As there are no major adventures on the schedule for December, it seemed safe to post my annual top ten destinations list a couple of weeks early. As always, this list is based on our travels during the past calendar year. BEST BOOK STORE – I enjoy mom and pop shops, especially those set in time capsule neighborhoods. If that book store happens to specialize in a staggering array of automotive related titles, new as well as used, with just a sprinkling of interesting travel guides, so much the better.
Now, add in a Saturday morning tradition that includes an informal cruise in where odd, vintage, and obscure vehicles manufactured by Doble, Citroen, or Maserati out number Buick’s and ’57 Chevies, fresh pastries from a neighborhood bakery, excellent coffee, and informal, friendly atmosphere, and you have the perfect book store.Auto Books – Aero Books in Burbank, California is all of this and more. For all of your automotive, aeronautical, or travel book needs, check or their website or, better yet, stop by on a Saturday morning. MOST OVERLOOKED ATTRACTION –This would have to be the schoolhouse museum complex in Goffs, California on the section of Route 66 bypassed in 1931. From restrooms that present the illusion of visiting a friends home, to fascinating and informative displays, a wide array of outdoor exhibits, and even vintage vehicles this little treasure should be moved to the top of any list for those planning a cruise west on Route 66 or into the Mojave Desert of eastern California. For more information or hours contact the Mojave Desert Heritage & Cultural Association at 760-733-4848. BEST PIE
Well, in this years grand adventure to Missouri, we discovered the peanut butter/chocolate pie at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas. Whether traveling I-40 or historic Route 66, mark your maps for this wonderful oasis, back the belt off a notch, and prepare yourself for a real treat. Food on the road just doesn’t get better than this. I can also suggest a light lunch (to save room for the pie) as the food here is excellent. FAVORITE GHOST TOWNGhost towns have long been a main stay in our adventurers but with the penning of Ghost Towns of the Southwest and its promotion, as well as the writing of Ghost Towns of Route 66, scheduled for release in June of 2011, these forlorn and forgotten places have dominated a great deal of our travel time. This past May, in search of Route 66 ghost towns, we journeyed to Missouri using a 1929 atlas for guidance.
|Endee, New Mexico|
Along the way we discovered dozens of fascinating and picturesque places. None, however, captured our attention like Endee in New Mexico. Even with a howling wind that made it difficult to really explore, we found the ruins on the hilltop to be scenic and haunting, comforting and sad. Endee, dating to the 1880s, now rates very high on our list for future exploration. BEST AUTOMOTIVE EVENT
The annual Route 66 Fun Run, held on the first weekend of each May, blends the mystique of Route 66, the best of small town America, with stunning western landscapes and the American love affair with the automobile and the road trip into a weekend of fun in the sun on Route 66. If I were to have a complaint it would be the unpredictable weather. In my twenty year association with the event I have witnessed most everything. One year there were snow flurries, a few years later temperatures were nearly one hundred degrees, and during another events the winds were almost gale force. Still, I highly recommend the Route 66 Fun as a vacation destination. Even better plan your trip as a grand adventure on Route 66 and make this the center piece of the road trip of a life time. BEST LODGINGI had a few ideas for inclusion in this category as we have been on the road a great deal this past year. Then we made the trip to California last week and discovered the Wigwam Motel in Rialto on old Route 66, Foothill Boulevard.
|Wigwam Motel, Rialto, California|
The restoration of this property has transformed it into a near perfect time capsule from the non generic era when Route 66 really was the Main Street of America. With the exception of the flat screen television and cable, there is little to intrude on the illusion that at the Wigwam Motel the Edsel is the hottest news from Detroit. As a bonus, it was the most reasonable lodging we found in the L.A. area. It was also one of the cleanest. SURPRISE DISCOVERYThis was a tough call. After all, we have covered close to 10,000 miles this year seeking the wonders found along the back roads of America to share on this blog, in our books, and through feature articles. Still, the most surprising discovery had to be Writhgwood in California, specifically the Evergreen Cafe.
Located less than fifty miles from Route 66 in the Cajon Pass and the high deserts near Hesperia, this little oasis in the midst of towering mountains and a pine forest seems to have been lifted from the Alps, transported to America, and given an overlay of small town America circa 1958. No visit to Wrightwood could be complete without a stop at the Evergreen Cafe; good food, fresh coffee, and friendly folk make it a wonderful place to start, or end, a day of adventure. BEST POST CARD SETTINGHave you every found a setting where the man made and the natural blend so well it was almost impossible to get a bad picture even if there wasn’t film in the camera? Well, that would be the Marsh Arch Bridge on Route 66 in Kansas.
|Marsh Arch Bridge in Kansas|
Idyllic, scenic, contemplative, historic – pick your adjective. This little road side gem is just one of the many surprises found along the 13 mile stretch of Route 66 in Kansas. BEST QUIET SPOTIf you want a place to simply savor life, to meditate in a setting of truly awe inspiring landscapes with just enough historic content to spark the imagination, then look no further than the forlorn ruins of the Painted Desert Trading Post on an abandoned section of Route 66 to the east of the Painted desert and Petrified Forest National Park. The landscapes here seem timeless. The broken path of the old highway seems to be a thread linking the distant past with the present. The ruins hint of the frailty of dreams.
The old Painted Desert Trading Post is a near perfect place to escape from the daily grind and while away an afternoon. If you do visit remember why you came and strive to ensure the fragile ruins are still there for the next visitor.