There's a terrific handout on the San Rafael swell area which shows up at some of the restaurants and motel racks in Green River, which includes a map of the swell's area and a geologic cross section of the exposed rocks, which confirmed our suspicion that the white sandstone exposed on the eastern side of the Reef is Navajo sandstone, just like the Slickrock Trail at Moab.
The highway has numerous pullouts marked "View Area", with fanciful names such as Spotted Wolf or Black Dragon, and fairly useful interpretive signs to go along with the views. We had to laugh at some of the "View Area" signs, with arrows pointing at spectacular rock formations, wondering: Could anyone drive by that and not view it?
After leaving the San Rafael Swell, the highway moves into the Fishlake National Forest -- fairly standard mountainous terrain -- then eventually south along the Sevier (pronounced "severe") river. Eventually we turned southwest on I-15 and headed down toward Vegas.
We did make a stop at our favorite Indian truck stop on the Moapa reservation in Nevada. In addition to a general store and fairly reasonable gas prices, they used to have a big sign advertising "Really Good Jerky", of both beef and buffalo. The jerky seller in the little trailer outside the general store gave samples (which he cut off with scissors), and it was indeed Really Good, so we've made a point of stopping for jerky every time we pass this way.
Alas, the jerky seller is no more, and we went jerkyless. The Moapa are now specializing in fireworks, and there was no sign of Really Good Jerky.
(Fortunately, the next day, Alien Fresh Jerky in Baker, CA, saved me from a totally jerkyless trip. I'm not sure it's *quite* as good as the Moapa Really Good Jerky; but it's really quite good (they have buffalo, turkey, salmon and alligator as well as beef, but free samples only for the beef), and the store, heavily decorated in an alien motif, makes an excellent kitchy stopover. Plus you can check out the World's Tallest Thermometer while you're in Baker. Dave and I stayed at the Baker Bun Boy Motel on our first night of our first-ever trip together, so there's a bit of romance to stopping in Baker. Do we know how to have a good time, or what?)
We passed through Vegas without a backward glance, and instead of staying in Jean as we have before, decided to try Primm, a few miles farther south near the California border. Primm sports three casino/hotels: we picked Whisky Pete's because it was on the right side of the road and had a sign offering $5.95 prime rib, though it turns out they're all owned by the same person and all probably offer the same deals. (The room rates at Whiskey Pete's are very reasonable, the room is nice, and the prime rib was excellent. The only downside is that there's no wifi, phone calls aren't free, and it's not clear whether a Vegas access number would be a local call or not. So no internet connection tonight.)
Primm is a bit of an enigma. I'm typing this in a room high in a tower surrounded by crenellated turrets, each topped with a Disney- style party hat with a little flag, and surrounded by blinking white christmas lights. We're having trouble figuring out what a Disney Sleeping Beauty castle has to do with the "Whiskey Pete" theme embodied by the western mining motif in the casino downstairs. The pool twelve floors below our window has a neat looking mini waterslide that goes through a fake little mountain (Disneyesque again) on the way down, but it appears to be closed (maybe if I went down and asked, someone would open it; I didn't try).
There's a sign in the casino for "Monorail to Primm Valley Resort". The "monorail" is a bus with rubber tires which run on two concrete tracks. The tracks go high up over I-15, from which you get a nice view of the pass to the south and the surrounding desert, not to mention the lovely crescent moon setting over the hills. It's free. It runs fairly often. It's really pretty neat. But I still haven't figured out what's "mono" about it. Maybe no one would be willing to ride a "birail".
Primm Valley Resort Casino tries to look a bit more upscale than Pete's. The buffet restaurant is decorated like they're trying to be the Butterfly room at the Bellagio in Vegas, but failing. The staff at the coffee shop is a little more dressy. The security guards all look glum (where the ones at Pete's look officious). The dinner menus are very similar. We tried to take the "monorail" (two rails again) down to Buffalo Bill's, which has a rollercoaster (which we've never seen in motion), but got tired of waiting for it and headed back to the Whiskey Pete's tra^H^H^Hmonorail. (We didn't check out the outlet mall next door to the resort.)
On the way back over the freeway, the monorail operator asked us why we were back so soon. We said we decided we liked Whiskey Pete's better. He said he did, too -- it was more casual. We chatted a bit (he's originally from the Navajo reservation in Arizona) and when he asked where we'd been, we mentioned that we'd been visiting relatives in Colorado, and Dave added that they lived at about 10,000 feet. The operator said "Sounds like Fairplay." We were stunned -- that's the next town over from where Kerry & Pam live. Turns out he lived there for a year or so, ranching. It's a small world.
[ 23:02 Sep 16, 2004 More travel/southpark | permalink to this entry | ]