READY TO NERD OUT WITH ME? It’s time for a CARDIO TO VEGAS Update! This is my fourth Cardio To Vegas post, and it’s a long time coming. I started writing it about two weeks ago, before spraining my foot, which sidelined my exercise. I actually accumulated more miles after starting this research, but I don’t want this research to go to waste, so I’ll save those for my next update.
I’m getting ahead of myself. What’s CARDIO TO VEGAS, you ask? It’s my current fitness challenge that has me virtually running to Vegas. Here’s how it works: I’m logging all the miles I complete during my cardio workouts, whether it’s on a bike, elliptical, or out on a run. I add these miles up, and my goal is to reach 274 – the number of miles between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. I’m plotting my progress on a map, and writing about the places that I ‘visit’ along the way. It’s as nerdy as it sounds, and I love it!
Where am I now? Let’s find out! When I last left off, I had gone 97.8 miles. To that, I can add:
- 7/17/13: 3.5 miles on an elliptical.
- 7/19/13: .5 miles on an elliptical (this was my warm-up to a strength-training workout. At first, I hesitated about including warm-ups, but I figure every little bit counts!)
- 7/20/13: 4.15 mile run on Catalina Island (read about it here)
- 7/22/13: .4 miles on an elliptical (warm-up)
- 7/23/13: 6.85 miles (4.6 miles on upright bike; 2.25 miles on AMT)
- 7/24/13: 4.05 miles, running
- 7/25/13: 4.2 miles on an elliptical
- 7/26/13: .4 miles on an elliptical (warm-up)
- 7/28/13: 3.5 miles on a bike
That’s 27.55 new miles, for a GRAND TOTAL OF 125.35 miles! The newly-completed 27.55 miles brought me further northeast along Interstate 15, and my new stopping point is on the outskirts of Barstow, California, a desert town that has the nickname of “Crossroads of Opportunity.”
Specifically, I’ve made it just beyond the Interstate 40 and Interstate 15 interchange.
That interchange marks the western end of Interstate 40, the third-longest interstate highway in the country. From Barstow, it heads east, hitting major cities like Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, and Nashville, before ending a few miles away from the Atlantic Ocean in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Barstow is known primarily as the last sign of civilization before you enter the enter the hot, barren Mojave Desert. If you’re driving to Vegas, you better fill up in Barstow, because there’s only one other town with gas stations between here and the Nevada state line, over 110 miles away. Because of this, Barstow is loaded with truck stops and fast food, as well as an outlet mall. I stopped in Barstow at the end of a road trip in 2005 – it was about 3am, and I wanted to power through and get home, so I stopped and picked up a liter of Diet Coke and a one-pound bag of gummi bears. Sure enough, my eyes stayed open and I was in the comfort of my own bed a few hours later.
Barstow was built on two interconnected industries: mining and railroads. Silver was found in the mountains in the late 1880s, and a handful of towns were created in the silver rush that followed, bringing thousands of prospectors to the area. The silver mine ran dry by the turn of the century (after yielding an estimated $90 million in silver ore), but miners stuck around to look for borax, the plentiful, versatile mineral that’s used in everything from laundry detergent to fire retardant. Thanks to the mines, Barstow became a railroad hub (it has one of the largest railroad hump yards west of the Mississippi), and its prominence as a transportation center continued when the interstates were built.
Very near Barstow is a town that didn’t fare nearly well after the silver rush. Calico, California (only about 5 miles from my stopping point) was a town that grew to 3,500 hundred residents in the 1890s. Once the mines closed shop, the people fled, and it became a ghost town. There was a failed attempt to revive it in 1915, but now it’s a park, thanks to Walter Knott, the farmer and founder of Knott’s Berry Farm, who bought the entire town in the fifties, restored it to its full 1890s glory, and turned it over to the county. It’s a tourist attraction now, with tours and stunt shows and plenty of souvenir stands.
Also near Barstow is another small town called Hinkley. Have you seen “Erin Brockovich”? It tells the true story of Hinkley, which had its drinking water contaminated by hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen that leaked from a local Pacific Gas & Electric facility. Cancer rates in the town skyrocketed. “Erin Brockovich” dramatized one lawsuit, which resulted in a record-breaking $333 million settlement, but all told, PG&E ended up paying over $750 million to settle lawsuits.
Lastly, Barstow has been in the news this summer for a reason that will make lots of transplanted east-coasters happy. Dunkin’ Donuts announced that their second store in California will open in Barstow in November (the first store opened at Camp Pendleton, a military base, last year). Don’t fret, Angelenos… soon you’ll have many more options if you need a Dunkin’ fix – the company ultimately plans, starting in 2015, to open as many as 1,000 locations in southern California.
I’m not a huge Dunkin’ fan, but I do have a couple Dunkin’ stories that illustrate, more than anything, how I used to eat. In high school, my friend Jocelyn worked at a Dunkin’ Donuts, and one time some friends and I visited her at work, and I asked her how much custard a donut could hold. I dared her to fill one as much as possible, and she did, bringing me a bulging donut that collapsed when I picked it up. It was delicious.
Then, in 2009, I went to New Jersey for a wedding. It was a super quick weekend trip – I spent maybe 36 hours in the Garden State. But, during those 36 hours, I managed to eat three different meals at three different Dunkin’ Donuts. I don’t thing I ate a single thing on that trip that wasn’t served at Lisa and Matt’s wedding reception or by a donut-slinger in a Dunkin’ Donuts hat. I just dug up a photo from that weekend. Yikes – I should add this to my stash of “Before” pics!
OK. Let’s get back on track! I have a couple more maps to share! With 125.35 miles under my belt, I’m 45% of the way to Vegas – almost halfway! Here’s what I’ve completed so far:
And here’s what’s still to come:
I’m inspired to keep going – I just need my foot to heal!
Keep it up, David!