Route 66 I Love You – Day 30

Day 30 – April 30, 2003 – Wednesday

Route 66 I Love You

We had a great time on Route 66 today!

 

When we left the Best Western Motel in Needles bright and early, it was blue sky and 66 degrees.  Gas was $2.50 – that’s a lot more than we pay in Atlanta, but a little less than in Quemado.

 

We took a few photos in Needles before we hit the highway.

 

The Mojave Desert is not as we had it pictured.  Rather than sand like the Sahara, the terrain isn’t that much different than the outskirts of Lubbock, Texas where we attended college.

 

While the border towns with Mexico have many Border Patrol stations, California has more fruit and vegetable stations.

 

We passed over the Colorado River into the state of Arizona.  Our attention was immediately drawn to mountains with jagged tops.  It was these peaks that gave Needles its name.

 

Our first stop was Lake Havasu City, Arizona.  We planned this detour off Route 66 so we could see London Bridge.  It’s hard to believe, but it’s there!  Developer, Robert P. McCulloch, paid $2.4 million to buy the bridge, and it then cost $4.5 million to move it and install it at Lake Havasu City.  The grand opening was October 10, 1971.  It is a wild and crazy idea that worked; Lake Havasu City has become a tourist destination as a result.

 

The lake is a pretty blue man-made lake, and the bridge is at the far end of town.  The bridge is very impressive, but it was surprising and disappointing to see many cheap-looking gift shops and the like right there at the bridge.

 

We spent a little time in the Lake Havasu Visitor Center with Kathie and Oran.  Oran said an article was in today’s paper indicating that Arizona is seeking money to fully restore Route 66 throughout the state.  Best of luck, Arizona!  Route 66 is such an important part of US history that we would sure like to see the federal government devote the money to restoring it from California to Illinois.

 

The drive off Route 66 (and the Interstate) down to Lake Havasu City and back is a pretty one with nice mountains along the way.

 

As we entered Yucca, Arizona (Exit 25 near the Alamo Road exit off I-40), we saw one of the more unusual sights that we’ve come across.  It was a giant ball mounted atop big poles; it appears to be someone’s home.  There are a series of smaller balls with smiley faces that border the property, a space ship, a carousel horse, and more.

 

I wanted to swing by the Ford Motor Company Arizona Proving Ground in Yucca.  I was hoping they might let us take a spin around their track.  When we pulled up out front, there were big locked gates, a red light, and signs advising that photography is not permitted.  So, we snapped a photo of the sign and rolled on.

 

As we left the Interstate to get back on Route 66 headed for Oatman, we saw one acre lots advertised for $3,995.  Something made us guess you can probably buy them for even less.  The area reminded Boz of the “Vacation” movie where Chevy Chase and his family go out to visit Randy Quaid’s family way out in the desert.  This is a remote area with a lot of places called “Wash,” which we believe is an area where water flows after the rare flood.  The Route 66 road was very nice – not the horrible road we were driving for the last 75 miles in California.

The drive from Yucca to Oatman was very interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Boz’s knuckles were white, and her palms were really sweaty; she didn’t enjoy riding on the cliff side of a treacherous road with no guard rails.  The terrain was very interesting – very diverse.  The road has been described as the most difficult and dangerous part of Route 66, and it was the most exciting drive I’ve ever had.  There is absolutely no way that our photos will provide even the slightest feel for what we saw and felt as there just wasn’t any way to photograph it.

Oatman promotes that it has wild burros that wander through town, so we appreciated the burro crossing sign we saw along the way.  It was sobering to see several wrecked cars on the sides of cliffs as well as a sign that warned bikers about the treacherous turns.

 

When we pulled over to take a few shots, John Winkle appeared out of nowhere.  He was out picking up trash on the road.  John is originally from Washington state, and he sells T-shirts in Oatman.  In my mind’s eye, I saw Oatman as an old, dusty mining town with no commercialization whatsoever, so this T-shirt business was surprising to me.  John said: “Oatman is an original old town — a town that everybody wants to rule, but no one can.”  Oatman has a woman who has self-appointed herself as mayor.  Same thing goes for someone who says he’s the sheriff.

 

We were a little disappointed when we reached Oatman and found it to be nothing more than a tourist attraction.  The old buildings are there, but every one of them is a tourist-oriented business of some type.  There were wild burros outside of town, but the burros in town all had names, and we saw pens where they live.  It was kind of like seeing the real police station in Carrabelle, Florida where they claim to have the world’s smallest police station – a phone booth out by the highway.  Oatman was essentially a smaller Tombstone in that the buildings were for the most part authentic old buildings, but every square inch was tourist-oriented.  The drive to and from Oatman and the fabulous scenery made Oatman a most enjoyable outing, however.

Olive Oatman Restaurant & Saloon (www.oatmangold.com/olive) was our choice for lunch.  We both tried something new and enjoyed Navajo Tacos.  Tom Woodard was the live entertainment in this small cafe.  Tom’s poster out front said “I am the Band.”  Tom had a guitar and a microphone with what looked like a DJ console.  When he sang his first song, we heard an orchestra!  It seems Tom was using karaoke CD’s as his accompaniment.  We believe he was doing the singing.  He tuned his guitar between songs, but we couldn’t really tell if he was actually playing.  The music was enjoyable; we just couldn’t quite figure out where it was all coming from.  No one was clapping, so we made sure to make a deposit in the tip jar and compliment him as we left.

 

Other than mining, Oatman’s claim to fame is that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard came there on their honeymoon.  We couldn’t see the room, but we took a photo of the stairs leading to the room in the Oatman Hotel.

 

It was 80 degrees in Oatman, but the temperature dropped as we continued to drive east.

We hit the 8,000 mile mark just outside Kingman, Arizona at 2:30 pm.  8,000 miles in 30 days.  We are still amazed that we have seen no rain – just a little drizzle (perhaps 10 minutes in total) on two different occasions in sunny Florida.

 

We stopped at Mr. D’z Diner in Kingman.  The milk shake wasn’t very good, but we met five folks from Germany – Bianca, Uvert, Brigitta, Braun, and Petra.  Bianca and Uvert invited us to their wedding in Las Vegas on Friday.  We would have really enjoyed a detour to attend a Vegas wedding, but we had just made the decision to extend this portion of the trip by two days, so we couldn’t add yet another.  We wished them the best.

 

The Powerhouse Visitor’s Center in Kingman was supposed to have a good Route 66 Museum, but all we saw were two small display cases with a few promotional items and a big gift shop.  Several towns down the road, we were advised that we didn’t see the museum.  Boz and I didn’t see any signs, and the men working in there never even spoke to us.  It might have been the beads.  We did enjoy a chance encounter with Jeff Mayer in the parking lot.  Jeff is one of the original Route 66 Roadologists and a founder of the Illinois Route 66 Association.  He and many others were converging on the area for an annual Route 66 Fun Run to Oatman.

 

Kingman is the hometown of the late character actor, Andy Devine.  We really enjoyed his roles when we were children.  There is an Andy Devine Museum, and Route 66 is named after him through Kingman.

 

It was great to see so many old motels still old and still in business in Kingman.  The Route 66 road is extremely nice so far in Arizona – a real relief after the terrible road in the Mojave Desert in California.

 

We did a real double-take as we reached the town of Hackberry and saw a gas station and general store that looked like it had been frozen since the 50’s.  The “Old Route 66 Visitor Center & General Store” provides a fantastic visual experience – best Route 66 displays so far without question.  We met owner John Pritchard; he bought it six years ago.  We bought a Route 66 CD, and it is a welcome addition to the drive.

 

We passed through Valentine, Arizona — an Indian town.

 

Pie was on the agenda for Truxton.  We scheduled a stop at the Frontier Motel and Restaurant, but it was locked up tight with a For Sale sign out front.  Call 520-718-1920 if you’d like to buy the place.

 

Arizona has a lot of Indian reservations, and we passed through the Hualapai Indian Reservation.  In Peach Springs, we stopped to take photos of a great old service station building.

Just outside of Peach Springs is the entrance to Grand Canyon Caverns.  As I noted from Carlsbad Caverns, both Boz and I are claustrophobic, so caverns we do not tour.

 

Seligman was next, and we really liked it there.  Seligman has a very active Route 66 Historical Association, and I was fortunate to meet and interview the man responsible, Angel Delgadillo.  Angel is really well known throughout the Route 66 community.  While at Angel’s gift shop, I also met his wife Vilma and two visitors, Lorrie Fleming and Bob Walker from Canada.  Lorrie is the founder of the Canadian Route 66 Association.

 

Angel was born on Route 66 – 76 years ago.  His father had a pool hall / barber shop.  Angel still has the barber chair his father bought for $140 shortly before Angel was born on April 10, 1926.  His father went broke when the route of Route 66 was moved.  Angel went to barber college and began cutting hair on May 22, 1950.  He moved into his current location on Route 66 in 1972.  I wish we had reached Seligman earlier in the day, as I would have loved to get a Route 66 haircut from Angel.

 

Angel’s brother runs the Snow Cap Drive-In – a wacky drive-in restaurant with all kinds of Route 66 décor and other wild and crazy stuff.

 

On September 22, 1978, Interstate 40 came near Seligman, and most of the Route 66 traffic moved to the Interstate.  Angel’s father had gone bust because of a highway change, and Angel was determined that he would not let it happen to him.  So, he called a group of people together to form the Arizona Route 66 Association.  As a result, Route 66 is alive in Arizona, and many businesses continue to prosper in spite of the Interstate.

 

The Candlewood Hotel in Anaheim let us down a few days ago when we drove out of our way to stay there to do the wash and then was out of detergent.  So, we either found a Laundromat tonight, or we’d be wearing dirty clothes tomorrow.  When we spotted one in Seligman, we shifted into wash and dry mode.  We met Nancy at the Laundromat behind the Seligman Grocery.  We also met Zachary and his dog Hilo; they live right next to the Laundromat.

When we saw a sign that indicated the altitude was 5,700 feet, we were surprised.  We didn’t realize this part of Arizona is so high, but I guess that’s why they call it the “High Desert.”   When we reached Williams at 8 pm and noted the temperature was a chilly 46 degrees, we could feel the altitude at work.  Amber got us all checked into the Fairfield Inn.  We decided we wanted to have a full day for the Grand Canyon, so we extended our stay by a night.  We’re splitting another long day next week, so that will be a total of four days added to the schedule so far.

 

The lesson for the day is the impact a committed person can have.  Robert McCulloch was committed to put Lake Havasu City on the map, and he succeeded big-time by buying and moving the London Bridge.  And Angel Delgadillo kept Seligman and a number of other towns in Arizona from falling off the map with his commitment to survive and help other businesses survive when the Interstate came and took the cars away.  We can all make a difference if we make a commitment to something and then work hard to make it happen.

 

 

35888 a little before 9:00. We stopped for gas about 8:45 and we’re now leaving Needles. It’s 66 degrees. We took a picture of the Needles, CA wagon. There’s a layer of white clouds in the sky. We took a picture of the 66 Motel.

Gas in Needles was $2.50 a gallon so that’s close to what it was in Quemado. Needles is one of the only stops for a lot miles along the highway. Certainly, the last stop for about 50 or 60 miles headed west.

I guess this area is the Mohave Desert. I always the pictured the Mohave Desert like the desert you see in movies in other countries where it’s just sand. But the desert here just looks like the landscape in Lubbock, TX where I went to high school and college and where Bozzie Jane went to college. It’s just ugly dirt, a little rock on top, and a little scrubby bushes every few feet.

While the border of the country of Mexico has border patrol everywhere, California has fruit and vegetable inspection stations where they try to keep stuff from messing up their fruits and vegetables.

We just passed over the Colorado River and into Arizona.

35903 9:25 as we enter Arizona.

I’m seeing some very interesting mountains off to our right which would be the south. There are real jagged tops with dark color.

The sharp rocked spires of the mountain off to the south are the needles that the town was named after.

We’re taking exit 9 off of 40 going south on 95 to Lake Ava Sioux City and the London Bridge. 35912 9:36am

There are a lot of very interesting rock formations on the drive from Tuppock to Lake Ava Sioux City.

City limits of Lake Ava Sioux City, AZ 35923 9:48

They’ve conveniently located the bridge to where you have to drive all the way through Lake Ava Sioux City in order to get there. The water is a pretty blue and it’s a man made lake.

We met Kathie and Oron at the visitor’s center at Lake Ava Sioux City and the London Bridge. 10:32am 35932 It’s a very impressive deal. It’s the real stuff. A lot of tacky little shops near it. The temperature is up to 91 according to the car. The temp is down to 76, I guess the car just heats up in the sun.

We took a picture of some of the Rocky Mountain areas outside of Lake Ava Sioux including the one we call Neanderthal Foot Mt.

Another train

Oron said there was a story in today’s city newspaper that Arizona is seeking funding to restore all of Route 66 in the state.

35964 11:07am I see a sign that says 200 miles to Grand Canyon National Park. It would be much more helpful if we had mileages from one place to another. We found in many cases that the mileages we’ve gotten off maps just isn’t that accurate. When we publish our information, we will have what the mileages were for us.

35967 11:11 and on the horizon was a giant ball. It’s kind of golf ball dimpled all on the outside, then there’s a series of balls with smiley faces on them. Along the road, there’s a spaceship up at one end, a carport with some old cars and it looks like somebody lives in the ball. It’s really bizarre. It’s at the Alamo Road exit—exit 25. There’s a rocking carousel horse on a pole out in the field. It’s got tables and chairs on a little walkway kind of as a patio.

Yucka 35969 11:13 we see a sign for Ford Motor Company and Proving Ground Rd.

We’re at the Proving Ground and there’s a sign that says cameras are prohibited. There are big gates with a lock and a light. It says all visitors must register at security building 1 mile ahead but I don’t know how you would get in.

That unbelievably funky house would just be on the outskirts of Yucka.

The Ford Motor Proving Ground would be just right outside Yucka as well.

There are interesting attractive mountains along this area that are set well back from the road. It’s 35988 11:35am and we’re getting off of I 40 at exit 44 for Oatman which regains Route 66. Bozzie’s so excited, we’re going to have to take a break for her to control herself.

22 miles over to Oatman on Route 66

It’s pretty barren between the highway and Oatman but we saw some estate. There are houses out there. We started wondering what acreage costs and saw a sign saying for $3995 you can get an entire acre.

(Barbara) Driving up to Oatman, reminds me of Chevy Chase’s vacation where they go to Las Vegas and take a detour to see his cousin Randy Quaid—the family where they have money buried in the yard and have rattlesnakes to play with. This looks just like that.

We’ve gone across a number of washes today. We took a picture of a historic Route 66 sign outside of Oatman right near a trailer in the middle of the field.

We took a picture of the Cool Springs Building on the side of a cliff. The road has been really nice up to this point. It’s little bumpier here, but they’ve got it patched with tar. It’s 9 miles of steep grades and sharp turns and no guard rails.

It’s very unusual terrain here. It’s really interesting. There’s a lot of variety.

We’re 8 miles to Oatman. Bozzie doesn’t like it here, because it’s scary—the no guard rails part.

I took several pictures of an area called Ed’s Camp 8 miles out of Oatman.

I’d say we’re in the town of Ed’s Camp.

We pulled over for a picture and there are a couple of folks out. One guy is standing on a rock taking some pictures, and some ladies standing on the side of the road. Very unfriendly.

We took two great pictures at Sitgreaves Pass: elevation 3550.

We met John Winkle, he’s a local who moved here from Washington, just outside the Gold Road Mine. John says that Oatman is a special place; it’s an original old town. He said it’s a town that everybody wants to rule but nobody can. There’s a lady who self-appointed herself as mayor, somebody who self-appointed themselves as sheriff, but there is not sheriff and there is no mayor.

Oatman 36012 12:43pm It’s about 70 degrees.

Oatman is one big gigantic tourist attraction. I don’t know how all these tourist got here, but it’s swarming with them. It is completely and totally commercialized.

We’re having lunch at the Olive Oatman Restaurant and Saloon where you have a choice of Navajo Tacos, Burro Breath Burgers, and assorted other things that generally had normal sounding names.

The Story of Olive Oatman, who this place is named after, is at www.oatmangold.com/olive.

We’re listening to Tom Woodard. His poster says I am the band; Oatman, AZ. The music, including the guitar playing, all comes from recorded music. It’s not clear whether he actually sings or not.

Barbara noted he does tune his guitar between each song. Now with this song, it almost looks like he’s playing a little bit but we’re not sure.

The birds are cute and they really are just walking around. It doesn’t seem quite as objectionable as Tombstone but it is just as commercialized if not more.

Lunch was $15.87 plus $2.13 tip and $1 for the guitarist.

We both had Navajo Tacos which were really good. They consisted of Navajo fry bread which is a big old piece of bread covered with chili beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese. It was very tasty.

We’re taking pictures of red, white, and blue chairs in front of Wood Billy’s Heartful Gadgets and Doohickeys.

36012 1:46pm and 80 degrees as we leave downtown Oatman.

Bozzie got a show of some of wild burros as we headed out of town. We have to remember to take the picture of the burro crossing sign in about 8 miles. We don’t see one in this direction.

Oatman was very interesting. Boz said that in the old days, you wouldn’t come here unless you were coming. In the current days, you wouldn’t come here unless you were coming. This is Route 66, though, which goes right through it.

There is absolutely no way you could describe the drive on Route 66 to anybody and have them believe you. There’s no way the pictures will do it justice because you can’t capture these hairpin turns and sharp cliffs and dropoffs along with the variety of the scenery.

Bozzie feels a little better going back because we’re on the inside of the mountain. It feels safer.

We are at the exit off of I 40 returning from Oatman at 2:32 pm 72 degrees and we’ve just hit exactly the 8000 mile mark since the odyssey began. We’re having fun; today’s a great day. And my wife is the most beautiful alive.

We’re in Kingman 36041 2:38; it’s a railroad center.

We met 5 people from Germany on the way to the wedding of two of them in Las Vegas.

We stopped at Mr. Dee’s for a milkshake, nothing special. At least it was clean.

We went to the Power House Visitor’s Center which supposedly has a Route 66 Museum which appeared to consist of two glass cases with a couple of promotional items in it. It would’ve been considered a bust, but as we left we met Jeff Meyer, the original Route 66 roadologist. He’s been doing it since 1984. We got his card, had a nice chat, and we’ll sure call on him to be a resource for the book after we finish.

Kingman is the hometown of Andy Divine. There’s supposedly an Andy Divine Museum here; we won’t be seeing it but he seemed like a really nice man.

Route 66, through this area, is called Andy Divine Avenue.

There’s a lot of old motels in Kingman still with the old signs and still in business.

I had a butter finger milkshake at Mr. Dee’s but it wasn’t any good.

Another train

Yet another train and more ice cream for Boz. We’re going to have to buy the Bluebell Factory.

On the east side of Kingman, Route 66 is a very nice 4 lane divided highway.

Another train.

Another train.

We’re in Viya Vista 36060 3:38pm

While the old Porsche’s been a few places the Porsche shouldn’t go, this trip wouldn’t nearly have been as much fun if it wasn’t in a convertible. That’s a quote from Bozzie Jane Gray Windsor.

We were at the Hackberry General Store with an amazing setup of antiques and Route 66 stuff. We met the owner who bought it 6 years ago.

We’ve got our Route 66 CD; we’d have probably enjoyed day 1 if we’d had this.

Valentine 36075 4:10pm 68 degrees

We took a picture of a bus shelter in Valentine.

Another train

Treckston 36086 4:22pm and the Frontier Motel’s coming up.

The Frontier Motel and Restaurant in Treckston is closed but it’s for sale.

We just entered the Hualapai 36087 4:26pm

Another train

Beach Springs 36094 4:32pm

We took a picture of a great looking service station in the middle of Peach Springs 36107 4:49pm 61 degrees. We’re at the entrance to Grand Canyon Caverns but due to the 400 foot elevator descent into the center of the earth we chose not to take our closterphobic bodies there. We’ve never seen a place where you could drive down into the canyon.

Another train

We’re in Seligman 36192 5:11pm

We took pictures of the Roadkill Café and the “historic Route 66” motel

Another train

 

Interview:

“So, you’re the town barber and you’ve cut hair since…?”

 

“…May 22, 1950 on Old Railroad Avenue. I opened up my Dazzle Barber Shop, he went broke during the depression, he was a sales cut barber. Back in them days you didn’t have to go to barber college. The chair that I’m using, he bought April 10, 1926 for $194. The invoice is right here. I will not tell you anything I cannot substantiate.”

 

“$194. That was a lot of money in 1926.”

 

“It was a lot of money. He went broke during the Depression, he closed the doors to his old pool hall barber shop building that he built in 1923. He went broke because the highway was moved from in front of his place to the present location in 1933. He locked it up, I graduated from the American Pacific Barber College in Pasadena, CA…, and I came back and opened his old business on May 22, 1950. I moved into this building in 1972. I saw the Grapes of Wrath, I saw the Dustbowl days. I was standing right here when we were bypassed by I 40, September 22, 1978. This town suffered about 70% of the economy. This town was dead for 10 years. At Chamber of Commerce meetings, I talked how I felt we could get the economy back but no one listened to me. To make a long story short, I finally called a meeting with my own nickel and called about 34 people to come to Saligman. 15 people showed up to the meeting at 1:00 at the Copper Cart February 18, 1987. About half a dozen of the 15 there we jailed and we formed the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. So Saligman is known for being the birthplace of the rebirth of the resurrection of Route 66. We know it goes from Chicago to California. The United States decertified it in 1985. They had a big celebration in Williams because it was the last town to get bypassed by I 40. I didn’t go to it because I was very angry and upset and hurting. But…Bobby Troop was there, the man who wrote ‘Get Your Kicks on Route 66’ song. February 18, 1987 was the day that Route 66 got its rebirth right here.”

 

“And there’s still a lot of people like us who are interested in it, so there are still a good number of people who come through just because it’s Route 66?”

 

“I have been interviewed over 250 times by the news media—national and international. I’ve been interviewed by the Germans ZDF, the beautiful Zabina Zower, Deter Simmer, ZDF, Vox, Vila, VDF, CDF,RTL… They come from all over the United States and all over the world. They’re looking for America of yesterday.”

“I’m sure you’ve had a million interesting things that have happened just about Route 66, but if you could pick one story to tell that means a lot to you or is unique or different or exciting, what would you tell?”

 

“Did you see when we get together like right now? It happens daily by the tens, twenties, thirties. I relive it constantly. This is what I love—people that are smiling from ear to ear because of a dream that I had back 20 some years ago. This is what’s so important to me. How old do you think I am?”

 

“Well you told me you are 76 but you don’t look a day over 50.”

 

“These people keep me so young. I’m so happy.”

 

TO another person:

“Can I get your name?”

 

“Yes, my name’s Lori Fleming”

“Bob Walker”

 

…started the Route 66 Association in Canada 7 years ago inspired by Angel.

 

Well we got our clothes washed right behind Seligman Grocery at the Laundry Mat 36134 6:52 62 degrees. We’re leaving Seligman, one of our favorite towns where I met Angel.

Everybody we met in Seligman was very nice. We met Amanda at the Seligman Arizona Chevron aka All American Food: Americas Mainstreet 66 Giftshop.

Yet another train

Another train, another ice cream

You’d think we were in the desert but we’re at 5700 feet just a little ways outside of Seligman 36150 7:31 51 degrees.

Ashfork 36164 7:45pm and we’re over a mile high which is unbelievable. You just have no sense that you’re a mile high because everything must be a mile high.

We took a picture of the Oasis Lounge in Ashfork.

Williams 36181 8:02pm and 46 degrees

We met Amber at the Fairfield Inn. She said that breakfast would be served at 12.

 

Hinkley California – Day 29

Day 29 – April 29, 2003 – Tuesday

Hinkley California

While planning the route several months ago, I noticed the town of Hinkley California just 20 miles or so off Route 66.  This is the town where so many people had serious health problems in the Erin Brokovich movie.  The movie was a true story.  So we detoured off Route 66 to Hinkley.

 

Hinkley is in a flat, dusty area with little more than scrubby desert plants.  It looked sad before we ever reached the town to see abandoned and boarded-up homes.  We did meet a sweet man there as I was taking a photo of the first landmark we saw – the Hinkley Post Office.  Bill Stovall was his name.  When I handed him our card and told him we were writing a book, he perked up.  He told us that the movie was absolutely true and that Erin Brokovich is indeed a big hero there as she enabled the families to win a $340 million judgment against PG&E.  Bill said many families were affected, but he and his family lived on the other side of town, and they had no problems at all.  Bill noted that he has some relatives who have lived to be over 100.  He did note that two dairies closed after a calf was born with two heads.  I started to say goodbye and drive off when Bill asked if I wanted some family background.  He then told us: “My grandfather came to the US from England and married a Cherokee Indian princess.  I have 57 different kinds of stuff in me.”  We were very happy to have bumped into Bill so we could hear his story.

It was an interesting coincidence that we saw Erin Brokovich’s name on the front page of USA Today as we glanced at it as we were checking out of our motel.  She is working on another big case involving cancer.

The Past – Day 29

Day 29 – April 29, 2003 – Tuesday

The Past

Week #5 begins.  35,887 on the odometer.  Blue sky and sun shining, but 57 degrees.  We are surprised to find it so cool here in Pasadena, California.

 

Armed with a special set of Route 66 maps for each Route 66 state, a regular map of each state, two books about Route 66, and the master notebook that I prepared of my research, Bozzie has her work cut out for her.  Some long unbroken stretches of the Route still remain, but the Ghost Town Press map put it this way: “Route 66 today is essentially a discontinuous by-way, a wild mix of original roadbed, overlapping upgrades, Interstate service roads, and abandoned remnants.  It has been chopped up, re-configured, and paved over in so many places so many times that trying to find it can often involve more work than fun.”  Despite this, Bozzie was ready for duty, and we had a lot of material available.  Unfortunately, all the books and maps go from east to west, so she has to read the extremely detailed directions backwards — one sentence at a time.  Signs would sure help, but we repeatedly saw empty brackets on poles where we knew a Route 66 sign used to be.  In some places, “Historic Route 66” is painted on the road, but this doesn’t help with navigation.  Boz did a great job, as we only got lost twice today.

 

Each morning usually begins with a question about when I am going to stop wearing the beads.  Today was no different.

 

The sights on our list in Pasadena were the majestic old Colorado Bridge and the Rose Bowl.  As we rolled on to the east, we didn’t see much more that was old.  The greater Los Angeles area just knocked down the old to make way for the new.  We got lost just after the Rose Bowl.  Mike the surveyor had no idea where he or we were, but the Colorado Bridge managed to find us, and then we were on our way.

 

We didn’t see much of anything that was old for quite a ways.  We did see a lot of patriotism in Duarte – flags lined the streets.

 

Seeing what we were told was the original McDonald’s in Azusa was something we both wanted to do.  From our books, we knew right where it was supposed to be, but it was the parking lot at a university.  We pulled into the first new McDonald’s that we saw, and Eddie at the drive-thru told us he thought it had been torn down.  We couldn’t believe that, so we asked a local policeman in line, and he confirmed it is now part of the university parking lot.  We were shocked that a huge corporation would let that happen, though we later obtained conflicting information that indicated the original is in San Bernardino.  Unfortunately, we were so caught up in trying to follow the complicated directions in San Bernardino that we forgot to look for what may be the original McDonald’s there.

 

We did find the Foothill Drive-In movie theater in Azusa.  Something old.  It looked great.

San Dimas was a pretty town – exceptionally clean with pretty mountains.  It continues to be noteworthy that we have been impressed to see how clean America is!

 

Claremont is the home of six small colleges; we passed by several of them.

In Upland, we saw the Madonna of the Trail, a memorial to pioneer women of the covered wagon days.  We understand it is one of 12 on Route 66.

 

Rancho Cucamonga had the first Route 66-oriented business that we noted – the Route 66 Antique Shop.  We planned lunch at Bono’s Restaurant, a landmark on Route 66 for over 60 years.  It is owned by cousins of Sonny Bono of Sonny and Cher.  Bono’s also has a great orange juice stand in the shape of a big orange.  We pulled into the parking lot to find it closed with a For Rent sign.  This was an experience to be repeated several times today; the books can’t keep up with the ins and outs along Route 66.

 

The Hell’s Angels were founded in Fontana.  We didn’t see a single motorcycle there, much less a Hell’s Angel.  Not even a biker bar to photograph.

 

Rialto has a great old bowling alley sign, but we pulled in to find a church.  We hope the zoning there will require the church to maintain this great sign.

 

San Bernardino is home to one of the few tee pee motels – Wigwam Motel.  The restored teepees were a wonderful sight to see.

 

In Devore, we stopped at what turned out to be Peek’s Café, formerly the landmark Pik’s Café.  Trucks and cars lined the highway, so we knew it had to be good.  The outside was pretty sad looking, and there was no real sign.  We walked in, and we were the only people there.  We started to leave, but we decided to give it a try.  It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t very good.  We’ve been amazingly lucky with the places we have chosen to eat; this is one of the few misses so far.

At Devore, we had to drive on the Interstate up and over Cajon Pass (4,259 feet).  It was pretty, but there were trucks everywhere, and many of them had trouble with the steep grades.  It is much more relaxing to drive on the two-lanes with relatively little traffic and virtually no trucks.

We probably spent a half hour in the small town of Victorville trying to find the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum.  It wasn’t on Route 66, but we drove up and down Roy Rogers Boulevard, and we just didn’t see it.  We saw an old fort in the middle of a large gravel area, and we finally drove up to it to find the stone pedestal that held Trigger in a photo in one of our books.  The museum has closed and is reopening in Branson in May.  We really did want to see it; perhaps in Branson in 10 days.  If anyone out there is interested in a 30,000 square foot fort in the middle of a big gravel field in Victorville, we know where you can find one.

 

The California Route 66 Museum in Victorville is still operating, but we pulled up to find it is only open Thursday through Sunday.  We did get a photo of the New Corral Motel sign with its animated bucking bronco.  200 western movies were filmed in and around Victorville.

We saw a lot of trains today.  Most carry truck trailers on flatbeds.

 

Helendale is home to Exotic World, a museum dedicated to exotic dancers.  It would have been interesting to see, but a visit required a call to the former striptease artist who owns it for directions and an appointment, and we were afraid we’d get stuck spending more time than we could afford.

 

While planning the route several months ago, I noticed the town of Hinkley, California just 20 miles or so off Route 66.  This is the town where so many people had serious health problems in the Erin Brokovich movie.  The movie was a true story.  So we detoured off Route 66 to Hinkley.

 

Hinkley is in a flat, dusty area with little more than scrubby desert plants.  It looked sad before we ever reached the town to see abandoned and boarded-up homes.  We did meet a sweet man there as I was taking a photo of the first landmark we saw – the Hinkley Post Office.  Bill Stovall was his name.  When I handed him our card and told him we were writing a book, he perked up.  He told us that the movie was absolutely true and that Erin Brokovich is indeed a big hero there as she enabled the families to win a $340 million judgment against PG&E.  Bill said many families were affected, but he and his family lived on the other side of town, and they had no problems at all.  Bill noted that he has some relatives who have lived to be over 100.  He did note that two dairies closed after a calf was born with two heads.  I started to say goodbye and drive off when Bill asked if I wanted some family background.  He then told us: “My grandfather came to the US from England and married a Cherokee Indian princess.  I have 57 different kinds of stuff in me.”  We were very happy to have bumped into Bill so we could hear his story.

It was an interesting coincidence that we saw Erin Brokovich’s name on the front page of USA Today as we glanced at it as we were checking out of our motel.  She is working on another big case involving cancer.

 

We began to see some old stuff when we hit Barstow where we photographed several old motels.  Daggett has the Calico Ghost Town amusement park; Ryan and I visited there 22 years ago.  We drove by the Solar One Power Plant – a failed experiment that attempted to create a significant amount of solar power.

 

In Newberry Springs, we photographed the Bagdad Café.  The real Bagdad Café was further east.  We’ve never seen the movie, but we will rent it when the trip ends.  We saw some old abandoned gas stations and buildings in Ludlow.

 

At this point, Route 66 is a terrible road – a washboard with giant pot holes.  We could drive no faster than 15 miles an hour part of the way.  It was 55 miles and almost two hours before we saw another car.  The sun was setting, and there was no town for 100 miles, but I was determined to visit the former town of Bagdad, California.  As the sun set at 7:20 pm, we were there.  All that’s left is a tree and some gravel where the café used to be – not even a sign to commemorate the place.

 

We were in the Mojave Desert.  Rather than risk breaking down on these horrible roads, we backtracked and took the Interstate the rest of the way to Needles.  Needles is usually the hottest spot in the country in the summer.  It was in the low 50’s near Bagdad, but the temperature kept climbing as we approached Needles.  The 71 degrees when we reached Needles was the warmest it had been all day for us.

 

We pulled into the Royal Garden Restaurant at 9 pm where two delightful ladies, Winnie and Gwenny, served us.  The Chinese food was very good, but they were even better.

 

There was no Internet service in Needles, so I was unable to update the web site.

 

It wasn’t the most exciting of days.  Not even much to joke about.  After being so enthusiastic about the Route 66 part of the trip, I was disappointed with today.  No McDonald’s; no Bono’s Restaurant; no orange juice from the giant orange; no Hell’s Angels; no Roy Rogers; no Dale Evans; no Trigger; no California Route 66 Museum; nothing left in Bagdad.  I hope for a much more interesting day tomorrow.

 

Boz and I agreed that the lesson of the day is that sometimes looking at the past is sad.

 

 

It’s April 29, 2003 as we start week 5.

35516 9:54am as we retrieve the recorder after it was lost and looking like a remote on the TV set.

61 degrees here in cold California.

We were just at the Rose Bowl 35520 at 10:13.

57 degrees…a cool front must have blown in.

We found that surveyors don’t know where they are. We just saw a guy named Mike. We had the same experience when we were searching for the Perky Bat Tower. You stop and figure these guys would know where they are and how to get somewhere, but they never do. Mike didn’t know how to get there.

It’s interesting that we saw virtually no flags in Hollywood. One billboard that I took a picture of and a red, white, and blue fire hydrant, and one flag in an army surplus. Otherwise I don’t remember seeing another flag. Zero flags. They have no patriotism there.

We’re in downtown Pasadena on historic Route 66 which here is Colorado Blvd. 35529 10:38am. Our navigator is having trouble reading the map which provides a beautiful narrative description coming in the opposite direction.

Skate boarding is still a big deal in California. I just don’t see skateboards anywhere else.

Pasadena’s supposed to have some nice architecture; we did not see it.

Each day usually begins fairly early with a question of when the beads will be removed.

35535 10:55am Santa Anita Racetrack

Arcadia 35535 11am

We took a picture of a Denny’s with a giant windmill here in Arcadia.

Monrovia 35536 11:05 and there’s some good stuff here.

New Artay 35538 11:12

New Artay? Is very patriotic. There’s lots of flags and there are signs on the light poles that say “New Artay believes in America” with an American flag design.

Erwindale 35540 11:19

Azusa 35541 11:21am and we’re looking for McDonald’s

We’ve driven 27 miles so far this morning and have not yet seen hardly a thing that looks like it would date back to the time of Route 66.

We just left the Foothill Drive Inn at Azusa, and we passed Azusa Pacific University 35544 11:31am and still looking for the original McDonald’s.

Citrus College

We met Eddie at the drive-thru of a new McDonald’s and he says they tore the old, original one down. That is unbelievable.

According to an Azusa police officer, one of the original McDonald’s is now the parking lot of the university.

Glendora 35540 11:49am

At this point, we’re on Foothill Blvd. but they’ve renamed it Route 66.

It’s going to be very tricky just figuring out how to stay on Route 66.

San Demas 35449 11:59 we still haven’t seen hardly anything old but the drive-in theatre.

Split Hill Blvd again now that we’re in San Demas.

There are really pretty mountains in San Demas; they’re green, a lot of trees, a little snow on one off in the distance.

La Verne 35551 12:02

It’s an exceptionally beautiful day, incredible blue sky, hardly any clouds.

Pamona 35553 12:08pm

Clairmont 35555 12:13pm This is the home of 6 colleges; total enrollment of 5,000. I think they should merge.

Upland 35556 12:16pm

Mount Baldy is here near Upland. I guess it’s a big ski area.

We found the Madonna at the corner of Yukelad at Foothill on the North side of the road. She’s one of 12, but it doesn’t look a thing like the Madonna that we know but we’re going to take a picture anyway.

We took a picture of the Madonna of the Trail dedicated to the pioneer women of the covered wagon days. It also has the national old trails road on one side of it.

Rancho Cucamonga 35561 12:35pm

We took a few photos at the Route 66 Memories Antique Shop

35571 1:04 we’re in the parking lot of Bono’s, an old Route 66 café. It’s been in business since 1936 and voted number one for breakfast and lunch. It’s at 15395 Foothill Blvd., and it’s closed for lease. The Bono’s giant orange juice stand is similarly closed but available.

There are some cool looking old motels along here, but when we saw the orange we didn’t take pictures of them.

The motels are still in business.

We’re in Fontana, the birthplace of Hell’s Angels.

Rialto 35575 1:23pm we filled up for gas in Fontana.

We got a photo of the old bowling alley sign. The side of the bowling alley is now the Bethlehem Temple Community Church, but perhaps they appropriately required that they maintain the sign even though it’s in disrepair.

San Bernadeno 35578 1:31 and we see Wigwam Village

We were just at the Wigwam Village and it had all sorts of signs saying ‘no trespassing’ and ‘closed’ but the teepees are bright and clean. Maybe they just don’t have anybody working at 1 in the afternoon. It’s definitely wonderful that they’ve been maintained.

They were just inside San Bernadino 35578

We must be in Santa Fe, CA 35581 1:42 and we’re still hungry.

We went too far and we’re in the city of Highland 35583 1:49.

They should have a few more signs (I’m sure people steal them), but there was no place to show where we were supposed to turn left off of 5th street onto Mt. Vernon but we’re there now.

In this area outside San Bernadino to the east they have painted historic Route 66 on the asphalt. It would be easier to read if they had signs, but I’ve seen any number of places where you’ll see a missing sign and you know they’ve been stolen.

We just had lunch at Peak’s Café; it used to be Pick’s Café. It’s been around for a long time. We were lured there by the cars and trucks lining the road. We went in and there wasn’t sole in there except Mrs. Kim who is the co-owner. It was nothing special, but it was food. It used to be famous so I’m glad we went. They need to do a little work on their signs.

The Peek’s is in Divore, CA. We’re leaving 35597 2:41pm

We’re exiting at Kenwood Avenue after a short period on 215. It said exit for historic Route 66 and that’s us.

We got immediately back on it because that may or may not have been the place to turn, but there were no signs to say what to do.

The summit up here is really pretty with baldish mountains. There’s nothing but dirt and little shrubs but all different levels. At some point you can look and see about 5 or 6 mountain ranges back. It’s very pretty—impossible to photograph, but pretty.

57 degrees up in these mountains

There are massive trucks on this road. A lot of them are having trouble getting up these mountain passes. It’s pretty crazy driving.

Cahone? Summit 35611 2:54 we got a water tower that says Oak Hills.

There’s the Summit Inn Café that we should have eaten at. There’s a bunch of people eating there.

Hisparia 35614 2:57

We reached Victorville 35621 3:03pm

We’re getting off at the Palmdale Road exit in Victorville because that takes us to Route 66 again, which technically is on Interstate 15 at this point.

You go left on Palmdale to get on Route 66.

35624 3:09 we took a picture of the New Corral Motel with its animated bucking bronco.

35627 3:24 we just left the California Route 66 museum in Victorville. Unfortunately, it’s only open Sunday-Thursday. Victorville had two hundred movies done here as a Roy Rogers Museum.

We back tracked just a mile or so on I 15 on the Roy Rogers exit to go to the Roy Rogers Museum.

We finally found a big old fort which we guess is Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum. It’s closed up and for rent. Not even Trigger out front.

We spend at least a half hour looking for it.

We finally found the museum, took our picture of the pedestal that Trigger used to be on, and there’s a sign ‘sorry, we’re closed. Thank you for 35 great  years. See you in Branson, MO opening May 2003’

If anyone is looking for a good sized fort in Victorville, there’s a 35,000 square foot one for sale with a large parking area surrounding it and a lot of dirt and sand and gravel.

Oro Grande 35646 4:02pm The town has one antique store and the rest of the places look to be boarded up. The antique was the junky antique stuff. There’s also a big cement plant that’s still going.

Second moving train today. That’s two ice creams for Bozzie.

We got a picture of the Iron Hog Saloon just outside of Oro Grande. It looks like they maybe cater to bikers.

Another train.

Yet another train.

Ellendale 35654 4:12pm, the home of exotic world.

Hodge. It smells like a pig farm. 35653 4:23pm

We saw what looked like to be a decent little ranch there in Hodge with a sign that said ‘Sale out. Make reasonable offer.’

Yet even another train at 35665 4:25pm

35668 4:30pm we have just turned on Hinkley Road, not quite to Barstow heading up to Erin Brokovich land.

 

Interview:

“Is Bill Stow? You’re father or grandfather?”

 

“My grandfather.”

 

“He came over from England, married a Cherokee Indian princess, and you have 57 different kinds of stuff in you?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Bill was just as sweet a man as he could be. He just kind of wanted to be able to tell a little bit of his story as we all do. He did say that there was a dairy here and they had a calf born with two heads so the two dairies had to shut down and an awful lot of people moved away. He’s got some relatives who are over 100 years old and they just lived in a different part of town and they were alright.

Hinkley is a dusty area with scrubby, desert-like shrubs. The wind blows a lot and then you get these things that are boarded up or vacant. It just gives you a funny, sad feeling. This was no garden spot before the thing happened and it kind of makes it worse that it happened to these folks.

35685 4:58pm we rejoined Route 66 after our worthwhile excursion to Hinkley

Another moving train

We’ve reached the city limits of Barstow 35687 5:01pm 66 degrees.

35688 5:02 we’re doubling back for a picture of the 66 quilt shop and Mary Kay emporium.

The quilt shop is in a mobile home or trailer and it has got pink pigs painted on the side.

Now we have a sign saying we’re in Lenwood 35689 5:04; it must be a suburb.

The quilt shop and Mary Kay was something.

Again at the city limit of Barstow 35690 5:07pm

Barstow city limits again 35691 5:09. Barstow has a lot of still operating old motels.

Coming out of Barstow, you get to a road and are about to be on Montero, and you turn left on this road whatever it is according to a nice man at the gas station.

There’s a marine base here and that’s where Route 66 used to go through that’s why you can’t do it anymore.

You exit off of I 40 on Nebo Street and that should put us back on the mother road.

The calico ghost town is in Daggot but we don’t have time to go. Ryan and I went there once and had fun.

Daggot 35704 5:43pm and we’re passing mugwumps.

Another train.

Cellar Wine Power Plant, a failed project. 35706 5:45pm

There used to be a restaurant in Daggot but it’s closed.

Another moving train.

At this point, we can look off to the right a few hundred yards and see the interstate with all the trucks and people who are in a hurry.

Another moving train.

35714 5:55 We just took a little mountain picture on this stretch of the road.

A reddish, brownish with no trees and no grass really.

We may or may not be in Newberry Springs 35717 5:58pm

We didn’t see the Baghdad Café in Newberry Springs. It is where the movie Baghdad Café was filmed. There was restaurant named The Barn, and it was painted like a red barn, but we didn’t take a picture of it.

35720 we did find the Baghdad Café. There was only 1 car outside. It looks like they may have a new roof at the Baghdad Café. You can get a buffalo burger there. They’ve changed their hours and now close at 7:00 pm.

We took an old Tony’s Italian and American gas station outside of town.

Portions of Route 66 are extremely bumpy.

We took a picture of the lava flow area east of Newberry Springs.

It’s a very rough road at 35730. There are big holes.

35472 6:38pm we’re at a point in the road where it is a true washboard. It just has big cracks that extend all the way across about every 6 feet. We’ve slowed to 19 mph and it’s still not very pleasant.

Another train, another ice cream

We haven’t seen a single car in the opposite direction since, to the best of our recollection, Barstow. Whenever we see one, we’re going to note it so that we can get an idea on mileage. It’s been at least 45 miles so far.

35750 6:50 in Ludlow. We just took the Ludlow Café and then a great building in the setting sun just outside the city.

Another train

At 35752 6:53 we finally had a car pass us coming in the other direction. The navigator says that was 55 miles without passing another vehicle.

35771 7:17pm We are in the town of Baghdad, CA. It currently consists of a tree in an area that’s kind of cleared off the side of the road with a little pathway over to the railroad tracks. This would’ve been where the town was. We’ll have to see the movie and see what all that means.

Bozzie Jane decided we should reverse directions since ahead of us was 50 miles of probably the same vacant, torn-up road and not a city or town in sight. There’s a few on the map but it’s very likely those are railroad stops. By the way, the sun was gone at about 7:20.

35774 we saw another vehicle and we have yet another one coming towards us. It must be rush hour on Route 66 in the Mohave Desert at 7:26pm.

Another train

35792 7:50 back in Ludlow and getting on the superhighway.

We just hit the city limits of Needles 35883 8:05pm 73 degrees—that’s the warmest we’ve had today.

 

 

 

Hollywood Forever – Day 28

Day 28 – April 28, 2003 – Monday

Hollywood Forever

Los Angeles is not as pretty as San Diego, but I was pleasantly surprised when I looked out the window of our Santa Monica hotel this morning.  Blue sky rather than the whitish smog-filled sky that I have seen here on many other trips.  I worked on a consulting project in the LA area once, and it rained after a week or two on the job, and when I looked out the next morning, I first realized there were mountains.

 

Route 66 is a very important part of the trip to me.  We started our Route 66 journey this morning, though the plan was to spend most of the day in Hollywood.  We went to Ocean Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard – near the Santa Monica Pier where we ended yesterday – and we took a photo of the plaque that commemorates the end (or the beginning in our case) of Route 66.  The memorial is to Will Rogers and proclaims this part of “the main street of America” to be Will Rogers Highway.

 

As we waited for a light to change so we could cross Ocean Boulevard, I took a photo of the Shangri La Hotel.  An attractive 60-ish blonde woman in sunglasses and a straw hat advised us that the sign was original, and the building has been fully restored.  I introduced myself, gave her a card, and asked if she was a famous movie star.  She replied: “I could have been.”  I managed to get a photo of her from the back as she walked away.  I believe she was in motion pictures.  Boz doesn’t.  It’s more fun to believe.

 

Santa Monica has a memorial to the military overlooking the ocean.  The monuments are nice.  It was sad to see so many homeless people curled up under palm trees nearby.

 

As we drove the first section of Route 66 – Santa Monica Boulevard, we were disappointed to see so few remnants of days gone by.  We saw very few old buildings and only one or two businesses that dated back very far.  Route 66 is no longer a “real” route, so signage is limited.

Bozzie Jane needed a cup of coffee, so we stopped at DK’s Donuts & Bakery.  She felt obliged to try their glazed donut, so I joined her.  After two years of taste-testing donuts, we are tough critics, but these were excellent.

 

Our next stop was the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  From my research, I had learned that the cemetery (under another name) had gone bankrupt.  I’m sure this had to be terrible news for the families of the 79,000 people buried there.  There had been a question about whether anyone would step in to maintain the cemetery, but we were pleased to see crews busily maintaining the grounds.  There are a number of stars resting there, so tourists are welcomed and expected.  Many of the gravestones featured photographs – something we had never seen.  We drove right by Mel Blanc’s grave.  We didn’t feel comfortable getting out and walking across gravesites looking for tombstones, so we didn’t.  We did see a very strange site – a film crew had one area filled with lawn jockeys (both black and white) and a stage of some type.  Perhaps the new owners are renting the cemetery to motion picture companies.  Somehow I would imagine that the residents wouldn’t mind.  The cemetery sits at the end of a street that looks straight up to the Hollywood sign.

 

Boz has been an excellent navigator, but the California map we were sent by the state is not much better than the worst map so far – Florida.  We spent an hour and a half driving the first stretch of Route 66 while trying to find Hollywood Boulevard.  It did not intersect as the map indicated.

 

Bozzie had visited Hollywood on a trip with my parents 27 years ago, but I don’t recall ever having visited, so I was really excited.  We parked at the far east end of Hollywood Boulevard so we could walk the entire area in a long loop and see every single star in the sidewalk as well as the other sights.

 

We were disappointed almost immediately as one of the first stars we saw was blank.  We ultimately saw many blank stars.  We read the names as we passed, and we saw a name that we thought we had just seen a few feet away, and then another and another.  There were also stars for people who aren’t big stars.  We also saw stars for people we had never heard of, and we know movies and music better than most.  We assume all of this has been done to increase the size of the tourist-oriented area in an attempt to benefit businesses there, but we felt ripped off (even though it was free).  The result was that the stars lost their significance, and we no longer paid attention.

 

We did note early on that Lucille Ball’s star has broken and missing cement around it and needs repair.  The only star that had been defaced was Charlton Heston’s.  His name had been lined out – probably by someone who opposes his position as the most visible advocate for the National Rifle Association.  I would never deface his star, but (despite my generally Republican views) I do believe ours would be a better, safer society if we did not have so many guns.  We caught a little bit of a news report about gang violence in the LA area on TV in a restaurant.  Frightening.

Hollywood Boulevard was not seedy as I expected.  There were very few sex shops and not that many street people and no beggars.  If you are looking for funky shoes, Hollywood Boulevard is the place to go.

 

It looks like the Church of Scientology is buying up Hollywood as we passed one L. Ron Hubbard Church of Scientology building after another.  Scientologists were out on the street trying to lure people inside.  With apologies to any Scientologists out there, this approach seems more cult-like and less church-like.

 

We enjoyed looking around in Hollywood Toys & Costumes.  Fantastic masks and costumes.  Pat asked me if I had been to Mardi Gras.  We went in Hollywood Souvenirs to see a great selection of items.  We saw the Capitol Records building and a few theatre buildings – most of which were not being used for movies.  There is a huge Frederick’s of Hollywood building, formerly S.H. Kress.

 

There isn’t much to see on Hollywood Boulevard.  While there are signs proclaiming a building to be historical, the signs are about 10-feet in the air, and we passed by most without realizing they were there.  Our experience might have been more enjoyable if a Visitor’s Center had little maps or some type of orientation.  We walked for hours, but we didn’t see much of anything.

 

A highlight of the day was passing by Michael McDonald, the incredibly funny star of Mad TV.  Son Ryan is a big fan of his.  We apologized for intruding and introduced ourselves.  He could not have been nicer.  He was out for the afternoon planning to catch a movie at the local theatre.

Flags were not to be seen in Hollywood.  We saw one billboard in a parking lot with a flag, and I saw one flag inside an army surplus store, but that was it.  After seeing so many displays of patriotism across the country, it was very disappointing.  We saw Audie Murphy’s star and Ronald Reagan’s star as well as the stars of many who were in the military during World War II.  There seems to be a huge patriotic gap between those real movie stars of the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s and the people we have in the movies today.

 

The primary sight to see in Hollywood is Graumann’s Chinese Theatre — on the far end of Hollywood Boulevard from where we parked.  I was looking forward to seeing the handprints and footprints of big stars.  We were not allowed to see them.  The area was blocked off in preparation for the Premiere of the movie X-Men 2.  Major disappointment!

 

We befriended two security guards in an attempt to get in, but no luck.  We were advised that we could see Halle Berry, Rebecca Romaine Stamos, Hugh Jackman, and many other stars at the Premiere.  When Boz saw Jennifer Garner’s photo on the big poster, I figured seeing Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner was worth the wait.

 

The Premiere was scheduled to start at 7, and we were advised that the stars would begin arriving at 6:30.  At 3:30, we had our pick of spots.  I asked a few people where the best spot was, and Bozzie Jane and I took up permanent residence on a raised cement area directly across the street from the main entrance to Graumann’s where the stars would walk.  For the next 3½ hours, we watched the setup – a cast of thousands or so it seemed.  There were FAR MORE people working than there were tourists or fans watching.  There was some people watching, too.  We saw the worst Elvis impersonator ever; the only thing that looked at all like Elvis was a white jeweled costume.

 

There were no stars at 6:30.  There were no stars at 7.  The sun began to set as did our hopes of getting a good photograph of the stars.

 

There were not many in the audience at the Premiere, but the people doing interviews on the Jumbotron as well as those interviewed kept saying they had never been to anything as big as this.  Smoke and mirrors!  The attendance consisted of a few hundred poor schmucks like us who wandered by and thought they could see some stars and bleachers filled with people who won free tickets in a radio promotion.  The rest of the “crowd” consisted of the huge group of people that it took to set up the event.

 

Stars finally began arriving at about 7:30.  I managed photos of Jon Voight and the cast of American Idol.  We never got a good look at any of the stars in the movie except on the Jumbotron screen.  Halle Berry did not attend, and Jennifer Garner wasn’t in the movie after all.

 

We gave up about 8 pm – declaring our day in Hollywood as pretty much a bust.

We laughed at ourselves as we limped back down Hollywood Boulevard.  We limped faster as we got to the far end of the street where the folks standing in doorways didn’t look necessarily friendly.  I started to take off my beads, but decided they might actually keep people away.

We stopped along the way to grab something to eat for dinner at Skooby’s.  We talked quite a bit to the owner, John, and we took a photo of John and Ben.  We had eaten lunch there, and it was definitely the highlight of the day.  This little gourmet hot dog shop has been open only a few months.  The hot dogs were excellent, but the fries and lemonade were the best we have ever eaten.  The fries are cooked twice and tossed in a secret seasoning.  The lemonade is hand squeezed.  It was just as good for dinner as it was for lunch.

 

The lesson of the day:  We all have choices to make – some big and many small.  Sometimes we make choices that seem good and sometimes we make choices that don’t turn out as well as hoped.  Of course we rarely know what would have happened had we made a different choice.  Deciding to forego a tour of stars’ homes in favor of attending the Premiere may not have been a good choice.  We probably would have seen more on a tour, but then again, how many people can say they attended a Hollywood Movie Premiere?  As to our carefully-chosen location at the Premiere, that was a small choice in the great scheme of things…but definitely a bad choice!

Ski Demski Walter Windsor Bill Dawson and the Worlds Largest Donut – Day 27

Day 27 – April 27, 2003 – Sunday

Ski Demski Walter Windsor Bill Dawson and the Worlds Largest Donut

Driving.  That seems to be the main thing people in the greater Los Angeles area do.  We spent the night in Anaheim – waved at Disneyland as we passed by – and drove to Long Beach.  Long Beach is the largest of the “suburbs” of Los Angeles.  I worked on a project there for six months or so in 1984, and my Dad went to high school and college in Long Beach.

 

There was one primary reason to visit Long Beach – Ski Demski’s house.  Ski is one of the most patriotic Americans who has ever lived.  He died in 2002, so we weren’t sure if we would be able to find his house or his flag pole, but the first person we asked knew right where it was.  Mike told us: “Go down to Fourth Street and turn left.”  I asked “And what do we do next?”  He replied: “Oh, that’s all you need to know.  You can’t miss it.”

 

When we turned off Long Beach Boulevard onto Fourth Street, we saw rows of one and two-story businesses and homes, and towering 132-feet above was the biggest flag pole ever built in a residential neighborhood with a gigantic 30-foot by 60-foot flag proudly flying.  We could see how some of the neighbors complained and took Ski to court back in 1980, but how great that Ski won and “The Pole” stayed.

 

Ski’s house at 402 Lime Avenue in Long Beach is red, white, and blue and signs proclaim it to be “The North Pole.”  The flagpole measures close to two-feet in diameter at the base, and it is titled “The Pole.”  A variety of birds live in the home, and Ski’s Airstream motor home, fully covered in metallic bumper stickers designed by Ski, sits out front.  There is a statue of Ski and Peppy the parrot out front as well as several plaques and awards.

 

Santa Claus look-alike Ski was a Character with a Capital C.  He ran for mayor of Long Beach every election, but he usually managed less than 100 votes.  It seems that everyone in town knew of him, however.

 

Ski was extremely patriotic.  He had the world’s largest flag made, so designated by the Guinness Book of World Records.  Ski called it Superflag.  It measures 505-feet by 225-feet and weighs 3,000 pounds!  Each star is 17-feet high.  It takes 500 people to unfurl it.  We hoped to get a photo of the flag, but Boz and I were 498 people short on this Sunday morning.

For over 18 years, Superflag has provided audiences around the United States with excitement and awe-inspiring patriotism with displays and events that feature our American flag.  Ski’s Superflag and Superflag, Jr. have been featured at events such as NFL Super Bowls, Major League Baseball World Series and All-Star Games, college bowl games, military events, the Desert Storm “Welcome Home” Parade in Hollywood, and more.  Ski was especially proud to be the only California unit in President Bush’s Inaugural Parade.

 

Ski had a tattoo of the American flag inked onto his chest, incorporating an old scar as the flagpole.  Next to it, he tattooed “In Case of Emergency,” and the phone numbers of his doctors.  When one of the numbers changed, Ski had the old number redlined out and the new one tattooed on.  Like I said, a Capital C.

 

Ski died last year, and folks were concerned that his legacy would die with him.  But Ski left explicit instructions about what was to be done at his death, and then the locals rallied to raise money to keep Ski’s work alive.  Believe it or not, Ski’s body was on display in a glass-topped coffin in his garage for two days so folks could see the American flag tattoo on his chest.  His funeral was attended by over 1,000 people at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.  And his ashes were placed inside the golden eagle atop “The Pole.”  For more information on the Superflag and Ski Demski, see www.superflag.com.

 

We knew the day would go downhill from here.  We snapped a photo of the World’s Largest                            Mural – a 360-degree mural of whales that wraps a big round building in Long Beach.  We had seen the Queen Mary before, but we stopped to take a photo.  The Queen Mary was the biggest cruise ship for a long time, but a modern cruise ship was docked next to it, and the Queen Mary didn’t look huge in comparison.  We saw a Russian submarine on display next to the Queen Mary, and we snapped a photo of the area where the Long Beach Grand Prix is held in downtown Long Beach.

 

I remembered an incredible hamburger from my days in Long Beach, and the car took us right to Hof’s Hut – a restaurant and bakery.  I had the CheddarBurger, and it was exceptional.  We had to try their pies, and the Banana Cream Pie was great.  When you order a “piece of pie,” they bring you an entire mini-pie that is about the same size as three pieces of everyone else’s pie.  Josie was our server.  Hof’s Hut was started in the 1940’s.  See www.hofshut.com.

 

While we have exchanged Christmas cards for the last 19 years, that has been the only contact with Bill and Vicki Dawson.  I presented Bill with a business proposition back in 1984, and then I worked with Bill and Vicki to breathe life into RPI.  I had an apartment in Long Beach and commuted back and forth to Dallas.  Bill and Vicki are two of the nicest people in the world, and I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with them 19 years ago, and I am sorry that neither of us worked to maintain regular contact.

 

One quick story about Bill.  He’s a conservative man, and he does a number of things in a particular way.  I noticed that his uniform of choice was white shirt, striped tie, khaki pants, cordovan penny loafers, and navy blazer.  I never thought much about it until Bill’s secretary of many years, Marianne, joined RPI.  We were talking one day about an important event and the need for us to wear suits.  Marianne wasn’t sure if Bill even had a suit; she said the only thing she had seen him wear in umpteen years was a white shirt, striped tie, khaki pants, cordovan penny loafers, and navy blazer.  She went on to tell a great story about one Halloween.  In California, many companies dress up for Halloween.  Unknown to Bill, the 20 or so people in his office at the time got together, and they all dressed for Halloween as “Bill Dawson” – all wearing a white shirt, striped tie, khaki pants, cordovan penny loafers, and navy blazer.  Funny!

As we drove through Long Beach, I was thinking that we should call Bill and Vicki.  We did.  Though they weren’t dressed or looking to entertain guests on a Sunday morning, they invited us over.  We thoroughly enjoyed getting caught up on what’s happened with them over the last 19 years.  We got to meet their lovely daughter, Jill, but we just missed meeting Claire.  I was flabbergasted to learn that RPI, the company that Bill, Vicki and I founded, is still going strong, and they’ve been running it for 19 years!  I last spoke with Bill maybe 15 years ago, and he said he was about to sell it.  I was so pleased to learn that the business has been extremely successful.

 

Bill and Vicki have a truly special home that they were able to buy after the owner died and Bill happened to be in the right place at the right time while pushing Jill in her baby stroller.  A number of movies and commercials have used the home; Donnie Darko was the most recent movie.  We loved the tour.  One of the terms of the deal was that a portrait of the former owner, Leonie Prey, was to always remain on display in the home.  Bill and Vicki have kept their word, though the portrait hangs in a narrow hallway just outside a bathroom that is probably best described as a closet.  It was wonderful to see the Dawsons!

 

We hoped to see old friends, Judi and Geoff Hendricks, but knew that they were out of town for a wedding in Sonoma.   We decided to call and leave a voice mail, but much to our surprise, they answered the phone.  They had just walked in the door!  Really poor timing for us, as we had already headed north on the I-405 toward LA.   Maybe we can wrangle a visit on the next leg of the drive.  Judi and Geoff lead very interesting lives that anyone would envy.  Judi is a writer who spends a lot of her “spare time” at speaking engagements and book signings.  Her first novel, “Bread Alone,” sits proudly on our coffee table at home;  her next release is on the book shelves in June, “Isabel’s Daughter;”  and she is currently penning a sequel to her first offering.  We are so proud of her!  Check out her website at www.judihendricks.com.

 

More driving – up the 405 to LA.  The next stop was very important to me as Boz and I were the founders of a new donut franchise that we sold during the Round America trip.  Randy’s Donuts in LA is a donut institution because of the World’s Largest Donut that sits atop the building – 22-feet in diameter.  The donut shop has appeared in countless movies and videos.  It’s the kind of thing that makes a place special that most towns in America will no longer allow due to perhaps misguided zoning requirements and sign ordinances.  I certainly love seeing the creativity that people have used to promote their businesses in the old days, but few cities allow this today.

Even more driving.  We spent the rest of the day driving around Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Bel-Air.  We drove the length of the 27-mile Sunset Boulevard/Sunset Strip.  California drivers are terrible, and there are a significant number of homeless people and tough-looking characters, so I wasn’t too inclined to hop out of the car for photos.  It’s also virtually impossible to do so along Sunset Boulevard.  You’ll just have to take my word for it when I tell you that we saw a lot of interesting sights – movie studios, a snake charmer’s office, beautiful residential areas with mansions usually hidden from view, tiny little houses, famous restaurants, a variety of night spots, and the widest variety of people.  We ended the drive in Santa Monica where we were disappointed to lose the sun early behind a mountain.

 

We went to the Santa Monica pier for a walk.  We mainly did people-watching.  I did stop and try my hand at one carnival game.  One try, and I won a Dora Doll for Miss Madison.  I’m two-for-two on games of chance (not counting the donation I made to the Kickapoos).  I hope Vegas is ready for me in June!  We stopped in a karaoke bar on the pier, and we enjoyed meeting John and Rob.  One singer was good, and the next was really bad.  We enjoyed the bad one more.  We thought about staying as we do want to spend an evening at a karaoke bar during the trip.  (We love the movie “Duets.”)  But we were both tired and wanted to get organized for sightseeing tomorrow.

 

We found the hotel nearby, and we met Karen and Jeanette.  Karen was attracted by the beads.  The ladies are both flight attendants, but they wouldn’t identify which airline.  I’m sure it was the beads.

 

Seeing the Dawsons after 19 years delivered a message similar to yesterday when we saw a number of cousins who we haven’t seen in 38 years.  Friends are precious, and we all get just so many good friends in life.  It takes a lot of effort to stay in touch, but we know we need to work harder at it.

 

***

 

Tomorrow is the last day of Week 4.  In some ways, it seems like we just got lose as we tried to leave Atlanta, while in other ways, it seems like we have been gone forever.  We continue to enjoy every day…though each day is different, and we never know what to expect.  We are going to try our hardest to update the web sit tonight or tomorrow with our nominations for Best & Worst over the first four weeks.

 

 

Some 27 and some 28 – need to split:

 

 

35355 was our starting.

Now we’re in Long Beach we think 35367 10:51.

We were just as Ski Dempsy’s house.

35420 4:30pm We’re leaving Randy’s Doughnuts.

I saw a sign for some businesses, Snake Charmer and then Bel Air Cavier Store.

Beverly Hills. We see a pretty red Ferrari with a long-haired, blond guy with a studded bracelet. He’s probably a punk rocker.

We’re driving down Melrose with lots and lots of funky shops.

Gower Street, which we turned on by accident, looks straight up to the Hollywood sign.

We’re going in for a picture.

There are a lot of street people, and if they ain’t street people there’s folks that look like they’d cut your guts out for your car.

UCLA 35452 6:21pm

7:00 the sun set behind the mountain in Santa Monica. You don’t really get a good sunset in Santa Monica over the water.

35471 7:17 we’re at Santa Monica Pier preparing to park for $7 and going to ride on the tilt-a-whirl, the ferris wheel, the scrambler, and yo-yo.

We met John and Rob at the karaoke; Terry and Janette, flight attendants, at the hotel.

We photographed the Shang-ri-la Hotel and that’s when Beth told us it was the original sign.

Two new possible titles: Zig Zag and U-turn

Our trip on Route 66 begins and at the first block we see a couple of bars and restaurants and a parking lot.

We passed a really interesting place called Conspiracy. Unlike the other retail establishments it had blinds that were closed.

We took a couple of photos of Busy Bee Hardware which has been a business since 1922 so they’ve seen the Route 66. We took a picture of DK’s Doughnuts and had two more surprisingly excellent doughnuts.

It’s 64 degrees and 11:40 am and cloudy.

We stopped at Quality Shoes for a picture of the Boot-mobile.

We saw a man who looked like he may be a Vietnam veteran or whatever with a walker who had a walker with a flag from it, but we couldn’t get the photo.

Century City 25482 12:02 looking for the snake charmer

We just passed by the Beverly Hilton, and yesterday we did see the Beverly Hills Hotel but unable to photograph it.

Beverly Hills 35484 12:09

There isn’t much traffic surprisingly.

We’re in the middle of a cemetery and we see hundreds of lawn jockeys. It looks like it’s a commercial or something.

It was very interesting—the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. There are a lot of people working so it looks like somebody did come up with some money. It’s interesting, Barbara noted, that the Hollywood sign is straight down the street overlooking the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It’s at the 6000 block of Santa Monica Boulevard.

We went all the way down on Route 66 to where it meets the 101. We took a picture there of the historic Route 66 and Hollywood signs.

We’ve been searching for 2 days, and at 1:26pm on the 2nd day 35497 we found Hollywood Boulevard after I looked at the map.

Calling monster.com

We met Vivian at the parking garage but she didn’t want to be famous.

We were surprised to see Bob Hope’s star at the entrance to an automotive repair shop.

Benny Goodman on one side and Stanley Kramer on the other side are the first stars. Gregory Peck’s one of the first ones. The tile needs repair on Lucille Ball, she’s down near the Henry Fonda Theater.

Catherine Hepburn had a nice shaded spot. Rin Tin Tin has a star. A lot of people have more than one star. Lassie also has a star. Bill Clinton does not have a star.

Mya at 6530—the highest heel in town, sizes 4-17. They have exotic shoes.

We met Pat at Hollywood Toys and Costumes who asked me if I’d been to Mardi Gras.

Frederick’s of Hollywood is in the S.H Cresta Apartment Store, art deco style, built in 1935. As you walk along Hollywood Blvd., they have Hollywood historic district signs usually mounted to the really cool movie light light poles, but they’re kind of up in the air about 6 or 8 feet. We walked about half the way before we saw them but it tells about the buildings and what the history is of the spot which you’re at.

Musso and Frank Grill is the oldest in Hollywood since 1919.

We met John and Ben at Scooby’s Hotdogs, the best hotdogs in the world, the best lemonade in the world, and the best French fries. We met Letty at Scooby’s; she says they’re by far the best fries.

Scooby’s was a real treat. The lemonade was unbelievable, the twice fried French fries with the dipping sauce were incredible, and the hotdogs were wonderful. A really nice guy must own it. It just opened and, wow, it’s great.

We met Judith and Mark at Guinness Book of World Records.

We met Carlos at Gromman’s  Chinese Theatre where they have the area we wanted to see blocked off.

Starburst spotted Michael McDonald off Mad TV on the street. He was very nice and Barbara had her picture taken with him. He is Ryan’s favorite person on the show.

This X-Men 2 stars Hugh Jackman and Halley Berry and Jennifer Garner; it doesn’t get much better than that.

The Hollywood Gazebo has Dorothy Dandridge, May West, Delores Del Rio, and Anna May Wong.

Lloyd Bridges, Bo Bridges, and Jeff Bridges all have their stars right together.

We met a really nice security guard, Shannon.

Aunt Hazel – Day 26

Day 26 – April 26, 2003 – Saturday

Aunt Hazel

We bid a fond farewell to San Diego early as we have sights to see before a reunion with family in Rancho Palos Verdes.

 

San Diego is simply incredibly beautiful.  We drove through the University of California at San Diego as we headed out of town.  We were lost, but it was nice to see the California university that is in such high demand by California students.  I’m sure the school is excellent, but it must be the location that makes it so popular.

 

We traveled historic Route 101 for as much as possible of the drive up the coast.

 

Breakfast consisted of a smoothie at Surfdog’s Java Hut in Encinitas and donuts at the Leucadia Donut Shop.  I met Edwin, Steve, and Charles at the donut shop because Charles commented on my beads as I passed.  Barbara has seen that we meet more people when I’m wearing the beads as they act like a magnet of sorts – some are drawn closer and some are pushed away.  We also met Diane; we aren’t sure what the story is with Diane, but the word is “Ya.”  She just kept saying “Ya.”

 

As we traveled up the coast, it was fun to see the joggers, bikers, and surfers taking in the gorgeous blue sky and cool air.  Even though the temperature gauge in the car read 61 degrees, we put the top down and felt like part of the scenery.  As we wound our way to Carlsbad, our memories took us back nearly 20 years when Barbara spent a week at the famous La Costa Health Spa.  It was an amazing experience and one that she would love to revisit!  I guess she’ll have to settle for a quick rub-down at the local Atlanta hair and nail place, as we couldn’t find La Costa for even a quick photo.

 

Oceanside had some cool buildings, but our schedule is tight today, so we couldn’t stop to explore.

 

Every now and then folks are lucky enough to wind up at the right place at the right time … with no preconceived plans or expectations.  This is exactly what happened as we rolled by Doheny Beach.  Off to the left, flanking the crashing waves and white sands, was a line-up of the most beautiful cars we’ve ever seen!  The Southern California Woodie Club was displaying their prized possessions for all the world to enjoy, and enjoy  we did.  There must have been 150 restored (and some not-restored) woodies of all makes and models.  Their owners were prominently stationed behind their vehicles, anxious to talk about their cars.  We met many interesting people, but we especially enjoyed meeting babies Stephanie and Maxine!  Stephanie was appreciating the beauty of the cars through her highly cool pink sunglasses.  Other folks included Elaine and Pat from the Woodie Club booth – proud owners of two of the nicest cars there!  I was definitely frothing at the mouth at the thought of owning one of these babies (woodies that is), but we needed to push on.  We refueled with hot dogs at the beachside stand, put the top down, played Beach Boys music in our minds, and hit the road.  It was definitely an “AH” experience!

 

We went to San Juan Capistrano – where the swallows return every year.  We didn’t see any swallows, and we didn’t even get a good photo of the mission.  In fact, we didn’t see a bird of any type; I was going to photograph the first bird we saw and call it a swallow.

 

Our drive met a new tempo as we realized that we were running late to arrive at Aunt Hazel and Uncle Pat’s home in Rancho Palos Verdes.  It had been a mere 38 years since I was last there, so we didn’t want to be late.  We took advantage of the carpool lane and rolled at top speed through the winding roads and hills to find sweet Aunt Hazel waiting on her driveway —  cell phone and camera in hand!  She even made a special sign to make it easy for us to find her.  It was wonderful to see her smiling face and the special welcome.  The DiSantos live on a gorgeous hill with panoramic views to Santa Monica and Long Beach.  The yard is filled with fruit trees they planted 37 years ago, and we are enjoying the world famous DiSanto tangerines as I write.  After Boz made the acquaintance of the stray kitty who has taken up residence in their patio/garden, we visited with Uncle Pat and their precious granddaughter, Celina.

 

I was really touched to see that Aunt Hazel is compiling a special “Round America Notebook” with printouts of the writing and photos from each day.  She had also gone through our Los Angeles area itinerary, and she had comments, recommendations, directions, and more to help us get the most of our time here.

 

Next was a special “Aunt Hazel Tour of the Peninsula,” something we would never have found in a book!  Aunt Hazel has a memory like a steel trap, and she demonstrated this throughout the drive.  She reminisced about my last visit to their home back in 1965, remembering that I loved the Baskin Robbins’ 31 Flavors, “trying” to learn to surf, and my strong desire to eat at Arturo’s Mexican Restaurant.  So, our first stop was Baskin Robbins, where Hazel insisted on treating us to cones of our choice.  I commented to the young man behind the counter, Ed, that I would return for another cone in 38 years at the age of 92, if Baskin Robbins can hang in there that long!

 

The Hazel Tour was something special.  She knew precisely where to stop the car so I could hop out and get a photo – often the tiniest of openings in a row of trees – the only spot where a photo could be taken.  As a loyal follower of the trip each day, she knew flags were important, and we saw several, including the largest we’ve yet encountered – 76-feet long!  She took us to the local King Neptune statue – not nearly as big as the one we saw in Panama City, but clearly the most erotic.  Sorry, but Bozzie won’t let me show the closeups on the web site.

 

The Wayfarer’s Chapel was really special.  This glass chapel in an incredible mountain-top setting was designed by Lloyd Wright.  One wedding after another is held there, and we met a number of wedding guests, including Erik and some other members of the United Samoan Organization in their highly cool classic Chevrolet Malibu Super Sports.  Cars are BIG in Southern California.

 

We were then reunited with cousins Tony and Joe.  My brother, sisters, and I had so much fun with them and their sister, Rosemarie, when we visited them on a family vacation in 1965.  They took us surfing, and I can still see myself holding their aqua blue surfboard as I stood on the beach.  That was the last time I stood, as I failed at ever getting up on the board in the water, but I was able to say that “I had been surfing at Redondo Beach, California.”  We went to a Dodgers baseball game on that visit.  We could see the fires burning during the Watts Riots in the summer of 1965.  We had our first-ever Baskin Robbins ice cream; the chain was new then, and 31 flavors of ice cream was the biggest deal I could remember happening.  Dad tried unsuccessfully to get franchise rights for Lubbock, Texas.  While the guys went to the game in 1965, the girls all went to Arturo’s Mexican Restaurant.  Aunt Hazel said I was upset to have missed this.  I suspect it was because I had not yet eaten Mexican food at that point in time.  Perhaps because of the miss on Arturo’s, I have rarely passed a Mexican restaurant since without stopping.  It’s my favorite food!  While I had no recollection of Arturo’s, Aunt Hazel remembered the story vividly, so there was no question where we would have dinner.  And Arturo’s was outstanding!  In business in the same location for over 50 years.  I’m afraid it may edge out Rosita’s for Best Mexican Food.

 

We were joined at dinner by Joe’s pregnant wife Shannon and her daughter, Chelsea.  Ava is due in June.  Tony’s children, Celina and Marco, also came along.  Chelsea, Celina, and Marco are really cute kids and exceptionally well mannered!  We had a great time talking and eating.  We vowed to stay in touch regularly now as our parents have done.

 

It was a wonderful reunion, and Bozzie Jane and I had a great time in Rancho Palos Verdes.  Special thanks to Aunt Hazel.  We love you!

 

We did not see the sun set today.  You can’t always chase sunsets.  We were doing something far more important — enjoying the company of family.  The lesson for the day is more a reminder of something we already know (as have been most of our lessons) — the importance of family.  Despite the many years that had passed, we immediately felt a special connection that you can only feel with family.  We have not stayed in touch with family and friends to the extent that we wished we had.  You have to really work at it, and we will work harder.

 

 

It’s 8:30 in the morning. 35143 65 degrees blue skies, scattered cumulus clouds

35164 we’re at the University of California in San Diego. It would just be a real shame to have to go to school here.

We’ve had a lovely tour of the campus. We, of course, didn’t want a tour but we did.

35175 9:18am 62 degrees It says it’s 101 miles to Los Angeles. We’re finally exiting at Via De La Viye where the hotel folks told us to turn left. They neglected to say drive about 100 miles and then turn left. The University of California at San Diego looks like as good a spot as you can pick to go to college.

We’re at 101 35177 9:22am.

We appear to be at Solana Beach 35178 9:24.

We just took a picture with yellow flowers, a beautiful water carta dot dash by dot dash the sea or whatever; it’s all hyphenated.

There are tons of jogger, bikers, and surfers here; lots of action. It’s Saturday morning so everybody’s out, dogs too.

We’re in Encenitas 35182 9:43 after we stopped at Surf Dogs Java Hut for a breakfast of delicious smoothies, one mango and one strawberry.

Lucadia 35183 9:46

We just saw the Coaster Train. Mom gets an ice cream.

We met Edwin, Stephen, and Charles at the doughnut shop and the “ya lady.”

35185 10:01 We’re in Carlsbad.

Oceanside 35192 10:14am

We took a picture of Neiman’s Restaurant built in 1887.

Carlsbad. We didn’t find La Costa but we did find the statue and Bozzie Jane is taking a photo of it.

We just saw a statue of Capt. John C. Frazier. He was the founder of the Springs Water around here and also the co-founder of Carlsbad by the Sea.

Oceanside. We took a picture of the 101 Café and a sign in their window.

35218 11:15 San Clemadine

Well we just returned from a wonderful surprise, the Dough Heeney ?? Woody Show on the side of the road. I met Stephanie, the child in sunglasses; Maxine, the child in the stroller; Pat and somebody else who owned Woody’s.

We were at Dough Heeney State Beach and Dana Point. 35226 12:29 as we leave the Woody show.

We’re trying to find Mission whatever Capestrano.

Mission via El Laguna Legal 35237

We just reached Laguna Hill 35241 1:05pm Pacific Daylight Time

35274 Costa Mesa

35282 Huntington Beach

35291 Long Beach

Harbor City 35309 2:19 we just got off the highway and are headed to Aunt April and Uncle Pat’s.

There is a big flag approximately 62×76 feet.

We took pictures of the USO cars, Eric, and the nice people from Michigan who came down for the wedding are Tom, Ann, Holly, and Craig.

Beauty and Ugly – Day 25

Day 25 – April 25, 2003 – Friday

Beauty and Ugly

Those of you who have been to San Diego know.  Those of you haven’t have undoubtedly heard how beautiful it is.  Well, it’s even more beautiful than that!  The sky and water are always azure blue.  Most of the buildings seem to be crisp white.  And the trees and plants and flowers combine a beautiful green with the other colors of the rainbow.  An important part of the beauty is due to the lush vegetation here; it must be the perfect climate and soil for making every tree and plant look healthy and beautiful.

 

Of the 626 towns that we have now seen on this trip, Savannah and San Diego are way at the top of the list for most beautiful city.  The two are as different as can be.  You might have to give San Diego the edge because of the weather here.  68 degrees most of the day with brilliant blue sky and bright sunshine.

 

Barbara asked Linh at the Marriott Courtyard this morning what it’s like to live in a place that is so beautiful with such an incredible climate.  She loves it, but she said people here take the climate and beauty for granted; they expect it to be sunny and beautiful every day.  Linh noted that there is a big trade-off to living in a place like this.  The cost-of-living here is sky high, and most people who live here know they will never own a home, as they just can’t afford one.

As we got dressed this morning, we saw on Fox News that ships were returning to the San Diego Naval Base from the Iraq War.  Three guesses where we went.  We tried to get on the base to wave and shake hands and hug soldiers, but a female in fatigues with a machine gun would not let us in.  I tried to take a picture of the lovely entrance area, but she told me I couldn’t.  Once again, I was wishing Rose was here to help.  I drove away, but after hooking a U and driving past the base again, I snapped a photo.  We also stopped and spoke with some of the ABC TV folks who were there to cover the event.  I was close to Fort Bliss when the POW’s returned there, and I regretted not heading there for a few photos, so we didn’t want to let this opportunity pass today.

 

What we saw of the Naval Base was very impressive.  We were very close to the border of Mexico at Tijuana, but we didn’t want to spend any of our San Diego time in Mexico.

 

Flags and yellow ribbons are everywhere in San Diego.  We always see this in military towns.  I didn’t realize San Diego had so much military, but it’s everywhere – naval bases, naval air stations, combat training centers, and on and on.

 

There is no way to see San Diego in one day, but that’s all we had, so we made the best of it.  To others, we would recommend several days, and begin with a trolley tour that covers the main sights in the city, and then explore on your own after that.

 

We started in Balboa Park, and we took a trolley ride around the park.  Rick Diaz was our driver/tour guide.  Balboa Park is filled with fabulous museums, beautiful buildings, and gorgeous trees and flowers.  I asked Rick if San Diego has anything like the world’s largest ball of twine, and he laughed.  Then he showed us the Spreckels Organ – the world’s largest outdoor organ and/or musical instrument.  It has 4,530 pipes.  Mighty impressive.  Then Rick told us a story about his gall bladder surgery.  The gall stone removed was about the size of a golf ball; he has it in a jar at his home.  He was quite the celebrity when he went to the lab to get it; all the medical folks wanted to come out and see the guy who produced such a monster.  All of us on the bus decided it MUST BE the world’s largest gall stone, so that gives San Diego two world’s largests.  I told Rick that in a number of towns across America, he could open a museum in his home and make money charging admission to see it.

 

That got me to thinking that perhaps there is a better use for the collection of over 100 hotel shampoo bottles that I am amassing from the journey.  Instead of auctioning them on ebay, maybe Bozzie Jane and I should open a museum to display them…or donate them to a place like Sponge-O-Rama or Harry and the Natives.

 

Anyway, we had a lot of laughs with Rick.  It turns out he is an actor and singer.  You can hear his music at www.tahoecitymusic.com.  Rick Diaz.  He’s also in an upcoming movie.

 

We met Allen, Bill, and Walter at the Balboa Park Visitor’s Center.  We had a nice chat, and when Bill (http://members.aol.com/otpadre/Welcome.htm) commented on the beads I was wearing, he asked if we had been to Mardi Gras.  No, I explained that the beads were a gift from the Floating Neutrinos.  Then I told them the whole story of meeting Poppa and Aurelia Neutrino (Day 18).  I explained that I don’t normally wear beads, but I am a little superstitious, and I figured anyone who floats on a raft from New York to Spain and lives to tell about it has some good luck going on, so I will continue to wear the beads.  Bill then took off his Hawaiian Lei and gave it to me.  How nice!  It matches my outfit really well.  My beads are green, purple, and white, and now I have a lovely purple, green, and yellow lei to wear with the beads.  I did notice the stares from men became a little more shocked-looking once I added the lei.  It may be a little too much color for most men.  Some guys just can’t wear purple.

 

Coronado was our next stop.  We drove over the San Diego – Coronado Bay Bridge, and we saw the Del Coronado Hotel, a massive place that is really something.  It’s a Victorian-style hotel built in 1887, and it is one of America’s largest wooden buildings.

 

We met Steve, a Coronado lifeguard.  Great guy.  He gave us several recommendations on places to go and things to see.  I asked him whether any Baywatch-looking babes worked on the beach in Coronado, and I believe the answer was no.  He said we missed the rescue of a sick little sea lion that morning; the folks from Sea World came to get it so they can nurse it back to health.

We met a man named Bill after he saw the signs on our car.  I gave him some information about Big Bend as he and his wife are planning a visit there, and he told me to get ready because I will love Sedona, Arizona.

 

Barbara had the honor of picking a lunch spot.  We had pizza at Island Pasta.  It was nice sitting out on the sidewalk, and Sharon our waitress was a lot of fun to talk with, but we prefer Domino’s.

 

We saw the San Diego Convention Center, the stadium where the San Diego Padres play, and Gaslamp Quarter – a downtown area filled with neat restaurants and shops.  We also stopped to see KC Barbeque, where scenes from “Top Gun” were filmed.  And we saw Seaport Village – another shopping area catering to tourists.

Old Town San Diego is the area where California and San Diego were first settled.  There are wonderful old, authentic buildings there, but virtually all of them have been turned into gift shops.  Not as bad as Tombstone, but not what we expected.

 

Mission Beach is the home of Belmont Park.  Nice beach and a cute little Coney Island-like area with a big wooden roller coaster.  On the boardwalk there, we met Malene, Tanya, Sonja, and Astra.  They’re from Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, and they are here for a year attending a language school.  They asked me to take their picture with their camera, and I was happy to do so.  I did tell Sonja of Germany that when she goes home, she needs to tell everyone in Germany that the Americans are great people, and their country needs to support us.  She wasn’t buying it.  As nice as she was, I’m afraid I don’t believe we should let anyone come here to study who comes from a country that doesn’t support the US.

 

Next up was a drive through La Jolla – the ritzy area of San Diego.  Lovely restaurants and shops.

 

From La Jolla, we headed to Point Loma – the very tip of San Diego out in the Pacific Ocean.  We saw the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Point Loma, and several Top Secret military installations.  We were able to get some San Diego skyline photos from Point Loma.  What a gorgeous city!  We had planned to shoot sunset photos from Point Loma, but there were signs that indicated the area was closed and we weren’t supposed to be there.  There were other cars in there with us, but I could just see that female sailor in fatigues with the machine gun picking me out of the crowd Vincent Passarelli-like as the one to nail for trespassing.  So, we headed for Ocean Beach.

 

Ocean Beach has the longest pier on the West Coast, so we took some photos from the shore and then snapped pics all the way out to the end of the pier and then back on shore.  It was an excellent place to shoot the sunset, and it is the first time in 25 days that we have had an unobstructed view of the sun as it disappeared on the horizon.  I did learn that the automatic focus on the camera malfunctions if the very center of the camera is pointed directly at the sun, so I lost some good photos.

 

We were too tired to go out to dinner, so we decided to hit In-N-Out Burger again! Outstanding!

We kept asking, but we didn’t find anything really quirky in San Diego.  That means there’s an opportunity here.  If Rick decides to open a museum with his gall stone, then Boz and I would consider donating our shampoo collection to help get it started.

 

The main lesson we took from today is to appreciate what we have.  It’s hard to believe that people who live in such an amazingly beautiful place with a great climate would take it for granted, but most apparently do.  This lesson was also conveyed to us today when we knew that just a few feet away brave men and women were returning from a war fought for the purpose of protecting our country and our liberties.  We should all appreciate what we have as Americans.  And then there’s my traveling partner – back on duty.  As is all too often the case, I know I appreciated her more when she was gone, but I’m mighty happy to have her back.

 

***

 

To those of you who have emailed to tell me how ugly my shoes are….After 25 days on the road, perhaps I have lost all perspective, but they don’t look THAT ugly to me.  🙂   I’m definitely into comfort at this point.

 

 

Bozzie Jane is here and we’re in the car. We left the hotel at about 35,051 at 11:00. 68 degrees.

Sprekle’s organ, 4530 pipes.

35063 we’re coming over the Del Coronado Bridge and have entered the city limits of Coronado. It’s just been an enjoyable little bit of time at Balboa Park; the highlights were seeing the world’s largest outdoor organ and/or musical instrument, meeting Al, Bill (he gave me a lei at the visitor’s center) and Walter, seeing some beautiful buildings, architecture, gorgeous grounds, and then meeting Rick, the owner of the world’s largest gallstone.

Rick has got a CD out and he’s going to be in a movie. He gave me his website and I will link to it.

Coronado had one of those little temperature or thermometer deals. They were looking for 200,000 compared to Truth or Consequence who was looking for 5.

There’s major flag action here. I think that’s because it’s a military town and people are always more patriotic in a military area.

I met Steve, the lifeguard; he was a nice guy who gave us recommendations for restaurants. He told us that Dr. Beach of the Trail channel was out here this morning because they’ve named Coronado the best beach, and they rescued a little sea lion. The folks from Sea World came to pick it up and nurse it back to good health.

We also met Bill who travels a lot. He saw the signs on the car.

We were at the US Naval Station where a lady with a machine gun wouldn’t let us in so we took a picture as we drove by. Then we went to the Guest Lamp Quarter; we saw the baseball stadium where they have a bunch of work going on.

35078 2:56pm as we leave The Guest Lamp Quarter, historic heart of San Diego. It is basically the number of restaurants down near the Convention Center where we took a picture.

We just toured Sea Port Village.

Toll Town is little nicer than Tombstone but basically just a bunch of real old buildings from when California was first settled. They’re all giftshops now. Now we’re at Mission Beach where they have even the world’s largest or something wooden rollercoaster.

 

We met Malene Estra from Germany or Holland.

7:31 pm 65 degrees 35123 we’re at Ocean Beach where the sun has just set. It definitely sets earlier here than it does at some other spots because I think it was 8:26 that I took the last sunset picture which was in Big Bend. There are really nice unobstructed views of the sun going down the whole time, so that was a first. We were on the longest pier on the west coast—Ocean City Pier.

 

Eloy World and the Center of the World – Day 24

Eloy World and the Center of the World

Day 24 – April 24, 2003 – Thursday

The day was spent making the LONG drive from Tucson to San Diego, but cactus, a surprise find in Eloy, Dateland’s famous Date Milkshake, Yuma, and the Center of the World in Felicity still made for an interesting “travel day.”  But the big news of the day is that Barbara Jane Gray Windsor, better known as Boz, Bozzie, or Bozzie Jane, has returned from granddaughter Madison duties in Atlanta.  Mighty nice to have her back.  This is a two-person deal for sure!

I drove close to 500 miles today — from Tucson to San Diego.  Blue sky, sunshine, and 75 degrees as I hit the road.

 

I met John and Zach Davenport, policeman Reuben, and Ian at PostNet when I stopped to ship a huge box of stuff back to Atlanta .  I also met Elizabeth Linville and an assistant at the Check Advance check cashing service next door, and Ian the honest ebayer who was complaining that someone had unfairly given him negative feedback.  I hit Donut Wheel for breakfast-for-the-road, and the donuts were excellent.

 

I decided to swing by Old Tucson on the way out of town, but when I got to the Saguaro National Park, the only access was a dirt road, and I decided against any car abuse after just having it serviced and cleaned.  I did see some nice desert and cactus in the Park.

 

At my first gas stop, I met biker Tom Curry from Dyersburg, Tennessee.  He informed me that Bristol, Tennessee is closer to Canada than to Memphis, Tennessee.  I gave $2 to Jim Bob, a man on the side of the road with a sign asking for help.

 

The only route from Tucson to California is interstate.  So, I was rolling down the interstate through Eloy, Arizona when I spotted a pastel green and pink ski lift-like gondola cars mounted on poles.  Then I saw what appeared to be a “sculpture” of a pink race car of some type with giant tires.  My car knows what to do in such cases…so off at the next exit and U-turning back we go.  I began to see other strange-looking “sculptures.”  I wasn’t sure you would call these sculptures, but I didn’t know what else to call them.  I snapped a couple of photos and then decided to investigate further.

 

I got off the interstate access road and drove around until I found an entrance gate of sorts.  I had a better vantage point of the place from here.  There was no sign or name, so I am calling it “Eloy World” until I investigate further.  It appeared to be sandy desert land, perhaps several hundred acres, with sculptures scattered about as well as trucks, farm equipment, and fire engines painted with similar pastel colors and positioned in a way that I feel someone saw them as art.

 

I ran into a man driving a truck who only spoke Spanish.  I then saw a utility company pickup, and I met Jim and his lovely daughter, Whitley (who loves Colton).  It was Take Your Daughter to Work Day.  Jim advised me that this was built to be a theme park by an eccentric man, but no one came.  He figured no one would care if I took some photos.

 

I drove in a ways and began taking pictures.  An older man in a big, floppy straw hat (the type usually worn by a woman) waved me down and came over in a giant dump truck.  His name was Dick.  I asked if it was okay if I took a few pictures, and he said yes.  I asked if he was the owner, and he said “unfortunately.”  He declined to let me take his photo, but I did snap a shot of the truck as he drove off.  I wish he would have spoken with me as I would love to know the story behind this whole deal.  I will have to investigate further for the book.

 

The internet made the investigation easy.  To Yahoo I went, entered “Eloy, Arizona amusement park,” and up came information.  “Eloy World” was actually known as Family Fun World.  The man I met was Richard (Dick) Songers.  It seems he was a solid, hard-working construction man from Michigan with a dream.  He wanted to turn the land he bought in 1995 for $165,000 into a scrap-metal-bedecked amusement park and drive-thru, wild-animal zoo with a drop-off water ride, a race car track, and a concert stage.   He ran out of money, and in October 2001, he auctioned off whatever anyone would buy.  Some of the items up for auction included a couple of oil rigs from the heart of Texas, old fire trucks that no longer worked, a set of kiddy carnival rides and – last but not least – three painted trailers portraying an old, western town.  A few of these items sold, though Dick apparently did not find buyers for much of what he had.

Sometimes we get an idea in our heads, and we either don’t listen to others when they tell us it’s a bad idea, or folks aren’t open enough to tell us.  The thought crossed my mind that the oddly dressed woman I saw in downtown Tucson could be Dick’s wife.

 

I enjoyed “Eloy World,” because it is one of those strange, unexpected sights that just appear out of nowhere.  Most of the day was spent with highway straight ahead and flat desert to either side of the car as I drove much faster than I have for the last 24 days.

 

Dateland was my next stop – 122 miles from Eloy World.  I had heard about their Date Shakes, so I had to have one.  I also had a piece of Date Pie.  Sheryl was my waitress.  I loved the shake.  I’ve had much better pie.

 

Another hour down the road, and I spotted a Radio Shack just off the highway in Yuma.  Raul fixed me up with the fourth tape recorder of the trip.  Radio Shack stood behind the one that jammed, so I got this one quickly and easily for free.  It would have been an ordeal at a place like Best Buy.

 

I detoured off the highway to visit the Yuma Proving Ground.  This is where the US Army tests all types of equipment.

 

I reached the gates of the Yuma Territorial Prison State Park just after 5, just after the old prison closed for the day.  I saw signs for “historic downtown Yuma,” and I decided to check it out.  It appeared that they roll up the sidewalks at 5 pm in Yuma.

 

California became our ninth state just a few miles down the road.  It has taken 6,979 miles to drive from Atlanta to the border of California.  Just inside the state, I saw a sign for Felicity, California, and I exited on “Center of the World Drive.”  Believe it or not, a man convinced several countries and this county to name Felicity, California the Center of the World.  He built an impressive pink granite pyramid to mark the precise spot.

 

The whole place clearly ranks as the strangest sight we’ve seen.  It was truly spooky.  The first thing I saw was a set of metal stairs extending up in the sky to absolutely nothing.  It seems these are old stairs previously used at the Eiffel Tower.  Then a saw a little shed that was signed “Felicity Train Depot,” but there were no train tracks to be found.  I also saw a sand pit that was signed “Desert Bowling,” as well as a giant gravel checkerboard.  The next sight was a sundial featuring Michaelangelo’s arm.   Around the pyramid building were two big long (maybe 150-feet each) granite walls with various names cut into the granite as you would see at any big national monument.  But the wall I saw had the names of the graduates from the Princeton graduating class of 1949.  There wasn’t a person in sight, and I kept looking behind myself to see if someone was going to throw a blanket over my head and carry me off to the cult leader.  I jogged back to the car and drove quickly away.  Strange, strange place!  You know what they say about California — Land of the Fruit and NUTS.

 

The last 150 miles across the Southern tip of California would have been interesting to see, but the sun set just past the center of the world.  I did manage to get a photo of the incredible dunes near the town of Imperial.  Due to the loss of the sun, I amended the route to stay on the interstate rather than drive along the border with Mexico.

 

Bozzie Jane called to say her flight had landed as I was pulling into the San Diego airport.  How great it is to have her back.  We hit the In-N-Out Burger for a late dinner of cheeseburgers and fries.  In-N-Out is a California chain, but not a franchise.  Everything is fresh and fantastic.  They do not even have freezers.  The entire operation is exceptional.  We were extremely impressed with the food, the cleanliness, and the quality of the crew running the place.

 

The lesson for the day is to listen when others tell you your ideas are crazy.  It’s no fun to think or say “unfortunately” when someone asks if you are the owner, and it’s even less fun to have to sell off your trailers with paintings of an old western town on the side just to pay a few bills to try to stay afloat.  As to the Center of the World, I’m just speechless.

Photo Gallery:

These are all the worthwhile photos from Day 24.  When you click on a thumbnail photo of interest, it will open the photo in a larger size.  When you hover your cursor over a thumbnail, it displays a caption that identifies the photo.

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Quiet Day – Day 23

Day 23 – April 23, 2003 – Wednesday

Quiet Day

A quiet day.  I didn’t do a lot, and I didn’t meet many people.  The morning was spent at the hotel – resting my eye and writing.  The work by Dr. Miller and the medication are definitely working as the eye feels much better.

 

I headed for downtown Tucson a little before noon.  I found Café Poca Cosa, a highly-regarded Mexican restaurant.  Yvonne was my waitress, and she recommended the Chef’s Special – an assortment of three entrees.  All were very good, though much fancier Mexican food than I am used to.  The hot sauce was great – probably the best I’ve ever had, and the quantity of food served was most impressive.  The place was packed.  I met Heather standing in line waiting for a table.  She said the best thing about Tucson is the downtown area.

 

After lunch, I followed Heather’s advice and walked around downtown.  I saw a beautiful church, a great old theatre that is being restored, and some nice murals.  Downtown Tucson is very clean, but I passed a lot of empty storefronts.  Since several people told me downtown Tucson was cool, I’m sure it is, but I didn’t stumble upon the cool part.

 

I did meet some heavily-tattooed dudes who were skateboarding.  Two punk rock bands passing through on the way to a gig in San Diego.  I’d not normally strike up a conversation with young guys with tattoos and rings in various body parts, and they’d probably not normally talk with a gray-haired guy wearing Rockport Walkers and love beads, but the three I spoke with were very nice.

 

From downtown, I headed to Miracle Mile.  This is an area that is home to all of the old motels built in the 40’s and 50’s.  A significant number still exist, and I took photos of the great old signs.  While the sign was poor, I loved seeing the No-Tel Motel.  The Sahara appears to be undergoing a complete restoration.  I applauded that, needless to say.  I ran across a couple of rough-looking guys as I found myself in a dead-end alley when I pulled off to take two photos.

I saw an extremely interesting woman near the Pueblo Hotel and Apartments.  She was all draped in layers of clothes (on an always hot Tucson day), wearing sunglasses, and a scarf wrapped over her hair and most of her face.  Her shoes were silver and gold slippers and didn’t look to be a street person’s shoes.  She wore bold-striped socks.  She was carrying a shopping bag, but again, it didn’t appear to be a street person’s bag.  She had on earphones – not sure if she was listening to something or simply using them to cover her ears.  I’d love to know the story there, but I didn’t feel comfortable approaching her.  She might have been a well-dressed street person, but she could just as easily have been an eccentric movie star.  I’m bettin’ on movie star.

I don’t feel nearly as comfortable in Tucson as I have felt in the small towns.  There are a lot of street people, and the drivers are the worst I have encountered.  I get honked at repeatedly for driving the speed limit.  Very annoying.

 

The highlight of the day was the miles and miles of old airplanes at the Davis Monithan Airfield.  Grady Harrell, our daughter’s father-in-law, told me not to miss it.  It’s unbelievable – airplanes for as far as you can see.  Great, old airplanes of all types.  It is the world’s largest airplane graveyard.  It’s always good to see that there’s a place for old stuff.

 

I didn’t chase the sun today.  I know the sunset would have been outstanding from Mount Lemmon, the big ski area outside Tucson, but I still have a lot of writing to do.

 

Tucson is a really nice place.  I’ve been here several times before, so I’ve seen most of the sights.  I’m sorry I didn’t get out to see them again so I could photograph them to share.  I have loved visiting Old Tucson, the site of many of the great old western movies.  Sadly, much of it was destroyed by fire, and while it has been rebuilt, I understand it’s just not the same.  It’s bad enough when great old buildings and other stuff gets destroyed by neglect or “progress,” but to lose these treasures by fire, flood, hurricane, and the like is especially sad.

 

After the huge lunch, I wasn’t at all hungry at dinner time.  But I had to see Little Anthony’s Diner, so I went for a late pie about 10 pm.  The HamburgerMobile had caught my eye.  The whole place has been really well done by local entrepreneur Tony Terry.  I had Mud Pie, but the highlight at Little Anthony’s was the people who work there.  Brooklyn, the hostess, was very nice, and when she heard about the trip, she called out to one of the waiters, and the next thing I knew, there were four young people seated with me — Brooklyn, Kyle, Greg, and Dawn.  We just talked, and laughed, and told stories for an hour or so. They are all proud of where they work and who they work for.   I didn’t meet Tony Terry, but I like him.  He’s a very sharp entrepreneur.  He does things with creativity, and he obviously attracts great people.

 

The kids asked me what the lesson of the day was, and I told them I hadn’t decided yet.  I guess my primary thought today is quit the honking!  Everyone would be better off if they weren’t in such a hurry.