Sunday morning, May 4, was the big takeoff, and Ian, Fiona, and Evan got the first companion segment of the trip. We stopped by to see Dixie the Dinosaur near the Suisun Bay, and that part ended at the overlook for the "mothball fleet" in the bay. From there I proceeded to Sacramento, to the current Western end (start) of Highway 50. A short drive brought me to the home of Dennis and Rita, here with their friend Jim. In due course, I was off for Nevada, top up since it looked like rain. After Folsom, I put the top down until Placerville, when it started to sprinkle. Further along the way I stopped to look at Bridalveil Falls. After sun, rain, and snow, I reached Nevada, and what I hope will be the cheesiest State Line sign that I will see on this trip. Proceeding on without partaking in any of the local attractions, I came to an view of Lake Tahoe. I spent the night in Carson City, NV, where the hotel gave me a voucher that I turned in for 20 nickels in the associated casino. I then parlayed that into an additional 32 nickels playing video poker (hint: never play a machine that pays only 1 for two pair). That was an enjoyable hour or more.
The next day I set out across the vast Nevada "wasteland". Carson City is almost in a bowl surrounded by mountains. As one heads east, it is continually a mountain range (with crossings as high as 7500 feet, or so), followed by a broad valley perhaps 20 or 30 or more miles wide. Then up over the next one. Lest one think Nevada is all dry, here's a shot showing a small arm of the several miles long Lahontan Reservoir. Near Fallon, I stopped at the Grimes Point Archeological site to see the Indian Petroglyphs. Some buildings of the Fallon Naval Air Station, home of the Top Gun squadron are shown in the background. There was snow out there, and it was cold, so I stopped to get a picture of the snow covered mountains and vast distances. The top went up a little later as I got nearer the snow at over 7000 feet. An interesting and unexpected sight further east was this shoe tree. I can only surmise that someone once threw (probably someone else's) shoes into the tree, and others came along and decided to join in. There were the same number of shoes (100s or 1000s) in the tree when I left as when I first saw it. A little further on, I crossed over the route of the Pony Express trail. Nearer to Ely, I stopped at the Hickison Petroglyphs. I spent the night at the historic Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall in Ely. I found no video poker machines paying 2 for two pair, so went across the street and lost 10 nickels in an hour or so.
On Tuesday morning it was off for Green River. After heading down the wrong road for a few miles, I recouped, retraced, and got on track. Highway 93 is a nice road, too, but not the one I wanted. A hour or so east of Ely is the Lehman Caves, in the Great Basin National Park. The hour-long tour is pretty interesting, with lots of different formations, such as this one, and this one, too. After that it was a short drive to the Utah state line. The first part of Utah is pretty much a continuation, but Sevier Lake (dry) is a bit different. Further along there are lots of red rocks, and views toward canyonlands. Here's a shot of a struggling tree with a long backdrop. More rock formations, only a few of those worthy of putting here (but that might get boring).
Wednesday (May 7) I ran into a fellow at a gas station in Green River who had heard me on Car Talk. After a nice jaunt up the Green River, I got back on Highway 50, where I took a shot of the rain against a backdrop of rock formations. I'msorry to report that old Highway 50 in eastern Utah is in poor condition, almost as bad a condition as the Colorado state line sign. On the Colorado side of the line, the road condition is much better. I stopped briefly at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. With the sun shining it did not seem as bleak and forbidding as when I saw it on a stormy day many years ago. Then, after a long hard climb I reached what has to be considered the high point of the trip. 11,312 feet above sea level. It was cold. There was a lot of snow on the mountains. The road up and down Monarch Crest is pretty steep. More than 300 feet elevation loss per mile coming down, for quite a few miles. Today was the first day I didn't put the top down, at least for a while. It was cold much of the way, and when it was warm enough, the wind was blowing pretty hard. Tomorrow is another day.
Left Salida bright and early (sort of) on Thursday. Just a bit down the road was this shot of the Arkansas River, along which I expected to spend a good bit of time. On the road south of Colorado Springs, I saw this terrific storm cloud towards Denver. Turns out it was part of a tornado just north of the Denver airport. After stopping to see a friend in Colorado Springs I picked up Amelia at Denver International Airport, and we drove out to Joan's house where I took this picture near Akron. The next morning we drove through Otis, CO, where I took a picture of this mural on the side of Mom's Kitchen Cafe. Eventually we came to the Nebraska state line. Eventually (not too long, actually), we came to the Kansas state line, and we passed into my home state and home county, Rawlins. Later we walked down the road from David's and Bonnie's house and took a picture of the wheat fields and the Herndon watertower. Toward the northwest across their wheat field is the farm belonging to my nephew Kyle, and Cindi. Over the period of the visit in Herndon, I took a series of family pictures. (Note: If your browser automatically resizes pictures to fit the screen, you won't be able to see the previous pictures very well; either shut that "feature" off, or save and reload with some other picture viewing software.) One sometimes sees interesting signs, and this one in McCook, NE, shows four fuel prices all the same!
Due to various circumstances, we skipped going back to Pueblo to pick up Highway 50 where I had left it. Instead, we headed for Highway 83 by going to it via Atwood and Colby on Monday morning We stopped by the Monument Rocks in Gove County, KS. David stands in front of one of the limestone cliffs. Another appears to be a modern sculpture of a weird camel. Just south of Monument Rocks is a marker for the Butterfield Overland Dispatch, a trail that was used briefly.
To the west of Dodge City, KS, the tracks of the Santa Fe trail are still visible after more than 130 years. In Dodge City itself (where we spent the night) there is a lot of emphasis (for tourists) on their "wild west" history, and this longhorn bull commemorates the "end of the trail" at the train tracks for many a trail ride. A short distance away some other things commemorate Boot Hill, although the actual remains were removed well over 100 years ago. Finally, just a bit further east in Dodge City, I found the longitude where the west begins.
A bit later on Tuesday (13th) we saw this interesting sign, only one of two possible distance signs for this pair of cities and distance.
Later that day Roger, David, and I went to the Cosmosphere. They have the recovered and refurbished Liberty Bell 7 which sunk shortly after Gus Grissom escaped from it. They also have a large collection of other spacecraft, both US and Russian, as well as exhibits on the German WWII rocket program. Another big item is an SR-71 Blackbird "spyplane". On the 15th, after a picture taking session with me, Amelia, JoAnn, Roger, and David, David and I dropped Amelia off at the Wichita airport to fly to Albuquerque. We promptly put the top down and proceeded back toward Highway 50. Along the way I shot this view of the Arkansas River, where it appears to have as much water as it does coming down the Colorado mountains. I regret not having a shot of it in western Kansas where it was considerably smaller. We rejoined US50 just west of Newton. About noon we saw a sign for Peabody, KS, and a claim they had a lot of restored 1880s buildings on Main Street. Sure enough, there were many old buildings. We had lunch in a 9 calendar restaurant (see William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways - it was one way he rated restaurants on his secondary highway road trip around the US), Sharon's Korner Kitchen. We took a look around Strong City, where Grandad Tannehill preached at the Methodist Episcopal Church. Nearby Cottonwood Falls has a beautiful County Courthouse. Cottonwood Falls is the seat of Chase County, Kansas (Heat-Moon wrote the book Prairy Erth about Chase County). Just north of Strong City is the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in the Flint Hills. We proceeded on to Council Grove, a rather famous place back in the trails days. A treaty with the Indians was signed under the Council Oak, which unfortunately is a bit worse for the wear over the years. In the evening we had dinner at the Hays House with two of my nephews and their children. Hays House is an old tradition in Council Grove, and here is a shot of the group, David, Heath, Jonathan, Katy, Dryden, Tyson, Andrea, and me, after the repast.
The next day we saw this yard full of old machinery south of Lebo, KS. A little further down the road we came to Waverly, where my mother graduated from high school in 1922. Grandad Tannehill preached (we think) at the local Methodist Church. We ate lunch at the Lunch Box. Turns out the owner's husband had read Blue Highways, and this was at least an 85(!) Calendar restaurant (by my count), but there were allegedly 15 more in the kitchen. Surely a record. A bit later we were in Baldwin City at the Castle, where Grandad Tannehill's cane collection is. Unfortunately, like most schools, they are short of funds and unable to display them, but the personnel were kind enough to unwrap and let David and I look at them. Being from Oregon, I'm partial to this one made of Myrtle wood. That evening we had dinner with David's daughter, husband, and children in Ottawa. I neglected to get a picture of Aaron, but here is David with the rest of the family: Candaessa, Brenda, and JD.
On Sunday (May 18) I took leave of David and his bicycle trip and headed for St. Louis. Arrived without difficulty and went directly to the Gateway Arch. After a short wait, I was on the top looking at the Mississippi River and the old bridge. They have a nice museum on westward expansion and the Lewis and Clark expedition. Also could watch the baseball game for free, but from so far away I don't bother with the picture. At the bottom I snapped this shot looking up and another from a distance. Later I went out to Susan and Scott's house and we went to dinner at a brewpub. Counterclockwise from front: Quint, Susan, Scott, Lucy (friends of second Scott), Scott, and Judy. I couldn't resist this second shot of Quint.
Next morning it was off for Illinois. Sorry about the lousy shot, but it was the best I could get from the car on the freeway. A little off the path I stopped at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. The visitor center was closed (lack of funds, they say), but one could climb on the mounds, such as this one, Monk's Mound. Nearby (part of same site) was a reconstructed astronomical circle now dubbed Woodhenge. Trying to find my way back to Highway 50, I saw a sign (and partly missed it as I drove by) a billboard for the International Horseradish Festival. Just down the road from that I found the Washee-Washee (would you believe, laundromat?) in Caseyville. I took a turn through Lebanon, which has a restored 1800s main street, and had a nice talk with the lady in the visitor center. Finally, to show that Ashland deosn't have a lock on Shakespeare, I took this Shakespeare picture in (I think) Salem. Finally, I was welcomed into Indiana with a sign that is worthy of my entry! I finally made it to Kelly and Sally's, where I was welcomed graciously, even though they had never seen me before - thanks to Amelia being Sally's cousin, I suppose.
Late the next morning (May 20) I set out for the short drive to Cincinnati. I stopped in Bedford to see the Auto Race Car Museum. They have many race cars, from 1/4 midget to 3/4 midget and Indie cars. There are a number of kiddie cars. The stars of the exhibit are a 1904 Curved Dash Olds, and five (count-em, 5) Plymouth Superbirds in a row. They are all 440 six-packs, so I suppose the owner has some little gap in his soul because there is no hemi Superbird. Here is a strip of pictures from the museum. In Lawrenceburg, IN, I saw this Big Boy, evoking a bit of nostalgia. Shortly thereafter, Ohio gave me a big welcome, and after some fumbling around (but not being too macho - I called Hank), I found my way to Hank and Jeanette's home. On Wednesday, Hank and I went to the Fireman's Museum where Hank snapped me with a Cincinnati made Ahrens steam pumper. A bit later we walked over the "purple bridge", which was the L&N Railroad bridge and auto bridge across the Ohio River, but has now been refurbished as a walking bridge from Cincinnati to Newport, KY. After an early dinner, Hank and I took in a Cincinnati Reds game at their new riverfront stadium (the Great American Stadium - named for the firm Great American, of course, not because it is a great American stadium, although maybe it is that, too). Reds beat the Braves. They were down 3-zip, but got six runs in the third, and a three run homer in the eighth to win 9-3. Good game.
Well, I finally came to Delaware (OH). There I stayed with my cousin Bob, and Alice. Their son Paul, and Kathy, came over for dinner and I enjoyed getting to know them. That evening I took this picture of them. The next morning Bob and I walked over to "his" school, Methodist Theological School in Ohio where I took this picture of an old bench with tools carved on the end support. We then drove over to Ohio Weslayan University, where Elliott Hall is the oldest (and the original building - but it was first a "sulphur springs spa") on campus. A bit later, I was off for the South Bend area. Along the way, I stopped for lunch in Wapakoneta (at the Dodge City Restaurant - I told the waitress I had driven through the real Dodge City the week before). I then saw a sign for the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum. It is a nice little museum and planetarium with much emphasis on the namesake. Pushing on, I came to the Indiana state line, now from the east. Late in the afternoon, I came to Elkhart, where I had decided I'd probably stay overnight. As I came into town, the transmission started to make a buzzing noise, and eventually I had no power to the rear wheels. I pulled over to the side of a busy street (rush hour, Friday afternoon). After a look, I decided it was probably low fluid, so went into the 7-11 and bought a quart of transmission fluid. After adding some, it moved OK. I added the rest of the quart. In the meantime, a young MOPAR fan stopped to try to be of assistance and to admire the car. I hoped that it was fixed, and we parted ways. It was not to be. By the time I got to the motel, it had stopped transmitting power several times, and I had discovered that either letting it sit for some time, or in some cases, just barely moving the car by pushing while in neutral would make it shift into gear again. I called AAA and asked to speak to a local tow guy, thinking he would have some advice on tranny shops. He did, but the only thing open on Saturday was a tire store/repair shop. They diagnosed "new transmission needed", something I had pretty much decided already. But nothing can be done before Tuesday. Stay tuned (well, maybe you better make that, tune in later). My present plan is to be in Albuquerque ahead of schedule to meet Amelia and see the Albuquerque crew. However, I'll rent a car, drive to Chicago, fly to Albuquerque, and return here on June 2, whereupon the Dart will (hopefully) be ready to continue the tour. Along the way to Chicago, I will visit Michigan (only a few miles from where I sit now in South Bend) and check out a few things in Chicago before I fly out.
Wednesday morning I headed for Chicago, by way of Michigan since it was so close (5 miles, or so) and when I thought about it, I had never been to Michigan. I headed west on Highway 12 (through the backwoods) and came to Indiana once again. I traveled through what I hope is the underbelly of Gary, then at some undetermined point passed into Illinois. At some point I missed the Highway 12 turn to the west (fortunately) and continued on Highway 41, which turns into Lakeshore Drive. Here was my first glimpse of Lake Michigan. I parked in the Sears Tower parking garage ($8 for the first half hour!) and walked back to the corner of Adams and Michigan, where old Route 66 could be said to start (for practical purposes, now). Note the Art Institute in the background. Walking back to the parking garage, I spotted this interesting building, which turned out to be the library; note the "el" just on the near side. Then I shot an upward looking picture of the Sears Tower; again note the "el" in the foreground. After getting the car out of hock, I headed down Adams. Here is the first Old Route 66 sign along the way (that I saw). The Olds Cutlass in the picture is the rental I was driving. The old route has been reasonably well marked in Illinois. A few miles down the road I stopped at a famous old lunch stand, Henry's. That stuff on top of the hotdog is French Fries (or, as I prefer to call them these days, Pommes Frites). Further down the road, just north of Braceville, I found two Burma Shave signs in opposite directions. In O'Dell this old Standard Service Station has been restored. A little further south, the road marked Old Route 66 parallels what apparently was the real Route 66, which is torn up every mile or so with "Closed" signs at each end of the strip. A little later on I drove past the "closed" sign and took a one mile Route 66 trip. Another restored artifact from the old days is this barn advertising Meramec Caverns in Missouri. I tentatively plan to stop in there (the caverns, not the barn). I continued down to where Highway 24 intersects old Route 66 at Chenoa, where I spent the night. On the 28th it was back to Midway Airport, and fly to Albuquerque. On Monday, I fly back to Chicago and drive to South Bend. Tuesday the 2nd I pick up the car and head for Chenoa to pick up Route 66. (Yeh, yeh, I know, not doing all of Route 66 in the Dart is a travesty, but I think I will be able to look at myself in the mirror after it is all over. At least I won't have to go back to Chicago. Time will tell.)
Bright and early on Tuesday, the 3rd, I picked up the Dart at Fred's. (Here's a small world story: The service writer at Fred's used to work for Quality Transmission in Seaside, CA, where I used to take cars for transmission work, and which is owned by a friend that bought our house in Carmel Valley many years ago.) Sometime later I was able to return the rental car and get on my way. After nipping into Michigan to mail postcards to the grandkids, I headed down HW 31 to HW 20 to HW 2 to HW 421, and finally toward Chenoa, IL on HW 24. Along the way I passed into Iroquois County, Illinois. A bit further on I came across this Historical Marker for the Butterfield Trail. If anyone knows a relationship between this Butterfield and the Butterfield trail found (see above) in Kansas, I'd like to know it. As I neared Chenoa on HW 24, I saw this remarkable group of horses galloping across the bean fields.
After returning to Route 66, I saw a couple of Burma Shave signs, the first having the second on the back side of the signs. I hereby promise - no more Burma Shave signs (unless it is a really really good one, in my opinion). I came on this restored service station with some very attractive gasoline prices. Alas, they were not open. After passing through Springfield trying to follow the 1926-1930 route, I finally decided I must head back to near the interstate to find a stopping place.
Sometime between stopping and starting on the 4th, I realized that by taking the OLD route, I had missed something I wanted to see: The Cozy Dog drive in. Turns out it was a small backtrack, which got me on some of the later route. I then headed back to the earlier route, and along the way took a little detour to see this covered bridge. As is evident, much of it has been refurbished. I came upon what must be the longest stretch of brick Historic Route 66. It is about 1.4 miles long. Shortly thereafter the top came down for the remainder of the day. In Litchfield (if I remember this right) I took a picture of what is getting to be a pretty rare thing: An actual in business Drive In Theatre. (I later found one in Cuba, MO, as well, but no picture for that.) Down the road in Mt. Olive, I found a member of the Illinois Route 66 Association (not sure that name is right - will correct when I find out for sure) painting an old service station. After a bit of wandering around beyond Edwardsville, I found the Chain of Rocks Bridge. It is closed to auto traffic now. It is notable because it has about a 45 degree turn in the middle of it, as can be seen in the picture. The trip across the I-270 bridge, seen in the background (below) the Chain of Rocks Bridge brought me to Missouri. I know, the picture is wonky, but it is apparently the best I could do shooting with one hand and no eyes, over the top of the windshield. I confess to taking the Route 66 bypass (I-270 to HW 67 to I-55) around St.Louis. Then it was on and off of I-44 to follow some of the old route. The Route 66 State Park visitor center was closed, a disappointment. By late afternoon, I had made my way to Cuba, MO. Cuba has an active mural project going on, and I shot pictures of the ones I saw, and made a composite picture of them. On the top, left to right is an early settler and banker, Harry Truman giving a campaign speech at the county fair, and a mural commemorating the apple industry, from growing the apples to making the barrels for shipping them (they still make barrels). In the lower panel is Amelia Earhart, who made an unscheduled "landing" near Cuba in the 1930s, and a World War II memorial mural. I got a bit more sun today than I thought I would, so maybe I'll be careful with the top down tomorrow (or maybe it will rain).
On the 6th I decided I had missed some of the "old" Route 66, so I went back a few miles and took this picture of the Rainbow Curve Bridge north of Baxter Springs. I also visited the Eisler Brothers Market in Riverton and bought what looks to be a fairly decent map of Historic Route 66, plasticized. Heading for Oklahoma, I crossed the state line. Because I hadn't gotten a picture crossing into Kansas, I crossed the road and shot a picture of the Kansas state line sign. I've seen many (100s?) of Dollar Stores and variations on the name in the midwest. In Miami, OK, they cut to the heart of the matter. North of Afton there are remnants of 9 foot wide lanes with curbs. Almost all (maybe all) of the pieces of the original Route 66 (at least after 1930) are concrete, although all but the curbs are now covered in this picture. A nice lady (whose daughter is getting married tomorrow), is putting together a Route 66 Nostalgia Business (my words). They have some very nice Packards and a Hupp in the garage. I missed getting the Packard sign (off to the right of the picture). Ask the man who owns one. Down the road a piece I was struck by the beauty of this pastoral scene, with the green pasture in the foreground and the pond and cattle in the background. North of Catoosa (which bills itself as the most inland seaport which does not ice up in the winter) are these twin bridges. I shot it going back north because the train bridge is in the background. Also north of Catoosa is this automobile culvert. I went under the train in it (both ways). Old Route 66 used to go a different way through and near Catoosa, and here is a typical shot of now abandoned Route 66, looking not much different than many other stretches of it. Harking back to another pastoral scene, here is a longhorn taking it easy. Eventually found myself in Oklahoma City for the night. All top down after a late lunch today. I protected my head, but my left arm is a bit red tonight.
After that, it was top down, and as I motored west, getting my kicks, I saw this mural commemorating the Chisholm Trail in Yukon, OK. South of Geary the old (pre 1930) Route 66 turns "dirty" with a stretch of 3 or 4 miles of gravel. Along this stretch I saw a field with some kind of blooming thistle. Back on the post 1930 route, I shot this picture of the rather typical concrete with edge risers that is seen many places. These sometimes had "fancy drains" in the low places. East of Hydro I took a couple of mile dirt road detour to try to get a closer picture of Steen's Buttes/Caddo Mounds; the leftmost is called "Rock Mary", but I don't know why. Looking across the wheat fields to the distant hills in the opposite direction it is clear why these were used as markers by those traveling the California Road used by gold seeking '49ers. Just past Hydro is a Route 66 landmark known as Lucille's. She passed away several years ago, but spent her life on Route 66. The place is probably still for sale, and apparently was listed on EBAY at one time.
When I came to Weatherford, I finally found what I had been searching for for a few days: a benefit car wash. I wheeled in, put the top up, and got the Weatherford Girls Softball Team busy. They did a great job. Hope you win at State, girls. Between Clinton and Foss I turned around to get a picture of a Texas Volkswagen. Don't ask me what a Texas Volkswagen is doing in Oklahoma. As I snapped that picture I turned around to see my car headed (backwards) across the road. I gave chase, but it only enabled me to get a better view of it knocking down a windmill mailbox, and winding up in a nicely mowed gentle borrow pit. I had noticed that Fred's had not adjusted the "park" linkage quite right, but had not taken the proper care to make sure it was engaged before I jumped out to snap the picture. Major damage to the windmill; minor damage to my trunk lid; no damage to mailbox itself. A bit chagrined I rang the doorbell of the house and confessed my sins. The lady allowed as how it was the most exciting that had happened lately. I don't think her husband thought it was quite as exciting. I'm expecting (and hoping) to hear later how the rebuilding went. Never did like Volkswagens, and now I like them even less.
In Elk City I stopped briefly at the Route 66 Museum. When I came out, it was windy and threatening rain, so the top went up. A bit further on I decided I had better get a shot of the good red Oklahoma dirt. At long last, I reached the Texas state line and the place where the West begins 100th meridian. Now, I supposed it was at the Texas/Oklahoma border, but the instrument came up with it some 100 feet or so on the eastward side (could Oklahoma be claiming part of Texas, or ...?). I had decided I would head for Groom, TX for the night. As I got close I found the leaning water tower of Britten. No, I don't know what Britten is, but I did notice a cattle company office in town with that name. West of town is what is billed as the world's largest cross. It is surrounded by sculptures representing the 14 stations of Christ, with the three crosses on Golgotha represented behind (on the left). From the other direction, because it was late in the afternoon, the lighting was different. I had found that my target restaurant (having skipped lunch after a large breakfast) was closed, and when I headed for the Blessed Mary restaurant, it was closed for the day. Well, always did want to try out Dairy Queen. I'll survive.
Random thoughts on the Route 66 trip so far: I've decided my next road trip will be considerably less structured. I don't like trying find where I'm supposed to go, and I don't like having to be on any kind of schedule. That forces me to pay too much attention to where I am supposed to be going (some problem when alone), and to pass up some things I would like to see. Also, while it is satisfying to get the gentle rocking and the wap-wap, wap-wap, wap-wap, etc., etc., etc., that one gets from an old concrete road in good condition (brings back memories), it doesn't take too many thousand miles of it to get old. Then again, not all of that old concrete road is in good condition, not even that which has been patched with asphalt. So, from here I will take the philosophy that when Route 66 parallels the interstate, and I'm tired of the old road, I just may pop onto the freeway for a while. I can look over and see the old roadway then, anyway.
I arose bright and early Sunday morning (well, at the western edge of the time zone, it doesn't get bright so early, fortunately) and drove before breakfast. I got through Amarillo with no problems (although I hoped to see the Big Texan Steak House (72 oz T-bone dinner is free if you can eat it all in 1 hour), but it seems it isn't on Route 66). Oh well - couldn't have gotten a dinner anyway, I'm sure. I did eat breakfast at a Route 66 place, the J&M Cafe. After that, it was still kind of chilly, but it was top down anyway. Just to the west of Amarillo is the world famous Cadillac Ranch. Without prior knowledge, it sounds like it should be in Nevada, but it's not and here is a closer view of the bottoms of the cars. At one time they were their original colors (in 1974), but they have been vandalized many times - its not really discouraged, I think, but the real vandals leave the paint cans laying around.
Today I stayed on the old Route 66 wherever it was possible, and surprisingly, the roads were generally quite well maintained. In fact, it was a joy driving them (except for several times when the road ended a mile or two past the entrance to the inerstate, which I should have taken. Unlike Missouri, where such roads were marked at the beginning as "No I-xx access", the sign saying the road ended was at the end of the road in Texas. Boo, Texas. Anyway, I enjoyed cruising along at about 50-55 mph with virtually no traffic while the lines of big trucks and some cars passed me by. In fact, I was talking to a UPS truck driver at a stop and he mentioned he had seen me "cruising". I caught up because he had to stop at a weigh station. Several truck drivers honked and waved while I took the frontage road. None did when they came up behind me on the interstate. Along the way I saw the road to the Binford Ranch. Here's a backward looking example of what most of the "frontage" roads I traveled today looked like: quite smooth and wide open. Not a lot of information in the next picture, but here's what one looked like from the front. At one point I pulled over, climbed a barbed wire fence, and took a picture of this blooming cactus. A short distance away was this remnant of a bridge, with ruts leading to it, and the telephone poles running along the far side. I suspect this was an earlier alignment of Route 66, but in my "not too rigorous" looking, I found nothing about it in the materials I had.
I found a photo-op I couldn't pass up when I saw this pair. Pushing on, I finally came to Adrian, Texas, and the Midpoint Cafe. Across the road from it is this sign. As I was setting up my tripod to take this shot, a fellow (owner?) came out of the cafe and offered to take the picture. So, he did. A bit down the road is the former village of Texola. Sorry to say there wasn't a lot more than that to the town. Going back to the interstate, I soon came to the New Mexico state line. They had a very nice visitor center, and when asked, information on Route 66 was brought from under the counter, including a pretty darn good (not perfect, I found) map of Historic Route 66, and a current copy of the Route 66 magazine. In Tucumcari I stopped for lunch (well, Sunday dinner, I guess) at the La Cita, another Route 66 icon. There are some windmills in Texas and New Mexico, although I suspect not as many as there used to be. I got to this one easily near a service station. The cactus are in bloom in a big way in New Mexico, including many (fields, even) of the same as the previous cactus picture. But there are also these prickly pears blooming, and looking quite nice. While the roads I traveled today were mostly quite good, this stub of Route 66 is looking a bit unused.
In Santa Rosa, I stopped by the Route 66 Auto Museum. They have a nice collection of mostly restored, some frame-off, 50s and 60s cars. I'm put out with myself that I somehow got out of there without taking any pictures. One unusual vehicle is a cab-over-engine pickup. It has a early 50s COE cab with a pickup box (long one). I believe it is home-built, and I saw a story about a similar one (this one, maybe) in an auto sale magazine I picked up (and discarded) in Indiana. They have no Mopars at present, except for a hemi engine. There are about 35 cars in the collection, with a 57 Chevy frame-off restoration being the highlight. Oh yes, some of the cars are for sale.
I noted with some sadness that many towns are finding it hard to survive. I expect many of them will become even more like this compendium of some former roadside attractions and service facilities. Finally, in the same vein a bit, here is my chance at fame and fortune ala Ansel Adams: Moon over derelict service station!
Then it was on to the intersection of HW84 and to Las Vegas, where I spent the night.
When I got to Santa Fe, Becky and J. Hailey were waiting for me and we drove down to Bernalillo to the Range Cafe and stopped for lunch. After, we took a few pictures for posterity, including this one showing the Dart, the restaurant, J. Hailey, and Becky. We then continued on down the pre-1937 Route 66 until Central Street. Then we turned east on the more recent route and drove several miles along, looking at the various buildings and (many times) former business places that were there in the heyday of Route 66. One (of many) motels that still exist is the Aztec Motel, which has recently been remodeled (inside and out!), and was featured recently in the weekend news magazine. Behind the motel is a somewhat poor imitation of the shoe tree, only it is a stuffy stump. Finally, I note that the overpasses for the intersection I-40 and I-25 is almost a work of art, although I confess I did not get quite the picture I wanted,but it is difficult to shoot the right one while driving along.
On the morning of the 10th, I put down the top, picked up Duane, and we headed south on San Mateo to Central Avenue, the later alignment of Route 66 through Albuquerque. We then turned south on 4th Street and took the pre 1937 alignment to Los Lunas, then headed west to eventually join up with I-40. Along the way I noted the relatively low gasoline prices, but commented that I still had at least half a tank. Not too far along I-40, we took off on an old section of Route 66 which included "Dead Man's Curve". However, before we got that far, I discovered I had gone 100 miles further than I had thought since buying gas. The resulting episode is hereby recorded for history. We had no idea how far is was to the next I-40 exit that had a gasoline station, but it turned out to be only about 2 or 3 miles. My six week old gallon of gas in the trunk came through. We would like to have stopped for gas at Budville (the prices were right), but alas they were closed! A bit further down the road we came to the downhill side of the trip, having crossed the Continental Divide. Somewhere along the line, I decided it had become too windy for comfortable driving with the top down, so up it went. Early in the afternoon we came to the Arizona State Line, where we traded picture taking duties with a couple also crossing the state line (well, I am presuming - at least they wanted a picture with the sign). Instead of making the projected stop, we went on the the Petrified Forest and drove the entire length of it. The northern part is part of the Painted Desert and quite colorful. This large crawling creature was to the south of I-40. Of course, the Petrified Forest is about petrified trees, and there are many of them. Here's a compendium of some views of petrified trees. There are lots of chunks strewn around; here is one of the better petrified logs. We stayed the night in Holbrook. The temperature had been quite moderate, compared to what I expected.
Wednesday it was another top down day, and as we were leaving we saw where we should have stayed, an old Route 66 icon, The Wigwam There were a number of old cars parked around it, mostly 50s. Next stop was the Meteor Crater. It is about 700 feet to the bottom from the rim, and 4000 feet across. It was a hard climb, but here is a shot of me at the bottom. Of course, Duane took the picture. Between Winona and Flagstaff is an abandoned bridge, shown here with Duane. A couple from Stuttgart, Germany came along while we were there. They are also going from Chicago to Santa Monica on Route 66, but taking 3 weeks. Continuing, we had lunch in Flagstaff, and Duane retrieved his pickup. There was quite a long stretch on I-40, but we got back on the old route at Ash Fork, where we found DeSoto's Beauty and Barber Shop, complete with the 58 (I think) DeSoto, driven by Elvis, on the top of the building. In Missouri they only put the car on a pole. Continuing west, I was struck by how green the countryside looked, so I shot this picture from the moving car. There are quite a few remnants of the old Route, such as this bridge (bet you wish I'd quit posting pictures of bridges (all but Dean, that is)). A bit further along is this neglected section of the old highway. As we went through Seligman, we found this marvelous collection of carhops and old cars. It's possible Elvis is in there somewhere. There were three Edsels, the one in front pretty nice, and the 56 Chevy was really nice. We holed up for the night near Peach Springs. It was top down all day, and the temperatures were very pleasant, even a bit cool. Quite a treat, although there was some wind. Oh yeh, one confession to make: the picture at the "bottom" of the crater was taken in front of a mural. Pretty darn realistic.
On Friday the 13th I set off earlier than normal, for Twentynine Palms. On my way (after breakfast)! And after going back to Arizona and returning California to get a better shot of the "Welcome to California" sign at the west bank of the Colorado River. My take the night before said "me nia" (well, give me a break, I was driving along holding the camera over the windshield). OK, this one says it all but isn't that great either - better than the one I got on May 2, though. I saw many long (more than one mile) trains coming across Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, and today in California I got a reasonable shot of this long train. This picture is more impressive if your browswer doesn't resize it to fit the window. A closeup shot of part of the train shows pretty much what the train was hauling. Somewhere between Goff and Essex (I think) I saw this bird along side the road. Coming into Amboy from the east, I shot this view of the desert. Then I got a combination shot, desert with train in the background. I got to Sandy's and Larry's house about 10:30am, top still down after a very pleasant drive with hardly any wind and moderate temperature.
On the 15th I left Twentynine Palms and drove back to Amboy and Historic Route 66. Near where the road from Twentynine Palms joins Route 66 is the Amboy Crater. It's pretty obvious there had been some volcanic activity in the past. In Newberry Springs I came to the Bagdad Cafe, where I had one of those buffalo burgers advertised on the outside of the building. They have website. Another Route 66 fan took this picture of me and the waiter, who actually came out to take the picture. Back east a few hundred yards is the first Whiting Brothers service station. I have seen many other derelict Whiting Brothers stations in the Southwest. In Barstow I stopped at the Route 66 Mother Road Museum, in the old Harvey House. Nice collection, and they took a picture of me and the car for their collection, although I'm not sure what they do with it. A little ways along I came to the Route 66 Motel, with a 52 Studebaker in the forground, and a yellow 58 Dodge in the background. Still open, the sign says. Between Helendale and Oro Grande I found this bottle tree orchard. It was kind of colorful. I stopped for the night in Victorville, where the motel room had a mural. It was top down all the way today, although the sun was pretty bright and hot. On the other hand, it was a pretty short trip today, as it will be tomorrow. But, tomorrow is searching the way through Los Angeles area streets. Seems sort of straightforward, but I'll let you know more next update, the final one for the Route 66 portion of the trip.
Haven't decided what I think about all of it. More later, perhaps. It was a fantastic trip. There was time to stop and do a lot of things that I might not on another kind of trip. On the other hand, it was structured enough that I was unable to do quite a few things that I would have liked to have done. I did get a broad view of Americana and Americans. I met a lot of friendly and interesting people, in many cases the Dart was the catalyst for it, but in others it only came into the picture as an incidental, if at all. I was witness to many of the effects of the interstate highway system on small town America. There is, I think, no doubt that many of those places would not have survived anyway, but there are many derelict towns, and derelict isolated facilities (service stations, cafes) along the way. I previously said a few things about the "next road trip", and I think I stand by that. Less structure. Next time I set a general direction to be followed loosely. No set points except start and end. In between do what looks promising at the moment. Take time for anything that interests me. When the amount of time left is the amount of time it will take to interstate it home, head for home.
I saw lots of family (some for the first time!) and old friends along the way, and I thank them for their graciousness in hosting me. With the exception of the transmission episode, the Dart performed beautifully. It drives and rides like a "real car", very stable, and goes where it is pointed (if someone is there to point it, especially). The gas filled front shocks, air shocks in the rear, and the large low profile tires all contribute to its good handling, and perhaps lowering it an inch helps, too. The engine is superb and I take my hat off to whoever did the engine rebuild. Never knew a Slant six that didn't leak at least a quart in less than four thousand miles, and this one had the oil level just about where it was when filled after that mileage. The larger brakes turned out to be very good performers (had to use them once or twice when lights changed unexpectedly, or when a stop sign was a surprise). After the new shoes had worn into the drums, and the adjusters had taken up the slack, the pedal was suitably positioned. The glass pack muffler resulted in a pleasant tone at 55-60 mph, and the exhaust burble when letting up was also nice (guy thing, probably). All in all, a much better car than I would have thought I had bought. Still a thing or two to fix: gas gauge, leaks in windshield seal, turn signals are not quite right, the inserts on the rear seat need replacing, and then there is the mail box dent on the trunk. I think its a keeper.
One final thing. It took a fair amount of time to process the pictures and write the reports. In fact, I was occasionally up to about midnight doing it. I'm not complaining. After all, I'm the one that decided to do it, but I could have been doing something more toward the real goal - meeting people, seeing the sights, in the time I spent doing it. So, if anyone actally enjoyed looking at this report log, not only, but especially if you were not on the list of people I told about it by email on some semi-regular basis, I'd like to hear from you. I know one person has looked at it seriously. Thanks for the corrections, Hank.
I may add to this later, after I've gone back and read all I wrote and thought about my favorite things. Some people asked me about favorite restaurants, sights, etc. Have to think back.
The Indian petroglyphs in Nevada were pretty interesting. I stayed at the Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall in Ely. For breakfast they had a special: sirloin steak and eggs, hashbrowns and toast, $3.99. Good size portion of sirloin, too. I recommend it. I tried to get local fish several places. The Utah Red Trout at Kelly's Tamarisk Resaurant in Green River, UT was good. I have enjoyed times before driving across the back country (i.e., HW 50) parts of Nevada and Utah. This time was also enjoyable, but could have been much better with less wind and some warmth.
I would like to note that the Black Canyon of the Gunnison was a much different place than what I remembered seeing some twenty or more years ago. I attribute that to the very different time of day and the weather. This time it was clear and late afternoon, whereas before it was probably earlier in the day and cloudy. Didn't look nearly so black this time.
Monument Rocks in Gove County, KS was interesting. These limestone formations are only a couple of hours from Herndon, but I had never seen them before.
The Cosmosphere in Hutchinson turned out to be a far more extensive and interesting place than I had expected (in fact, I didn't even plan to go there). But, events conspired and I had the time to go (but not enough) and see mostly the Liberty Bell 7 and other space exploration exhibits. I must tuck in for a day or two there in the future.
It was a highlight to see some places and things related to my mother and her parents. Places Grandad had preached, where my mother graduated from high school, and Grandad's cane collection at Baker University. And, lots of relatives in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraksa, and Missouri.
The Jefferson National Expansion Park with the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is something I've wanted to go up for many years. The Museum in the base deserves much more time than I gave it.
Signs. I mentioned all I want to in the reports and I won't enumerate them, but I did enjoy (with one possible exception) turning around to snap a picture of some sign or store that caught my fancy.
Down the line in Indiana and Ohio, it was nice to meet relatives I hadn't met before and to see old friends. Hadn't been to a major league baseball game in many years, so it was a treat to see the Reds wallop the Braves at the Reds' new stadium.
It was interesting to see signs for the Butterfield trail (or other such descriptive term) in various places, but I still haven't tried to figure out if the different ones I saw were part of the same trail, or different ones. Also saw the Santa Fe Trail in several places. Crossed the Chisholm Trail at least once, as well as the California Trail.
It is amazing how many businesses along Historic Route 66 either capitalize on their location, or in many cases, depend exclusively on the worldwide interest in Route 66. I met quite a number of people that are obviously (must be) passionate about Route 66.
Some of the interesting cafes I ate at beyond the two mentioned above were: Anchor Inn, in Hutchinson, KS (would you believe, Mexican). The "calendar" restaurants wee good for conversation (and reasonable food), Sharon's Korner Kitchen, in Peabody, KS, and the Lunch Box, in Waverly, KS. Hays House, in Council Grove, KS (good steak, historic place). Lewis Cafe, in St. Clair, MO (had fried catfish). Missouri Hickory Bar-B-Q, in Cuba, MO (had baby back ribs). Murphey's Restaurant, in Baxter Springs, KS, is a typical small town restaurant where I had breakfast. Cotton-Eyed Joes, in Claremore, OK is easy to see from Route 66, but some bother getting across the railroad tracks to it (worth it; had a great pulled pork sandwich). La Cita, in Tucumcari, NM (had mostly Sunday American buffet, would like to try the Mexican food). Range Cafe, in Bernalillo, NM (had fantastic blue corn meal crusted chili rellenos). Butterfield Stage Co., in Holbrook, AZ (there's Butterfield again - had good pepper encrusted sirloin with all the trimmings). Hualapai Lodge Dining Room, in Peach Springs, AZ (had breakfast - great value in the Diamond Slam - eggs, bacon or sausage (get the sausage!), hash browns (lots of hashbrowns), toast, etc.). Barney's Beanery, in Santa Monica (would take a day to read the menu; I had chicken Ceasar salad, perhaps not very adventuresome).
The Oklahoma City National Memorial is worth a visit. I only saw the outside and did not visit the museum.
I stayed with or visited relatives in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, New Mexico, California, and Oregon. I stayed with or visited with friends in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and California. I probably have forgotten to mention some (haul me up short).
Thanks for sticking with this.
Richard Franke 07-01-03