We saw Los Angeles on a sign for the first time today! We have 500 miles left to go until we reach Los Angeles. We thought we would split it up into to days of around 250 miles each. But when we did the math - there is NOTHING out there until you reach Barstow. In my mind I was thinking "Bishop" a lovely town just before you get to Mammoth. I have never been to Barstow but somehow I am pretty sure it is not Bishop. It feels strange to now enter areas that I am familiar with - Lake Havasu, Needles, Blythe - places I have traveled before but never on back roads. I was excited to see what was out there off the highway but concerned now that I know some of these areas and for the first time am feeling a little anxious for my safety. It has always been a concern to me if we get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere but now even more so.
We left Sedona and went to the Deer Park in Williams just outside of Flagstaff. We came here years ago when Griffin was around 2 on the way to the Grand Canyon. We had great memories of the deer and so we went back. Lesson number one: Some places are meant for young kids. Lesson number two: It is not a good idea to try to repeat a great memory.
I did however really enjoy this fellow.
We left the Deer Park pretty disappointed and ready to get on the road and try to tackle the long drive. But just as we came around the corner to the Route, we saw a sign for Bearizona. You know we are suckers for animals. We tried to resist and we couldn't. It was kind of like the Wild Animal Park we had gone to earlier in the trip but this time the animals were dangerous. You could not open your windows. If your car stalled, you had to put on your flashers, honk your horn and call the emergency numbers on the card they gave you. We just wanted to see the bears. But it was pretty cool to see a wolf up close.
We drove through as fast as we could so we could see the bears and get back on the road. It was pretty uneventful... bears sleep in the day. Okay enough nonsense ... back on the road!
The drive was pretty uneventful until we got to Seligman, Arizona where the Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-in is. It is a ridiculous place filled with so much fun and nonsense and it was perfect timing for us.
Griffin declared we had to get a root beer float. Since we hadn't eaten since our left over dinner from last night for breakfast (yes, we did!) we added a hot dog and fries. Our bodies are not the same from eating all this junk but somehow we cannot help ourselves. The hotdog was the kind that my mom used to make where you "fry" the outside in a pan with butter. Wow.
We kept the little smiley face potato on our dash along with the flowers we got way back in Oklahoma from the Veterans on Memorial Day. They are cheering us on ... we are getting so close to home!
After Seligman there were a few little towns like we were used to - rundown and abandoned mostly ... I am still snapping photos of the motel signs when I can.
But mostly we are just driving through nowhere. A lot of desert.
We are listening to the end of the book, "The Life of Pi" and out of the 100 chapters we have about 30 to go. It is incredibly detailed and at times painful to listen to. It seems appropriate. The desert just goes on and on and on. The drive is painful too.
Occasionally we will pass a car on the road or I will see something that sparks my interest. A lot of the time I am exclaiming, "Where the heck are we?" Off in the distance Griffin notices a road that is going up into the "mountains". We laugh about driving up it. There is no way, I say, that the old route would go up that incline. But I am wrong. We do. We drive forever up and up and around and around and around, switchback after switchback. I am incredulous that people would have to do this in the cars they had back then. I read later in the book we are using as a guide that it was a very hard climb for cars and drivers back then. There were wreckers in the area solely to haul the motorists over the crest. And some cars would make the trek in reverse. Really. For two reasons - one, reverse is a substantially lower gear than first gear, and two, moving in reverse could overcome the shortcomings of early gravity-fed fuel delivery systems. (I copied that out of our book, "Route 66 Adventure Handbook by Drew Knowles, page 361). I have made the drive from Lake Havasu to Long Beach so many times I cannot even count and all I can think about is why did they not use the flat road?
We have no idea where we are. We have no cell reception and I am not even sure if we are still in Arizona or have crossed the border into California. And then we come around a corner and see a burro standing in the road.
At first I thought it was just one burro. And then I saw them ... there were many. Just roaming around.
It was the funniest thing I have ever seen! And in the middle of nowhere popped up this little town of Oatman (Arizona). It is an old mining town from the 30's and Route 66 is the only road that goes through it. For a while it was a ghost town but today it is a tourist town. I got out of my car and asked a woman who was selling kettle corn what was up with the burros. She told me it was their town - they were there first. The people came after and they look after them now.
The Oatman Hotel is where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard came for their honeymoon in 1939!
After Oatman we felt revived again. We continued driving and somewhere along the way we crossed over into California. It was pretty uneventful - no big signs on this little road.
We drove well into the evening. We needed to make it to Barstow and we still had over 100 miles to go. It is about a two hour drive on the highway and we were averaging about 2 & 1/2 - 3 times longer than highway driving. I stopped taking photos around 6 PM when I realized I needed to DRIVE as fast as I could to get to Barstow by dark. I did not want to be on an isolated road in the dark. I don't think I have ever been as anxious as I have this whole trip as I was on that road. Often we would be on a road that paralleled the main highway but this last stretch before Barstow we were for some reason pulled way out into the desert away from the main road. We had estimated the "detour" to be around 60 miles and I figured I could do that in an hour an a half. I was counting on that as the sun would go down just about that time. I watched my milage and the clock religiously and hoped Griffin's estimate was correct. it was! We pulled onto the main highway just as the last bit of sun went down and we rolled into Barstow around 8:30. We stopped for food at the only non-chain place that was open (we actually combed the city for everything and all they had was fast food). We ordered our food (salads!) and two cups of ice water which were given to us without lids. Somewhere on the way to our hotel my iPhone slipped into one of the cups.
The only market was all the way across town said the convenience store employee where we had stopped in to see if they sold rice (the antidote to fix a wet phone). But then we spotted a Panda Express and went in to see if they would sell us un-cooked rice. They did! My phone is sleeping in a nice little nest of rice tonight and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be okay. Each night we tell each other our best and worst of each day. Today I think was my best (the burros!) and my worst (the scary drive and my phone drowning) of the entire trip. I think we drove over 400 miles today. Tomorrow we will be home!!!