We survived another whirlwind adventure, something the Hinckley clan seems rather adept at. One day, 440 miles including more than one hundred miles of Route 66, 20.5 gallons of gas, one picnic lunch, several bottles of water, a couple of sodas, two cups of coffee, sixty five photos, three states, one sit down dinner, lots of new discoveries to share in future posts, stunning desert landscapes, and temperatures hovering around 65, and a memorable adventure with my dearest friend. Does it get any better than this?
It was sort of a wild hair that prompted the whole endeavor even though we have been planning a trip for several weeks as part of the research for the current project, Ghost Towns of Route 66. Still, there was nothing in stone. I suppose an argument could be made that these outbursts of escapism are in part due to the fact that for the first dozen years of our marriage they weren’t really feasible as I worked six days per week and for a few years after that finances were a limiting factor.
We rolled west on U.S. 93 over Coyote Pass and into the Sacramento Valley, continued through Golden Valley on state highway 68, crossed into Nevada at Laughlin on state highway 163, followed U.S. 95 south into California, and then again turned west on old U.S. 66 toward Goffs.
Goffs has to rate at the top of any list of must see Route 66 attractions. No hype, no neon, just honest history in a clean and scenic setting. The school now turned museum and the surrounding grounds that are a delightful blending of botanical garden and treasure filled time capsule of souvenirs from more than 150 years of life in the Mojave Desert capture the very essence of Route 66. Here time drifts by without notice and relaxation seeps into your soul. I was so inspired by our visit I started a new section for the website, Route 66 Info center, to chronicle the ghost towns of Route 66 beginning with Goffs.
As often happens with that endeavor it doesn’t go quite as planned with the first attempt. So, pardon the overlap at the bottom and rest assured that will be fixed before Tuesday afternoon. I will also be adding new towns as time allows and here on the blog I will post more information about Goffs.
The trivia note of the day pertains to Goffs. The school here was built in 1914 and was unique in the area for the expense incurred in its construction as well as its mission style.
We spent quite a bit of time taking in the wonderful exhibits at Goffs before deciding to continue our westward trek on Route 66. The old roadside oasis at Cadiz Summit continues its evolution towards becoming an historic landfill where graffiti artists hone thier skills.
Essex was largely unchanged from the last time I rolled through several years ago with a friend that was moving from Apple Valley to Nebraska. Chambless showed signs of activity in the missing roof that looked as though it was being replaced rather than collapsing. Amboy also showed promise as the station/store was open and the cabins looked freshly painted.
The road from Amboy to Ludlow has some very large chuck holes that on occasion made me think that, perhaps, following the railroad right of way might be better for the Jeeps suspension. Without some serious work soon, some portions of old 66 on this stretch will soon be tough to use in a regular passenger car.
The only surprise in Ludlow was the Ludlow Cafe had burned since my last visit. The cafe having a “B” rating posted in the window wasn’t a surprise at all but as we were only there for coffee it was of no concern.
Next to Goffs, my wife suggesting we take a side trip on the way home – Amboy, Twenty Nine Palms, Parker, Lake Havasu City – was the biggest surprise of the day. After all, by this point in time it was close to 3:00.
So, we retraced our steps to Amboy and turned south across Bristol Dry Lake toward the Sheep Hole Mountains. In Twenty Nine Palms we refueled the Jeep and fortified ourselves for the next leg with a simple dinner at Denny’s.
By the time we made it to the landfill that marks the site of Rice the sun had set behind the mountains and twilight was fast turning to darkness. That ensured we would have excuses for a few stops on the way home to savor a starlit desert sky and a glowing moon rising from behind the Hualapai Mountains.
And so ended a delightful day of adventure on Route 66 and the lost highways of the California desert. Now planning for the next endeavor begins – scaling the heights of the Amboy Crater before the scorching months of summer.