The intense heat of the Mojave Desert can cause you to make some strange decisions. For example, buying overpriced beef jerky from aliens. At least, I think that’s what happened as I visited Baker, California. I planned to pay my respects to the World’s Largest Thermometer and move on, but then I was tempted by Alien Jerky. And judging by the crowd, so was everyone else.
Baker, California is located along Interstate 15 between Barstow and the Nevada state line. There are three exits — one on each end of town, and one in the middle. The big thermometer, Alien Jerky, and other businesses are all located along Baker Boulevard (Business 15) which runs parallel to the interstate.
You’d think Baker, California had done enough to lure tourists off of Interstate 15, when it put up the World’s Tallest Thermometer. But no. It turns out, a 134-foot tall sign that reminds you of how hot you are was just the beginning of the Baker tourist trap. Now, aliens have landed, and they’re selling beef jerky.
Alien Fresh Jerky is now the biggest attraction in this small town. A giant electronic sign, big enough to compete with the casinos just up the road, is the first to welcome you.
And then, there’s an alien wearing a flying saucer hat…
… and finally, some non-hat-wearing aliens taking up the best spot in the parking lot, as they patrol the galaxy looking for the freshest beef jerky, or something.
Alien Jerky is inside a building that looks like some kind of intergalactic tank. I’m not sure if it’s here to do battle with humans, or if the humans are using it to battle the aliens. But why would humans need to battle aliens when the aliens are bringing us fresh jerky?
Inside, there are huge racks covered with packets of beef jerky — which, for some reason, I didn’t take a picture of. I’m still blaming the heat. I did, however, take a picture of the overwhelming selection of hot sauces, many of which have names that are downright x-rated. That took me by surprise, considering that this is clearly a place meant to appeal to kids. Some other items also seemed like they belonged in an adult bookstore. Parental guidance is highly recommended.
There’s also a limitless supply of souvenirs emblazoned with the Alien Fresh Jerky logo. These aliens know how to market themselves.
I bought a packet of beef jerky, because how could I not? It was alright, but nothing spectacular. I saw some people grabbing handfuls of packages, as I maneuvered elbow-to-elbow amongst the hordes of other tourists.
And then I got the heck out of there.
Fortunately, Baker’s other attraction still stands. When I visited, it displayed a temperature of 111 degrees… far shorter than the record of 134 recorded up the road in Death Valley in 1913. Remember, back during all that global warming?
Back in the car, as I returned to the interstate, my temperature gauge spiked up to 119 degrees — I caught a photo of it at 118. Baker is located at the bottom of a valley where it gets incredibly hot — and then you have to gain a couple thousand feet just to get out of it. Some cars can’t handle it. But the good news is, temperatures were closer to a refreshing 100 once I got out of the valley.
Here’s a look at the drive from Barstow to Baker…
… and Baker to Las Vegas:
The Bottom Line
No matter which way you’re traveling, you probably need a break when you get to Baker. Go ahead and check out the Alien Jerky store, but be aware that it’s not as family-friendly as parents might hope. And don’t forget to visit the thermometer, too.