Route 66 West to East: Day 6 – All Good Things…

This day was chockablock full of things to see. So much mileage, so little time…

I do have to back up a bit–there was one thing we saw the day before that I’d forgotten. Well, actually, I was thinking we saw this on the last day.

After being greeted by the Second Amendment Cowboy just west of Amarillo…

https://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/8637

…we got a good look at the famous Cadillac Ranch!

It was fairly far out in this field, and the wind was blowing horizontally, so we didn’t feel like venturing out all that distance. This is as good as it gets. Here’s a bit more info–and probably better pictures:

https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2220

So–now we’re at the Last Day, which was started with breakfast at The Waffle House:

Amarillo is very picturesque on the way out:

Once out of town, it’s easy to see that wind farms are a big deal out here, which makes sense when you consider how fast winds come through here.

 

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The next civilized spot on the road was Conway, which had probably the best crazy on the entire trip–the Slug Bug Ranch!

Not just because of the cars–the buildings were creepy-crazy-cool too.

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You can’t see the sign below all that well, but someone spray-painted “Haunted” on it. Works for me!

 

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The interiors made the hairs on my arms raise up big-time:

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Best part? This (Dearly departed you know the house is haunted you and I both know the ghost is me):

After getting creeped out for some time, we gave the place the ward against the evil eye and got back into the car. The rest of Conway was somewhat more sedate.

Well, maybe except for this:

From one extreme to another–this site, built in 1995, was a lift to my spirits. The cross is 190 feet tall and, according to our book, is billed as the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere. Billed by whom, it does not state.

Life-size statues depicting the Stations of the Cross circle the cross, and were very well rendered. I spent some much-needed reflection time visiting each one.

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Then it was back to the car, and to the next crazy:

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Now this tower looks like an engineering fail, but it works. It’s a deliberate visual effect. The book states: “The end of that water pipe was intended to be beneath the surface of the ground, so it is in fact longer than the four true legs, which is why the tower sits at such an angle. The legs are actually all the same length, just as they should be. The owners of the Britten Truck Stop that once operated here thought that the spectacle of the leaning tower made for a good gimmick…”

Good-bye to Groom, and on we went.

Alanreed was next, and a restored gas station–a genuine Route 66 holdover:

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These signs are not confusing at all, are they…

Across the street–one of these is the Magnolia Cafe, now in ruins. The other is somewhere else in town:

McLean was next, with the usual quota of old buildings…

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…and one of the cutest gas stations I have ever seen (restored, but not functional):

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I could live in there…

Next town–Shamrock…and one of the things we had really been looking forward to.

Did you see the movie “Cars”? This building was the inspiration for some of the town scenery in that movie:

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We took pictures from every possible angle–can you tell?

And a blast from the present:

along with yet another Western (defunct) Motel:

That was it for Texas…and so on into Oklahoma. First town–Sayre (kind of straddles the state line, actually):

Yet another Western Motel. Such a very popular name…

Elk City was next. We stopped at their National Route 66 Museum, but didn’t explore anything but the outer areas.

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Our book states: “This museum covers the route in all eight states through which it passed…the exterior now boasts the most enormous Route 66 shield ever built. The large kachina figures outside once stood at the Queenan Trading Post, an old-school curio shop on Route 66 that closed long ago.”

It would have been a lot of fun to explore, but we were still slaves of time. Bummer. Maybe some day…

Okay…what was next…Oh yes. Canute.

This is actually part of a residence now. How cool that would be…

Then more relics of the past:

And on to the next town…Clinton

Lunch in Weatherford, then on the road again.

In Hydro, we stopped at Lucille’s, a gas station that has stood here since 1941. Of course it doesn’t operate now. According to our book, this place has been “a fixture on Route 66 since 1941, when Lucille Hamons and her husband began operating a gas station and tourist court here. Lucille passed away in 2000, but not before earning the nickname “Mother of the Mother Road.” For years, she spent time with each and every traveler who came through here, passing along stories of the road gleaned from her many years at its shoulder.”

 

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Hinton Junction, a very forgotten place:

…then across a pony bridge that spans the South Canadian River

and on to El Reno.

In Yukon, we took a detour to the Express Clydesdale Ranch. Our book tells us that this is a “1936 barn restored by Amish specialists from Indiana.”

I took a lot of pictures of the horses that were there, but I didn’t post them because I have no idea how their owners would feel about that.

Then it was on into OK City, where we checked into our room and then went to meet up with my aunt and cousin for dinner. It was a really nice reunion–I hope to see them again really soon.

Beer was quaffed.

Atmosphere was appreciated.

Thus ends our epic adventure, Part I. We have already planned a short trip in the fall, to catch up on some of the places we didn’t have enough time to cover this time around. You can bet that I will share that trip as well.

Then–next year we will take a train to Chicago, rent a car, and do the rest of the Route: Chicago to Oklahoma City.

To give credit where it’s due, this is the book we used the most on this trip:

Hope you enjoyed this travel blog–happy trails!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Route 66 West to East: Day 5 – Albuquerque to Amarillo

We left Albuquerque behind, with a promise to get back here again some day. We did not see much of it at all, and very little that had to do with the Route.

Albuquerque seemed to be enjoying fine weather–the hot air balloons were out in droves:

The roads were fine, and stretched on toward more adventure.

First thing of fantasticness–the “Singing Road.” A bit east of Albuquerque is a section of road whose wake-up ridges on the side play “America the Beautiful” when driven across at 45mph.

I was not prepared for that, and it was a wonderful surprise. Good thing Paul knew about it!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgizA_vDlzs

Our next point of interest was Edgewood, and the Midway Trading Post. Our reference book stated that it had gotten a face-lift at the time of the book’s writing, but things must have gone south since then. Wandering around the grounds and taking pictures of these landmarks were the best parts of this trip.

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Every town from here on, until we get to Amarillo, was very small. It was therefore fairly easy to find the things mentioned in the books. Of course, there were buildings not in those pages that still held interest for me:

Moriarty was up next, and according to our book “maintains many memories of the Mother Road.” There’s the last Whiting Bros. gas station (closed, but restored)…

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…and the Sunset Motel (still in business).

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There is also the “El Comedor de Anayas” building, which has a restored neon “rotosphere.” We did not see it rotate, as it was the middle of the day, but it looked pretty impressive–so 50’s.

Clines Corners was a place that was big with the tourists way back when, and seems to still be doing good business. It’s been operating since 1934.

One of the most incredible sights we saw this day was in Santa Rosa. There are a lot of artesian springs in this area, and the most famous, according to our book, is “The Blue Hole.” It’s more than 80 feet deep and 60 feet wide, and the water temperature is about 64F. You just don’t expect to find this sort of thing in the desert.

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A couple of feet away from the water, and we’re back to this:

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A few old buildings here and there…

There were a couple of other sites–one I thought was exceptionally cool, and another that we saw referenced in one of our books. The first one was the Western Motel–

I actually took a lot more pictures of this place, but space won’t allow.

The second was a building that used to house the Club Cafe:

http://www.redstoneprojects.com/route66/pastroute66eatclubcafe.html

http://www.route66news.com/2015/04/20/whats-left-of-the-club-cafe/

There is now a new building on the site, and it still has part of the old Cafe logo as part of its signage. Unfortunately, we didn’t get close enough for a decent picture.

So many little towns, with so many stories all their own.

Cuervo:

Newkirk:

Then we got into Tucumcari–which is a lot of fun to say–and found a wealth of cool stuff. The name of the town used to be Six-Shooter Siding, according to our book–how’s that for a colorful-sounding past? The one it has now, according to the same book, actually comes from a Comanche word, meaning to lie in wait (ambush).

And it does–but only to dazzle and thrill the Route 66 road-tripper. I think it took us a half-hour to get down the small stretch of road that runs through the place.

There’s the Blue Swallow Motel, built in the 1940s from surplus WWII cabins, and still in business today:

La Cita Mexican Restaurant–definitely not in operation:

And by far my favorite of what Tucumcari could offer–TeePee Curios. Only because of its exterior; that was enough for us:

What’s not to love about this dude?

We finally got through Tucumcari and headed east again. Our next stop was San Jon (pronounced “hone”). Not much going on there nowadays–the bypass really did a number on it. It seems we didn’t stop for pictures there.

Okay, onward to Glenrio, Texas–just on the border.

The picture below sorta says it all:

Next town: Adrian–one of the places that boasts of being the “mid-point” of Route 66. Of course it all depends on whether you’re talking about the original 66 or the augmented and changed one. So–it’s all relative. Just don’t tell the folks in Adrian.

Another must-see from the book was the Bent Door Cafe, which is no longer in operation. It was built using parts from an airport control tower.

The red corner is my finger doing a photo-bomb.

A quick pass through Vega, which I don’t seem to have taken pictures of, and then we were heading into Amarillo.

We found our hotel, checked in, and went out to find dinner.

That night we feasted on the best Texas had to offer, at a landmark restaurant called The Big Texan Steak Ranch, which has been around for a long time. It took its cue from Interstate 40 and relocated off the access road a long time before a move was necessitated.

Upon arrival, the weary traveler is met by a long, breezy porch

which is obtained only after passing the guard bull.

It had all the amenities–fascinating decor,

open-sided cooking area for easy viewing,

and beer steins the size of some of the smaller states of the Union.

And, after I had had a couple of those, it was time to bid good-night to the Road.

The next day would be our last full one on the Route–Amarillo to Oklahoma City.

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Route 66 West to East: Day 4 – A Detour South

Roswell had a weird vibe to it–and it wasn’t just the whole “alien/Area 51” thing. When we arrived the previous evening, there seemed to be very few people or cars around. The street lighting felt muted–but maybe it was because we were on the outskirts of town. We had dinner at a nearby restaurant, and didn’t do much else after that.

We were told before we left on the trip that downtown in the evening was – er – “different.” However, we were too tired to go check it out.

The long, not-winding road…

Saw a lot of these:

It took a bit over an hour to get to Carlsbad Caverns, which we spent listening to more audio books. This time it was Wooster and Jeeves, a terrific series by P.G. Wodehouse. Such great stories!

It wasn’t all flat driving, but there was a lot of it. Finally we climbed back into the mountains, and soon came across our goal – Carlsbad Caverns.

Nice museum–small though.

We also learned that the elevator was still out. They let us know in no uncertain terms that, if we were to walk down (800 feet, with a distance of 1.5 miles all told, what with the switchbacks), we had to keep in mind that we had to walk back up. So, hoping for the best, we headed off.

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This amphitheater is where folks sit to wait for the bats to come out in the evening. Well, we were there on a (very) cold morning, so we didn’t see that. You’re not allowed to film them anyway–I’m not sure why.

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Here’s Part I of the switchbacks–it does not change from this pattern all the way down – except a few areas where it inexplicably goes back up.

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These are swallows – they were flying formations all over the entrance. I have video of them, but they won’t show up in my choices for this blog.

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I would highly recommend walking either up or down the switchbacks in order to see all of the wonders the Caverns have to display. It was all so incredible! These are just a few of the many pictures we took on the way down:

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My legs were sending me hate mail and threatening to go on strike by the time we got to the floor of the cavern. It was all forgotten, however, when we started wandering the paths and seeing the glories created by time and elements.

There were some really macabre-looking creations:

And even one of these. Good thing–I needed some sort of sustenance for the trip back up.

But first, some more looking around:

It took both of us some effort to get back up those switchbacks, but we made it. Halfway up, we heard from some people coming down that the elevator was now working.

Yay…!? Does it stop on this floor? I very much doubt it.

Here are some shots from the outside–I don’t think we would have noticed them if we hadn’t been winded from the climb back up:

Look! A squirrel!

He didn’t seem bothered at all by our being there. Probably pretty used to all of the people who roam around there every day.

And here’s a view of the type of terrain we’d be driving back through to return to Albuquerque:

So–no pictures or stories to tell on the way back. We took turns driving so that we could keep going and not fall asleep.

We would be up early the next day to return to the Mother Road and our next destination: Amarillo.

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So–I hope you’re enjoying this so far. Please click the “Like” button so I know how many times this has been viewed. Back in a few days!

 

 

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Route 66 West to East: Day 3 – even older history than a mere road

First thing we did on our way out of Holbrook–turned down the wrong road. But that’s okay–we found some cool stuff:

Soon enough we were on the right road. Note the bird–this type of company followed us all day.

The Petrified Forest/Painted Desert actually had an intersection with Route 66 – you’ll see that later.

We arrived at the gate a bit early, so we had to wait in the parking lot for a half hour or so with a few other people. A good photo-shoot opportunity, but somewhat limited in scope.

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After a short stop at the visitor center–I was able to get something to eat–we headed out onto the route through this magnificent desolation. The Painted Desert was first, and I was thoroughly amazed at the glory before us at every turn.

I can’t guarantee that these pictures are presented in order of being seen, since I had four resources for pictures. But no matter what, they are renditions of some of the most incredible natural sights I have ever witnessed.

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After the initial turnouts and jaw-dropping scenery…

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…we came across this beauty – the Painted Desert Inn:

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The scenery behind it was even more fantastic:

We were followed for a while by various wildlife:

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but they were soon lost in the beauty of the wilderness around us.

Then–surprise!–we came across the spot where the old Route 66 intersected with the Painted Desert. I had no idea!

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Looking north, then south–this is where the old route probably would have been.

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Another surprise (since I hadn’t researched any of this) were the petroglyphs that have been preserved in this park:

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…and Puerco Pueblo, an ancient civilization kept preserved for all to see

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This site was Newspaper Rock, a giant boulder far below this platform.

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Here’s a very informative website for even more information: https://www.nps.gov/pefo/learn/historyculture/newspaper-rock.htm

It seemed that the face of the landscape changed with each mile we drove.

Before we knew it, we had segued from the Painted Desert into the Petrified Forest.

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This ancient bridge was fascinating. http://scienceviews.com/parks/agatebridge.html

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And of course there’s the up-close of the petrified wood itself.

And the ever-present trains…

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We spent a couple of very pleasant hours in this area, but we had places to go and such, so on we went.

At Houck, Arizona, we found courage. Fort Courage, to be exact. It’s a replica of the fort used in the 19602 series F Troop, one of my favorites. Not much to this one though.

We soon crossed into New Mexico, and in Manuelito we saw the cliff dwellings/caves we had read about in our books. This is some interesting info: https://www.theroute-66.com/manuelito.html

We could only drive by, and did the same for Gallup, New Mexico. Unfortunately. We will be hitting this a little more in-depth in October.

After Gallup, we turned south towards Roswell. We would spend the night there, and then we would spend the majority of the next day at Carlsbad Caverns.

After a long day in ancient history, we would now be spending a brief moment in science fiction, then back to the eeriness that envelops anything underground.

 

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Route 66 West to East: Day 2 – A Sky So Wide

We left Laughlin early the next morning and drove south until we met up once again with Route 66. First order of business–coffee. Not as many kiosks in parking lots as we find in Oregon, where it seems every other corner has one. Pickings were slim, but we finally got caffeine before either of us felt the effects of withdrawal.

Fortunately I had fruit and protein bars with me, because it was a long time until we had a real meal.

The first stop of real interest, route-wise (I  had to say that because the entire ride was glorious–I never knew a desert could be so beautiful in its wild desolation), was a tiny town called Oatman. When I saw the sign, I told Paul to start looking out for burros, because they roamed the streets. A little info from the town’s signs themselves:

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Well, crud–I was hoping this second picture would be clearer. OK–from the Route 66 Adventure Handbook: “…the town’s most celebrated inhabitants are its burros, descendants of the beasts of burden that were brought here in the gold-mining days.”

And as we came around a bend into the main part of town, there they were–walking shoulder-to-shoulder down the middle of the road, as if they owned the place. Come to think of it, they probably did.

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We got up abreast of them and stopped, and I rolled down the window, hoping I wouldn’t spook them.

Quite the opposite–and one of the best experiences on the trip!

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I got to pet their soft noses and scratch their faces for them, and they were so sweet. It was hard to believe they were feral. There are feed dispensers in various places in town, but it was far too early to see if we could find them. So–the joyfulness was over–on their part–in short order when they realized we weren’t going to feed them. I got the gimlet eye

and they were off to the next possible food source.

We drove up a ways, found a place to park, and took pictures of the town and some of the rusty old leftover machinery scattered here and there. Artfully. (There are a lot of tourist shops here–it’s not abandoned by any stretch of the imagination.)

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Just outside of town was an old abandoned mine–we couldn’t get too close though.

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The next bit of road is called Sitgreaves Pass, and it was a real challenge to drive back in the original days of Route 66. I can believe it–so many hairpin turns and such a steep grade! But what a reward as we neared the top!

As we approached the summit, we passed the Gold Road Mine

and were soon far above it. There was a turnout that looked photograph-worthy–and was it ever. It was obvious that we had hardly been the first ones to find it a good spot to stop. Many people had memorials erected, and Paul even found ashes in one place.

Once we looked around at the nearby stuff, we raised our eyes and…

…the view took my breath away.

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A song by Fernando Ortega came to mind when I looked out over this vast and empty plain below us:

“A sky so wide, you can hear your heart turn quiet”*

There is something about this desolate beauty, this silence, that makes all other things so trivial. I have stood at the lip of Mt. Vesuvius and looked into its crater, and I have climbed to the highest point of the Colosseum in Rome and gazed into the immensity of that arena, and in neither place have I felt so close to the face of God than this spot.

A few people actually met their Maker up here, unfortunately. Remnants of the proof remain:

We met up with a couple of guys who lived in the area, and had a nice chat for a few minutes. One of them had actually lived pretty close to where Paul and I live now. Small world–yet again!

All too soon we had to tear ourselves away from this beauty and head off to the next sight.

Not that there is much to it anymore, but at one time there was a town called McConnico a ways further down the road. Just west of it can be found a restored building–Cool Springs Camp. It is now a tourist shop, all out there in the desert on its own.

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The books had little to nothing on the history of this place, so I found something on the interwebs: http://www.route66coolspringsaz.com/

Of course we had to take jillions of pictures of it. I saw that there was someone living in an Airstream trailer right behind the building, which meant that the owner (and manager) was still there. Hard to get pictures without its TV satellite in the way.

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We were also very glad of the facilities that were provided:

 

(Portapotties behind this false front)

OK–on to the next thing…

Which was…Kingman, Arizona:

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This town takes the whole Route 66 thing to heart, at least on the main drag.

This was the only place where we stopped at a museum. I’m thinking they were all pretty much the same, save for whatever local spin a particular place would have on the Road.

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We found this bit of info amusing. I don’t think the numbers would have been as interesting in metric:

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And here we are–the Road Royalty:

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Inside, we found a cool map reference, and a picture with a phrase I think I will use from time to time:

The park across from the museum had a train as its centerpiece, so of course we had to go and photograph the thing to death.

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And across the street to the park’s right was a thing of beauty–especially since we hadn’t had a real breakfast and it was lunchtime plus:

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It was not here when the Mother Road brought folks to and from wherever, but it sure has caught the feeling–from the outside of the building:

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…to the memorabilia, the jukebox, the menus, and the furniture.

And it’s lunchtime!

Me, I insisted on a milkshake. Seemed disrespectful NOT to get one when I was in such a place as this.

After a bit more walking about, we drove toward the east end of town, where a more prominent Kingman sign welcomed westbound travelers. We also got a good look at the train station and the old Hotel Beale, which was an original on the route.

http://kingmanhistoricdistrict.com/buildings/hotel-beale/index.htm

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The next stop was Hackberry, which wasn’t a real town–or at least it isn’t now. What a place though! A Route 66/photography lover’s paradise.

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I don’t know if these Burma-Shave-styled signs were authentic, but the Route did have them back in “the day”. There were actually some still on the side of the road in one place.

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So–zombies like it in Hackberry.

 

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Water will cost you extra, fella.

 

Lots of little places between here and Holbrook. The day was getting on, and we still had a lot to see. So off we went again.

Truxton, AZ, had a section of old Route 66 with a motel and several other buildings. The “EZ66 Guide” that we had along with us said that this motel and the other places were being restored. This was as of the book’s writing in 2015. I don’t think the idea panned out:

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By the way, did I write that Paul and I were listening to audiobooks while we were on the road? It’s a really good way to pass the time, and to keep from getting on each other’s nerves. Our first selection was Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”–which probably wasn’t the best choice right before we went to Carlsbad Caverns, but was definitely enjoyable. Librivox is a wonderful resource for audiobooks–I highly recommend them.

A little further down the road, and we hit actual Burma-Shave signs:

Not too clear, I know–but I was driving and Paul was asleep.

Seligman was next…just a blip on the road, and one of those towns where it was hard to discern Route 66 relics from modern economic downturn. This is the home of the “RoadKill Cafe”–a place we did NOT look up. Well, at the time we didn’t know about it, but still–even I have my standards…

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We didn’t spend any more time here than it took to get these pictures–just kept going.

Only thing of interest for some time was seeing a fire in the distance. As we got almost on top of it (still a long way to the right of us), an electronic road sign let travelers know that it had been a pre-planned fire. So I hope it all went the way they wanted it to. Still a little scary to see–especially since we didn’t know if we would be driving through it.

Twin Arrows was next–a place held together by memories and a lot of spray paint.

The books said that there wasn’t a place to pull off–at least for eastbound travelers. Well, where there’s a will (and an overpass), there’s a way.

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This puts me in mind of “WALL-E”

 

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This used to be a diner, gas station, and trading post. Now it is a canvas for grafitti artists, it seems.

This property is now owned by the Hopi nation, who also owns the casino across the highway (which we couldn’t even see). I didn’t think about it being private property–I just jollied on into the buildings. Not creepy at all…

Definitely an interesting place.

We missed a lot of towns along this way because we were in a high hurry to get to Meteor Crater. This part of the road is the segment we will be revisiting in October.

Speaking of Meteor Crater:

 

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Quite a few stairs–I didn’t get all the way to the top this time.

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Here’s a close-up of the center^.

Here’s a Wiki site to read more about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteor_Crater

And of course the area around it had its businesses, which have come and gone.

There’s an old observation tower off in the distance, nothing but ruins now:

Below is Meteor City, an abandoned trading post which will probably end up collapsing in on itself someday:

We spent a considerable amount of time at Meteor Crater, both inside the center and outside, and the day was getting older and dimmer. Off we went again.

Winslow, Arizona–such a fine sight to see. This is a town we’ll have to explore in more detail next time–we only had enough bandwidth for The Corner–made famous by The Eagles.

Standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona//Such a fine sight to see//It’s a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford//Slowin’ down to take a look at me”

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And this would be that corner, that Ford, and that guy on said corner. All fiction, but the townsfolk decided “what the hey” and financed this set-up.

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Short visit, but so fun!

Joseph City was next, home of the Jackrabbit Trading Post (still in operation). We didn’t go in–just got the pics.

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Yes, you’re allowed to sit on the big grey bunny rabbit. Not that we did.

I wish we had.

OK–next stop–Holbrook, Arizona–home of the Wigwam Motel, which is where we spent the night.

We had the wigwam on the end, which was enhanced by the blue Ford Falcon van and the green Nash Airflyte.

This is what the rest of the place looked like:

I love this!

Even the lobby of the motel was dressed to the nines.

Then it was off to get some dinner:

Then it was time for bed. Good night!

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Tomorrow we head away from the Route to spend the night in Roswell–on our way to Carlsbad Caverns.

* My thanks to Sara Sanchez of Trinity Entertainment Group for the permission to use Fernando Ortega’s song lyrics in this blog.

 

 

 

 

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Route 66 West to East: And off we go!!

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This was a trip for the ages! It was one that Paul and I had both been looking forward to, and we were not disappointed.

Daughter Dearest was good enough to take us to the airport at a (very rare) reasonable time–for which she and I were both grateful. The flight was short and uneventful, and we soon found ourselves exiting the airport in Ontario, California.

Our beast of burden was ready and waiting:


and we jumped in and headed off. Our prime objective was the overnight stay, and then to meet with the sibs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The afternoon stretched ahead of us, so there was only one way to spend the time:

B & J met up with us in the late afternoon, and took us away to the surprises they had in store for us.

Ever hear of the Cabazon Dinosaurs? Not actually on the Route 66 menu, but they definitely fit right in:

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Kind of cool to see that brontos had venting and a staircase on their sides. Who knew?

Actually there was a gift shop inside Bronty here, and of course we had to go check that out. Didn’t find anything worth getting though.

https://www.cabazondinosaurs.com/

The sibs also took us on a side jaunt to some other cool places, then on to a genuine Route 66 site: the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, CA.

This is the sister to the Wigwam Village in Holbrook AZ. It was restored in 2004.

What was really cool was that they peppered the property with vintage cars. This was fantastic–but wait til you see what they had at the site in Holbrook! (That will be posted in a few days.)

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Now, in reality, Route 66 starts/ends in Santa Monica CA, but we had no desire to get into urban Southern California any more than was necessary. Been there, done that, got the scars from the traffic and density memories. No thanks! This was good enough for us.

We bid a fond good-night to the sibs and headed to our motel. The day would start early enough tomorrow.

DAY 1 – San Bernardino to Laughlin, NV

We started fairly early the next day–since it was a Sunday, church was the first priority.

We caught the earliest service we could find, which was a Mass in Spanish. Now, ordinarily, I can pretty much catch what is being said, although I am not fluent by any stretch of the imagination. I grew up in California, so Spanish is not a language I am unfamiliar with.

But the priest at this Mass spit out words like a jackhammer. It was only too evident–by the way he constantly mopped his brow and sang several measures ahead of the choir–that he really wanted to be done with this service and go to someplace cooler. The man did not miss too many meals, I can tell you that, so the bright lights at the altar and his heavy vestments only added to his discomfort. I was surprised the congregation wasn’t reeling in confusion by the time it was over. I know I was.

We walked out of there, and the caffeine-deprivation headache that had started earlier was now taking center stage. I longed for something with caffeine in it.

However, we took the scenic route back to the hotel–this is something that we do on a regular basis–and we saw something that made the extra driving worth the time:


wild burros, within a mile of the urban boundaries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we’d gathered our things at the motel, and had some of the breakfast fare provided by that establishment (nothing to write home about), we started eastward on our sojourn.

The two books we had used to research our trip were invaluable, but both were aimed toward the traveler moving from east to west. Okay, one of them had info for the west-to-east traveler, but it was still difficult to work out, because the main info still had to be read from the bottom to the top of the page. It was really strange, trying to catch everything we wanted to see by reading from the bottom of the page to the top, and then flipping the pages from back to front. I’m not sure if there are any books that actually treat the trip for the traveler working his/her way from California to Illinois.

We used these two references:

Route 66 Handbook by Drew Knowles, published by Santa Monica Press, and

EZ 66 Guide for Travelers by Jerry McClanahan, published by the National Route 66 Federation

The latter is the one that had the west-to-east driving directions.

Great info, both of them–but the pictures were sparse and in black-and-white only. Lucky for you, our pictures are in color–and we have more room here for elaboration.

Now for those who have no idea what Route 66 is, or its significance–here’s a Wikipedia article for you to check out. I don’t want to spend a lot of time with the history and background, since my space on WordPress is limted:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_66

So–back to our adventure:

Here’s what our trip on Day 1 looked like on a regular map. Part of it, anyway.

 

 

 

And what the route actually looked like. Nothing daunting–as yet.

One of the things to keep in mind is that we did NOT hit every town and gee-gaw along the way. In hindsight, we both feel that we should have tackled this adventure in three parts. So much to see, so little time.

Our first stop of note was Oro Grande, having bypassed Victorville and the Cajon Pass area without so much as a glance. It was a short block of old but well-cared-for/restored buildings. We spent a lot of time taking pictures here…only the first in many instances of doing so. (Some towns took us a half hour or more to get through, even though the main thoroughfare may have only been a mile or so long.)

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The pictures below show the original walkway…

After taking every conceivable picture from every angle, we headed off again. Helendale was up next, and the “Bottle Tree Ranch.” This was not an original site along Route 66–it’s an ongoing art project. However, authentic Route 66 signs take up a lot of the space.
There is even an old car door hoisted on a pole with a drive-in food tray attached to its open window!

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We spent a good deal of time here, because there was something new around every post. But the constraints of time finally made its way back into our memories, and we took off for the next thing to gawk at.

Barstow, CA, was the next destination. This town is a big supporter of keeping Route 66 alive, as seen by the roadside structures placed every 500 feet or so:

And we almost always knew we were on the right road:

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The Route 66 Motel is keeping the dream alive with its restored buildings and fidelity to its past. Every motel room has its own garage–and there are plenty of vintage cars parked around the property to give it a feel of nostalgia.

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Seemingly by contrast, the El Rancho Barstow, just a little further down the road, has a  totally different look and feel. It definitely smacks of the days of the “Mother Road” though. The buildings were built mostly using railroad ties discarded when a railroad line went defunct.

(this is the original cement)

OK–on the road again…

Dry Creek Station in Newberry Springs was a colorful example of the days of the past. Like a lot of places we stopped to photograph, this one had people actually living on the premises–as evidenced by the three dogs who came to yell howdies at us. Thankfully they were behind a chain-link fence.

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What I really liked about the weather, at least at this point and place, was that it was warm with a promise of hot later in the day–and we wouldn’t be there for that hot portion. Certainly we were heading through desert, but at least for now, it being springtime, the weather was tolerable. I was hoping for some spring desert flowers, but there weren’t a lot.

Our next major stop was Amboy Crater, but first we had to drive through several small towns in various stages of disrepair and resurrection. Sometimes it was hard to tell what was a victim of the I-40 bypass and what had just been abandoned due to a generally bad economy. I tried to just take pictures of things that we saw in the books, but that wasn’t always possible. Some ruins were just so picturesque that they got included in the photo gallery.

The Bagdad Cafe was definitely in the books–it was the film site for the movie of the same name–but the trailers and the motel sign just came along for the ride.

A little more driving–

–and here we were in Ludlow. This cafe is on the grounds where the original one stood, which burned down a number of years ago.

Another one of those add-on sites:

Soon enough, we found ourselves in Amboy, site of Roy’s Motel, which was founded in 1927. In 2005, restoration began on the buildings.

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It was fun seeing others out doing the same thing we were–following the Mother Road and snapping pictures. There was a group of bikers who, when the (sparse) traffic cleared, all posed for a picture in front of the Route 66 sign painted on the road. I felt a kinship of sorts whenever we ran into folks with the same goal.

However, my attention was caught by the sights across the road from Roy’s, so I had to go nose around there for a few good pics.

Such a tiny post office–and yes, it’s in operation.

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I don’t know if this church was still in use, though. Interstate 40 is just beyond it.

Below are some shots I took of Roy’s and a school building from across the street. According to the Route 66 Adventure Handbook, someone bought the whole town in 2005 and had plans to renovate the entire thing. It doesn’t look like he’s gotten too far.

OK–let’s go on to the crater, shall we?

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This is as close as we could get, once again due to time constraints. We could have walked the trail to get there, but we had other craters and caves to explore.

Want more info? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amboy_Crater

On we went–through desert,

lava fields,

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and into the mountains, where we came across some sort of mining venture. Don’t know what it was they were mining.

We stopped at a business not in either of our books, in a small town called Fenner. Lots of kitschy things to look at and buy, but we were more interested as to whether or not their plumbing worked…which it did, thankfully. I remember a hand-written sign that reminded customers that it was quite a distance to this place and it cost a lot to get things trucked in. Basically, they were asking people not to complain about the prices since they didn’t have much control over them. Made sense to me.

On the road again…we were now being chased by the knowledge that the afternoon was going by much too fast. Therefore we had to take I-40, thus missing out on anything from Fenner to Needles. In fact, we zipped through Needles too. But it had to be done.

On to Arizona!

Our goal here was Lake Havasu City, and the London Bridge.

Here’s a brief Wiki history:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Bridge_(Lake_Havasu_City)

 

Of course, what is the first thing I see?^^

Of course, if we hadn’t gone in, I would not have gotten the above shot of the bridge–through the restaurant window.

The beer was pretty decent, by the way.

 

 

After wandering around and taking a picture from every conceivable angle, we headed back onto the road. McLaughlin was getting ever closer.

And the scenery was jaw-dropping!

Soon enough, we were in Laughlin. Here’s our view from our window:

I found it interesting that, this morning, we had been surrounded by worship in the Spanish language. Now we were experiencing crowds of Chinese-speaking tourists. Funny that…

So–dinner buffet, then off to see if we could find some pictures that would look good in our photo gallery. To get a really good shot of Laughlin, we had to cross the river back over to Arizona and find a safe-looking spot to stop and snap. We were relatively successful.

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Or…not…

Back to the other side–close-up shots of the buildings were a lot more successful.

We wandered thorough the Colorado Belle, where Paul dropped a few dollars into the slots and came up rose stems. The guy next to him, however, was waiting patiently for his machine to stop adding to his wins so he could cash out. He looked about as bored as if he was sitting in an empty room staring at a wall. Gotta wonder…

The view from our window at night was a lot more dramatic. One of these pics was one of my arrangements–I had been about to take a picture when I noticed Paul standing behind me with his phone light illuminating his face. This was the result:

Creepy, yes?

OK–I’ll post the non-creepy one:

And so it was off to bed. After all, it was going to be an early start and a lot of driving the next day.

Comments? You know where to put ’em…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our last day in Roma

Our last day in  Rome–time to see everything we possibly could. Which meant another early wake-up call so that we could beat the crowds to the ticket booths.

First order of business though–pack up and ckeck out. The nice people behind the desk held our luggage in the back like before, and so we set off, unfettered and free, ready to join an incredible number of like-minded tourists. Also some non-like-minded citizens. I have to admire how they go about their business, seemingly oblivious to the scores of foreigners that block their way. I know I couldn’t do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being there at the Colosseum so early was a real boon–we could take some very nice pictures without a lot of people around.

  

 

Soon enough, though, there was more excitement than we had anticipated. Remember how we had heard voices over a loudspeaker from our room earlier in the week? Well, there it was again, from way over at the other side of the Colosseum. It got louder, and not much later a group of people with a banner proclaiming something about education came around the corner, accompanied by a smoke bomb going off. It didn’t seem to faze anyone, except maybe a few tourists…

Speaking of which–they were pouring into the area more and more by the minute!

We were lucky to be where we were in line–if only we could figure out which line we were supposed to be in. We had a lot of company with the same quandary. It didn’t help that the sign pointing one way for the individual tickets and the other for group tickets was turned around the other way!

Anyway–finally, tickets in hand, we were on our way into the Colosseum.

Once again confusion reigned, as those with tickets mingled with those who were in a line to get tickets from a booth inside the building.

We sorted ourselves out quickly enough, and got into the correct line–through the ever-present security gates. Man, that sort of thing got tiresome. But I can understand their purpose.

There was an exhibition in the upper floors along the outer perimeter. I found the information and relics fascinating, but we weren’t able to spend a lot of time there.

                                     

 

 

Seeing the city and environs from the inside of the Colosseum gave my imagination a lot to dream about.

   

 

Occasionally reality threw itself in…

All of this was fascinating, but we couldn’t spend a lot of time there. We had come to see this:

Wow…just…wow…

 

…ummm…I think I’m being watched…lol!

We saw about all that we could see, and took a couple of humdred pictures as well, then left that wonder to go and wander the next ones–the Forum and Palatine Hill.

So much history! So much architectural wonder. Everywhere, marble and stone allowed to lie exactly where it had fallen–or stand as a testimony to the ancients. I’m so grateful to whoever it was who set these grounds aside in order to keep them safe for all the generations that followed.

I think I’ll let the pictures tell the tale:

 

After a long stroll through these grounds, we headed up Capitoline Hill to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Museum (which we didn’t go into).

Oh look–stairs…

This time I stayed at the foot of the building while Paul went up and took pictures. He did a great job.

Our last tour thing–we caught a streetcar and then a bus to get to the top of the hills that overlooked the city. Still more wonders!

This lighthouse was given to the city in 1911 by Italians living in Argentina, to commemmorate the 50-year anniversary of the creation of the Kingdom of Italy.

Then another bone-rattling bus ride back down into the city. We got out near St. Peter’s Basilica, and took one more walk through that awe-inspiring space.

 

We got back to the hotel, retrieved our stuff, and caught the train to the airport.

Addio, Roma–we’ll be back!!

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