Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kicks: Day Eighteen (The End of the Road)

IMG_4487smLast night, we stayed just a little south of Victorville, in Hesperia. It was right by where we needed to pick up our Route 66 trip this morning, and it...you know...wasn’t in Victorville! So that worked out well!

The first thing we encountered was Cajon Summit and Cajon Pass. Not only was this a beautiful descent through the mountains, there were stretches of the other two lanes of 4-lane Route 66 that were open for, if not driving, pulling over and checking out. You could see where they had added on to make the lanes wider, and it was neat to see the old Road still intact, even though it was closed off. (The guidebook mentions that this is now often the site of “illicit activity.” I’m not quite sure what sort of illicitness was happening there, but we did notice a few cars parked along the way, usually with one guy driving. Sex? Drugs? I do not know. We were just there to check out the Road! Ha!) It was really a neat drive, one of the prettiest we’ve encountered along 66.

One of the neatest things was the suggestion of the guidebook to look back at the silos (some sort of plant) as we passed Devore. The concrete slab that extends off from the curve of current Route 66 is the original 66, paved “well before 1926.” And we saw it! The book said, “This is possibly the only example of this type of Route 66 pavement left!” I don’t know if that means in California, or on all of Route 66; we have seen quite a few other examples of original Portland concrete, but this was possibly a unique concrete used here. It did seem to be more full of rocks, rather than smooth concrete.

Yes, I’m fascinated by the composition of the Road’s pavement, too. But how rare is it to have original pavement left from almost 100 years ago?? Most of this stuff has long been paved over. It’s a treat to encounter that original concrete, and especially the brick pavement!

We soon came to a long stretch of towns large (San Bernardino) and mostly small (San Dimas, Azusa, Monrovia, and several others) that marked the path of 66. There were a few crummy areas, but many of these small towns have embraced their Route 66 heritage, and it is really played up along some stretches. Not a lot of original signage remains, but old buildings (many still in use) abound.

We were happy to encounter the seventh and final Wigwam Motel built in the country, and the second on Route 66, in Rialto. We stayed in #6, in Holbrook, Arizona, and the one here has also been restored and preserved. It’s a beauty, with more teepees than the one in Holbrook, and set in the midst of a green oasis with palm trees. Lovely!
Much of Foothill Boulevard (originally Route 66, and marked as Historic Route 66) is strip malls and newer places, but there are still a lot of fun things to see along the way. I really liked Bono’s Historic Orange, one of the classic orange stands, and possibly one of the last Giant Orange Stands that once populated the roads here. I don’t have a date for this, but the nearby Bono’s Restaurant dates to 1935.

I’ve always loved the name of the town, so we stopped in Rancho Cucamonga for some lunch and a beverage. The lunch was good, the service not so good, but we didn’t let it spoil our day. What’s the point of that?

One of the things I was excited to see was the Foothill Drive-In Theatre sign. The drive-in has been closed for a while, but it seems that the beautiful sign will be preserved. It looks to be in excellent shape, so long live the drive-in! Or at least their signs!
A cool spot in Arcadia was a building that apparently is typical of California drive-in style. It is currently a Denny’s, but this building once housed the last of the Van de Kamp’s restaurant chain on Route 66. What a great roof, and that is one big windmill!

After cruising through the little towns along Foothill, we entered Pasadena, made our way north of LA, and through Hollywood and Beverly Hills. (Did you know that old 66 went through Beverly Hills?) As we approached Santa Monica, I began to get really sad, because I knew that our Route 66 journey was almost at an end. A couple of blocks away from the official end at Lincoln and Olympia, I cried like a little girl. The official end is anti-climactic, with just a street corner in Santa Monica. No big signs announcing the end or anything like that. It’s kind of odd that after all the signs and tributes along the way from Victorville, the official end is essentially ignored by everyone except those who know the significance of this intersection. I didn’t notice it right away, but Ken pointed it out to me, saying “How appropriate!” On the opposite corner was a business (I think it was a dry cleaners) with a big penguin on its sign! The penguin was even looking towards the intersection that is the end of Route 66. That made me happy!

The UNofficial end to Route 66 is considered to be the Will Rogers monument in Palisades Park, at the end of Santa Monica Boulevard. Although I got choked up there, too, I think I’d spent my emotions at Lincoln and Olympia, so I managed to keep myself under control.

I’ll write more about my thoughts on Route 66 after we get back, and I’ll have more pictures of Santa Monica Pier tomorrow (including the famous gateway to the Pier), but for now, I’m physically and mentally exhausted. Ken and I have had a quiet evening, just trying to regroup and settle in at our digs in Marina Del Rey. We’ll be meeting our friend Marty for dinner tomorrow evening, spending some time with Ken’s cousin Ros and her family, then attending our friend Andy’s graduation from Cal Tech, and THEN (I’m exhausted already!) meeting with our nieces from San Diego, and good friends Kim and Steve.

A fitting end to today’s entry is this:


  1. happy june 15th

    this was supposed to be the day i was going to be fired by our old boss....



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