Goodbye, World’s Tallest Thermometer

November 27, 2012

I’m driving to Vegas Friday night. I always take the same route. Typically what happens is I leave right from work and take the Ventura Freeway to I-210 East to I-15 North, which will take me all the way to…well…Flamingo Road? Is that usually the right exit? I don’t remember, because I rarely stay at the same hotel twice. Whether my destination is the Venetian or Excalibur, Caesar’s or Mandalay Bay, that’s my usual exit.

The point of my telling you this is because it’s always the same route. Always. Which means I always see the same signs for Barstow and immediately remember the first sentence of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Which means I always drive through Baker, stop for gas, pick up some Alien Jerky for friends or co-workers, play the claw game in the combination A&W/Subway/TCBY…what is that, a Valero station? Oh, yeah. And I always stop to see The World’s Tallest Thermometer. The hottest it has ever been in Baker (according to the World’s Tallest Thermometer) when I’ve been there was 107 degrees. That was back in 2007.

So you can imagine my disappointment today when I read that the World’s Tallest Thermometer in Baker — which I intended to show my sister on our drive to Vegas this coming Friday night — is broken.

Yeah, I know. According to 89.3 KPCC, “The 134-foot tall icon in the small desert town…quit working about three years ago. The degrees are off, with random numbers reflected against the sun. The gift shop is empty, scarred with graffiti.” Well, that would explain the 6ºF reading in December of last year when it was at least thirty degrees warmer than that. Still, what a bummer! It’s been broken for three years!? That totally invalidates the 117ºF I saw last summer. I thought I was acting “hard” by driving through the Mojave with no A/C and the windows open, but it probably wasn’t even close to that warm outside.

The article continues, “Blame it on the recession. The thermometer’s owner claims he can’t afford its electricity bill — about $8,000 a month.” Holy shit, that’s about 16-times what I pay in rent every month! And that’s just for the electricity? Are there property taxes on top of that? That has to be the world most expensive utility, right? It’s 134-feet tall, but you can almost wrap your arms around the thing, it’s not really like it takes up so much space. Really? $8,000 a month? Is it coated in crystal meth and I’ve never noticed? Damn!

Whatever the case may be, I’m really bummed out my sister won’t get to behold my favorite part of the drive to Vegas. I was looking forward to a picture of her and the thermometer, then a picture of her playing the claw game in the Valero station, then a picture of her eating at A&W, then a picture of her becoming violently ill as I refuse to turn off the highway.

Rest In Peace, World’s Tallest Thermometer. I hope some bizarre philanthropist with tons of money to throw around stops by Baker and saves you. Also, I hope that person fixes you. If you’re going to be the World’s Tallest Thermometer, you really shouldn’t fuck up your crown by giving faulty weather readings. That’s just poor form, World’s Tallest Thermometer.

See you Friday.

Zombies – Friends Of Mine [MP3]

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