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.