“Space is big,” wrote Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. “You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.” Or Nevada.

I’ve just spent the best part of two days driving between Los Angeles in California (skyscrapers, traffic jams, Nascar race fever dying down) to Las Vegas in Nevada (millions of acres of wasteland, the occasional truck, Nascar race fever building up).

It’s a trip I’ve often promised myself that I’d take one day, purely because I’ve flown to Vegas and LA direct before, and between the two, and often wondered what lies between them.

The answer, I regret to inform you, is not much at all. Last night I stayed in Barstow, but apart from its presence in the lyrics of Sheryl Crow’s Leaving Las Vegas and a surprisingly decent non-franchised pizza joint, there isn’t much to recommend it.

And while you still have to travel 250 miles beyond Barstow to reach Sin City, you won’t find any other urban sprawls in between; Baker has an absurdly grotesque outlet mall and a few kitsch hotel-casinos, nearby Jean has a McDonalds and a correctional facility.