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Illinois

5 Years after driving from St. Louis to Los Angeles, I’m going back to do what I didn’t do before: The state of Illinois on Route 66.  Oliver is game.  Travel is booked.  Check back in June, 2013.

(Gemini Giant picture by Studiofox, courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Route 66 Video

During my Route 66 trip in 2008, I shot about five hours of video and edited it into this five-minute film, which won second place at the First Person Impressions national film competition.  See how many sights you can name!

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1472915&dest=-1]

End of the Road

And as quickly as it started, my tour of Route 66 ends.  Tomorrow morning I leave LA for Philly.  We’ll not have time to make it from Rialto to Santa Monica, unfortunately, but I’ll probably drag my cousin Mike on that leg of the trip sometime.

A few people have asked about Illinois, which I didn’t have time to cover – perhaps next year I’ll resurrect this blog for that leg of the trip.

Thanks, to all of you loyal readers out there.  I hope you had as much fun reading as I did writing.  My journal got 88 hits on July 12, which is something of a new record for what I thought would be a pretty much overlooked blog.

One final note:  Lots of European and Australian  travelers on 66!  Probably more than American, honestly (thank God for a weak US Dollar, eh?).

Just remember – 15-20% is the standard Diner tip, and always leave a buck or two for your bartender!

Do it in a teepee

Wigwam Motels were found throughout the US in the 40’s and 50’s.  I believe that two remain, both along 66 and one in Rialto where we’re spending the evening. 

Each “wigwam” is an individual concrete cabin shaped like a teepee with a round room.  They’re surprisingly fun.

The faded advertising slogan around our camp-like motel reads “do it in a teepee” – though I also believe that previous owners were much kinder to prostitutes than the current administration, and wonder if this was the slogan for the chain.

Highly recommended if you’re ever traveling through Rialto – ultra clean and well-manicured grounds.

I mentioned last post about the abundance of lava rock through the Mojave along 66 – I wanted to post a picture of as much near Ludlow, where we stopped at a diner for lunch.

A word about the diner in Ludlow:  I’m not sure what happened on our visit, but service was really, really slow.  It seemed that there was only one, overwhelmed waitress who took back my iceberg lettuce salad when she realized that it didn’t come with my dinner.

Why it took forever to have our orders taken, forever for our food to arrive, and forever to be noticed thereafter (I skipped out on some AMAZING looking homemade pie in the cooler because service was so slow), I do not know… but that my mistaken iceberg salad was INSTANTLY removed within 20 seconds of being placed in front of me absolutely shocks the conscience.

Much more to my utter delight was a great little ruin in Newberry Springs – a fairly well preserved Whiting Brothers Gas Station, complete with vintage pumps!  I squeal with delight!

66 Seems to stretch on to infinity in the Mojave Desert between Cadiz Summit and Amboy.  At 102 degrees, I couldn’t go barefoot for a picture (I tried for about four seconds)

Amboy is home to Roy’s, a defunct motel, cafe and service station full of great Raygun Gothic architecture.  But wait!  The wealthy owner of the Juan Pollo restaurant chain has purchased it and is restoring it! 

What were ruins a few years ago that I would have picked through is once more looking good, and selling gas and tee shirts! 

Even if the motel is not operating, it’s clear that money has been invested in curb appeal.

Amboy is also home to the Amboy Crater, a large volcanic crater that is responsible for the black lava flows throughout parts of the desert.  I never knew the Mojave to be an area of volcanic activity, but the abundance of lava rock everywhere along 66 seems to make it the case.

Cadiz Summit

In the 1940’s, the steep grade of the east- bound lanes on Route 66 left many-a-motorist with an overheated engine in California. 

Cadiz Summit sprang up as part of the solution, at the top of the hill. 

The vintage picture of the summit, which I’ve used as my blog header for the past seven days, shows tourist cabins and a service station. 

Cadiz Summit now exists as graffiti-infested ruins, as seen in my picture taken today from about the same location.  There is a Century 21 sign at the Summit, though I don’t know whether it is for sale.