INTO THE MOJAVE

Our tradition of a desert adventure to kick off the new year was hindered by a bout of flu. This was followed by a wide array of conflicting schedules, and work related issues.
Yesterday, in spite of the fact the deadline is fast approaching for completion of the new book and the editor is requesting a few adjustments, and the appointment with our tax accountant is looming large on the calendar, the weather was just to perfect to be chained to a desk and so I played hooky in a grand way. With the fact that a few California pictures were needed for the new book as the excuse, my dearest friend and I set out into the depths of the M0jave Desert to make up for our missed New Years day adventure. 

On the California side of the Colorado River at the span of
the National Old Trails Bridge built in 1916.

Shortly before sunrise, as my dear friend packed a most delightful lunch of fresh baked pumpkin muffins, sandwiches, and other treats, I loaded the steadfast old Jeep as though we were headed on safari. Long ago I learned the importance of having more than enough when setting out into the back country of the desert and so rope, a shovel, heavy jack, tools, first aid kit, gallons of water, snake bite kit, and a wide array of assorted items were stowed on board. 
When we rolled from the driveway dawn was breaking and by the time we hit the Colorado River where the National Trails Highway Bridge spans the Colorado River, the sun was clearing the distant peaks. Next we explored the empty streets of Needles, grabbed a cup of coffee at Denny’s, and as we were setting out into the desert, I sucked it up and filled the tank even though the price was $4.40 per gallon (I had paid $3.09 in Kingman).
Our secondary destination was the Mojave National Preserve, about sixteen miles north of Amboy. A veritable wonderland of stunning landscapes, desert oasis and historic sites, the preserve is absolute paradise for those who are hopelessly in love with the raw and stark beauty of the desert. 
In my new book I am including little treasures found with but the slightest of detours from Route 66, places like Hualapai Mountain Park twelve miles south of Kingman. From its inception the goal was to keep the detours short, less than twenty miles. 

However, I would be quite remiss if Kelso was not included even though it is almost forty miles north of Amboy. A desert oasis in the truest sense of the word, the crown jewel of this former railroad boom town in the wilderness is the old Kelso Depot.
Fully refurbished, the depot now houses a wonderful book store, a museum preserving the areas rich and colorful history, and the Beanery, a time capsule lunch room. As the temperatures were a near perfect seventy degrees, we opted for the picnic tables.
However, as Kelso is only 120 miles from home via Searchlight and Nipton, rest assured we will be making the drive someday just to have lunch here. Of course, that trip will most likely not be made during the months of summer when the temperatures in the preserve often top 110 degrees.
Counted among the overlooked treasures in the desert is the old Mojave Road that originally connected the Colorado River crossing at Fort Mojave with the trails that coursed over the Cajon Pass. The road was first mapped during the expedition of Father Garces in 1776 as he followed a Native American trade route across the desert.

My intent is to follow the entire course at some point in the future. However, as we had but one day, and as the more than 150 mile drive across the desert can be an extreme four wheel drive adventure west of Goffs, it seemed best to save this adventure for a time when we could include camping under the desert sky.
For the return trip, we set a course for north across the desert, then through the historic old town of Nipton, and across the Colorado River at Laughlin. What a grand adventure!
Now its time to get back to the grind. However, with thoughts of the Kelso station Beanery and a 4×4 adventure along the Mojave Road in my head, I am quite sure the work day will be much more endurable.

 

STARTING THE NEW YEAR WITH A ROAD TRIP TO AMBOY

For at least a dozen years or so my dearest friend and I have kicked off the new year with a day trip into the desert where we can meditate on the year and years that have passed, the year ahead, savor some of God’s finest handiwork, and simply enjoy each others company over a picnic lunch. More often than not, time and budget constraints have resulted in short excursions out to Red Lake, a beautiful dry lake north of Kingman, long walks along the extensive trail system in the Cerbat foothills, or a trek to one of the ghost towns in the nearby mountains.

For two years we discussed something a little more grandiose and adventuresome, climbing Amboy Crater near Amboy, California along Route 66. As a cold that seemed impossible to beat hung on through the last week of December, it looked as though we were going to have to postpone that quest once again.
Surprisingly, we awoke Monday feeling like a couple of kids who had won a trip to Disneyland. So, while my dearest friend gathered the gear, I topped off the tank on the Jeep, and stopped at Safeway for a few last minute items.
By 8:00, we were off on a 276 mile adventure that included Route 66, and some truly spectacular desert landscapes filled with empty. Exactly what we needed to end one year, and launch another.
As we saddled up there was just enough of a chill to require a sweater. By the time we made Needles, we had shed the sweater, and by the time the dusty Jeep pulled into the parking lot at the crater, I had rolled up my sleeves and was contemplating the abandonment of the long john shirt.
I won’t provide the tragic details but long ago a valuable lesson was learned the hard way. If you are planning a one day adventure into the desert, even on a paved road, plan for two. If you don’t need the water, or extra food, you just might find someone who does.

So, for this little jaunt I had a case of water in the Jeep, and in the pack, ten bottles as well as a can of kippers, a thermos filled with two cups of lintel soup, crackers, nuts, and some dried fruit.
The hike to the crater is a relatively easy one, with the exception of the last couple of hundred yards into the crater, and then the final climb to the rim that looms 250 feet above the vast lava and cinder field that surrounds it. The distance is just over one mile to the crater, roughly one mile around the rim, and a return on the same trail for a total of about 3.5 miles.
The well marked trail courses through fine sand, volcanic cinder, and slabs of rippled lava as it gently climbs toward the cone that dominates the horizon. Along the way are a few pleasant shaded benches.
Still, this is not a hike to made in the months of summer. I am quite sure the temperature exceeded eighty degrees during our adventure, about thirty or forty degrees cooler than what can be expected during the months of summer.
This is desert pure and simple. At the nearby town of Bagdad, the railroad documented an “unofficial” record of 747 days without measurable precipitation in the years bracketing 1912.
Even on a short hike such as this, be prepared. The desert can be very unforgiving of mistakes or stupidity.

Now, with that said, I would rate this as a “must stop” on a Route 66 tour, even if you just pull into the paved parking lot and view the crater from the shaded observation deck or to savor the solitude while sipping a cold drink at one of the shaded tables. In fact, if I were to compose a list of great places for stretching the legs along Route 66, this little jaunt would rate up there with the Chain of Rocks Bridge and Memory Lane near Lexington, Illinois.
As we were in no hurry, and as we love to bask in the desert solitude, we spent a leisurely hour hiking into the crater, and another twenty minutes or so climbing to the rim. For our efforts we were rewarded with million dollar views of vast desert plains and snow covered peaks on the horizon to serve as a backdrop for our lunch. 

The return trek was rather anticlimactic, with the exception of the steep descent from the bowl to the valley floor down a slope composed largely of loose cinders. It wasn’t a death defying stunt but it did provide an opportunity for a definite quickening of the pulse. 
To celebrate the conquering of Amboy Crater, we stopped in Amboy for a bottle of  ice cold Coca Cola. I was a bit saddened by the apparent lack of progress in adding some polish to this tarnished gem but this was tempered just a bit with the time capsule feel of that ice cold bottle in my hand, and using the bottle opener on a chain at the counter.
A Route 66 road trip. An invigorating hike. Awe inspiring landscapes. And sharing all of this with a very dear friend. Now this is the way to jump start a new year!

ACROSS THE BURNING SANDS

Crozier Canyon
In this installment of our Route 66 tour tips, we turn our attention toward the leg from Seligman in Arizona to Barstow in California. On Monday we complete the trip by following it to the end of the trail at Santa Monica Pier, the traditional, not historic, western terminus of that legendary highway. 
The segment of Route 66 from Seligman to Topock remains as the longest uninterrupted section of Route 66. It is also, arguably, the most scenic, especially west of Kingman with its twists and turns through the Black Mountains. 
But, from Kingman west there are actually two distinctly different manifestations of Route 66, and a short detour along a dead end section that is the original alignment of that highway as well as the path of the National Old Trails Highway.

The attractions and sites to see on the road between Seligman and Kingman are many. If you enjoy the photographic possibilities of empty places keep a sharp open for the Hyde Park turn off and the ruins of a resort complex once promoted with signs that read, Park You Hide Tonight at Hyde Park.”
These ruins are found west of Seligman just before topping the grade above the turn to Grand Canyon Caverns, a roadside attraction of time capsule proportions. This attraction perfectly captures the very essence of attractions found along Route 66 during the era of the Edsel and the tail fin.
Don’t rush the descent into Peach Springs. In fact take the first opportunity to pull over and gaze toward the north. Those deep purple canyons on the horizon are a part of the Grand Canyon system.
If you are a bit adventuresome, and have a vehicle with a some ground clearance and the roads are dry, you can obtain a permit, and directions, from the lodge in Peach Springs for a one of a kind adventure. This would be to drive the only road, Diamond Creek Road, that leads to the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Peach Springs has a long and colorful history that predates Route 66 by more than a century. Tangible links to that history are slim but there is the tribal offices on the north side of the road housed in a pre 1926 trading post and, directly across the street from the market, Osterman’s service station that dates to 1927.
Truxton is a surprisingly recent manifestation along the highway and the Frontier cafe is a great opportunity for a lunch break. The towns origins date to the establishment of a garage and land speculation at the site during the very early 1950s.
Slow the pace as you drop through the canyon west of Truxton. Crozier Canyon, and the ranch of the same name on the south side of the road towards the bottom are quite historic and have an association with the highway that spans more than seventy years.
The Beale Wagon Road traversed this canyon as did the National Old Trails Highway. The ranch is one of the oldest in northern Arizona dating to the 1870s.
For a time there was a resort here that included cabins, a service station and cafe complex that served as a bus station, and the spring fed pool. Andy Devine worked the bath house here as a kid.
A flood in the late 1930s decimated the resort section of the property and only part of the stone station and the cabins remain. The flood necessitated the realignment of Route 66 to its current path.
Valentine is a place you will zip through and never notice. There are actually two distinctly different portions of Valentine, nestled among the rocks are the offices of the Truxton Canyon Agency of the BIA, and the towering brick edifice that is the last remnant of the Hualapai Indian School complex that dates tot eh early twentieth century.
The second portion is marked by a bar, currently closed, an empty station signed as a post office, the post master was killed and the facility never reopened, and an old, overgrown motel. There are some great photo opportunities.
The Hackberry General Store is now an icon of the highway and is considered a must stop attraction. However, lost in the shadows of that fame is the old town of Hackberry, dating to  the 1870s, south of the tracks.
Next up is Antares Point with its towering “A” frame building and giant Easter Island styled head. Some years ago I worked ranches in the area and loved to stop here for excellent chili served in a room with million dollar views.
Between here and the Kingman Airport complex, the Kingman Army Airfield during World War II, there is little to see in the way of Route 66 attractions. However, the astute observer will find a vintage Stuckey’s, now a residence.
I time allows take a bit of time to explore the Kingman Airport and industrial park. You will find numerous remnants from the war, including one of the last control towers from that era that casts its shadow over an interesting memorial, a distillery that offers tours, a museum under construction but open on weekends, and Import Corner, an interesting store that is somewhere between an authentic Turkish market and Pier One Imports.

Kingman, Arizona

The drive through Kingman seems to have be chronologically choreographed. It begins with the modern generic age nestled around every interstate highway interchange in America, is followed by time capsules from the 1950s and 1960s, gives way to a wide array of motels and other roadside business structures from the 1920 to 1950 period, then an historic district predating statehood, and finally, the modern era of resurgent interest in Route 66.
Even if your time is short there are a couple of attractions that should not be overlooked. These include the Locomotive Park, the Power House Visitor Center and Route 66 Museum, and the Mohave Museum of History and Arts.
For those really in search of the Route 66 experience there is a neat little detour of several miles that dead end at the far end of Kingman Canyon. Cross the tracks at Fourth Street in front of the depot, follow this for several blocks and follow the right hand curve across a narrow bridge. Follow this to its end.
This is the original alignment of Route 66 that was bypassed in the late 1930s. It was also the path of the National Old Trails Highway.
Back on the main track of Route 66, curving to the left past the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, you will have two options at the junction with I-40. Follow the modern highway, which is the path of the post 1952 alignment of Route 66 through Yucca, or the pre 1952 alignment of the highway, and the National Old Trails Highway over the Black Mountains, past Cool Springs and Eds Camp, over the summit of Sitgreaves Pass, and through the old mining towns of Oatman and Goldroad.

Sitgreaves Pass on the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66

Here you will find the steepest grades and sharpest curves to be found anywhere on Route 66 today. The rewards in making this drive are many including stunning scenery, Cool Springs, and the fun of a “ghost town” where burros roam free in the streets.
As the road drops to the Colorado River, often the hottest place in the nation during the summer, it passes more than a few excellent spots to stop and wet the toes. Next is Topock, rejoining the interstate highway, and then crossing the Colorado River into California in sight of the 1916 bridge that was featured in the movie Grapes of Wrath.
Needles is well worth exploring. Here you will find a wide array of interesting places with a long association with Route 66.
Just west of Needles turn north on US 95 and drive to the intersection with Goffs Roda, now turn west. This is the pre 1931 alignment of Route 66. The destination is Goffs with its fascinating Schoolhouse Museum.

Route 66 in the Mojave Desert

Then the highway loops past Fenner and again crosses I-40, passes through the forlorn remnants of Essex, Cadiz Summit, and Chambless before coming to world famous Amboy. Dusty remnants that make for wonderful photo opportunities, an opportunity to hike to the top of a volcano, and a multitude of plans for resurrecting this diamond in the rough, are all that remain here.
On my last drive west this past fall, I found the road between Amboy and Ludlow, past the site of Bagdad to be getting a bit rough. From Ludlow to Newberry Springs even rougher. Still, it is worth the effort to make this hhistoric and scenic drive.

Amboy, California

Ludlow has a cafe, station, and motel. It also has a wide array of ruins, some of which predate Route 66 by a half century. Long before that highway became Main Street this was a booming railroad town with a business district of substantial two story concrete structures.
Newberry Springs is littered with remnants from the glory days of Route 66 but few that hint of its importance almost a century before. To see vestiges from that era you will need to cruise Daggett.

Stone Hotel, Dagget, California.

Daggett is almost the flip side of Newberry Springs. The remnants from the glory days of Route 66 are few but those from the era preceding the automobile are many. Of particular note are the Desert Market in continuous operation since 1908, the Stone Hotel dating to the 1970s, and Alf’s Garage that dates to at least 1890.
Books are an important tool for the planning of your trip and adding depth of understanding to the adventure. Of course the Jerry McClanahan EZ 66 noted yesterday is an absolute must but at the end of this post are three more suggestions.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of our adventure on legendary 66 this Monday. Tomorrow we will post part three of the Kingman Army Airfield story.
Travel book suggestionshttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076033885X&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0738579424&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760334927&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr:

AND THEN WE TURNED LEFT

Unless tethered to a schedule or appointment, I seldom give thought to getting lost, following a road just to see where it leads, or making a wrong turn. On more than one occasion it was a wrong turn that led to some of our most amazing discoveries.
During the research for Ghost Towns of the Southwest, we took Barney, our tried and true 1968 Adventurer, and sought the fast vanishing remnants of Stockton Hill. The town dates to establishment of mines in the area during the 1860s but it proved to be a short lived venture.
However, as was the case with most mining camps on the western frontier, Stockton Hill died several times. Usually, after the first abandonment most buildings were dismantled for use elsewhere. Then with new discoveries or improved methods of extraction or mining the town was reborn.

Barney on the road in the Cerbat Mountains

As a result it can often be a challenge to find the exact site or even traces of the earliest incarnation. Stockton Hill is one of these places.
On this particular adventure I chose a road we were unfamiliar with in an effort to get above the town site for a birds eye view. As it turns out we never found the original town site but we did meet a fascinating fellow who had built his home high on the ridges above.
A geologist by training, recluse by choice, he was an endless source of information about the surrounding canyons, the wildlife and the history. A detour led to a grand adventure and new acquaintance.
The main roads, the roads of least resistance are where the modern world flows in myopic focus of the destination. However, the back roads are only traveled by those who seek their charms, their history, and their hidden wonders. It is on these roads you find grand adventure, memories that stand the test of time, and people as fascinating as the roads themselves.

The new face of Route 66

You just don’t find people like Melba at 4 Women on the Route along the sterile interstate highway. You don’t find places of stunning serenity draped with history such as the painted Desert Trading Post anywhere along the roads where the traffic never stops.
I often travel the interstate. I am grateful for the speed and safety made possible by it but lament the price paid for the convenience.
I am not alone in my fascination for the road less traveled. Nor am I the only one that laments the transition to a generic world.
In the most recent issue of Hemmings Classic Carhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B00006KGT1&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr, published by the fine folks at Hemmings Motor News, Jim Richardson used his editorial to reflect on the changes found in a 40th anniversary cruise along the west coast in his 1955 Chevy.  “A lot has changed since we made this trip the first time. Gone are the two pump gas stations out in the country where someone pumped your gas, wiped your windshield and checked your water and oil.”
He also notes, “Sadly, the mom and pop cafes where you could get a good home cooked meal have disappeared, too.”

The Midpoint cafe in Adrian, Texas
It would seem Mr. Richardson is unaware that a resurgent interest in Route 66 is transforming that legendary ribbon of asphalt into a 2,300 mile time capsule where the mom and pop cafe still thrive. Cast adrift from the modern era, Route 66 was left to wither on the vine but instead has flourished as a paradise for those seeking a haven from the generic, the sterile, and the bland.

It is not just travelers that are rediscovering the adventure of the great American road trip. A new breed of entrepreneurs are discovering the pleasures and profits of resurrecting a time capsule to meet the needs of a new breed of traveler. 
There is Bill at the Blue Swallow in Tucumcari and Laurel at Afton Station, the Patel’s with the Wigwam and Dan Rice on Santa Monica Pier, Albert Okura and Amboy. All along the old road tarnished gems are being polished and neon darkened for decades again lights the night.
If your thoughts are similar to Mr. Richardson’s may I suggest you consider rediscovering, or discovering, the non generic world of Route 66 in 2011. And if your thinking it might be time to reinvent yourself, are looking for a slower pace in life, or are wanting something a bit more fulfilling in life may I suggest you consider finding a dusty gem that needs a bit of polish. 

AND THE FUN CONTINUES

I have a riddle for you. What do you call a weekend that includes an emergency and an elderly parent, an eight hundred mile drive, visits with the author Russell Olsen, the charismatic and inspirational Dan Rice on Santa Monica Pier, and Jay Leno, two book signings, the discovery of a delightful secret hideaway in the mountains near the L.A. basin, ghost towns in the Mojave Desert, and an emergency at the office that results in the cancellation of a scheduled day off that in turn results in the cancellation of appointments and the possible delay of meeting a deadline? Well, I don’t know what you call it but in my world its simply situation normal.

Santa Monica Pier, our west coast destination.

As is often the case the trip to California started simple enough; setting a date, moving the date to coordinate schedules, and then the making of arrangements. These issues were mostly resolved by the first of last week leaving only eager anticipation of an adventure to the land of sun, fun, and epic scale traffic congestion with a good friend, Chris Durkin, and my son.
The first bump in the road came on Monday evening. My mother’s accident the previous Friday resulted in complications that required moving her from the hospital into a therapy center which interprets into miles of paper work and a conflicting array of arrangements. All of this was complicated by the stubbornness that has enabled mother to make it to 84 years of age.
A full work schedule necessitated all these details be handled in the evening or during lunch. An additional restriction on time available were the plans my dearest friend and I had made for the celebration of our 27Th anniversary.
Friday evening was a very welcome respite to the very long and harried week. My dearest friend had prepared a wonderful dinner and for desert we sat on the porch under a desert sky and reflected on an amazing 27 years. Then for the final act of the day the Jeep was loaded for the impending journey.
On Saturday morning at 4:00 the three musketeers (Chris, my son, and I) set out on the long anticipated adventure by heading west on I40. Drowsy induced laughter set the stage for the morning as we rolled toward the raw looking Bristol Mountains tinged with the first rays of the morning sun. 
We refueled the Jeep and fortified ourselves with caffeine in Barstow and joined the herd headed south into the L.A. basin. Even though traffic was deemed “light” by the standards of those who drive through this mad house on a daily basis by the time the crest of the Cajon Pass was fading from view in the rear view mirror the pleasure of driving was replaced with grim determination and steely focus induced by the combat that is driving the freeways of southern California.

When was the last time you saw one of these
at your local book store?

Still, miraculously we arrived at Auto Books – Aero Books in Burbank unscathed and in stepping from the Jeep, and prying my fingers from the steering wheel, the tension was quickly replaced by eager anticipation. A visit to this store, recently relocated six blocks to the east of the original store, on Saturday morning is a mind numbing sensory overload for the automotive enthusiast.
A dizzying array of books and magazines, new and old, fresh pastries, great coffee, and an endless stream of vintage automobiles whose owners cruise in to visit with friends over treats, talk cars, or shop for books, can easily consume a full day. This Saturday was no exception.

A French twist to the Saturday morning in Burbank.

To have your vehicle stand out when the cars that stop and go throughout the morning include representatives from manufacturers such as Jaguar, Packard, Auburn, and Lamborghini is nothing short of amazing. This Saturday there were three notables; a 1962 Maserati, a 1930s Citroen, and a very, very rare Doble “steamer”. 
The catalyst for our visit to this little corner of automotive heaven was to meet with Russell Olsen, author of Route 66 Lost and Found, and discuss use of his images for the current project, a Route 66 encyclopedia, to purchase some books for research, and to sign a few books. I was also hoping that my short notice of the pending trip did not prevent Jay Leno from stopping by so we could further discuss an interview for his http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760334927&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrwebsite.
All went according to plan and by noon we were back into combat mode on the freeway heading fro the next stop, a visit with Dan Rice on Santa Monica Pier. We followed the 405 south to Santa Monica Boulevard and then rolled west through ever thickening crowds under increasingly dark clouds. With the added trauma of finding a parking place behind us we walked through the solemn 9-11 display on the beach, and wove our way through the swarming crowds on the pier with its endless array of side shows featuring colorful and talented jugglers, dancers, musicians, and mimes.
The weather was in stark contrast to that of Burbank where it had been sunny and about eighty degrees. On the pier it was cloudy, breezy and the temperatures hovered in the 50s, a dramatic transition that had me silently thanking the good Lord for my wife’s preparations that included packing a sweater.

The amazing Doble, the car of the future
manufactured in the 1920s.

Unduanted, we found a great place for lunch, Rusty’s, with its sidewalk heaters and Plexiglas wind break, and savored a better than average meal with a price to match enhanced by camaraderie and the colorful parade that ebbed and flowed past our perch. Then the parade of humanity parade and a stream of vintage Ford muscle flowed past our table.
By the time the third Cobra rolled past our front row seat we had polished off the lunch and joined the herd headed for the spectacle of a stunning auto show on the pier.

A daily driven 1915 Ford.

In awe struck silence at the display of vintage horsepower we wandered amongst these thundering ponies and their stable mates. As at the book store in Burbank, having a vehicle stand out in a sea of vintage Mustangs, Panterras, Cobras, and Thunderbolts is no easy task but one lone owner, representing the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, succeeded quiet nicely with his well worn, often driven 1915 Ford Model T!
After the slight detour through this time capsule of Ford muscle we sought out Dan Rice by weaving our way through the arcade and rides.

Any questions?

The passion Dan has for Route 66 and life in general is quickly becoming legendary on the old double six. I learned on our visit it is infectious as well as inspirational.
He has written a book about the amazing adventure that took him from pursuing a career and degree in physchology to a Route 66 kiosk on legendary Santa Monica Pier. It is with eager anticipation I await its release.

Dan Rice and Chris Durkin on Santa Monica Pier.

The time flew as we ignited the imagination with discussions about the future of Route 66, ways we can ensure it survives for a new generation, and tales of driving the legendary highway. It was with reluctance, after an almost three hour visit, that we bade farewell and headed for the Will Rogers monument in Palisades Park overlooking the pier, the beach, the colorful beach houses, and the somber 9-11 display.

The view from the park at the western terminus
of Route 66 is quite a fitting reward for those who
drive it from Chicago to Santa Monica.

To avoid breaking the bank I had made reservations for the evening in Hesperia, a drive of about 100 miles. I could feel the weariness of the long day settling into my bones as we left the pier and eased our way into the worst traffic I had yet encountered.
From Santa Monica to Burbank the traffic moved with the speed of molasses on a cold winters morning. Then from Burbank to the crest of Cajon Pass it was eight lanes of brake and nerve testing in a veritable sea of automobiles that spanned eight and six lanes of asphalt and concrete.
But, we survived and the Jeep carried no new battle scars. With dinner, a cold beer, and a comfortable bed, the day ended almost as it had began – under a starry desert sky with drowsy induced laughter.
On Sunday we set out on a voyage of discovery to meet with Kris and Hank Hallmark in Wrightwood. The food and conversation were wonderful but it was the discovery of this treasure amongst the pines that consumed my attention. What a delightful little gem!

The Green Spot Motel was once a hideaway for
the rich and famous.

If I were to have but one regret it would be that my dearest friend wasn’t there to share it with. Rest assured, I will rectify that quite soon!
From Wrightwood we rolled into Victorville, sought the tarnished glory of the historic Green Spot Motel, a former hideaway for the rich and famous of Hollywood, picked up Route 66, crossed the Mojave River on the picturesque 1930 steel truss bridge east of town, and then slipped past the ghosts that line the highway as silent sentinels guarding the secrets of the pregeneric age in Oro Grande. The destination on this leg of our adventure was the railroad museum and Route 66 Mother Road Museum in the lovingly refurbished Casa del Desierto, a former Harvey House, in Barstow.

For more than eighty years this bridge east
of Victorville has met the needs of travelers
on Route 66.

As always our visit was a delightful one. Debra Holden, our host and the passionate caretaker of this jewel in the desert, exemplifies the passion of those entrusted with keeping the memory of legendary Route 66 alive.
The long shadows hinted that the day was rapidly getting away from us and there were still miles of road ahead as well as sites to photograph. So, we bid adios to Debra, her husband, and the staff at the museum, drove into Barstow, and stocked up on the necessary supplies for a dinner somewhere in the desert along legendary 66.
This last stage of the adventure had a two fold purpose, in addition to simply savoring the last hours of a great weekend, playing tour guide for Chris’s first journey along this storied highway in California, and photographs for a forthcoming series of prints to accompany the release of Ghost Towns of Route 66 next spring.
With that as a simple goal we jumped from the present into the past at Daggett, stopped at the market that has met the needs of the community for the past century, and found us a quiet, shady place on the steps of the historic Daggett Garage for dinner. I should note that at this time a detour resultant of construction necessitates a drive through Daggett but this provides Route 66 travelers a peek into an often overlooked secret.

The Stone Hotel in Daggett has cast its truncated
shadow on Route 66 and the National Old Trails
Highway.

I love driving this section of the old road with its ghosts set against backdrops of sun burnt and time twisted stone. Perhaps the only thing I enjoy more than driving this ribbon of broken asphalt is introducing the uninitiated to its charms. That just might be why I derive such pleasure from writing.
From Daggett to Amboy there are long stretches where the asphalt has been pummelled into gravel and grooved into a long series of ruts. Even with the Jeep it seemed best to cut the speed, ride the shoulder and dodge the various flotsam that has accumulated on the shoulder of a highway in use for almost a century

This sign has cast its shadow on the desert
sands in Amboy for more than a
half century.

  We cruised past the gawking tourists that swarmed on the Bagdad Cafe in Newberry Springs like ants on spilt honey and stopped to photograph the old Whiting Brothers station with is fast fading sign. There was a time when stations of this chain were a common site throughout the southwest but now only one remains in operation in Moriarty, New Mexico.
In Ludlow we sought Main Street lined with cracked sidewalks that frame weed and broken glass strewn vacant lots shadowed by the towering ruins of the Murphy Brothers store. Even the most vivid imagination would be put to the test to see a thriving community in this desolate landscape.
As the sun was sinking into the west, I skipped the site of Bagdad and its cemetery, and instead introduced Chris to the metropolis of Amboy. I regaled him with tales of the Bender Garage, the establishment of Roys, and the frustration induced destruction of a man named Burris that accomplished what a half century of blistering sun couldn’t do.
From Amboy we continued east past the silent edifices in Chambless and Danby as the shadows lengthened, crested Cadiz Summit with its ruins colorfully desecrated by modern hordes of Vandals, and stopped to savor a stunning sunset near Essex, the last community in America to obtain the modern blessing of television in 1977. As the rocky ramparts of the Cady Mountains severed the last rays of the days sun, I pointed out the forgotten well that was once so important to motorist on the National Old Trails Highwway, and then set our sites on home.
Silence and deep thoughts tinged with the faintest hint of exhaustion dogged the last miles across the Sacramento Valley and the foothills of the Cerbat Mountains. As the odometer slowly ticked off the miles an eagerness to again see my dearest friend drove away the regret that a wonderful weekend was drawing to a close.
This morning reality in the form of a phone call from the office informing me that as a result of an emergency, my day off was now void intruded on the warm dreaminess that accompanies a successful adventure. And before leaving the house the second shoe fell, another call informing me that if mother was not happy with her new surroundings then nobody else should be happy with theirs.
It looks as though it will be a week of grand adventure even though it my not be the type that I would choose if the option presented itself. Still, the carrot at the end of the stick is Chillin on Beale Street with its cars, music, and the presentation of a prerelease copy of Greetings from Route 66 signed by Russell Olsen and yours truly.
Isn’t life a grand adventure?
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