching Badwater Basin – the lowest elevation spot in the United States. At 282 feet below sea level in the blazing sun, it’s no wonder one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded on Earth happened right there. On this day the temperature reached a whopping 121 degrees. The hot breeze felt like it was burning both my eyes and nose. But it was an incredible experience.
After we left the park we headed straight to the Mirage Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. We took in the seafood buffet for dinner, then headed right to the theater for the Cirque Beatles Love show – which was incredible! After the show, we went right to our hotel in Henderson and went to bed. Our flight home the next day was leaving at 6:30 in the morning.
When it was all said and done, we’d entered 22 new counties and had covered a lot of new ground. Several of these counties were very large! So what’s next? That remains to be seen. At present there are no trips planned. But we have a lot of Southwest points and gift cards. So it wouldn’t surprise me if a weekend getaway (or even a road trip) took place before the year ends. So stay tuned!
NEW COUNTIES - 22
TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2017 - 171
ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1694