Pisgah Crater

What’s left of Pisgah Crater. A gravel company has been steadily picking away at it for years.


I always thought that Pisgah Crater was the site of a hilarious prank that involved a truckload of burning tires and a panicked phone call to Barstow claiming that “the volcano is going to explode!” but apparently it took place at Amboy Crater farther east.

From the newsletter of the California Historic Route 66 Association:


In the 1940s, probably ’45, ’46, the kids from the Barstow High School hauled for about a year all kinds of debris out and at different times dumped it down to the bottom of the cinder cone. They had tires, old lumber, old creosoted railroad ties, all kinds of junk. Who started it, nobody knows. On the fateful day, they set it on fire. The cinder cone was then dormant for years. Suddenly it began to get a trickle of smoke. It shut down the Santa Fe railroad, Highway 66, evaculated Barstow – they moved the entire company out – everybody. And that thing burned and it burned and it got more and more and even people could feel rumblings from the ground. They were very excited. The Los Angeles Times hired an airplane, a reporter and a photographer, and they could see what happened and they broke the hoax that had lasted for some 72 hours and had the whole center of the desert tied up.

Wheeling, West Virginia

What struck me first about Wheeling was what I didn’t see. No Wal-Mart, no pawn or check cashing shops. Barely any strip malls. No obvious attempts at last-ditch downtown redevelopment. Almost like a cloak of invisibility descended over the city and kept it in stasis since the mid-1960s. No one ever thought about putting up “Old Town Wheeling” signs and turning all vacant storefronts into antique stores because that idea has never penetrated this far in. Welcome to Wheeling, West Virginia – it’s rural, poor, but it kept it’s identity intact.

Wheeling, WV

Wheeling, WV

Wheeling, WV

Wheeling, WV

Wheeling, WV

Victoria Theatre - Wheeling, WV

Wheeling, WV

When I get around to writing my “end of the world apocalypse” book, I’ll set it here. Assuming that Wheeling survives another kind of apocalypse.

And into NYC

The weather held out all the way through except for the last hundred miles in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Holland Tunnel, NYC

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

Apparently it got so cold overnight, that when I hit the front windshield with the defroster, the small crack (that was supposedly fixed) reopened and shot across two-thirds of the glass with a loud “BANG.” At least I got here and it’s not like I have to drive much anymore.

Eastbound VII

Somewhere near the TX/LA border on I-10

Lighted Palms

Near as I can tell, the entire state of Tennessee is filled with pyromaniacs. There’s no way that many fireworks stands can stay in business. These two were directly across the street from each other (junction of I-24 and I-59) Tennessee Alabama Fireworks

Big Daddy's Fireworks

Obligatory World’s Fair site visit. No wig shops though. At least finding a motel room was easy.


Eastbound VI – New Orleans

New Orleans was the last major American city I hadn’t been to, and I suppose it’s a little anti-climatic. Unless you smoke, drink, gamble, or go to strip clubs there’s not much to do except to look at the architecture. Overall, it reminds me of Las Vegas in the 1980s – there’s a central core where the tourists go to raise hell, a small section of upper class neighborhoods, new exurbs outside of town, and abject poverty filling in everything else.

Of course, being a geek from California my gut reaction was “hey, it looks just like New Orleans Square in Disneyland.”

Coffee & BeignetsFrench Quarter

Garden District houseThe Coliseum Theater

Eastbound V – Texas

“I saw miles and miles of Texas, all the stars up in the sky
I saw miles and miles of Texas, gonna live here ’til I die.”
– Bob Wills

Marfa Lights viewing

and onwards

E on US-67/90

The Alamo

José Toribio Losoya statue

Buffalo head

Boss House of (Alligator) Steaks


According to the Find Your Spot quiz, Round Top, Texas was the number one place in the US that I absolutely should not move to. Of course I had to check it out, and while it’s not that bad in person (hell, you could probably rent a house here for a hundred bucks), I still can’t help but think that a City Confidential episode or tornado target is in its future.

Royers Round Top Cafe

Round Top, Texas

Round Top, Texas

Note to road trippers in this part of Texas: most diners and restaurants are closed in the afternoon or evenings – assuming that they aren’t closed completely for December-January. I lucked out at the Chappell Hill Sausage Company which closed just as I was arriving at 4pm, but the reward was some astonishingly outstanding BBQ sausages (and homemade oatmeal walnut cookies).

Lunch at the Chappell Hill Sausage Factory