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Old Posted Jan 1, 2020, 7:51 AM
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Road Trip through southern Nevada in my new ride!

This isn't really a city pics post per se, but more of a tour of southern Nevada, with some towns, nature, food pics and gratuitous new car shots thrown in. All photos by me.

Some background...

About a month ago, Thanksgiving weekend, my 2012 MINI Cooper, bought new, died on me. It was a fun car to drive, handled really well... I loved it for the first 4 years, and then after the 4th year, there was just problem after problem with it. I mean come ON, a 4 year-old car shouldn't have to have its ignition coils replaced (3 times in total in the years I've had it!), a leaky water pump (which happened twice!), and then oil leaking into the cylinder (the final straw!!!). The check engine light had come on, and the engine started sputtering and losing power. I could tell (from experience with this car before) that a cylinder was misfiring. I thought 'it must be the fucking ignition coils again.' I took it to the dealer, they ran a diagnostic, and basically it needed over $8,000 in repairs (oil leaking into the cylinder, along with needing yet another new water pump, and a new cylinder head). I said "You know what, I don't want the car anymore. Do you wanna buy it??" The service rep said "Uh, it has engine problems, we're not going to buy it. I can ask some mechanics if they want to buy it, but that would take time." This was at MINI of Monrovia (California). Conveniently, there's a CarMax right next to that MINI dealer, so I picked up the car, drove it to CarMax, and sold it. And conveniently next to the CarMax is an Enterprise Rent-A-Car. So I rented a car.

My MINI Cooper when it was brand new, in 2012, at Pt. Mugu, CA. RIP 2012-2019. My first and last European car. I'll never get a European car ever again.


For the first week of this December, this was my rental car. I had requested an economy car because I didn't want to spend a lot on gas. The guy says "Oh, we have an economy car for you. A hybrid." I said "Oh, cool." And then I was led to this, a huge-ass Ford Fusion. Here it is parked at work.


My co-worker asked me "so how do you like driving your narc car?" I said "Yeah, I totally could pose as an ATF agent or something with it." I mean come ON, the car just screams rental car. Who drives these in LA? It even had Oklahoma plates. Well, one Oklahoma plate. I guess Oklahoma is one of those states that only issues one rear plate.

The following Saturday (Dec. 7th), I bought a new Toyota. Nothing fancy at all. But I love my new car, a 2020 Toyota Yaris Hatchback (marketed as such in the US and Canada; in other car markets around the world, even in Mexico, it's the current generation Mazda 2, with Toyota badges and a Toyota front end). It only had 3 miles on it when I test drove it (the salesman said I was the first person to test drive it). Here it is in South Pasadena, CA, the city I live in.


It's the first car I've had that has the temporary license plates, now required in California since Jan. 1 2019. I got it at an AutoNation dealer, hence the "Drive Pink" license plate frames. It's to promote breast cancer awareness, and I think some of the money from the sale goes to breast cancer research, a cause dear to me, having known family members and friends who have had breast cancer/other forms of cancer. But, I don't like the way the pink frames look, so a few days later, I bought chrome ones, a Toyota logo for the back and a Yaris logo for the front:


It's also the first car I've ever had with an automatic transmission.





Some weeks ago I drove it with my partner to Malibu to have lunch, and then we went to Pt. Mugu.


So after breaking it in (first 600 miles), I decided to go on a road trip. We left Friday evening 12.27.2019 and returned Sunday night 12.29.2019. It was extremely fun, and an adventure indeed. We explored southern Nevada, a state we usually like to bash, because when we think 'Nevada,' we think Las Vegas, Reno, gambling, smoky, drunk in public, trashy... you know, stuff like that. But I learned that southern Nevada does have some gems. We hadn't been within Nevada since 2003 or 2006. Our main objectives were to go to Valley of Fire State Park (which is about an hour outside of Las Vegas, a place we loathe) and Cathedral Gorge State Park (about 3 hours or so north of Vegas), places which neither of us have been to, but I saw how beautiful they looked online. So we did go to those places, but we also went to other places in between.

We got into Boulder City (a city within the Vegas metro area) at night and checked into a hotel. I figured we'd stay in Boulder City because it's one of two towns in all of Nevada that doesn't allow gambling---I thought that would mean smoke-free places. And I guess it did. We got up Saturday morning and went to this diner:


It was crowded, but luckily we didn't wait long for a table. As soon as we sat down, more people started arriving, and they had to wait a while.


I ordered a chicken fajita salad, and this is what arrived:


It was huge, and it was a mess. Lots of chicken piled on top, and lots of cheddar cheese thrown in. I had another salad later in the day that also had cheddar cheese in it. WTH? Is that a Nevada thing?

This is what the outside of the diner looks like:


Located in historic downtown Boulder City.


Of course when in Boulder City, you might as well look at Hoover Dam, which is about 10 or 15 minutes away by car. The last time I was in Hoover Dam was in 2003 or so, and back then they didn't have the bridge, which acts as a highway bypass. It used to be that the highway was routed right on top of Hoover Dam, but over the years, it got really trafficky, so a bridge bypass was built. You can still drive on top of Hoover Dam itself, but that's only for local traffic/if you want to visit the actual dam itself and take the tours.








On to Valley of Fire State Park. A very beautiful place. We spent 5 or 6 hours there, just hiking, staring at beautiful landscapes, etc. Here are a few pictures; it was like being on Mars in some places, not that I've ever been to Mars.










Ancient petroglyphs:


After leaving the Valley of Fire we drove about 3 hours to Caliente, NV, and stayed at an old motor court. We checked in around 7:30pm or so. This was our room.


The innkeeper asked us if we were gonna get dinner, and I said "Yeah, I figured we'd try a restaurant somewhere in town." He suggested a place called "Side Track," he said that the food was good. "They even have coconut water," he said. He told us how to get there, and that's where we went.


It was 7:30-ish pm, and we were the only customers there, and the place closed at 9pm.


I ordered an iced tea and a pineapple cider...


...and a chicken breast salad. I wasn't expecting it to look like this. And again, the cheddar cheese. WTH? It wasn't bad, though.


Woke up in the morning to check out. This is what the outside of our room looked like. We had the one on the end, to the left. You can't tell from the photo, but it was 16 degrees Fahrenheit when I took this picture. That's COLD for an LA guy like me! There was even ice on the car.


We went to Side Track again for breakfast. I had the vegan scramble, which was actually pretty good.


This is what the outside of the restaurant looks like. Aptly named, as it is indeed adjacent to railroad tracks, which run through the center of the town.


Some shots of Caliente, NV.


An old train station, which is now used as Caliente's city hall, as well as for other government offices.
































OK, moving on to Cathedral Gorge State Park...

A few pics.


Toyota. Let's go places.










On the road again...


...to Pioche, NV.


Pioche is the county seat of Lincoln County. It is unincorporated, whereas Caliente is the only incorporated municipality in all of Lincoln County.


I learned while here, that icicles can be dangerous. I didn't grow up around them. While standing under another set of eaves, I felt something hit my thumb hard, and it hurt pretty bad. I realized it was a small icicle.




























A slanty shanty.


The old gas station is still being used as such. In LA, most of the old ones of this style/era that still exist have been converted to drive-thru coffee places or florists (or other kinds of businesses).










Seeing my footprints in snow is novel to me.














The old Lincoln County Courthouse.








Panaca, NV. Not much to it. Kind of run-down. It's the kind of place that you should just keep driving through. It does have the distinction, though, of being the other town (aside from Boulder City) in Nevada that does not allow gambling within its boundaries.








I noticed that Nevada DOT city/town limit signs only put the name and elevation; in California, they also include the population.


We started heading east of Panaca...


...and ended up in Utah! The first time we've ever been to Utah. Now I can add it to my list of American states I've been to.


Ended up in a small town called Modena, UT. It's apparently a semi-ghost town. Some abandoned buildings, but some people do still live in the town.








No restaurants in Modena, and we were hungry. So we figured we'd go back to Caliente, NV for lunch. So we headed back west. I realize that Utah's nickname is The Beehive State---hence the beehive on their state route marker signs.


Back in Nevada.


Back in Caliente, we decided to eat here, at the Knotty Pine. What an experience. We figured that even though Side Track seemed like the only decent restaurant in town, we'd already been there twice, so we decided to go to the Knotty Pine Casino/Restaurant/Bar.


It definitely lived up to its name with the knotty pine. And when we walked in, we immediately smelled cigarette smoke. I played the slot machine on the right, and after losing 3 bucks, I quit.


I ordered a "chicken breast burger." The waitress asked "did you want fries with that?" I said "No thank you." This is what arrived. I wasn't expecting the bag of chips. Or the way the sandwich looked.


My partner and I both decided it was time to get the hell out of Caliente. So, we went to the Oak Springs Trilobite Site. It's a place where you can hike and see trilobite fossils in the earth. But it had snowed, so we ended up not seeing any trilobites. But it was a nice beautiful hike, albeit a very cold one.




Can't find any trilobites!


After that, we headed south again, and ended up at Area 51.




The Truth is Out There.














Before we started for home, we figured we eat dinner. So... we ended up in Las Vegas. We avoided the Strip. We went to their Chinatown, but went to a Japanese restaurant.






Hot sake.


Cucumbers.


Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki.


Squid.


I initially wanted to eat here. I thought the name was hilarious. Pho (fuh) Kim Long. Get it?


After eating, it was leaving Las Vegas to get home to South Pasadena. What a road trip! And a fun experience!


You've made it this far, thanks for going along for the ride.
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Last edited by sopas ej; Jan 2, 2020 at 8:39 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jan 1, 2020, 10:50 PM
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Amazing stuff!
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Old Posted Jan 2, 2020, 12:25 AM
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Mini is famous for its leaky water pump, I mean, infamous.
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Old Posted Jan 2, 2020, 12:38 AM
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Nice pics, but lay off the fusion, they are great and beautifully styled cars . I have a 2013 and never had a single problem. Sadly because of ignorant attitudes like these ford stopped selling them in the us.
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Old Posted Jan 2, 2020, 1:26 AM
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Nice, looks like a cool road trip.
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Old Posted Jan 2, 2020, 4:23 AM
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Nice pictures! Caliente (ironic given the snow), Pioche, and Modena all look pretty cool and preserved in time.
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Old Posted Jan 2, 2020, 4:13 PM
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o nice -- this is my kind of trip -- i would love to do it.
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Old Posted Jan 2, 2020, 10:24 PM
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Nice tour! Looks like a fun trip.
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Old Posted Jan 2, 2020, 10:50 PM
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Looks like they put up a new Extraterrestrial Highway sign, and raised it by about ten feet. I wonder why
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Old Posted Jan 3, 2020, 4:27 AM
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I forgot to mention that that "Welcome to Nevada" sign at Hoover Dam is very new. I was there in October 2018 and there was a regular road sign.
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Old Posted Jan 3, 2020, 6:12 PM
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Thanks for the comments! It really was a fun road trip.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Murphy de la Sucre View Post
Mini is famous for its leaky water pump, I mean, infamous.
I wish I had known that. And if it's a recurring problem, then why hasn't there been a recall for it (along with the faulty ignition coils, etc.) so that MINI can fix it for free? I'm really surprised there haven't been any recalls for any of the recurring issues I've had with my MINI. And reading about MINI online, despite their quirks and problems, there's a strange brand loyalty to them. Me, I'm soooo done with MINI, and would never get any other BMW product or European car again. I'm sticking to Toyotas and Hondas.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dc_denizen View Post
Nice pics, but lay off the fusion, they are great and beautifully styled cars . I have a 2013 and never had a single problem. Sadly because of ignorant attitudes like these ford stopped selling them in the us.
I doubt that Ford stopped selling these in the US because people in Los Angeles think they look like narc cars. Both Ford and GM made the decision to stop selling most traditional cars in the US; their marketing people probably just want to focus on crossovers/SUVs/trucks so that they can make more money off of them, and convince Americans that that's what they need to be driving. Here in LA, I see traditional sedans and hatchbacks everywhere. Honda Civic sedans are very common, as are Toyota Priuses. And I'm very surprised that Chevy stopped selling the Cruze... those are fairly common here, and my assumption is that they're affordable. But no, GM and Ford wants to push people into trucks and SUVs.

For the record, I read online that Ford will sell the Fusion through the 2020 model year. And I thought the Fusion did handle nicely, and I liked that it was a hybrid---Very quiet, and I think even the gas engine at times didn't even turn on until I was above 40 miles per hour. It just felt and looked like such a big car to me, being that I've driven a MINI for 7-and-a-half years. And it was a rental car, so my partner and I oftentimes couldn't get past the mixed smells of disinfectant and cigarettes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post
Nice pictures! Caliente (ironic given the snow), Pioche, and Modena all look pretty cool and preserved in time.
From what I've read online, Caliente is called that because of the natural hot springs in the area. The motel we stayed at actually had natural hot springs tubs that guests could use, as well as some rooms having some natural hot springs tubs in them too (ours didn't though, I requested the cheapest room available since we were really just there to sleep and shower, and then move on). Also, summers can be really hot there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by badrunner View Post
Looks like they put up a new Extraterrestrial Highway sign, and raised it by about ten feet. I wonder why
Hehe! I noticed on Google Streetview that the sign is even missing, and on other pics online, people would vandalize it with stickers. Looking at the photo I took of it, it looks like people are putting stickers on the signposts.


Quote:
Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post
I forgot to mention that that "Welcome to Nevada" sign at Hoover Dam is very new. I was there in October 2018 and there was a regular road sign.
Looking it up on Google Streetview, yeah, as recently as March of 2019, it was a regular road sign: https://www.google.com/maps/@36.0142...4!8i8192?hl=en

Makes me wish I had looked to see if Arizona did the same thing on its side of the bridge.
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Old Posted Jan 3, 2020, 6:37 PM
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I'm also gonna say, that gas was definitely cheaper in Nevada than in California. I gassed up with premium octane because it was cheaper than in California, haha! Otherwise I do the 89 octane, which my new car does not require, but I do it anyway.
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Old Posted Jan 3, 2020, 11:53 PM
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I cannot imagine living in any of these places, but cool to see. Thanks for the peek.

Can second the Fusion reliability. I had one for a couple hundred thousand miles and don't think I had so much as a headlight go out in the years I owned one.
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Old Posted Jan 4, 2020, 3:31 AM
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Congrats on the new car mate!

And thanks for sharing the photos - it's a wonderful part of the wofld for roadtrips ( even in einter it seems )

Valley of Fire is one of my top spots in the world - perhaps THE most beautiful spot on the planet - I haven't been in winter, but I keep returning to hike there in the summer and I barely leave before I find myself wanting to return..
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2020, 2:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FREKI View Post
Congrats on the new car mate!

And thanks for sharing the photos - it's a wonderful part of the wofld for roadtrips ( even in einter it seems )

Valley of Fire is one of my top spots in the world - perhaps THE most beautiful spot on the planet - I haven't been in winter, but I keep returning to hike there in the summer and I barely leave before I find myself wanting to return..
Thanks!

Yes, Valley of Fire is very beautiful, and we agree, it has to be one of the top most beautiful places on earth, and we've seen quite a number of beautiful places.


Quote:
Originally Posted by subterranean View Post
I cannot imagine living in any of these places, but cool to see. Thanks for the peek.
I can't imagine living in any of these places either. But yeah, it was interesting to see those towns, and I figured we might as well, being that they were reasonable drives from the state parks we wanted to visit; curiosity got us.
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2020, 4:23 PM
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Fantastic and fun photo tour. I found myself pulling up Google Maps to go along with your trip to see the places and routes you took (I'm a geography nerd). Great job!

Also, I see central Nevada really embraces their UFO subculture.
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Old Posted Jan 9, 2020, 3:14 PM
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Very unique places to post about and some great looking pics - thanks for sharing! Also, nice car - I really like the look of the Yaris hatchback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sopas ej View Post
I noticed that Nevada DOT city/town limit signs only put the name and elevation; in California, they also include the population.
Long ago as a kid I noticed this about California and I thought it was pretty neat. i used to think Arizona should do that too, which they don't - like Nevada. But after realizing that the pops grow and change continuously, especially here in the west, having the population numbers on the signs is really a terrible idea. They're either wrong immediately, or they need to be maintained continuously.
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Old Posted Jan 10, 2020, 5:17 AM
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Wow!! What an amazing trip!! Loved your stops!!
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Old Posted Jan 10, 2020, 6:54 AM
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Amazing tour! Thanks for sharing it with us all.

BTW, the front of your new car reminds me of one of those angry looking deep sea fish that wash up onto shore during tsunamis. lol
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