*click on photos to enlarge
After nearly a month of obsessive planning, evaluating motel options on trip advisor http://www.tripadvisor.com/ and generally driving my wife crazy we loaded up the rented mini van Friday evening after work and headed for the hills (Burbank). Even with an hours advantage as a result of the time change it seemed a better option than trying to drive 365 miles and find an address in a town I was unfamiliar with all before 10:00 AM.
Rolling along I40, longing for the solitude of Route 66 under starlit desert skies, we made good time and pulled into Hesperia around 9:30 PM. To a large degree this was the result of light traffic with the exception of the leg from Barstow south.
The following morning after a light breakfast at the motel we saddled up and rolled up the Cajon Pass along with what seemed like half the population of Arizona. For a man who felt Kingman was getting to big when the fifth stop light was installed and who will make a detour of one hundred miles to avoid the congestion of Phoenix this wasn’t a relaxing drive.
Still, I fully realize we were quite blessed. The traffic flow allowed for a consistent speed without a great deal of crowding, the weather was delightful and the sky was a light brown with hint of blue.
We arrived at our destination, Autobooks-Aerobooks http://www.autobooks-aerobooks.com/ in Burbank, with about a half hour to spare.
The Magnolia Boulevard shopping district was a surprising delight. There was an overwhelming sense this was Main Street in Anytown USA circa 1960.
For years the store has been a Saturday destination for the area car crowd. Pastries courtesy of Porto’s Bakery http://www.portosbakery.com/ , fresh ground coffee, books and cars make for a great morning no matter how you slice it.
The store is a delightful throw back to an earlier, more relaxed time. The inventory is nothing short of stunning with the latest aero and automotive titles, a wide array of magazines and all manner of repair and how to guides intermingled with original materials such as a repair guide to B24 hydraulics, vintage highway maps, and an owners manual for a 1938 Cord.
It was the best possible way in the world to launch into book promotion via formal signings. Suffice to say the owners were wonderful and I would say that even if they hadn’t bought us a delightful bar-b-que sandwich lunch. The customers were fascinating and I was awarded a near constant parade of automotive history from quality street rods to vintage Jaguars, Corvairs and even vehicles customized by those who truly marched to the tune of a different drummer.
All good things must come to an end so at 2:00 PM we began packing our gear, said our goodbyes and set out for Santa Monica. For weeks my answer to every upset and frustration was, “I don’t care because I am taking my wife to the beach!” Eventually this became a running joke.
Well, the time had come to make that mantra a reality. We battled the traffic on the drive south, hit Santa Monica Blvd. (Route 66) and found our motel.
After checking in we made the one mile drive to the end of the road (Route 66) and headed south to historic Santa Monica Pier, the west coast answer to Conney Island, hoping to catch the sunset. http://www.santamonicapier.org/
Again we were blessed as the crowds were relatively light and we easily found parking near the pier ($7.00) At this point we discovered we had left the camera in the motel room.
So we held hands, listened to the pounding of the surf, watched the sun sink in the west in an orange blaze of glory, and the colorful lights of the attractions on the pier reflect on the dark waters. Play the hand your dealt and smile, rule one for maintaining sanity, enjoying life, and avoiding premature death via hypertension.
Next we walked the pier, bought a disposable camera (pictures coming soon), and savored the vitality and atmosphere. I quietly thanked the good Lord for the many blessings enjoyed that day but most of all for being able to share them with my best friend. All things considered it was a near perfect end to a near perfect day.
The next morning we tried the Ihop next door and watched the traffic roll along Santa Monica Blvd. (Route 66) in the early morning fog. Stuffed with good food and coffee we headed south for El Segundo and the Automobile Driving Museum, our next destination.
I decided to try Highway 1 in the hope of catching a little more beach time and another opportunity to stroll the sands with my lovely bride. The well laid plans of mice and man.
Well we finally found a quiet spot in the shadow of a power plant in El Segundo (parking $7.00). The skies were gray but we had the beach almost entirely to ourselves so in my world it was sunny. Perhaps that was the result of my wife’s smile.
Love cars or hate them the Automobile Driving Museum http://www.automobiledrivingmuseum.org/ is a must see attraction. Moreover, if you have a passion for all things automotive this museum has to be listed among the top five attractions in the nation.
More than 100 automobiles, some rare, all unique, mingled among interesting gadgets such as an accessory 1915 turn signal device are merely the frosting. The cake is on Sunday, based on a rotating schedule, the cars are driven and rides are given providing unique opportunities to experience automotive history in a tangible way.
The most valuable and most rare (a Fraser four door convertible, a Plymouth bodied as a town car by Brewster for Eleanor Roosevelt and a V16 Stutz to name a few) are under glass in a setting reminiscent of a 1930s showroom.
After a couple of hours with many questions still unanswered and many things yet to see we bid adios to the wonderful staff and set our sites on home.
Again we were blessed with “light” traffic that allowed for near constant speeds of seventy and the feeling we were trapped on a never ending race track/demolition derby course.
With the deadline of beating the closing time at the Barstow Harvey House Route 66 Museum we held the speed and resisted the urge to take to the road less traveled, Route 66. By the time we made Victorville we were ahead of schedule and succumbed to temptation.
The Harvey House in Barstow is a rare and forlorn gem. Isolated from the rest of the town when main street was relocated to make room for the rail yard it was lovingly refurbished but remains empty with the exception of two excellent museums, one preserving the communities rich rrailroad history and the second its association with Route 66. http://www.route66museum.org/
After signing books we found a good cafe for dinner and fueled the van for the trip home. There is much to see in Barstow pertaining to Route 66 including a series of first rate murals. With that said I can’t really recommend an extended stay in Barstow and would go so far as to say be careful, especially after dark.
The plan was to take Route 66 through Amboy and catch a few good sunset shots along the highway. Time ran out and the best, and only, thing photographed was this unique structure in Dagget.
A sense of impending exhaustion led us to decide at Ludlow that it would be best if we hit I40, set the cruise at 75, cranked the tunes and rolled east.
Suffice to say it was a good, profitable, fun, blessed and enjoyable weekend. The kind that makes you glad to be home and look forward to the next grand adventure.

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