Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To Infinity & Beyond

Day 12: 482 Miles
Total: 3,801 Miles

We got up yesterday morning for the beginning of a new adventure. This one was to be different. Unlike the somewhat planned trip on Route 66, we had no idea where we were headed as we sat eating breakfast. We were in California and knew we had to get back to North Carolina, but not directly. That was never the plan. We had basically narrowed our choices down to three: 1) Drive up the coast to Sacramento and take U.S. 50 across country, 2) drive up the coast to Newport, Oregon and connect with U.S. 20 to drive cross country, or 3) wing it and just make the trip road by road, using a map.

We opted for plan number 2 since it takes us through parts of the country we have never been. U.S. 20 becomes Genesee Street in Auburn, New York where we plan to eventually spend a couple of days, so that was convenient. On to Oregon, it is.

We called my Aunt Mona and Uncle Jim in Newark, California to let them know that we would be passing close by and to see if they would be up for a visit (albeit brief). They were willing and available, so we stopped off and had a wonderful visit with two of my favorite people anywhere. They even bought us dinner (Thanks!). After a much too short visit we said goodbye and headed up through Oakland and across the San Rafael Bridge to Novato, California where we spent the night.

We are preparing to leave for Oregon this morning and our goal is to get to Newport by this evening so we can start our U.S. 20 trip tomorrow. No pictures yesterday. Sorry.


End of the Mother Road

Day 11: 403 Miles
Total: 3,319 Miles

Well, we made it! I'm a day late (we arrived on Monday) so I'll try to get caught up. We left Needles early Monday morning, before 7:00am, to try to avoid the heat as much as possible while we were driving through the Mohave Desert. It turns out that we needn't have worried. While it was 113 degrees in Needles on Sunday it never got out of the low 80s through the desert.

There wasn't too much to look at other than the beauty of the desert, but I did get a few shots in of thinks like spray can art.

Lots of abandoned places in the desert too, some restored or partially restored.

We came across the site for an old cult movie by the same name.

A great museum in Victorville, California.

And the third in a series of tepee-style motels. Here's were it got a bit tricky. We wanted to stay here since it would be our last chance, but we made such good time to this point (it was only 1:00pm when we arrived) that we decided to forego yet another tepee and arrive at Santa Monica Pier a day early. We were about 80 miles from the pier at this point so we shot a couple of photos of the motel and pressed on.

It was very difficult to get shots of some of the remaining old Route 66 features along Foothill Boulevard in the LA suburbs because of heavy traffic, but we did our best. There are a surprising number of survivors amidst the strip malls, condos and restaurants that litter the way.

And finally...four hours and 80 miles later...we made it! This sign was put up by the city of Santa Monica just a couple of years ago to mark the pier as the "official" end of Route 66, though technically the Mother Road actually ended a few blocks away at the nondescript intersection of Lincoln and Olympic.

After hanging around the pier and basking in the glow of our trip we decided we were up for the task of driving back to the Wigwam Motel after all. We took I-10 most of the way, reducing our drive time to about an hour and a half. We crawled in, exhausted.

So four years later, this time with a lovely travel partner, I made my third journey across the Mother Road. It was the same, and it was very different. The Road constantly changes, businesses come and go, icons are torn down, icons die, ruins become more ruined, new icons emerge, while the scenery is everlasting. I saw many things and experienced the joy of meeting many new friends this time. So much so, in fact, that I can't wait to do it again.

Meeting the characters of the Mother Road was perhaps the greatest joy of all. That, and realizing I have a travel companion who is very much in sync with my travel habits, affording me the pleasure of knowing that I don't have to make this journey alone.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Only Made it Out to Needles...

Day 10: 192 Miles
Total: 2,916 Miles

Well, we're in California...Needles to be exact, which is where the obscure reference from a Three Dog Night song in my title comes from. The temperature is 113 degrees and premium gasoline is northwards of $5/gallon, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

We had a great evening strolling around Seligman last night. It seems that every business in this small town thoroughly embraces the Route 66 spirit, and they're proud of the fact that they took the lead in its renaissance. We ate dinner and watched some terrific live music at Westside Lilo's last night. Then ate breakfast at the Roadkill Cafe this morning before leaving. Both great places. Here are some additional Seligman pictures I took before we moved on.

We drove to another of my very favorite Route 66 icons, the Hackberry General Store, where we spent close to an hour just wandering around. The Hackberry General Store is difficult to describe, so I'll try to do it with lots of pictures.

After leaving Hackberry our next major adventure was to be our drive over the Oatman Pass to the town of Oatman. But first we passed by a few photogenic things like this runaway relic from Easter Island.

Next we drove through the town of Kingman, AZ. This is a nice place with some great historical character.

A short while later we began our drive up the Oatman Pass. This is a beautiful but potentially lethal drive over the mountains and down the other side to the town of Oatman. We stopped off at Cool Springs Cabins to buy some water and we had a nice conversation with the owner before moving on.

After the beautiful drive, the town of Oatman was a letdown, to say the least. Definitely the most touristy and schlocky place on the trip. Wild (very tame) burros and T-shirt shops made up 90% of the towns character.

So after that we got out of as quickly as possible and traveled some very nondescript roadway before crossing the Colorado River into California and subsequently to Needles. The motel I wanted to stay in on the Colorado River was full, so we are staying in a very inexpensive but surprisingly adequate substitute. We will try to get a very early start in the morning to cross the Mohave Desert into Victorville while the temperature is still relatively cool. Tomorrow is our last chance for a tepee experience when we arrive in Rialto. Wish us luck!