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Frontier Hotel 1942-2007

Frontier Hotel 1942-2007

"This is the end result of all the bright lights... and the comp trips, of all the champagne... and free hotel suites,
and all the broads and all the booze. It's all been arranged just for us to get your money.
That's the truth about Las Vegas. We're the only winners. The players don't stand a chance. "

-- Sam "Ace" Rothstein, Casino, 1995

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"The Drive"

"There was only one road back to L.A. - U.S. Interstate 15. Just a flat-out high speed burn through Baker and Barstow and Berdoo. Then onto the Hollywood Freeway, and straight on into frantic oblivion. Safety. Obscurity. Just another freak, in the freak kingdom."

Raoul Duke, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

It's Sunday morning, around 11:00 a.m., somewhere on the LV Strip. You and your buddies just checked out of your hotel room.  It's now time to head back to reality after almost three days in LV. You went to bed around 4:00 a.m. completely drunk and got at most 4 hours sleep.  You are exhausted, hungry, and your head hurts real bad.  Last night's events are still a bit foggy.  You know you dropped a grand playing 6/5 blackjack and roulette at a "party pit" then you and your posse went to a club.  The club was fun but set you back a couple of hundred with cover charge and drinks.  You came to LV with $2000 in your wallet and now you only have $200 left.  You are still not sure how all the money evaporated.  It hurts just to think about it.  The elevator is taking forever.  All you want to do is get to your car and get the hell out of LV.

Everyone told you to fly just like you have done before, but this time you decided to drive from southern California.  This trip to LV was sort of last minute and flights were too expensive.  You took off from work on Friday with your buddies and left early to beat the traffic.  You made it to LV in under 4 hours and were drinking at the pool by 1:00 p.m.  Life is good.  You know the drive back on Sunday is going to be a bitch.  Lots of traffic, trucks, and ballistic motorists.  People warned you about the drive back on a Sunday or a busy holiday weekend, but how bad could it really be?

You finally get on the 15 south at around 11:45 a.m.  Heading toward Primm the traffic is very heavy.  Traffic crawls through the desert at around 40 MPH.  There are just too many cars leaving LV at the same time.  Already, this drive is going to be a ball buster.  You pass Primm and traffic eases up a bit, but it is still very congested.  Trucks are everywhere.  Crazed motorists are darting in and around you trying to impose their will that they have the right to get back home before everyone else.  From this point to Baker the traffic speeds up and slows down.  Sometimes you can hit 80MPH, sometimes for no reason traffic slows down to 30 MPH.  Brakes lights flash for seemingly no reason.  Cruise control is out the question.  Driving demands your full concentration despite your fatigue and headache that won't seem to away.  You say to yourself, "I will never drive to Vegas again, this is it."

As you pass by Baker traffic opens up a bit.  Nice.  Maybe the traffic is behind us you think.  For a while you fly along at around 70-80 MPH.  Conditions are still dangerous with lots of cars around, but at least you are moving.  You say to yourself this is not that bad. 

You drive for about 45 minutes and then traffic comes to a complete halt near Yermo.   You are in the middle of nowhere.  There is nothing around you except desert.  Traffic crawls along at 5-10 MPH.  Why you ask yourself?  What the hell is going on?  There must be an accident you think.  Why else would the entire freeway just seemingly come to a stop?   Your frustration level is building and building.  Your head is pounding.  You start thinking about what happened to all the money you lost playing blackjack.

After about 30 minutes or so of crawling along you look up ahead see some sort of checkpoint in the distance.  A sign on the side of the freeway says something about a "California Agricultural Inspection" station.  You ask yourself, what the hell is going here?  What could they possibly be checking for on a Sunday in the middle of the desert?  You are now almost 4 hours into the drive and you are not even halfway home yet.

As you inch along toward the checkpoint that is causing all this congestion you see some cars being waved through and some being stopped.  It appears that some sort of "state official" is asking questions of some drivers.  You have been sitting in this traffic jam for almost an hour and your nerves are just shot.  Your frustration level is just getting worse.  Your headache keeps throbbing.

You are finally close enough to see what this checkpoint is all about.  The sign on the checkpoint reads "California Inspection." There are three cars in front of yours.  They are all waved through. It is now your turn to pass through the checkpoint, but you are stopped by an "inspector."  The "inspector" is female and she looks to be around 19 years old.  She appears to have a cell phone in her hand and she is text messaging.  She quickly finishes her text message and puts her cell phone away.   You stop your car right next to her and she asks you where are you travelling from?  You answer, Las Vegas.  She then asks if you have any fruit in your car?  You answer no.  She then waves you through.   You are finally moving again.  Barstow is but a few miles away.  Almost one hour of your time was wasted to pass through this "inspection station."  You are mad and irritated to say the least.  This entire delay was caused by the state of California randomly checking cars in the middle of the desert.  Don't they know there are thousands of people coming back from Las Vegas?  The drive back from LV is bad enough, then add it to an "inspection station" which backs up traffic for miles in the desert.

Thank you state of California.  Thank you for causing a complete cluster-fuck in the middle of the desert with this "inspection station."  How many millions of motorists are inconvenienced and delayed on the 15 south from LV because of this facility?  I have personally driven from LV to southern California at least 30 times so far in my life.  I have been stopped at this "inspection station" one time.  Every other time I was just waved through.  I have experienced delays from 15 minutes to well over an hour as traffic has to come to a complete stop for this facility.  The last few times I have driven through, I have purposefully been eating a banana or an orange with my window rolled down, and they still waved me through.

So, you ask what does all this have to do with Las Vegas?  First of all, this "inspection station" is a major inconvenience to Nevadans that want to drive to California for business or leisure.  It makes a difficult drive that much more difficult.  But the people who are really impacted all those tourists who come to Las Vegas from California and have to drive back on 15 south.  This "inspection station" creates ridiculous delays and makes the drive back even more frustrating for people from California.  Do you think those people are going to want to return to Las Vegas?  Probably not.  Maybe it's just easier for them to gamble at a local Indian casino.

Here's a photo from the 1920's of the Yermo "inspection station."  So, think about this:  For over 80 years the state of California has been stopping motorists in the middle of the desert coming back from Las Vegas.  Think about all the delays, traffic, and time wasting this has caused.  And for what?  To "protect" California's agriculture.  You have got to be kidding me.

Anyway, I am not going to bore you with the details about the rationale the state of California has for this "inspection station."  Inspection stations like this in California were started in the 1920's (when cars and trucks were first seen on America's roads) as some sort of "agricultural protection" program.  Whatever the case, this particular "inspection station" near Yermo needs to go.  It serves no purpose and creates unecessary traffic in an area where there should be no traffic. 

Here's the website from the state of California which justifies and explains the need for these "inspection stations."  What a bunch of bullshit.  Thank you California.

Update  7/25/2010

I reader sent me this by email on how to get around this stupid "checkpoint."  I have not personally tried it, but I assume the information is accurate.

"I have driven from Las Vegas to LA once every two weeks on business for the last two years. I never have a problem with the Inspection Station. I just go around it. All you have to do is get off I-15 at Harvard Road (if traffic is heavy) or Minneaola Road (if traffic is light). Turn left, and then turn right on the two lane road which parallels I-15 about 200 yards to east. Very fast, no traffic, and a smooth straight shot. Get back on I-15 once you past the inspection station.

It is a pleasure to be zipping along at 65 while watching all the traffic on I-15 be at a standstill."

The Kash

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