Upon leaving Utah, we skirted the corner of Arizona, crossing into Nevada under the watchful eye of our guardian stegosaurus. We'd set out bright and early, and since we were making good time, we started paying more attention to rest stops, road signs, and general Route 66 oddities. Abandoned water parks, crumbling ruins, and roadside businesses built of corrugated aluminum lined the highway. We wisely chose to avoid passing straight through Vegas
, but it was impossible to avoid all of the sights: the Luxor, Caesar's Palace, and Camelot all crossed into our view. Shortly after Vegas, we found the holy grail of our trip. On our left, a billboard proclaimed:
Alien Fresh Jerky
The text alone piqued our interest. The cartoonish alien head that accompanied that text made it a mandatory stop. Anne and I being people that are not the most well-balanced of folk, an important question popped into our heads: Is the jerky made fresh from the flesh of extraterrestrials? Or is it made fresh by extraterrestrials? We had to know.
As we drove, we counted down the miles. The signs didn't allow us to lose count. Every ten miles, another sign. 90 miles later, in Baker, CA we found our tourist Valhalla.
As it turns out, the jerky is neither made by
aliens. The touristy absurdity of the locale did not disappoint, however. Upon entry, we were presented with racks upon racks of hot sauce varieties, a dozen different varieties of natural honey, branded energy drinks of questionable licensed legality
, Alien Fresh souvenirs, and ... Ali-N, an alien fortune teller
. Everyone has seen something like it in their lifetime before, a fortune teller machine
seen most often in the form of a gypsy or the best-known Zoltar. You give it a dollar, it yammers on, then gives you a glorified fortune cookie slip. We already stopped, so it would have been a sin to walk away without throwing a buck at the thing. We took our fortune, something about early to bed and early to rise, and moved on with our lives a dollar poorer, but a pack of Abducted Cow Jerky
richer. We tried a free sample of Invisible Jerky
but found it a little too bland. There was something missing, but we couldn't put our finger on what.
We made our next stop in Barstow, CA. While we made the stop for gasoline, something else caught our eye -- a McDonald's built in a row of train cars. We had to check out what it looked like inside, right? Boy, were we surprised. The interior was not simply a McDonald's but an entire shopping strip
! The train cars served as dining rooms for the restaurants within. While we bought nothing there at tourist prices, we found what must have called us to Barstow: another fortune teller machine
. This time, it was the better-known Zoltar. We talked to Ali-N, so we must
talk to Zoltar, right? Right!
Two fortune tellers. Two towns. The same fortune. That's it, folks. It's official. Magic is real. There's your proof. If you don't believe me, take it up with Ali-N and Zoltar.
Our minds blown, we spent the following hours in relative silence, pulling into Anaheim in the late afternoon. We ran directly to the Anaheim Convention Center to take our celebratory picture of the BlizzCon signage out front and were surprised to find that the entire outdoor area directly in front of the convention center has been completely remodeled since 2011
. No longer a death trap of traffic, beautiful statuary, fountains, and lighting have been installed. The picture we ended up with made all of the anticipation worth it, because with the proper angle, somehow a water fountain makes a convention center look like it's been set ablaze.
Worth 20 hours total travel time? Totally.