Baker California is located in the Mojave Desert at the junction of Interstate 15 and State Route 127, aptly named, “Death Valley Road”. Bakers elevation is approximately 930 feet (283.5 m) above sea level, which is lower than either Barstow or Las Vegas which is 90 miles to the Northeast. Due to its location at the southern end of the Death Valley depression, Baker not only has a reputation for record heat, averaging 110 degrees in the summer months, but when I was trucking, Baker thrived on tourism.
“The Worlds Largest Thermometer” is a landmark in Baker which stands 134 feet tall. Current owner Matt Pike, who bought the thing in 2005, said that the electric bill to operate the thermometer ran $8,000.00 per month! January of this year, both the thermometer and accompanying restaurant (Bobs Big Boy) was listed for sale.
MY piece, “Sunrise Near Baker” memorializes the record-setting heat in Death Valley in the year 1913 – 134 degrees! Inspired by the immense collection of photographs from my days of running the West Coast, I tried to portray what it felt like in the days of running my original Cabover Kenworth, which wasn’t equipped with air conditioning!! In those days, I carried an ice-filled cooler in the jump seat, and ALWAYS had a thermos of ice water with a bungee cord on the “dog house”…. Ohhh, those were the days!
Thanks for listening to my rambling, and hope you enjoy the artwork…