Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Trona, California

Landed at Las Vegas yesterday around 5PM, and after grabbing my bags I headed to the car rental, where, because of the holiday weekend, cars were scarce. That was a good thing.

Instead of my usual, "what is the cheapest, smallest, roller skate car that you have?" I ended up being upgraded to a Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder convertible! That was a good thing.

As I was headed to the California desert, I zoomed out of Vegas and headed south on Highway 15. And of course, because of the holiday weekend, about a billion cars were heading home to LA and the highway was bumper to bumper with "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" weekenders. That was a bad thing.

The desert landscape at dusk was illuminated by a full moon, and at least, while the desert mountains and hills were visible, it was like driving through Ansel Adams' "Moon Over Hernandez." That was a wondrous thing.

I got to my hotel by 12:30pm and crashed.

The next morning I got up, jumped into my toy car and headed for my first destination; 30 miles later I was lost.

I ended up in a very small town (a generous description by the way) called Trona.

Trona, California must be one of the most ahhh... remote places in the American desert. It also has a tiny cafe, right on Trona Road, established in 1956, that serves some of the best shakes that I have ever tasted.

How does a small cafe survive for over half a century in such a remote place? On the wall there were a couple of photos of someone signing autographs. "Who is that?" I asked the young waitress.

"I don't know," she answered, "Someone who came by when I was little." She then asked the cook.

"George Clooney!" shouted the cook from the back. "He was here filming an episode of 'ER' a long time ago."

Anyway, this throwback in time had a dazzling menu of good old fashioned American fare (burgers, tacos, burritos and something called a "Texas toothpick") including ice cream and a lot of great milkshake flavors.

Trona, California: As a town, you are a bit rough on the eyes, but I salute your little town cafe.