Aliens, Converse, and a Hidden Oasis
Updated: Oct 19, 2018
If you've ever taken a road trip with a toddler, you know that there need to be stops involved. For sanity reasons. An iPad is equally important (obviously), but for those good moms who don't let their kids watch cartoons, keep reading for some other things to do on the way to Vegas.
We had planned to go out to visit my mother-in-law who lives in Henderson, Nevada. When it came time to pack on Friday night, I was so frustrated with my lack of free time and number of things on my to-do list, I pretty much just threw whatever I could find in my bag. The next morning, I was supposed to work an event then come home and go, but the event got rained out so I got home a earlier than expected. We threw all the stuff in the car and hit the road.
About two hours into the drive, I realized I had completely forgotten all of my shoes except the pair on my feet. Literally, I forgot all my shoes you guys. I was stuck with dirty white Converse High-Tops. Brunch with my mother-in-law? Converse. Date night out on the Strip? Yep, Converse! The full realization dawned on me like the sun over the desert hills. All my outfits were ruined.
Ok, so that's a little dramatic. But I was pretty annoyed. Thankfully, the first stop on our trip didn't require anything more than sneakers anyways.
If you've ever driven to Vegas from Southern California, you've likely seen the signs for Zzyzx Road. I've always seen people taking pictures with the sign, probably because it's such an unusual name, but I wondered if there was actually anything at the end of the road. Why would there be a road that goes to empty desert? Upon doing some research, I learned that there was an old, abandoned resort, Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa, at the end of a winding stretch of road about 5 miles off the highway. It's pronounced, "Ziz-ix," by the way. I saw some cool pictures on Instagram and decided to check it out.
When we pulled off the highway, we were immediately greeted by a long stretch of straight, flat road. As we drove, the road curved, hugging the base of the hills, and we lost sight of the highway. At this point, I started to wonder if I was driving my family into a real-life version of The Hills Have Eyes, but you know - do it for the 'gram.
The road wanders along the base of the mountains - rocky outcroppings to the right, and flat, dry lakebed on the left. Occasionally you'll see a puddle, or a group of sprouting bushes in the lakebed that indicates that water is coming up out of the ground from the underground mineral springs in that spot. The desert can be pretty cool.
When we got closer to the old resort, rows of palm trees ran down the sides of the road around us, indicating that these were once well-manicured, beautiful grounds. As we came to the parking lot, I was surprised to find it full of cars. It did make me a little less worried about the whole Hills Have Eyes scenario. Upon entering the area, we saw several older buildings that appear to have been well maintained. The most beautiful part of the campus is the pond, which features a fountain, overlooking the desert.
After talking with a few of the staff at the facility, I learned that it was purchased by California State University and is used as their Desert Studies Center. When we got there, a group of researchers had just arrived and was heading out to do something related to lizards (I think... I was eavesdropping). The staff said we were welcome to wander around as long as we didn't disturb any of the plants or animals. It was so beautiful - a literal oasis in the middle of the desert.
There is an old swing set overlooking the pond, likely leftover from the facility's days as a health spa. According to the internet, the guy who ran the spa was a religious nut and sold people on the ideas of magic cures and remedies that could be found with his guidance while at the retreat.
The resort is super cool, and I highly recommend taking the 5-10 minutes to explore. After a quick stop at the (fully-functioning and CLEAN!), "Bath house," we got back on the road.
Next stop on our trip was Alien Fresh Jerky. We've been there before - it's just a funny looking store with a funny name and some pretty good jerky, but I wanted to go back there to shoot my 90's themed Halloween costume.
It was Raegan's first time there, and she was thrilled with all the aliens. She had her face pressed up against the window of the alien car, and when we told her to say bye so we could go, she said, "But they're my grandparents!" Super funny. Also mildly creepy.
We went inside and bought some jerky, because why not, then I changed into my costume and my ever-faithful Instagram husband took some pictures. I'm so glad we stopped there for these pictures, because they are everything.
Fanny Pack: Champion Brand via Second Street USA
Shoes: Converse (But you already knew that).
On the way back, we stopped at Zzyzx again for another photo shoot. As you can imagine, that outfit also includes Converse. Check back for another post with those photos!
What are your favorite, out of the ordinary places to stop when on a road trip? Bonus if it's on the way from SoCal > Vegas and I can stop there next time we head out to Henderson!