Thursday, June 18, 2009

Route 66 and The Grand Canyon!

Sunday 15 June continued
Route 66 has been a bit of a theme over the last few days - it runs from Chicago to LA and is the classic road, the Mother Road, for migration to the west, as featured in the John Steinbeck novel The Grapes of Wrath'. In the 60s there was TV show called Route 66 that some oldies may vaguely remember!! The road passes through various small towns, most with their cafes and gas stations and memorabilia of the 50s and 60s - and some classic cars scattered around - Studebakers, Edsels, Packards, Nashes, even an Oldsmobile Toronado, all classic lost causes in American motoring history. Once the new Interstate 40 highway was built many of the towns were bypassed, and fell into decay - but there has been a revival of interest in the old Route 66 in recent years and selling the memorabilia is all that seems to keep some places going. And of course we bought the t-shirt!
After Hackberry the countryside was almost green in parts. Sometimes we saw long freight trains passing in the distance and I counted 142 carriages with 4 locomotives on one train with most carriages having 2 containers!

We entered the Grand Canyon National Park at a cost of $25 for the vehicle. We did not even realise its magnitude until we stepped out of the car and through the fence and then - wow - what can I say, talk about gobsmacked. It is just spectacular. In fact this is when adjectives fail me, it was awesome in the true sense of the world. It is impossible to truly describe the beauty and magnificence of this fabulous rocky splendour. It is one of the seven wonders of the world and I can see why. You stand and stare and feel so small and insignificant against its enormity. We walked 4km along the South Rim trail taking lots of photos and stopping and staring at each viewpoint. It is 2500m at the rim and then there is a vertical drop of nearly 2000m to the canyon floor. We were just a step or two away from the edge. The temperature was mild in the low 20s compared to 40 a few hundred km away in Vegas but it was still quite warm enough for t-shirts and shorts. Some of the people walking made us wonder a litte, for example one lady was pushing her poodle in a baby stroller along the track!

It was a fabulous experience altogether and after enjoying lunch there we drove to the Imax Theatre to watch a movie of the history of the Grand Canyon which made you feel like you were actually inside the Canyon itself - fantastic.
We had a wonderful day and then drove back along Route 66 with the roof down and the wind blowing us away, to Kingman where we stopped for the night in a little motel.

Tuesday 16 June
Today was Mr B's birthday and we woke to rain! After breakfast we visited the Kingman Museum. It was full of the history of Route 66 with old cars on display and lots of photos and memorabilia everywhere. It was really interesting. There was also a fantastic souvenir shop which was well worth a perusal! We drove back along Route 66 and stopped at a car lot with hundreds of old 50s and 60s cars for sale - some in good condition and some real old rust buckets which I assume people buy for parts? We continued on some very steep windy roads with fantastic views and stopped at Oatman which was originally an old goldmining town. We walked through the town among the Burros (donkeys) and trying to avoid stepping on their droppings. We saw one baby Burro only two days old and not yet able to stand - so cute.

We drove past Laughlin which was very flat but surrounded by hills. It is set by the Colorado River and has a number of casinos trying to emulate Vegas in a very small way. It wasn't a very attractive town but we stopped to eat our sandwich beside the river. The river crosses from Arizona to Nevada.
We visited a Walmart in Bullhead City (because I have always wanted to look in a Walmart) - yes, it's big! Then back on the road using the highway as it was quicker. There were hundreds of huge trucks but fortunately most of them were going in the opposite direction. The road was now long and flat and we spotted heaps of goods trains in the distance. We visited a ghost town called Calico which was closed which was great as usually you have to pay to enter the town. We parked by the town and walked through looking at everything, taking lots of piccies and didn't have to go round any people as there was not a single soul there, just a few cats wandering about the empty streets. It was quite fun!

We stayed the night in Barstow in a Ramada Inn which was very nice and we ate at Sizzler over the road as Dave fancied a good steak. He had a huge and very tender porterhouse so he was a happy boy. I had salmon steak as I was missing my weekly fish meal! It was a good day but we were tired and slept well as we had covered quite a few miles.

Wednesday 17 June
We started the day by visiting the Barstow Mother Road Museum - another interesting little spot - more old cars, more memorabilia and old movies, magnets, postcards etc and loads of interesting little stories on the walls. We drove with the roof down whenever we left the highway but the noise is a bit much on the highway. We stopped at Pasadena for lunch (wasn't there a song about that place)? Then on to Santa Monica Pier where Route 66 ends. We walked along the pier and through Palisades Park then we drove to our hotel at LA Airport where we deposited our bags before Mr B returned our beautiful Mustang to Hertz. It has been lovely having the car this week. It ran smoothly on the highway although was a little cumbersome on the twisty roads. Petrol is really cheap here and it cost just over $30 to fill the car three times and $42 today because the tank was almost empty. Petrol costs $2.80 a gallon which is about 70cents a litre so the fact that the car only ran about 22miles to the gallon (or 14litres per 100km) didn't really matter at that price!
Tomorrow morning we fly to New York where we arrive after 5pm as we lose about 3 hours on the way! On Friday I plan to go for a run in Central Park. I've entered a NY Roadrunners' race on Sunday so I hope I can remember how to run! Still, it's all about being part of it and hopefully they'll give me a t-shirt!


  1. I hear it's a long way to Pasadena. You're having too good a time! Keep the photos coming.

    We weren't on Route 66 for long, so missed those places. And I'm far too young to remember the TV show ;)

    Totally agree about the Grand Canyon being "awesome in the true sense of the world".

    Hope you kick ass, as the locals say, when you race in Central Park!

  2. Very nice photos of historic route 66 with old cafes and gas stations. Why don't you post a photo of the Grand Canyon?

    Enjoy your holiday.


  3. When we think of the trucks we always got in our minds the bucket trucks which sometimes dubbed as the cherry picker. This is true where this equipment really helps in jobs where height is the matter.