High hopes dashed this morning when again we return to airport and are told the 2nd helicopter’s in sevice so “no-doors” off flight again. I’m somewhat pissed about this. Firmly believe they had no other takers and lied. Spent the day taking scenic photos from ground level. Sedona is something like an alpine village, but surrounded by these red hills. Very much a tourist town, all prices incremented by about 30%. 360 degrees of red and striped hills forms the landscape from any vantage point around here.
Return to the main game today, Rte 66. Another wonderful day. Drove to Williams, the last town on the route to be by-passed by new highway. Great 66 nostalgia. Then to Seligman. This is, we are told, where the Route 66 revival all started. A barber by name of Angel Degardillo apparently got things fired up. He’s 88 and still cuts hair by appt. So guess what, I need a hair cut, he’s coming in at 8.00 in morning to shave me. After all these years of working off the cost of Anne’s course in hair cutting, this will be my 2nd outside job you may remember the short back and sides from Ecuador!
Seligman is also a very “over the top” 66 town, attracting hordes every day of the year. Pop. 456, each of the handful of businesses trying to outdo one and other with the number or 66 signs, wierd decorative attachments to or around the buildings an old vehicles crammed into every corner of thier properties.
Business. Must be getting close the end, thinking business again.
In these “left behind, revived or forgotten” towns and on the roads in between the most common business is graveyards for car, truck, tractor wrecks, some covering acres, and pawn shops. Seems everyone needs pawn! And we’ve done our bit for NZ export trade. Bought a bottle of Cloudy Bay to keep us quaffing about 5.00 daily, and some Jazz apples. Our boost to the NZ economy that I’m sure will enrich the lives of us all!!
So after my super-cranial clean-up at the hands of the father of the modern Motherroad, Angel, we head for the next few route towns (ex-towns in the main) saw some more corny dinosaurs, Valentine, Hackberry with its old service station and general store doing a roaring business in nostalgic clap then to Kingman, another town from that classic song. The ride is becoming a little more ordinary, less compelling now, and only a few days to LA. The bikers have returned in force, mostly going the other way now, and mostly German.
The drive though dry stoney yucca growing landscape this morning we nearly collect a road crossing roadrunner, pass wild burros and get to Oatman. Its as hot as hell, the place is dusty and stinks of burro shit. The old ghost town on the route forces every traveller to stop due to its old buildings and street roaming burros. A couple of groups of bikers pull in. The shops and bars are interesting but not enticing, to me anyway. What a place, its gold mining past long gone, but the 66 revival has given its few inhabitants an opportunity. Then on to Needles on California border. Anne tells me this is the hotest place in the US. Too hot, well, over 107f today, no breeze.
Oct. 1, we are now into California. The roads out of Needles long and straight, could see some miles ahead and back for most of the way. And landscapes around the road surrounded by mountain ranges that were miles away. Enormous landscapes, impressive in their expansiveness. The terrain was flat, high desert, dry with changing vegetation dependent on the altitude. Trucks, these bloody great trucks rumble along at 60 – 65 miles (over 100ksph) in such numbers they are in convoy, in both directions. I’m sure there are significantly more trucks than cars. A fair number of RV’s too. Not unusual to have a line up in in front, and several, often 2 abreast, up your jacksy. One business I didn’t mention was transport. That has to be the biggest of all. Right beside the roads the railroads with their mile+ long trains with containers 2 high are always there. You only have to wait about 3 minutes for another train. Yep, transport has to be the biggest industry across the country, where all this stuff goes and to and to whom beats me.
We make a couple of stops along the way to Big Bear Lake. A lovely alpine village with a lake on one side and mountains/ski fields all around. Another great, off the route, side trip of Annes.
We are only a couple of hours from LA, only a couple of hours of Rte 66 left. Temperatures dropping now, so far virtually every day for 6 weeks have been clear and sunny. Haven’seen a coast for 6 weeks, seems inconceivable to my wee Kiwi mind, but there you are. We’re now California Dreaming. So many songs from this state, you know ’em all. Sounds of Beach Boys, Jan and Dean et al.
San Bernardino tonight. A sad place really. Nice wide tree lined streets, seem to be plenty of traffic, but otherwise the place is pretty much deserted. People sleep on street, walk around talking to nobody and they are not on mobiles either, whole shopping malls and substantial buildings deserted. You may remember the city filed for bankruptcy in 2012. We won’t be be spending another night here.
Pasadena we are headed for now, leaving the SB motel that was a bit of a mystery, best left to Anne to tell that story and share her views.
The drive to Pasadena along the route was great. Totally urbanised, lovely wide roads (obviously improved since the Route became redundant), trees and modern shopping centres, homes etc all the way. Pasadena turnsout to be a lovely city too. Well worth the visit, about 140000 pop. You should see city hall here, what a building, complex really. Pity Tauranga couldn’t afford something even half as impressive. After wandering the streets (shops in Anne’s case), a nice dinner and home to our 1950’s motel. Nice place, a little retro, well looked after. Anne’s just piled into bed and is preoccupied with channel flicking. Nothing changes, just home I say. Best I head that way too.
To LA today. After driving around in circles for 20 mins this morning, thanks to the inadequacies of GPS, however my W.I.F.E. system overcame the odds and we found our way to Sunset Boulevard, then Santa Monica Blvd, took a Rodeo Drive diversion to ogle the fantastic homes. Looking around for Hotel California all we found was a Wyndham.
On the Santa Monica Pier the signs told us that our Route 66 adventure had ended. We started, you may remember, at the start! The sign in Chicago 6 weeks ago and ended today. For us, I kid you not, its been an odyssey of the old, the dilapidated, the restored, songs from the memory banks, expansive scenery tinged with excitement and sometimes disappointment at the state of some old sites. Learned a lot, seen a lot travelled a lot. So if you ever plan to motor west just do it my way its the highway thats the best, get your kicks on Route 66, or something like that.
Route 66, America’s Mainstreet, the Mother Road, the Will Rogers Highway and many more names describe the historic route. So many experiences and stories, many more than we’ve been able to relate here if I could I’d take the Eagles advice and Do it Again.
See y’all soon,
Retro signs, in all states of repair line the route, a couple of well kept ones here
Didnt see as many classics as we would have expected!
The pigeon pair overseers at Muscle Beach.
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