Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young, The Eagles - Tribute Bands


Experience the Eagles Live, with The Long Run - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

"The Long Run"

The Best Eagles Tribute Band

More than any other decade, the 1970s were fertile times for innovation in the genre known as rock and roll. A great deal of what we remember as happening in the 1960s actually happened in the early 1970s. The history of 1970s rock events, especially concert dates and lineups are often incomplete or garbled. For instance, I remember seeing Linda Ronstadt opening for Neil Young at the Long Beach Arena in the early 1970s. Although I Googled each performer and the venue, I could not find definitive documentation regarding that magical night. The best I can say is that it happened sometime between 1970 and 1972.

Arriving late at the arena that night, Linda Ronstadt had already taken the stage. When I say that Linda had, “taken the stage”, it was as if she owned it. As we entered the far end of the arena, a beautiful sound echoed down the concrete tunnel that led us to our seats. Already, the First Lady of Rock had captured the house. As she sang "Desperado",  her clear voice extended out, reverberating off the back wall and then harmoniously to our ears.

Just as startling and beautiful as Linda and her voice was the sound of her band. From their acoustic backing of Linda’s ballads to their all-out rocking solos, they had the inevitable sound of greatness. Every note and every backing vocal sounded just right. They knew it and we all knew it. Later in her set, Linda announced her backing band as, “The Eagles”.

Author's note: In June 2014, I received the following comment from Ms. JG Wilcox, who also attended one of Linda Ronstadt's Long Beach Arena concerts in 1972. As you will see, her experience was different than mine.

Jim - thank you for your memories! Regarding Linda opening for Neil at the Long Beach Arena? Am not sure how many nights they were booked, but my memory of the concert I attended (at age 13) was that Ms. Ronstadt - of whom I was/am a HUGE fan - was pretty tipsy and got booed off the stage. Then, Neil Young - of whom I was/am a HUGE fan - came on and the audience was impossibly rude, shouting out requests even as he played. He got angry, brought out Crosby and Nash, played Cinnamon Girl, and walked off the stage! Sounds like your experience was better than mine. I just remember sitting on the curb outside the Arena waiting for my mom to come and pick up my friend Sally and me...the parking lot was empty when she arrived because the concert had been so short! It was the summer of '72. And not long after that, the Eagles entered my world as well. Thanks again, Jim!
 
  "Desperado"
That night was the start of my love for the Eagles unique style, which blends rock, country rock and folk rock. With a string of hit singles and six albums, the Eagles songs fit perfectly with my life’s events. Their breakup paralleled the breakup of my first marriage. From “Life in the Fast Lane” until “After the Thrill Is Gone”, my personal experiences paralleled the lyrics of the Eagles’ songs.

Years later, after buying two of the forty-two million copies of The Eagles Greatest Hits album sold worldwide, I yearned for new music from a group that broke up in 1984. Between then and their reunion in 1994, we heard plenty of solo efforts by various band members, but rarely did those songs resonate like the Eagles songs of old. When the Eagles resumed recording and touring in the mid-1990s, I listened again for new songs from the Eagles.
 
  "New Kid in Town"
On December 31, 1999, I attended the Eagles Millennium Concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. In a repeat of my first Eagles experience the early 1970s, we arrived at our seats after the concert had begun. This time, a bomb-scare, not traffic, delayed our entry into the arena. While thousands waited outside, security took their time checking every ticket and “wanding” every attendee. Once again, Linda Ronstadt was on stage, her voice often lost in a crowd that was milling around or trying to find their seats. On any other night, the promoters would have waited for at least half the audience to be inside before starting the show. By the time Jackson Browne arrived onstage, things settled down, but from our $145 seats at the far end of the stadium, most of the music that night seemed vacant and distant.

When they finally took the stage, the new Eagles sang just like the old Eagles, but a chorus of numbskulls sitting behind us insisted on singing along to every word of every song. As midnight approached, the songs seemed out of order, and then the music ceased altogether. Inaudible to most of us in the arena, Glenn Frey gave his Millennium New Year’s Eve salute to the world on live TV. By the time that the Eagles got back to their music, but the thrill was gone.

To be sure, the Eagles in their 1994-to-present incarnation have written and produced some great music. In recent concerts, the Eagles pay homage their old fans by singing some of their early songs. Like the rest of us, however, the Eagles have moved beyond the ethos and the pathos of the 1970s. Just as they have moved on in their lives and with their music, they hope that we will move right along with them. With $450 concert tickets now the norm, that is not likely.

The Long Run, Live at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center - (http://jamesmcgillis.com)That is where the Eagles tribute Band, “The Long Run” comes in. Taking their inspiration from the title track of the Eagles final pre-breakup album, “TLR” takes us back to yesteryear when country rock ruled top-40 AM radio. Having attended several of The Long Run’s concerts in recent years, Carrie and I were thrilled to hear that they would again play live at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center in Southern California.

A former church, the Cultural Arts Center splits its four hundred seats between the main floor and a balcony. Having last seen TLR at this intimate theater on a rainy night in December 2010, we bought our tickets early for their September 9, 2011 show. Upon arrival, we were pleased with our seats, which were in the third row of the orchestra. Although TLR did not sell out their two nights in Simi Valley, the many fans in attendance were not disappointed with their show.

In an email update a week later, TLR wrote, “First, a special thank you to all who joined us at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center this past weekend.  Both nights you gave us one of the warmest receptions we've had anywhere and we shared an energy that far outweighed the capacity of the theater. Friday night felt like playing at the Nokia and Saturday night felt like the Greek! We still don't know what they served y'all at intermission but we're gonna find out and then stipulate in our contract that it's served at every show.”

As The Long Run played all of our old Eagles favorites, we remembered why we love live music. It is not so that we can make some corporate ticket agency rich. It is not because we like fighting crowds and overcoming bomb scares to watch a show. It is because there are still performers out there like the members of TLR who love the same music that we do. At the end of the accompanying “The New Kid in Town” video, you can hear Carrie say, “They’re so good”, and she means it.

Admission ticket for The Long Run - "Experience the Eagles Live" concert September 9, 2011. - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)In true bootleg tradition, that night I also recorded videos of "Hotel California", “Desperado” and the Jackson Browne classic, “Take it Easy”. The cheapskates at Warner Chappell Music must have thought that TLR sounded too much like the Eagles, so they blocked two my YouTube videos on "copyright grounds". Although TLR’s big sound overpowered the tiny microphone from time to time, you can still hear that authentic Eagles sound echo off the back wall of the Cultural Arts Center. Next time I hear that The Long Run is playing anywhere near my town, I will purchase tickets as soon as I can. The Long Run’s version of the “Eagles Experience” is so good that we hope to be there when they “Take It to the Limit”, one more time.
Email James McGillisEmail James McGillis

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Goodbye to Old Mesquite, Nevada - It Was Good To Know You


On Interstate I-15, Exit 120 leads to the town of Mesquite, Nevada - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Goodbye to Old Mesquite, Nevada - It Was Good To Know You

In 2009, I stopped in Mesquite, Nevada. While heading north out of town, I took photos of several old buildings and signs. A town’s architecture and graphics help reveal its history. A common theme involves a once flourishing business now closed. For example, when Interstate I-40 bypassed Seligman, Arizona, the attractions of Old-66 were barely enough to keep Old Seligman alive. With so little business activity generated after its bypass, Seligman froze in time. Therefore, many old buildings and signs in that town remained in situ.

On West Mesquite Blvd. in Old Mesquite, Nevada Harley's Garage stands frozen in time - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com) In 1974, after the completion of Interstate I-15 through Mesquite, most new development came in the form of condominiums. The targeted customers were retired people or second-home owners. Today in North Mesquite, large new retirement complexes tend to focus the eye on human made water features, including a series of water-wasting golf courses. With such environmentally wasteful practices in effect, little if any summer-season water flowing in the Virgin River reaches its outlet at Lake Mead.

Prior to the construction of Mesquite's sprawling retirement communities, the same area represented only a small portion of a vast network of arroyos. Partially filled with wind-driven sand, the area was an "alluvial plain in the making". Most people do not think about “upstream” in the desert. Such terms matter only when a major flood hits such a dry area. When thunderstorms linger on nearby Mount Mormon, resulting floods carry enormous flows down those arroyos filled with sand. During, or shortly after an deluge upstream, watercourses shift, overwhelming their banks and inundating previously dry areas.

The Virgin River Gorge, Arizona, as seen in summer flood on July 26, 2013 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)In the case of the recent condominium development in North Mesquite, everything will probably be OK. However, if we live to see the thousand-year flood, let alone the ten thousand-year flood, all of that could change. If either of those events happens, the ancient erosion field and slide zone that is North Mesquite shall not stand. In terms of proximate risk to property owners, safety and security may depend on one’s sense of time.

Mesquite, Nevada built its reputation on a firm foundation of gambling. Today, viewing it on Google Maps shows us that North Mesquite lies near the foot of a massive paleo flood zone. It does not take a trained geologist to see that ancient debris flows swept “downstream”, temporarily interrupting the Virgin River as it swept across the river and far up on the opposite bank. These desert sands appear to be the terminal deposition of ancient North Mesquite debris flows. It is there, on the east bank that buff colored desert sand intermingles with the dark, volcanic alluvium descending from Virgin Peak and Mount Bangs.

The prophetic word, "NO" is all that was left on the wall of the old Oasis Hotel Casino Resort when I took this picture in 2013 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Today, such a flood would have to cross Interstate I-15 and West Mesquite Blvd., inundating most of Old Mesquite. In that scenario, all of Mesquite would remain in peril. The good news is that the ten thousand-year flood only comes every 10,000 years, or so they say. So what are the real odds? If enough people ask, the Casa Blanca Resort and Casino in Mesquite might make book on that question. I now remember my father’s sage advice, which was, “Never build anything in a flood plain”.

Although it lies only ninety miles from Las Vegas, Mesquite has closer ties to St. George, Utah, forty miles north on I-15. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, both Las Vegas and Mesquite were Mormon settlements. They were among a string of towns that grew up along the Old Spanish Trail, leading to Los Angeles. A common denominator among Mormon settlers and their current day counterparts is industriousness. If there is a potential for land development, the business community in Mesquite will soon take advantage of it.

Days before its demise, the old Oasis Hotel Resort Casino pole sign said its last farewell - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)The years 2008 and 2009 represented the depths of the recent recession in Mesquite. Since then, there has been a steady, if slow economic recovery. New condominiums and businesses now present themselves, but current economic activity does not approach the breakneck pace of the early 2000’s. Now enthralled again by new development potential, protection of Mesquite’s historical buildings, signage and its highway heritage languish.

To be fair, most destruction or neglect of historical buildings and signage in Mesquite happens on private property. Even so, it appears that neither the city nor its business community sees value in saving the town’s historical qualities. For posterity, I shall document three examples of Old Mesquite at its finest.

When they tore it down, owners of the old Oasis Resort Casino in Mesquite, Nevada attempted to recycle as much of the building materials as possible - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)In 2013, the long defunct Oasis Hotel Casino and Resort disappeared from West Mesquite Boulevard. Around that time, the historical Oasis pole sign disappeared from its prior location near Interstate I-15. New visitors to Mesquite will never know that there once stood the biggest, fanciest and most successful casino resort in town. Other than an aging RV Park now operated by the Casa Blanca Resort Casino and an annex of hotel rooms now converted to timeshares, the Oasis is no more.

Farther east on West Mesquite Blvd. is what remains of Harley’s Garage. In 2009, a sign on the locked front door thanked customers for Harley’s sixty-two years in business. From Harley's graphical pole sign, which almost overhangs the highway; we know that Harley’s Garage once sold radiators and specialized in Ford automobiles. The aging Ford sign, which resides just above an image of a Ford Model-T style radiator, now turns to rust and eventually to dust. The classic “Ford” script, once painted brilliant red on blue, now appears as rust-red on pale blue. At its present rate of decay, full deterioration is only a few years away.

By 2009, Harley's Garage in Mesquite, Nevada had said goodbye to its loyal clientele of sixty-two years - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)I picture travelers on old U.S. Highway 91 in 1945, experiencing a breakdown near Mesquite, Nevada. No matter how the motorist arrived in Mesquite, Harley’s Garage was ready to replace or repair overstressed radiators, batteries or brakes. Now-outdated internet business listings indicate that Harley's once had a AAA towing franchise. With Las Vegas and St. George scores of miles away across a desert wasteland, we can imagine what a godsend Harley’s Garage and radiator repair shop must have been.

Historically, Mesquite was a ranching and farming community. Despite two historic floods that destroyed the economic vitality of Old Mesquite, several generations of Mesquiters continued to grow crops in the floodplain of the Virgin River. For their part, ranchers in nearby Bunkerville grazed their cattle on a once verdant, open range. Since Old Mesquite’s settlers banded together for sustenance and protection, they required a place to buy, sell and trade their produce and cattle.

The old hand-painted Ford Sign tops the tower at Harley's Garage, Mesquite, Nevada - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)On West Mesquite Blvd. stands a contemporary Ranch Market building. Despite looking relatively new and prosperous, by 2009 the Ranch Market stood closed for good. Looking inside, I could see display cases and shopping carts gathering dust behind the glass. Out back, on the same over-sized lot was an old pole barn, weathering and deteriorating in the sun. Later, I learned that the pole barn had once been the original Mesquite Ranch Market.

With a few rough sawn boards still clinging to the its roof, I tried to determine the age of the barn. “The better part of a century”, I thought. A long abandoned electrical service clung to one  of its corners. There were broken remnants of an overhead trolley, which once moved hay bales in and out of a now missing hayloft. With no remaining siding, doors, roof shingles or hayloft, only the cross-bracing of its beams keeps the pole barn from its inevitable destruction. In the past five years, an adjacent and a once mighty cottonwood tree has crumbled closer to the ground. With such rapid deterioration, how much longer the original Mesquite Ranch Market will stand is anyone's guess.

As seen in 2014, the old pole barn in Mesquite, Nevada that once was a thriving Ranch Market deteriorates into the desert sands - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)The desert environment, with its heat, sun and wind can destroy almost any human made object. Repainting and replacement are constant activities for thriving businesses in a desert economy. Keep it neat, keep it clean and tourists will stop. Let it go and the desert will soon remove the gloss of civilization. There stands North Mesquite, gleaming in the reflected light of its mini-lakes and golf courses. On the other side of town, more often than not, the desert is winning its inevitable, entropic race.

It is here that I say, so long to Old Mesquite. It was good to know you.



 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Barstow to Mesquite - A Mojave Desert Adventure


An Army Reserve Humvee stops for fuel in Barstow, California - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

From Barstow to Mesquite - A Mojave Desert Adventure

In May 2014, I departed Casa Carrie in Simi Valley, California, heading for Mesquite, Nevada. While my ultimate destination was Moab, Utah, Mesquite stood half way along my route. To complete my trip to Moab in only two days, I planned to travel 375 miles each day. When towing a travel trailer, that distance approaches my outside limit for daily travel.

Near Fort Irwin, California, three Army Reservists enjoy a rest break before beginning their training - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)After merging on to Interstate I-15 North, my trip to Moab would continue on Interstate I-15 and I-70 almost all the way. Although the archaic speed laws in California require large trucks and autos towing trailers to proceed at no more that fifty-five miles per hour, I find it safer to travel on the Interstate at between sixty and sixty-five mails per hour. Why California does not synchronize the speed between towed vehicles and other traffic is an open question. For as long as I can remember, California has stuck to its slowpoke truck and trailer speed limits. Throughout the Four Corners region, trucks, trailers and autos all have the same speed limits.

On Interstate I-5 North, the high desert cities of Victorville, Barstow and Baker In 2010, gas in Victorville was less than $3.00 per gallon - Click for larger image - (http://jamesmcgilis.com)offer slight relief from the boredom of transiting across the Mojave Desert. In order to save on fuel costs, I usually stop at the Love’s Travel Center in Barstow. Upon arrival, I found a convoy of two U.S. Army Reserve Humvees and a larger transport truck stopped for refueling. In speaking with three of the team members, I discovered that they were traveling to nearby Fort Irwin for two weeks of Reserve training exercises.

On a previous trip to Moab, I had seen a surplus early model Humvee stripped down and converted to off-road use. With no armor at all, the older model Humvees became potential deathtraps during Iraq War combat. The current model Humvees that I saw in Barstow featured heavy steel-plate exteriors, In 1955, the price of gas on Old Route 66 near Barstow was lower still - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)blast-resistant doors and steel armor built into their undercarriages. With no front-end crash protection, and unarmed gun turrets up top, these Army Reserve Humvees looked sleek, but not yet combat ready.

During my fuel stop, I remembered that I was heading for two weeks of fun and adventure in the Four Corners region. For the following two weeks, the reservists would engage in war games and training at the one-thousand square miles of open desert at the nearby National Training Center. With Memorial Day fast approaching, I was happy to have such dedicated and talented individuals training to protect our liberties in the United States and abroad. After I thanked the Los Alamitos, California based reservists for their service, they headed out.

Heading north from Barstow, I soon passed the turn-off to Fort Irwin. By then my new friends from the Army Reserve were entering the gate at the “fort”. Fort Irwin’s name helps tell the story that in 1846, the U.S. Army created a rock fort at nearby Bitter Creek. From there, the U.S. Army Mormon Battalion and others chased supposedly marauding Apache, Shoshone and fugitive Mission Indians from Mission San Gabriel, near Los Angeles. Although some stole horses, guns and food from travelers along the Old Spanish Trail, most Indians in the Mojave Desert exemplified the notion of nomadic loners, seeking no contact with outsiders.


Solar plasma formation at Ivanpah Valley, California


Soon, I came upon Ivanpah, California. Ivanpah shares an otherwise desolate valley with Primm, Nevada. There I got my first blinding look at the glint and glare from the new Brightsource Solar Thermal Plant in operation. In May of 2012, I had passed that place during construction of the controversial, three unit active-solar power generating station. At that time, the tops of the three receiving towers were dark, as if shrouded in black cloth.

Tourists stop illegally to take pictures on I-15 at Brightsource-Ivanpah, California - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)On this visit, I noted that the top sections of each tower shone with white light seemingly as bright as the sun. Shimmering in the air to one side or the other of each receiving tower was what looked like white mist. In reality, the mist was solar plasma, caused by the concentration of light from many mirrors. As operators need more power, they use computers and electrical actuators to change the angle of up to 356,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door. As a result, operators can redirect the reflected sunlight from a focal point in the desert sky to a receiving area at the top of each tower. Since adjacent air temperatures created by the solar plasma are so high, no one yet knows the long-term effects on the desert environment.

In a recent Los Angeles Times article, I read that a number of native birds had perished in the solar flux at Ivanpah. Some experts hypothesize that prolonged focusing of eyes on the solar receiving towers could burn our retinas. I thought to myself, “Shouldn’t that be illegal?” One thing is for sure; you will no longer The Brightsource solar thermal plant at Ivanpah Valley, California is probably the first and last of its type to be built in the U.S. - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)see a Desert Tortoise basking in Ivanpah Valley’s desert sun. After 15,000 years of human cohabitation with the Desert Tortoise, politicians decided that the terrapins must go elsewhere, all in the name of “renewable energy”. Using the double-speak of Mega Solar; they had to “destroy the desert in order to renew it”.

As my rig descended the grade into the Ivanpah Valley, I kept my speed below sixty miles per hour. Thinking that I might get a good photo of the towers, I lowered the side window on my vehicle. Although the ambient temperature that day was about 90 °F (32 °C), heat radiating from the solar thermal generators was palpable on my skin. The feeling reminded me of the rays that emanate from a parabolic electric heater. With its vast array of mirrors and three thermal collecting towers, I discovered that Brightsource Primm had a “heat island” effect far greater than even its massive size suggested. The good news is that without the previously available multi-
How much power from Brightsource-Ivanpah goes to power the Luxor Las Vegas Hotel?billion dollar loan guarantees and tax rebates, no further solar thermal generating plants like Brightsource Primm will see the light of day.

After that surreal experience, I proceeded past the lure of Primm’s several casinos, driving north toward Las Vegas, Nevada. My goal was to reach Mesquite Nevada, ninety miles north of Las Vegas before dark. With that in mind, my visit to Las Vegas would consist of a “drive by” on I-15 North. After almost two decades of expansion in Las Vegas, I-15 has reached the limits of its right-of-way. With six or eight lanes in each direction at the southern end of The Strip, the road and its connectors can carry a tremendous volume of traffic. Ironically, when a driver reaches North Las Vegas, there is usually a traffic snarl. There, highway planners provided too few lanes to handle the through-traffic heading out of Las Vegas to the north, east and west.

The Luxor Hotel Las Vegas glows in the reflection of afternoon sunlight - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Near the southern end of The Strip, the Luxor Las Vegas Hotel is visible from the I-15 freeway. In a ghostly repeat of what I had just seen at Ivanpah, the Luxor’s thirty-story tall pyramid reflected golden hues of sunlight off its mirrored glass surface. Originally built in the early 1990s, the Luxor received a makeover in 2008. In a classic case of Old Energy thinking, MGM Resorts International failed to take advantage of New Energy. Rather than retrofitting the Luxor pyramid with photovoltaic solar panels, they opted for the “golden glow” effect of solar reflective glass. With business as usual in Las Vegas, appearances trumped energy efficiency and common sense. I wondered how much electrical energy from Brightsource Ivanpah might be powering air conditioners at the Luxor.
This Ford Ranger SUV is outfitted as a Nevada Highway Patrol, State Trooper vehicle, as seen near U.S. Highway 93, north of Las Vegas - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
About twenty miles north of Las Vegas, I exited I-15 North at U.S. Highway 93, also called the Great Basin Highway. If the Ivanpah Valley is California’s version of the new Industrial Desert, the area north of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and south of the Moapa River Indian Reservation is a no man’s land dedicated to the Old Industrial Desert. Despite hosting a large photovoltaic panel array to the west, an open pit mine adjacent to I-15 and the natural gas fired Harry Allen Generating Station dominate the landscape. Adding environmental insult to injury, a nearby chemical loading depot disperses clouds of white powder and dust across that desolate valley.

Interstate I-15 Exit 112 leads to Bunkerville, south of Mesquite, Nevada - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)A truck stop in the desert attracts all kinds of people and vehicles. Other than the convenience of yet another Love’s Travel Center, I would not consider stopping in such a ravaged environment. From a person who converted his pickup truck to look like a can of Monster Energy Drink to a severely overloaded Nissan Titan pickup, I stood agape at the unusual scene.

Prior to my departure, I spotted a Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) vehicle exiting the parking lot. Other than some low-slung lights on its roof and official markings on its sides, the vehicle looked like any contemporary Ford Ranger SUV. In order to identify the occupant as clearly as possible, the words “Highway Patrol” and “State Trooper” blazed across the front fenders and doors of the dark blue vehicle. In a nod to mobile communications, “Dial *NHP” occupied each rear quarter panel.

Reputed to be the original bunker at Bunkerville, Nevada - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Back again on I-15 North, I steeled my eyes and made myself ready to stare down any ersatz militiamen I might soon encounter along the highway. Before reaching my destination in Mesquite, I had to transit the area held by gun-toting folks who see rancher Cliven Bundy as their hero. In the aptly named “Bunkerville”, militiamen stand guard over an overgrazed desert where rancher Bundy refuses to pay decades’ worth of cattle grazing fees to the federal government. Apparently, it is lost on his para militarist protectors that if we all paid our fair share of fees and taxes, we could create a sustainable environment and have lower taxes for all.


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Plush Kokopelli dives for cover at Bunkerville, Nevada


In 2011, the Oasis Hotel Casino Resort welcomed MoabLive.com to Mesquite on their highway sign - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)After taking the off ramp to Bunkerville, I lost my way trying to find the place. Given my stand on gun violence, perhaps it is best that I did not meet up with any trigger-happy men dressed in camouflage gear. On my foray into that unfamiliar world, I did find the original Bunkerville bunker. As one might expect, it was a windowless shack with heavy wooden doors. Approaching the bunker cautiously, I called out, “Cliven, Cliven… are you there?” Alas, no one answered.

After my visit to virtual Bunkerville, I proceeded to Mesquite and to the  “Oasis Resort Hotel and CasinoRV Park . Only a few years ago, the Oasis Resort had welcomed my arrival with a huge “Welcome MoabLive.com” on their lighted message board. By May 2014, the resort hotel, casino and even the lighted In 2013, the Oasis Hotel Casino Resort met its demise under a wrecking ball - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)tower sign were gone. From my previous visits, I knew that Mesquite has an ongoing reputation for destroying its highway heritage.

I can understand demolishing an obsolete casino, but removing the venerable landmark that was the Oasis sign is just plain dumb. Would Las Vegas tear down its classic 1960’s “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign? In Mesquite’s zeal to become a thoroughly sanitized city in the desert, it has consistently destroyed its once quaint highway history. After viewing the destruction, all I could say was, “Good luck, Mesquite, Nevada”.