Monday, September 3, 2012


I'm a huge fan of the Old West.  I was a "cowboy wannabe" growing up in the Midwest watching all the old westerns and couldn't wait to head west to see the landscape. Those wide open spaces stretching for miles give me wanderlust, and make me think about those hearty pioneers who came out here to start a new life.  Among them, the tough miners who set up makeshift camps and picked at the ground in search of gold or silver.  Many of those settlements, called boomtowns, rose up quickly, and then disappeared ... slowly decaying into ghost towns.

Those old towns are scattered throughout the West, and are some of my favorite places to explore.  You can feel the presence of the people - the miners, the shop owners, the blacksmiths, the barbers ... as you walk through the dusty streets.  I set out for Calico, an old ghost town located along I-15 just outside of Barstow, CA.  It's an easy stop on the way to Vegas.

I am a bit of a purist when it comes to my ghost towns, so I have to be honest ... Calico is a little on the touristy side.  The place has been restored to make it family-friendly - that includes the typical souvenir shops where you can pick up t-shirts, cowboy hats, replica guns and holsters, and yes, there is even a Starbucks.  I know, that just about killed the experience for me.

Everything considered, it's definitely worth the four-mile detour off I-15 if you are in the mood for a taste of the Old West.  (Your kids will love it, if you have kids.)  It will set you back $7 for adults, $4 for youth (6-15), and free for those under 5.  There is plenty of parking, and sandwiches and ice cream. I was looking for BBQ, but came up empty.  Here's their web site for more info.

Overall, I would give Calico a Road Stew rating of 7 on my 1-10 scale.

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