Monthly Archives: July 2010

California II

Well, fiends, we made it. Winding “from Chicago to LA, more than two thousand miles all the way” — it was a kick for sure.

On the 4-hour drive through the High Desert from Needles to San Bernardino, we took the Old Road several times. [For those arriving late, Historic 66 mostly runs alongside the interstate, often veering off in other directions, crossing the interstate back and forth, or disappearing altogether for miles at a time. It’s a challenge to find it sometimes, even with road signs and guidebooks/maps.] Our first stop was Ludlow, where we went to the Dairy Queen — one of exactly two functioning establishments in town — to get an ice cream cone. The rest of Ludlow went the way of many other 66 towns across the country on some level:


Fortunately, the Ludlow Cafe and Motel are still going strong:

Next in our path was Barstow. Once again, our car conversation turned to the absolutely mind-boggling number of “motor court” motels we’d seen along the way. How I wished at that moment that I’d counted them all. I can’t imagine how many hundreds there were and are.

Barstow embraces its Route 66 history. This mural is one of several in the town. And we counted at least ten motor court motels — most with original signage still in place — on the short main drag.

Then it was off to Victorville, known not only as a Route 66 tourist stop, but as a destination for violent criminals nationwide. [We didn’t see the prison.] Victorville restored some of its original charm in a special district, with shops, motels and cafes along the way. Definitely one of the most well-maintained 66 stops we saw in the southwest.

Then we arrived at our destination — the Wigwam! [Again, email me if you are not on Facebook and would like to see all the photos of the Odyssey. I’ll send you a private link.] The only bummer — no AMC, and the wrong HBO. Therefore, no Mad Men, no True Blood. But it’s OK. Really. I’m fine. Seriously.

We checked into the Wigwam, went to IHOP for some flapjacks, then took off for the Santa Monica Pier, where 66 officially ends. I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time — it was gorgeous.

And there you have it.

Now for the second phase of the trip — the Road Home. We start with a 3.5-hour drive to Las Vegas, where we’ll relax and have some casino fun for two days. More later from the Orleans, fiends — and thank you for sticking with me for this leg of the journey. I feel like we’ve had the company of people who were almost as excited as we were about this endeavor. You are all the beast.



We had a fantastic day in Arizona yesterday. The drive through the mountains out of Flagstaff was gorgeous.

Interestingly, the Old Road doesn’t offer as much in Arizona, compared to the top two states in our opinion so far (Illinois and Missouri). But we went off-road and saw lots of wonderful ruins. For the record, Winslow was a bit of a disappointment, but I’m glad we stopped.

There was Arizona:


The desert — beautiful, but desolate. And talk about hot. I realized yesterday I’ve never felt heat before. I didn’t know hot till last night and today:

At least it’s only going to be 95 in San Bernardino today. Hey…San Bernardino…we’re almost to the end! I just realized that, sitting here at 6:50 in the morning, wrapped in a blanket because the Thriller has the AC down to about 65. Grr. But he’s a good boy — he went out into the 92-degree morning to find coffee and breakfast for us.

Needles is hot. Did I mention this?

More from the Pacific shores tomorrow. Stay cool!

New Mexico

All right, now we’re into territory that neither the Thriller nor I have seen before. And man, what a first impression.

While my poor family and fiends back in Ohio are suffering intolerable heat, I wore my sweater last evening while we were out and about in Gallup — it was 60 degrees outside.

We kind of expected a more desert-like atmosphere in northwest New Mexico. Instead, we got beautiful red rock, huge plateaus and buttes, massive expanses of horizon, and the Continental Divide:

Yesterday also brought the first thunderstorm we encountered on the road. Little did we know, when I took this photo, that the beautiful gray curtain of rain contained a crapton of hail, too:

I was too traumatized to take a photo of it while it was happening. :-)

The most exciting part of New Mexico happens today, when we hit the downtown area. We drove through it last night and saw no fewer than twenty Native American jewelry and crafts outlets — including the wholesale guy who supplies the Thriller with his beautiful, authentic Navajo jewelry at (yes, I’m spamming you).

Shopping daaaaaaay! Off to enjoy the gorgeous sunrise with some coffee and conversation.

Stay cool, fiends.

Fink in a blanket

Texas III

Is it three days later and we’re still in Texas? Um, yep. Texas, she is a big state.

After a long, long, long nine hours driving through nothing but this:

we finally made it to Amarillo around dinnertime. Don’t get me wrong — we loved this gorgeous, wide-open expanse. Northwest Texas is much different from what I imagined. Much greener.

Along the way, we’d go through small towns so remote, we’d wonder out loud, “Where do these people shop?” Talk about rural, yikes. But it was all beautiful.

We had a great time at the Big Texan Steak Ranch. Excellent steaks and shopping, and we got a ride in a silly, over-the-top-Texas limousine to and from our hotel (Big Texan offers it as a free service to all Amarillo hotels). You can see photos of it on my Facebook page, and if you’re not on FB, send me an email and I’ll send you a link to the pictures.

So as of today, after our fantastic Texas adventure, we’re officially back on the Old Road. Breakfast at IHOP (because I haven’t eaten there in 20+ years), then we hit the trail to Gallup, with lots of leisurely stops in between.

Back at ya from New Mexico!


Texas II

OK I lied. I said I was never going to eat again, and dang if I didn’t blow that last night. And I even ate steak again. Geez! But it wasn’t half as fun as hanging with my wonderful stepchildren at Nancy’s in Bastrop.

This was a high point of the Thriller’s vacation as well, since he doesn’t get to see his kids nearly as often, with 1300 miles separating them. It was a delightful evening.

Here’s proud papa with his gorgeous daughter Johanna, handsome son James, and beautiful daughter-in-law Vanessa:

And here ends our most excellent detour from the Old Road. It’s back on it today (after 8+ hours of navigating northbound Texas highways), as we head for Amarillo after Starbucks.

More to come! Have a great…um….I have no idea what day it is.