My Western Trip~Part 3

21 May

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites



On the way back to Las Vegas, it was suggested that I take the scenic route through the Valley of Fire State Park. This area has some of the most unusual desert rock formations I’ve seen. It made for a beautiful drive, as the sun was getting low, making the red hue of the rock formations glow like they were on fire. Maybe that’s where they came up with the name for the state park. You think?



The next morning I started the day off with California Eggs Benedict at Marie Calendar’s (yumm), on my way to meet Bob at Nellis AFB. Bob had agreed to escort me on a tour of the Thunderbirds Museum, located there on Nellis. What a thrill it was to visit the home base of that great demonstration team, and view the planes and all the memorabilia tracing the team’s history over the years they have been in operation.



Then I headed West on I-15 toward Barstow, CA. My first stop was at Goodsprings, NV to check out the 1913 era Pioneer Saloon of “Things Are Tough All Over” movie fame, staring Cheech & Chang.   The saloon has been operating continuously since opening in 1913, and the building and many of the saloon furnishings are original (including the pot-bellied U.S. Army Cannon stove), giving it a rustic and well used appearance. Part of the old west history of the Pioneer Saloon includes five bullet holes in one wall, and a hammered copper picture next to the bullet holes tells the tale of how they got there. The Saloon’s original bar was built in the 1860s by the Brunswick Company of Brunswick, Maine. The story of the arduous trip that brought that bar to Goodsprings, and the Pioneer Saloon, is typical of the transportation routes of the early 1900s. Made of fine quality Cherry wood, even after all these years, it shows no real signs of wear and still maintains its high gloss.



As I continued West on I-15, I experienced a gentle climb until just after I crossed the border into California, when I started noticing what appeared to be a rainstorm heading my way. Just as I entered the Clark Mountain Pass (elev. 4726), I ran into SNOW flurries. I had just stopped for gas in Jean, NV and it hadn’t seemed that cold there. I just couldn’t believe I was driving through SNOW in the middle of a bright sunny day. Of course, the flurries didn’t last long, but it was still a thrill just to have driven through them. Down the road a ways, I stopped in Yermo, CA to visit the historic Old West Calico Ghost Town.   Located just 3 miles east of Barstow, Calico was founded in 1881 as a silver mining town, and today has been converted into a county park named Calico Ghost Town.  Silver mining and the population of Calico, supported by the Zenda Mining Company, peaked in 1887 and has steadily declined ever since. Walter Knott (of Knott’s Berry Farm) purchased Calico in the 1950s, and architecturally restored the town’s builldings to look as they did in the 1880s. 




—–To Be Continued—–


4 Responses to “My Western Trip~Part 3”

  1. gpcox May 22, 2014 at 7:50 am #

    All places and sites I’d love to see! I grew up with watching westerns, saw the Thunderbirds fly once, long ago and those rocks are incredible! Lucky couple!


  2. LFFL May 22, 2014 at 6:33 am #

    That Pioneer Saloon looks awesome. How cool!


  3. divoran09 May 21, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    I agree with Louise. I’m constantly amazed at what you can recall.


  4. Louise Gib son May 21, 2014 at 7:40 am #



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