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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!

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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.

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Route 66 follows a perilous, twisty mountain path along the Oatman Highway just before the California Border.  It’s narrow.  There are blind, hairpin curves.  There’s no guard rail.  It’s great!

Notice the road behind me… I wonder how many motorists went off into the ravine at too high a speed?

East of Seligman, somebody has restored a variety of vintage Burma Shave signs.  It really adds a nice touch to the drive. 

For those unfamiliar, Burma Shave was a shaving cream from the 1920’s, and their advertisements were tiny roadside one-liners that formed a jingle as you passed down the highway.

Oatman Highway reminded me of one in particular:

Angels that guard you
While you drive
Often Retire
At Sixty-Five

The Oatman Highway is better navigated at 15-20 miles per hour, co-incidentally.

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Loose Ends

We’re spending the evening in Seligman, Arizona, where nobody knows where I can find a wireless connection.  If this post is late, it’s because I was unable to post until Monday morning.  If it’s on time, great.

A few thoughts on Arizona: Much of 66, like New Mexico, is interstate driving because the final, paved alignment was covered by the interstate.  What remains of older 66  is mostly dirt from earlier alignments – but those dirt passages are fun and many times passable (though many times, not.)

Like New Mexico, small towns like Winslow and Ash Fork all have remnants of the original highway – TONS of old motels and diners, most of them closed or converted to apartments, and many with their old signage advertising such things as “clean rooms.”

One stretch, through a conifer forest, was so relaxing I wanted to pull over for the evening.  Nice.

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We forgot Winona.

Winona, Arizona is by all accounts sparse with very few, if any, 66 remains.  It seems ironic, as the town is included in the Route 66 Song (“Don’t forget Winona”).  Winona was bypassed in 1947.

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Meteor Crater

In the middle of the Arizona desert, there’s an ENORMOUS crater carved when a 150-foot meteor impacted a few thousand years back.  One would think that Meteor Crater is a national park, with it’s “rangers” dressed in brown uniforms, it’s sparkling clean visitor center, and it’s auditorium with movie every half-hour.

National parks don’t have Subway restaurants in the visitor center, however, nor are there $15 per person admission fees in most national parks.  Meteor Crater Enterprises, Inc. (according to the brochure) impacted my wallet – though the crater IS spectacular.

If ever George Bush wanted to give a speech about how “privatization of national treasures works” he should deliver his speech at Meteor Crater.  Nice, yet somehow unfair.

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Two stories of two trading posts – one operating, and one defunct.

The Jackrabbit Trading Post for years had billboards all over Route 66 in either direction, advertising how far it was.  One final billboard existed just in front of the trading post itself announcing “Here it Is.”  That billboard still exists, as does the trading post, which is more of a souvenir stand and mini-mart.  I bought a tee-shirt.

Quick note about souvenirs along 66:  Junk.  All of it.  Overpriced and always disappointing – and everything is always on sale, though marked up by an equal amount.

The Twin Arrows Trading Post, famous for its two large wooden arrows sticking up from the dirt, is now defunct.  There’s a small Valentine Diner connected to the trading post itself.  Gas prices remain frozen at $1.39.  It’s separated from a dead-end alignment of 66 by a Jersey Barrier.  It was raining when I arrived, so I didn’t get a chance to take great pictures.

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