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.
Before 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.
From 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.
Now 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.
Our 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 McDonald, 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.
From 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, this 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.
Continuing 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.
We 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.
Rancho 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.
Continuing 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.
Next 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.
What 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.
We 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.
Going 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.
We 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 go 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.
Nightfall 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 be. 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.
What 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.