Friday, June 8, 2007

Endings or New Beginnings?

Day 8: 313 Miles
Total: 3,223 Miles

Well I'm 70 miles from Santa Monica, near the end of my Route 66 journey. However, MY PLANS HAVE CHANGED! I'll save the changes for the end though, so you'll just have to read through today's blog first.

I left Needles at about 8:00 this morning after a good breakfast at the Hungry Bear Restaurant. The drive was very pleasant until reaching civilization in San Bernardino. There was very little Interstate in sight, just lots of two-lane Route 66 with miles and miles of visibility and some great scenery to keep me company.

There were some interesting signs of civilization near Amboy, California, including this graffiti-laden structure. It's a little hard to see in this small picture, but there is a lot of interesting artwork here.

This sign appears in East Amboy. Although faded and long abandoned, I really like the way it looks.

This is basically the only business establishment in Amboy. I'm not sure whether the motel is open, but the little bungalows look very nicely kept up on the outside.

This restaurant in Newberry, California was the site of the 1988 film "Bagdad Cafe." The restaurant's name wasn't changed to match the film's title until 1995. Previously it was called the Sidewinder Cafe.

Barstow was the first large city I came to after leaving Needles; large being a relative term here. It's an attractive city with lots of nice looking old motels.

Another nice looking city, and the end of the line for most open road Route 66 travel, is Victorville. Next comes the Cajon Summit and a trip down I-15, followed by San Bernardino and civilization Los Angeles style.

Here is my home for the evening. This was one of two "must stops" that I entered the trip with; the other being the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari. The Wigwam Motel does not disappoint. The individual tepee rooms are well kept up on the outside and look like new on the inside. I'm very happy I decided to stay here.

I arrived mid afternoon in Rialto, leaving me with the aforementioned 70 mile drive to the western terminus of Route 66. I had a great meal tonight at the historic Sycamore Inn with good friends Lori and Ray, who had highly recommended it. The inn predates Route 66 by many decades, having been built in 1848 as a stage coach stop.

So now for my change of plans. As you know, I originally intended to drive up the Pacific coast and connect with U.S. 20 near Eugene, Oregon. Then I would drive cross-country to Boston before heading home. However, when you're by yourself, you have the freedom to change your mind, even with long-planned vacations.

As I got near the end of my Route 66 journey I was excited at the feeling of completion, but sad that this part of my journey was done. I have truly enjoyed Route 66, but feel like there are so many things that I missed along the way. And things always look different coming from the other direction, so...I'm going back the way I came! That's right, another 2,400 mile trek, but this time from Santa Monica to Chicago. I plan to stay in some of the key motels and hotels I missed coming out. I also plan to take the "Santa Fe route" in Arizona that I originally bypassed. I'm also planning on some night driving this time to actually see some of that Route 66 neon in all its glory.

My trip back will be two days shorter, I think. I plan to arrive in Chicago first thing Thursday morning so I can get out before the traffic prevents a quick getaway. Then I'll pick up U.S. 20 in Indiana and proceed with the rest of my vacation as planned.

It wasn't an easy decision. I was looking forward to the spectacular beauty of the Pacific coast and traveling through Idaho, Nebraska and Iowa, which I have never seen before. But I have driven the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco before, and I was in Sonoma, California just two weeks ago on business, so this helped sway my decision a bit. Sue also gave me a lot of encouragement when I broached the idea with her rather than telling me I was crazy, so that kind of sealed the deal.

So here I go again. It's Santa Monica at sunrise, then eastbound and down.



elderaunt said...

Well I guess your change in plans means we don't stand a fiddlers chance in hell of seeing you this trip. Enjoy your back tracking! Aunt Mona

Paul G. said...

Flexibility is the key to enjoying trips like this, so (not that you need it) I definitely approve. When you back-track through Albuquerque you could look for our old house at 1609 Grande Blvd in Rio Rancho Estates. The only reason I remember the address is that Sue invented a song to go with it - she'll no doubt remember! Bob and Mary stopped for a look once, but I'd be curious to see a picture of the old place. Also, you could stop in Old Town there for some excellent Mexican food. Just potential ideas - no problem if you miss these, but keep having a great time!