Tuesday, February 22, 2011


We wheeled across some dry, colorless territory between Las Vegas and Desert Center, California, but the sky decided to treat us to gorgeous displays.
About 250 miles from Vegas, we pulled into a dilapidated remnant of a town called  Desert Center, two basic buildings and a highway maintenance station.
The market, closed permanently, sits on one side of the street and Desert Cafe on the opposite side. We expected to stay the night here, boondocking. I wanted to take a walk and we were drawn to the cafe where there were a about six old rusting, gas pumps from former days.

Broken hoses, chipped paint...a lone beer bottle sitting upright in the windblown sand.
The cafe front door was mended with tape. Curiosity overwhelmed us. There had to be a story here.
The smells wafting out the door were appealing and we  followed our nose.
The cafe was deserted, but we were greeted by a sweet, friendly woman who only works winters here.  She invited us to look at the menu and explained that everything here was made from scratch. She and her husband are from Walnut Creek California, about a 100 miles from my hometown.
While we ate a man came in and asked us where we were from, what we did. He was retired from PG&E and then worked at Nuclear Power plants, some of those that Jim worked for. I couldn't help but wonder why a guy with a good retirement would choose this place as home. He told us he bought a desert farm that produces a petroleum product and continued to talk our ear off. I've learned never to judge a place by its looks and this place is the center of the universe for locals who live in houses scattered about the area or in a couple of mobile home parks. Its quiet and peaceful here and you can come to love a place like this. And, we learned, this cafe was once the center of operations for General Patton, who had over a million combat troops stationed here for desert training  between 1942 and 1944. It turns out I was sitting in his favorite chair.
The cafe has all of the original furnishings. The cream of broccoli soup, was delicious as was my chili size. The cafe was opened in 1922. This little town was of service to the Colorado Aquaduct crews when the massive canal was built and finished in 1941. It stretches 242 miles and took eight years to build. This little town had the first Kaiser Medical Facility. Now it serves the locals and movie makers. They come here for its look of the past. Wikipedia has some humorous information about the town if you wish to learn more.
 For more pictures,click my album link:

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