Summer Trip 2016—Day 1: June 15

Louise Speaks:  Day 1:  Well it’s that time of year again.  We are on our summer trip heading to Canada.  We don’t have an exact time frame since we don’t have to get back to work or have any other obligations.  What we do know is that this trip is probably going to take us through 15 states…even that isn’t a certainty as we have not planned our return route yet.  That being said, this trip is another Thelma and Louise adventure.  We hope you enjoy tagging along.

100_9301We started our journey in Mesa and headed to Prescott to have a few final things done to the RV before we started our journey.  From there it was off to Winslow, AZ.  Now we have been here before and have written about Winslow several times.  Once while passing through and “standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona” and then again when we did Route 66.  I took a picture of this giant guitar on the corner of Route 66 for my son in law Matt.  Today however was not about Winslow or Route 66 but because we were doing some “quirky” things we found to see and to give us a reason to stop.

100_9293Winslow High School is home to the Bulldogs, so it seemed fitting that they would have a giant Bulldog just down the street from the high school.  I’m sure people thought we were out of our minds to stop and take a picture of this giant dog…but we did.

100_9295From the Bulldog it was off to down town Winslow and the famous Route 66.  This structure is said to be the smallest church on Route 66, but it can compete as the smallest church in America.  It is only 7 feet by 4.5 feet and has two benches and an alter that can sit two people and a minister.  This so called church was built with the lumber from the historic Skylark Bar which was torn down at this very spot.  The window in the church is from the old Mormon church in Winslow.

100_9308On the outskirts of town is a 9-11 Remembrance Garden.  I think every city in Arizona is part of this tradition as this is at least the third memorial we have seen.  These two long metal pieces are from the actual twin towers and have been placed in a large park area complete with parking and places to walk around.  It is a very somber feeling when you can still see the burned torched sections of the pillars.

thWe decided to stay over night in Winslow for two reasons.  One because it was getting late and we had a late start and two because another one of our goals is to camp at all the State Parks in Arizona.  Turns out Winslow is home to the Homolovi State Park Campground.  Although it is in the middle of nowhere it is a very nice park.  At night we could see the traffic going east and west on Interstate 40 as well as seeing the night lights of Winslow.  There are shade trees, great showers and each camp site has a fire pit, a bar-b-Que pit and a picnic table.  The parking spaces are paved and you’re not very close to your neighbors.  Although there was no wifi, you can pick up all the local TV stations.  I would definitely stay here again.  It’s nice and close enough off the I-40 to make an easy off and on if you need a place to camp over night.

Today was a good day.  We didn’t keep track of our time as there was a major accident on I-40 that actually had the freeway closed for close to an hour.  Then since we left Affinity RV late and just got off to a late start, time was not a factor.  But we did see all we meant to see and were hooked up at our camp site by 6:00.  We only did 260 miles today, but at least we are on the road and heading East.

Route 66—San Bernardino, CA to Santa Monica Pier, CA

Louise Speaks:  Day 19:  September 30, 2015.  Well this is it.  We hope to finish Route 66 today.  After staying in Rancho Cucamonga last night, we drove back to San Bernardino, CA.  to begin where we left off last night.  Hopefully we reach the Pier by night fall.

100_7972Before we looked for Route 66 stuff, we had a few quirky things to see.  The first being the grave site of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy’s Guitarist.  Why this is quirky I have no idea, but the grave was pretty unique.  It had guitars and airplanes, probably because he tied in a plane crash.  He was actually in a small plane and was buzzing his tour bus while the band members were sleeping.  He had done it twice with no mishap, but the third time he crashed and was killed.

20150929_184257From the cemetery it was off to find a Little League Statue.  This was actually very hard to find using our directions.  We asked several people but no one seemed to know what we were talking about.  We just starting looking for baseball fields, and waa laa, we found it.  The statue is 12 to 15 feet tall and is painted in detail down to the Angels uniform and cap.  The statue is to honor the annual Western Regional Little League Tournament that the city of San Bernardino puts on.  The statue is very life-like and can be seen from the 215 freeway as he greets motorists speeding by.

100_7977Now that we were on the Route 66 trail, we were told, once again, that the longest map of route 66 is painted on the side of San Bernardino’s City Hall.  Well, how hard can it be to find City Hall?  For us, pretty hard.  We couldn’t tell the difference between City Hall, and the Court House, or the Public Service Building, etc. etc.  It’s actually a large legal complex, so we drove around many times and there it was.  This map also serves as a Hall of Fame Wall.  In fact the wall is titled, “Cruisin’ Hall of Fame”.  Every year since 1995, plaques have been added to honor those who have made a major difference to the uniquely American automotive cruising era.  The map is there as well, and the plaques are just added along the way.

100_0956Our last stop in San Bernardino, CA is the Original McDonald’s.  Now my son-in-law and I had a disagreement as to the first McDonald’s and he claims it is in Illinois, BUT after some research, the first “franchise” McDonald’s is in Illinois, but this was the very first McDonald’s site.  The site is now a museum.  Here you will find everything from the first milkshake machine, the happy meal toys, statues of Ronald 100_0949McDonald, every piece of history that can be found is in this museum.  Some of the artifacts date back to the 1940’s.  The outside of the building has a very artistic wall mural and the original McDonald playground toys are sitting out front.  What we were most interested in was the 11 foot long french fry.  I could not find an explanation for the french fry, but the employee on duty knew the story.  Apparently when the french fry machine was being used for a newspaper story, they peeled off 11 feet of potato, making it the longest french fry.  Over the years the french fry is all shriveled up, and it looks disgusting…but it is on display (we had to ask where it was) in a case, if you ever want to go see it.

100_0961From San Bernardino, if you stay on Foothill Blvd.  that is actually Route 66.  Foothill Blvd. now goes all the way to the Santa Monica Pier, with a few deviations.  Continuing West we weren’t sure if we were still in San Bernardino or in the city of Rialto, CA.  We were looking for the Wigwam Village Motel No. 7.  Apparently along Route 66, at one time there were seven of these wigwam motels.  There are only two left, 100_0966this one in Rialto and the one we visited a few days ago in Holbrook, AZ.  This has got to be the cutest, most unusual motel, you have ever seen.  The rooms have a sleeping area, and a sitting area, and a restroom, all inside an actual wigwam.  The windows and doors are very low as the walls and ceiling peak to the top.  Rates range from $50 to $80 depending on the number of people.  This is definitely a place I’m coming back to stay.

100_7997Continuing West through Fontana, CA is a quirky thing called a Big Orange Stand.  This orange stand once sold Orange Juice along Route 66.  It was more interesting finding it and walking to it than the stand itself.  There was major construction going on so we had to jump over puddles and walk through the mud just to get a picture.  I’m sure once the construction is all gone, the Orange Stand will be open for business and the walk less complicated.  Today it is part of the Bono’s Fruit Company and I’m sure they sell more than oranges.

100_7999We are now back in Rancho Cucamonga, CA where they have a Vintners Walk which explains the history of Wine Making.  My daughter who lives here has no idea what I’m talking about.  The directions, make it sound like it is in a shopping center.  All we knew was it was on a corner.  Turns out I have been here many times and it is a circular tube walkway, that at every few feet is a story of a local winery and how it began.  Rancho Cucamonga is grape country, so many winery’s close by.

100_0989Rancho Cucamonga also has an overpass that pays tribute to the cars that drove on Route 66.  It is very artistic and is three dimensional.  You get a different picture from every angle.  Apparently Thelma’s relative was here for the ribbon country when the overpass was complete.  You really have to stop and look at it instead of just driving under it.  There is a walking park just to the right of the overpass where you can park and really take it all in.

100_0991Continuing on Foothill Blvd, AKA Route 66, you reach the town of Azusa, CA.  Here there is supposed to be another McDonald’s from the 60’s as well as a very old Wells Fargo Bank.  What we really wanted to find was the Foothill Drive In Theater.  For you young folks, you have no idea how popular Drive Ins were back in the 60’s.  I went to high school not to far from here, but I don’t think I was at this drive in, but maybe I was.  At any rate, this drive in is still here, and just looking at the sign it brings back great memories.

100_8017Next is the town of Monrovia, CA.  We’re told that Monrovia is home to the Aztec Hotel, a historical landmark.  This is one of the examples of Mauan Revival architecture still in existence.  The hotel was built-in 1924 and closed for renovations in 2012.  The hotel is supposed to open in 2015 or later.  Looking at it we can’t tell if the renovations are done or not, but the hotel does not look very inviting.  Maybe it’s the color or maybe it is the architecture, but it doesn’t belong on Route 66.

100_8018What we did find a bit interesting in Monrovia, CA was right in the middle of an old neighbor hood is an old gas station…one like what we’ve been seeing on Route 66.  It does not appear to have been restored, but here it sits, literally in the middle of a neighborhood.  Someone could turn this into a general store or an ice cream shop and fit right in.

100_8021We now reach the heart of Route 66, Pasadena, CA. Pasadena is one of those towns like Illinois that has one Route 66 from 1926 to 1940 and another part from 1940 until the freeways took over.  We are trying to follow signs by Route 66 attractions and don’t really know what portion we are on.  We know that Colorado Blvd goes right through the center of town and is also the route of the Rose Parade.  Right on Colorado Blvd is the Saga Motor Hotel.  Walking in the lobby you feel like you are Lucy and Ricky Ricardo walking in to rent a room…it is right out of the 50’s.  The pool is lushly landscaped with swaying palm trees and a clear blue pool.  What a hidden gem.  It is close to everything and easy to get to by using the metro link train.

100_8025Going through the city of Pasadena, we were looking for the Bekins Storage Roof Sign.  The sign was erected in 1926 and it was converted to a neon sign in 1929.  The sign is 60 feet off the ground on the top of the Bekins Storage Company.  The sign was designed and placed here to attract drivers on Route 66 from 1926 until 1940.  This huge sign is the only surviving large roof top sign from before World War II.  It is also one of the few remaining signs of its time from that period.  In 1960 Pasadena passed a law banning signs of this size on roof tops.  However, the city made an exception to allow signs from before 1960 to be exempt.  Therefore, the Bekins Storage Sign was saved.  With a sign of this size you think it would be easy to find.  We drove up and down Fair Oaks Ave many times looking for this sign.  It wasn’t until we stopped and asked about the sign that we were told the Bekins Storage Company is now Public Storage, so the big orange Public Storage sign is what we were looking for.  You think that might have been mentioned in the information I had.  The sign was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

100_8022We then went looking for a Milestone Marker 11.  It is supposed to be in front of a McDonald’s.  How many McDonald’s can the city of Pasadena have?  This was one of the easiest things to find.  This milestone marker was placed all Foothill Blvd (Route 66) as one of the six highways established and marked by Los Angeles County in the 1900’s.  This marker marked 11 miles from the Los Angeles County Courthouse.  Each highway was also marked using a block system.  Every mile, or road would be 10 blocks long.  When the highway system disbanded in 1908 the highway system was forgotten.  Mile Marker 11 is the only remaining milestone of the three placed in Pasadena.  If you 100_8024go hunting for Milestone Marker 11, take a moment to look at the beautiful building across the street…I think it’s a church, but I’m not sure.

100_8035Nightfall is sneaking up on us, as is LA traffic.  We have to go through Beverly Hills and Hollywood, and there are many things to see here, but they are not part of Route 66.  Today was all about finishing Route 66 and getting to Santa Monica Pier.  We did reach the pier, but finding a place to park was another story.  Today is Wednesday, don’t people work?  We parked on Ocean Ave, where the Will Rogers Plaque is supposed to 100_8027be.  This plaque is supposed to mark the 2500 mile journey of Route 66.  There are stories of where it actually ends, but we are going to both locations just to make sure, then we will walk the pier as you can’t go further in a car than the ocean.  Since it is getting dark, the plaque was hard to find, but we did find it.  We also found the Route 66 end on the Pier.



100_8033What a journey this has been. What an adventure.  And what fun.  Today’s adventure took us about 9 hours and we drove 82 miles.  So much to see, and so much traffic.  In total our Route 66 adventure took us 19 days, 8 states and 2648 miles.  So all in all driving 148 miles extra to see all the quirky things really isn’t that bad. This is definitely something you should put on your bucket list.  It was on ours, and now it’s done.  I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did.

Thelma Speaks:

Route 66—Day 18 Con’t—Barstow, CA to San Bernardino, CA

Louise Speaks:  Day 18 Con’t:  September 29, 2015.  So Barstow, CA is a familiar stop.  It’s the main city after Needles when traveling the I-40 from California to Arizona.  However, seeing the quirky things or the Route 66 attractions were never on our list of things to see.  This stop is usually for gas or food.  So today is going to be a different type of adventure.

100_0853Our first stop is the Fast Food Fake Train Station.  McDonald’s out did themselves on this one.  They have turned train cars into the restaurant.  Barstow is a busy hub for railroad traffic.  The Bastow Station is a concoction of fast food and traveler stores in a building with multiple passenger train cars docking on three sides.  It started as a McDonald’s in 1975 and at the time it was the Worlds 100_7892Largest McDonald’s.  That is  what draws100_7884 people here to eat.  You can sit in the refurbished train cars to eat and the caboose is actually the restroom.

100_0864Driving through town we wanted to see many of the Route 66 motels.  The Torches Motel is still in operation in Barstow.  The motel still has the original neon sign out front.




100_0858However, the Route 66 gem in town is the Route 66 Motel.  This unique motel shows route 66 decor right from the lobby.  The cleanliness could be a bit better, but you are in a historic route 66 motel.  In the parking lot you will find old cars between the rooms to take you back in time.  The rooms have round beds and the prices very affordable.  The exterior wall of the motel has the longest map of Route 66.  Now many other places claim this title, but I haven’t measured them so I don’t know for sure.  It’s just a cute motel, and is an essential stop while in Barstow.

100_7909A stop in Barstow, CA would not be complete without stopping at the Train Station.  Like in Needles, it is a Harvey House Rail Depot, except this one is completely renovated and still in operation today.  Today it is also home to the Barstow Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors Bureau.  This building serves many purposes.  You can rent one of the many ballrooms for large parties or weddings.  The have exclusive ghost 100_0873tours.  And there are many activities that take place in the Harvey House.  We were fortunate to be able to have a guided tour, and the pictures of previous historic weddings, and the acoustics of the room made you feel like you were a part of history.  Since this is also a train station, the grounds are full of old railroad cars and the tracks are just out front the main door so there is always a train not too far away.  We spent quite a 100_0881bit of time here, both inside and outside the Harvey House.  It’s a bit tricky to get to the main entrance as you have to go over a very old bridge and then find how to get to the station parking lot.  But once you are parked, everything is right there, all together.

100_7927On the back side of the Harvey House is the Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum.    It happened to be closed today so we couldn’t go inside, but like with other Route 66 museums I’m sure it is full with many pieces of history and of Route 66.  Just like gas stations, I’m getting a bit tired of Route 66 museums as well.  The motels still interest me, but the rest….well we’re almost done, so how many more museums and gas stations can there be?

100_7928Our last quirky thing to see in Barstow is a Giant Fire Helmet.  It sits in front of the Barstow Fire Dept and serves as a memorial to the firefighters who died on 9/11.  It is made of fiberglass and is a replica of the New York City Fire Dept’s helmet.  The helmet comes complete with a golden eagle on the top and the number “343” on the shield.  That’s how many fire fighters lost their lives the day the World Trade Center Towers were attacked.

100_0894We left Barstow after lunch and continued West to the town of Helendale, CA.   We are now looking for the Bottle Tree Ranch.  All we know is that it is off the side of the road, open to the public, no charge.  It is supposed to be trees made of bottles.  We saw the sign for Helendale but no bottle tree.  We were just about to turn around and there to the right was the ranch.  We pulled off and could not believe our 100_7938eyes.  Here were metal or steel poles with thousands and thousands of bottles.  Bottles of many different colors and sizes.  The trees look like coat racks with spicks sticking out on every side.  On each spike is a bottle.  With the sun shining above the colors were spectacular.  He also has a lot of junk mounted on poles like old typewriters and wagons and just junk.  But what a great stop.

We drove through Oro Grande which is home to the Riverside Cement Company.  It was on our list, and we have no idea why…it’s a company that makes cement…okay?? We drove by, took our pictures and continued to Victorville, CA.

Victorville, CA is also a familiar stop from Arizona to California.  I also used to work or at least had a school in Victorville that I visited every week.  Victorville is on the I-15 but Route 66 goes through part of town.  Here most of Route 66 is gone because of the California freeways, but there are still a few pieces of history here.  However, most of the things were the quirky stuff.

100_0902As you come into town you will reach Emma Jeans Holland Burger Cafe.  This Cafe is still in operation today and seems to be a busy place.  It seems to be more of a truck stop so was already closed when we arrived.  I think it focuses mostly on lunch.  The cafe has been open since 1947.  The building was built with cinder blocks made at the local cement plant…maybe the one we drove by earlier.  Richard Gentry drove a 100_7949cement truck for 31 years and ate here every day since it opened.  His wife Emma Jean worked here as a waitress.  In 1979 Richard bought the cafe which was the oldest standing restaurant in Victorville.  Richard then renamed the Cafe to Emma Jeans Holland Burger Cafe.  Emma Jean passed away in 1998 and Richard in 2008.  The cafe is still in the family.  Emma Jean and Richards son Brian along with Brian’s wife Shawna still own and operate the cafe today.  Because of its nostalgic history it has been featured in many movies and television shows.

100_7955Of course Victorville has a Route 66 Museum.  Lucky for us, it was closed.  The outside of the building however had some very nice wall murals from the 60’s and had some old cars and trucks parked in the parking lot.  They actually have gates outside from Route 66 business in other parts of California.  So the outside was a museum as well.

100_0918One of the quirky things also at the Route 66 Museum is the final resting place of Brownie the Railroad Dog.  Brownie was the mascot on the Railroad during WWII.  Once Brownie died he was give a heroes burial.  Originally he was buried under a cottonwood tree in Forest Park.  Today outside the Route 66 Museum is a black granite marker which reads “A Railroad Dog, a friend, and a pal–1945”.  According to the story, 100_7956Brownie moved into the station in 1943.  He was bruised and bleeding after being hit by a car.  He had no collar when found and was leery of humans.  He was named Brownie because of his color.  The watchman that found Brownie was wrapped him in a blanket and placed him by the stove with a plate of food and warm milk.  Brownie had found a friend for life.  Brownie became a permanent fixture at the station and even inspected the rail road cars.  Brownie died by being hit by a train.  The crew placed Brownie in a typewriter box and buried him under that cottonwood tree.  Railroad workers from then and now, passed a hat around to take up a collection for the granite marker.  In 1959 many retired Rail road workers came to the grave site of Brownie and posed for pictures for the Santa Fe Magazine that featured Brownie.

We went through the town of San Bernardino, CA but didn’t stop to see any of the attractions.  My daughter lives in Rancho Cucamonga and since it was getting late we decided to go straight to her house, and then start tomorrow in San Bernardino.  Since we are starting in San Bernardino tomorrow, that is where we ended our mileage for today.  Today was about 8 hours and we drove 238 miles.  Lately any day over 200 miles is a productive day.  We are hoping to finish the trail tomorrow.

Thelma Speaks: