Making the drive to Vegas

I really like being on airplane. That shouldn’t be too surprising, of course, but I recently managed to surprise myself just a bit when it comes to options for getting between cities: I chose to NOT fly. Back in September I had a two week stint with three different conferences, all travel-related and all in the western US. Rather than flying back and forth in between I chose to stay out that way for the duration. And, as part of that, I had to get from Anaheim to Las Vegas.


My answer to that was actually an easy one. Southwest flies from Orange County to Vegas several times a day and the flights were cheap enough that it all worked well in my budget. I even went so far as to buy the ticket. And then that plan blew up in a great way.


A friend of mine was also going to be making the trip from Anaheim to Vegas between the same two conferences. He was going to make the drive through the desert and was looking for company. It took me all of half a heartbeat to change my plans. I don’t know why, but I really wanted to make the drive. And time with a friend is hard to pass up.


The first 90 minutes or so is mostly urban and suburban sprawl hell. Eventually that gives way to Barstow, famous mostly for being the last bit of civilization before the desert takes over. We stopped for a quick lunch and then it was into the nothingness of the desert.


It was vast, wide open and hot. It was also beautiful.


There were long stretches where the road seemed like it would never end. Just a straight shot as far as the eye could see. We saw dust clouds stir up over the flats and passed by a massive solar power plant not far from the California/Nevada border.


And then we were in Vegas. The drive was not necessarily short, but it went quickly enough. With travel time to/from the airports it probably wasn’t all that much different than the flight I had originally planned. And I got a new experience out of it.


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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. That’s a beautifully desolate drive…one we’ve gotten very familiar with making Disney trips from SLC. Just make sure you drive the right directions at peak times; SoCal likes to visit LAS on the weekends and the traffic, even in the middle of nowhere, is AWFUL! And you’d be surprised the tour bus traffic at the Barstow In-N-Out!

  2. Sice beat me to the comment. You don’t know the Barstow to Vegas drive until you have tried going to Las Vegas on a Friday night or leaving Las Vegas on a Sunday. It took my parents over 8 hours on their last trip driving LA to Vegas. I recall crawling one year for 250 miles over Thanksgiving weekend.

    The past couple of years I have taken to driving to and from Monterey through Death Valley National Park and across the Sierra Mountains at Lake Isabella into Bakersfield to avoid the weekend traffic.

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