Once your checklist is has been completed, you are ready to start your Infinity Loop Trip. For a successful-yet-stressful completion, you need at least 5 days. Any day added to the trip would improve your traveling standards and allow you to see more. Here, I describe a weeklong ideal trip. You can take out options as necessary, but the goal is to complete the loop! Impossible to avoid: driving, heat, other cars, and eating out. Ready?
The optimal start is from the San Francisco Bay Area. Whoever hasn’t yet explored it, should allocate a few days to it. But if you’re just going on the Infinity Loop, then you’d better start being touristy and go check out the Golden Gate Bridge. Never did it by car? Drive northbound, and then take the San Rafael/Richmond Bridge to the East Bay. You will pass through Marin County, which has astonishing views of the Bay, with all the fog and the romanticism you can imagine. Once in the East Bay, whether you are in Richmond, Berkeley, or Oakland, take the I-580 (all numbers without specification are highways) south-east past Livermore, it will go around Tracy and merge into I-5 south, Bakersfield-bound. The drive is so interesting that you will remember nothing of it. But it’s really the fastest way to get to the first stop: Oil-land.
rigs and refineries
Whether you sleep in Lost Hills, Buttonwillow, or Bako, don’t miss the chance to take a trip to Oildale, a well marked area of Bakersfield where the Kern River Basin hosts thousands of oil rigs and dozens of refineries to extract and process crude from the 5th largest oil patch in North America. Despite what everyone I met says, Bakersfield is not so bad as an American town. It’s ample, it has many conglo-malls, it has a farm+oil culture, and has themed neighborhoods. It’s basically like LA with real people and real jobs (zing!). The whole meth-land and culture-less vibe did not show up to me as a visitor. After your morning wandering in Bakersfield, get your wheels to Death Valley: a good and humane way of doing it is either hella early in the morning, or during peak hour, provided you have an air conditioned car. If you choose the latter, then you will get to the visitor center 4 hours after leaving Bakersfield, so to have time to jump around.
Death Valley – desert and colored rocks
Death Valley has a very useful visitor center at Furnace Creek, where you should pay the park fee and get tips from the rangers. It’s possible to drive everywhere there, because they don’t imagine sane people to hike in hell. So plan a tour with the map, go down to Zabriskie Point, to the Artist Palette, and try to get to Badwater Basin (the salt plain) as late in the day as possible, so that the sun doesn’t kill you and make a salt sculpture out of you. The bare might of Death Valley is incredible everywhere you go in the “park”. Outside of Death Valley, you can sleep in Nevada, the first town being Beatty. [Ad Alert] It was very funny and comfy to sleep in the Atomic Inn motel, which is themed after the Cold War atomic craze due to the nearby nuclear test station. Also nearby is the ghost town of Rhyolite, a 20th century village that was abandoned after the coal mine was emptied. It features, a school, a glass-house, a market, a union building, a mansion, a bank, and a casino. Speaking of casinos, after your night in Beatty, you might as well continue driving towards Las Vegas, see their fake world full of fat, bling, and smog. Vegas shouldn’t take more than three hours, if you’re not going to bet or get married. So get out of there and take I-15 north-east towards St. George, Utah.
A big-big billboard welcomes you to Utah, overshadowed by an even bigger billboard that suggests you to stop at Cracker Barrel to eat. Do so. Get gas and eat. Then a few choices open: you can either go to Zion National Park (you can’t decide to just drive-through because you’d have to pay the park fee anyways) first, or you can zoom past it and get to Bryce Canyon, the most beautiful place on Earth. Sleep in Panguitch or Beaver or Parowan. It doesn’t really matter, because you have to spend a couple of days strolling through the hoodoos, watching sunrises and sunsets in the orange and green beauty created by nature. You don’t do that, you are not my friend, you should stop reading this blog, you might as well carve your eyes out of their sockets and go live in a dark world. You’re definitely not a Infinite Looper.
If you do so, then sit back and contemplate the beauty of nature and plan your trip to the border between Utah and Arizona. Because coming up in the next blog post is Antelope Canyon! (and the second half of the trip).