Wednesday, September 3, 2014

'Vegas on the I-15


Nobody knew I-15 from ‘Vegas to San Bernardino, nobody, like Marvin Alton. If someone asked what Tourist to Las Vegas bus to take, the answer would always be, “Take Marvin Alton’s bus—he knows the road like nobody else.”
That was 1960s then 70s, then 80s, and 90s.  Roads change and Marvin got older.  Son Buddy made him retire when diabetes got bad, eyesight with it.

So there Marvin sat, a crumpled up old man in a Lincoln Escalade, watching the new road before him and the desert on the sides.  The radio thing played Big Band music with Sinatra and Dean crooning the miles away.

Off in the desert, bus stop breaks stood abandoned.  Windows broken, roof falling in. Place after place. On the planks and adobe bricks, Marvin’s poor eyesight picked up “ MEMS DESPOE”.  What the hell?” 

Just when he worked the letters through his head, another spray painted words popped up: AWARE!  Kids are just plain stupid..

Then, DES on the POE! AWARE…JEREMY.  Miles went by while Marvin passed the words over and over while Sinatra sang.

The Baker, CA exit seemed a good place to take a break. DQ was a new building, its big red and blue sign intimating, "Stop Here! You'll die if you don't!!" 

Buddy helped Marvin to the toilet and then back into the car.  Diabetes and ice cream don't like each other.


Marvin settled back in the Lincoln as a tour bus pulled in, new model with DVDs in the seat backs.  A group of teens rushed in, and then rushed out.


Marvin chuckled as the chocolate-dipped cones lost the chocolate in chunks, and the bus driver could be heard swearing and shouting. 

Just what I’d do…Some things change but never change. 

The road moved on and so did Marvin. 

We lived in Victorville, CA, for seven years.  Our children were born there and started school during those years.  A pleasant, almost cool, summer day would be about 94 degrees.  July and August were never mentioned.

Mojave Desert: Source

16 comments:

  1. Poor Marvin...relegated to the passenger seat.

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    1. When one has been the driver all his life, sitting in the passenger seat would be awful...control taken away.

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  2. Thank you for sharing Marvin's story with us :)

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  3. Poor Marvin. He should find joy at home. We all face that day when they take our keys away. Ha

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    1. Good to see you again. I hope Marvin can find that joy, has built up more than just a bus route.

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  4. Would suck to have to be a passenger or to ride a desk for those that never did. Crap, that is hot too.

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    1. Mojave Desert is for people who truly love desert living.

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  5. Poor Marvin. Poor, poor Marvin.
    Heat like that is something to lie down and avoid. I think I am a reverse bear. I would dearly love to be able to hibernate in summer.

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    1. I am so with you on that. Summer has always been my enemy.

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  6. Sad Marvin doesn't get to drive anymore.

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  7. Feeling very sad for Marvin now, it must be hard to give up after driving a tourist bus all those years. Sad to watch the buildings decline too. That picture you have makes me want to get in there with shingles and nails, brooms and buckets of paint.

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    1. That part of the desert was once (about 150 years ago) busy with miners and prospectors, with stores and supplies. Slowly, the mines mined out, the building rotted away. Those buildings to me are monuments to a past time when people looked at the desert as a place full of possibilities.

      But, I would not mind at all to go with you in winter, and explore those old buildings. What stories we would discover.

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  8. I was thinking there'd be one of your famous comical twists at the end. What am I missing? What did those letters in all caps mean? I'm tired...obtuse, maybe.

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    1. I didn't go in that direction because during the drive through that place, there was such a sense of depression and loss. When I wrote about Marvin, that is what I gave him. The desert is such a place, and the road is one looooonnnnnggg straight road that stretches on and on and on.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!