Friday, June 25, 2010

Marking the End of Route 66

Well. . . We Made It!

Yesterday (June 24), we finally made it to the end of Route 66, the Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean! -- The last run was from Needles, in the California desert at the Arizona border. It was 110 degrees in Needles when we arrived after 3 (fairly luxurious) nights in Las Vegas. There were road runners literally running around the campground. We learned they do noit eat bird seed despite what the Warner Brothers cartoons told us - they are meat eaters.-- Our accommodations were spartan but we were comfortable. Had a great dinner at Juicy's in town -- Next day, we headed into the Mojave with extra water and ice -- necessary since there is limited cell phone service out there and who knows where you might be if the car breaks down. Imagine what the westbound migrants of the 1930s had to contend with – I am sure some bones are out there in the desert. -- We did try to stay on the old road alignment for the most part through Barstow and Victorville (home of Roy Rogers for you western movie buffs). After the descent through the San Bernardino National Forest we took the local roads through most of the towns until we hit Pasadena. The old road gets quite commercialized after that, so we went back to the Interstate to Santa Monica. It was a great thrill to reach the plaque commemorating the Will Rogers Memorial Highway - Route 66 -- near the pier in Santa Monica. After over 2,000 miles on the local roads from Missouri to California, the ocean breezes were feeling pretty good! -- But this trip is not over. We are heading north on the Pacific Coast Highway to San Luis Obispo and Monterey over the next few days. A nice contrast to the desert -- This has been a great trip -- seeing the US literally from the ground up through the hundreds of small towns and forgotten byways has been eye-opening so far. More to come/kc

Some Moments from the Road

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back on the Road: Las Vegas back to Kingman and on to Needles, CA

After a 3-day respite from the road in Las Vegas, we headed back to Kingman, AZ to pick up the old route 66 going west. The most startling thing today was all of a sudden finding ourselves traversing a winding mountain pass between Kingman and Oatman, AZ. The "Black Mountain" was not described on any of the guides we have. I was not driving but I am no fan of winding roads, hairpin turns, and no barriers as we headed over the mountain. After that white knuckle ride, we arrived in the strangest town I have ever been in, Oatman, AZ. Here wild burros descended from gold mining days roam Main Street seeking handouts from tourists. What a sight. The town seems lost in time, although it obviously has capitalized on route 66 interest for tourists like us. Worth the hairy ride to get there. We then dropped out of the mountain, crossed the Colorado River (again) and got our cabin in Needles, CA. Ok - it was 110 degrees. Now, that's hot in my neighborhood, but Carla, the KOA lady says this was a 'fair' day - it gets hotter. Nonetheless, even though we are mostly air-conditioned and comfortable, you start to get a small idea of what it must have been like for the migrants from the Dust Bowl Days of the 1930s heading west to California, what they believed was the 'land of milk and honey.' Let me tell you, the desert is foreboding --The Grapes of Wrath, both film and book, gets close, but unless you actually feel it, its hard to imagine what these people must have thought as they packed up all of their families and their belongings and heeaded into the desert. Makes you think about how good we have it compared to what others do -- Then things are not so bad. -- Today we are on the last leg of 66 -- hope to be on the Santa Monica Pier this evening and take some pictures at the Pacifc Ocean - - have to get going so will post pictures next stop-- c-u-latah/kc

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day Whatever -- But We are in Las Vegas

Hello All -- I have officially lost track of the days, but I consider that a good thing since this IS a vacation. -- Since my last message, we travelled to the Grand Canyon and are now in Las Vegas for a few days. Neither of these are officially on Route 66 but since Lou has not been to either, we figured they would be good side trips. -- Grand Canyon of course is, well, grand :). I had been there twice but not for at least 20 years. We hiked a good 4 or 5 miles along the Canyon Rim Trail and had a great lunch in the old El Tovar lodge. -- Yesterday, we drove from Williams, AZ to Las Vegas. There was a good stretch of Route 66 between Williams and Kingman, AZ. In Seligman, AZ, the town has pretty much capitalized on the Route 66 experience with some really intense tourist and memorabilia shops. In fact, tour busses heading to the Grand Canyon from Laughlin, NV stop there. It was intersting to see so many people from Europe and Asia buying up hats and shirts of Route 66. Do the know what it is even? -- We are staying at Ballys in LV and this is a nice break from the road. Hope to get some pool time and eat some good food without losing my shirt in the casinos (actually, gambling is about the last thing I do here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 8: Holbrook to Williams, AZ

Some images of today's travels:

Lou is 'Standin' on the corner in Winslow, Arizona', while I decided to act like a kid and sit on the 'Here It Is' jackrabbit at the Jackrabbit Trading Post in Joseph City, Arizona. This place has been a Route 66 fixture for 61 years and sits right on the road next to the Santa Fe railraod tracks. We also toured the restored La Posada, a former Harvey House hotel frequented by Hollywood stars of the past that has been restored by its owner, artist Tina Mion. Check out her website at -- A number of her original works are hanging in the hotel, including 'Suicide: New Year's Eve in Purgatory,' an interpretation of suicide that forces you to think about the sad ends that have comne to so many of our artists, singers, writers, and others. It was worth the stop here in Winslow. c-u-manana/kc

Days 5-7: Tucumcari to Santa Fe & Gallup, NM, and Holbrook, AZ

The last couple of days we have been covering New Mexico mostly. We left the I-40 alignment and drove north on the older Route 66 road to Santa Fe. This was interesting because we were travelling the old Santa Fe Trail, an important mercantile route of the 1800s. A highlight was our tour of Pueblo National Historical Park with the ruins of Pueblo civilization before the Spanish as well as one of the largest missions ever built by the Spanish when they arrived in this region. Staying overnite in Santa Fe, we walked around the old town and had a pleasant meal in a courtyard restaurant.-- Next day we drove south to Albuquerque stopping at Petroglyphs National Monument. We climbed the lava rock to view the art carved into the rocks by inhabitants from hundreds of years ago. Picking up Route 66 again heading west, overnighting in Gallup, NM. -- The last day, we drove into Arizona where we spent the day hiking and sightseeing in the Petrified Forest National Park. I recall being here some 32 years ago with Jeanne, Donna, and Mike Rizzo. The Painted Desert is still a fabulous place to take in the vistas of the low grasslands and desert. Amazing that people lived in this region for hundreds of years before the Spanish and were able to find enough water and food to sustain a fairly large civilization. -- In Holbrook, we found the Wigwam Motel which consists of several concrete wigwams that still operate as a motel for Route 66 travellers. -- Some of you have asked how our accomodations are. We are mainly staying in cabins in KOA campgrounds. I will put up a picture -- they are fairly spartan but not uncomfotabele and so far, I am enjoying the change of pace from the usual hotel/motel. This morning, a decent pancake and coffee breakfast in the 'chuckwagon' and another day of sunshine as we head west to the Grand Canyon. bye4now/kc