Thursday, April 9, 2009

Roadtrip: Las Vegas

The blog hits the road today, bound for Las Vegas and the opener of San Diego State's three-game Mountain West Conference series against UNLV.

What happens in Vegas won't stay there. It will appear on the blog.

Stephen Strasburg (6-0) is the scheduled starter for the Aztecs, moved up a day because of the Easter weekend. Strasburg struck out just six — what's wrong, what's wrong — in last week's win against UC Davis at Petco Park. He went six innings, allowing three singles, two walks and a hit batter.

We'll see how Strasburg fares in UNLV's thin air. We'll also see what the Rebels try against him after losing to Strasburg and the Aztecs 4-3 in the conference opener four weeks ago at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Strasburg struck out 14 and walked one over seven innings in the game.

First pitch for the Aztecs (23-11, 6-3 MWC) and the Rebels (15-15, 4-5) isn't until 7 p.m., giving us plenty of time for the four-hour +/_ drive today from San Diego. It's about 314 miles from my driveway to the parking lot at Earl E. Wilson Stadium, almost entirely on the I-15 north. Key points along the way include:

— The Flying J truck stop/convenience store/restaurant/sideshow in Barstow, which will give you gas at the pumps or in the diner. It provides plenty of people-watching possibilities.

— Zzyzx road, which doesn't go much of anywhere but does have its own Wikipedia reference. According to this entry, "The name Zzyzx was given to the area in 1944 by Curtis Howe Springer, claiming it to be the last word in the English language." After countless trips past the road I finally pulled off once to see if there was anything befitting such a great name. I guess there was once, but it is little more now than a 4 1/2 miles long road, dead-ending in both directions. Big mistake taking exit there. I should have stayed on the highway and always wondered/speculated. Roadtrip America provides better details about the road's history and old "Doc" Springer. So there's that.

— The World's Largest Thermometer in Baker, which also has a Wikipedia reference right here. I drove past it once on the way to Omaha for the College World Series and the temperature read 112. The next day I was driving through the Colorado mountains near Glenwood Springs and the temperature gauge in my car read 44 degrees.

— Primm, Nevada, just past the California-Nevada border. I liked it better when it was named Stateline, but I guess there was some confusion because there's a Stateline at the northern border, too. It is a good spot to stop when the urge strikes to ride a roller coaster or get a $5 steak at the Silver Spur Steakhouse. I was tempted to book a night's stay at Buffalo Bill's Casino. Cost: $9. Only problem is it's 40 miles from Las Vegas. I opted for the Tuscany Suites & Casino, splurging for $30.

— The Strip. I have budgeted $20 for entertainment. I don't think that will be enough to see a show, so it likely will all go on two hands of Blackjack or all on red 14 at the craps table.

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