Homeward Bound - thinking about tomorrow

Just getting ahead of myself thinking about tomorrow and the journey home.  We need to check out of the hotel by 11am on Saturday 8th and we will see if we can extend this by a few hours.  The plan otherwise is to discover and explore Long Island which isn't far away, and then drop off the car at Alamo in the early evening and get a shuttle bus to the airport.

Our flight will be late evening, taking off at 8:55pm and arriving at 3:10 pm on Sunday afternoon, so losing 8 hours on the return stretch.

Howard will be on hand to pick us up so we should be home by tea time.

First task will be to turn on the coffee machine, and then line up the suitcases near the washer.

The day after

A long lie in and rest day for my ankle before the journey home, tis healing well - just swelling and have wrap around bruises from toes and up.  I hope to only be on one crutch soon for stabilisation. 

I have whipped out the checklists again - yes, seats on plane booked, airport assistance arranged (Matt sorted), suitcases unpacked and repacked (I don't know why I am doing that but I like "tidy").  We have the weigh-in tonight and will ditch Matt's t-shirts if needed (no Matt, I am not volunteering to sacrifice my skirts). 

Matt has gone to pick up his tri-pod from a local pick up point that we left at a hotel a few states back.  It has been a tortuous experience with the carrier (UPS) as no one seemed to know where the tripod was as daily phone calls and emails have followed us from Illinois.  Matt patiently called them again this morning and after an hour on the phone he established that the tripod is within pick-up distance, about 30 minutes away.  Matt will then drop in for hellos to Danny Wallace and his family somewhere in or near the Hollywood Hills.

Waiting for Matt to return home later this evening, waving a tri-pod in triumph before we negotiate what gets jettisoned to bring it home.

The Finishing Line

After waking in Victorville we were on route via Cajons (Blvd, Summit and Junction) spent initially on the motorway as Route 66 isn't whole (jumping from one road to another to find it), we switched to the first sign of Route 66 that led us from the rush of traffic to quietness as we meandered through San Bernardino towards Pasadena.   We stopped at a few places, like the town where Bill & Ted went to school and the town nestled to the right of the great Fault Lines were picturesque, with manicured lawns and polished stone, a great contrast to the deserts and almost-forgotten crumbling towns.

We arrived a day early, zipping through the last 90 minutes of LA to get to the Pier and official end point.  We parked in a structure that indicated car spaces with green lights (we need to adopt that in the UK) all really easy and each space was numbered and pictured so you could use the touch-screen system to find your car again if you had forgotten after being in the wave of heat outside.

We found the finishing line....I admit it isn't the best photo but it WAS the finishing line and we were very happy indeed.  Leaning on crutches will never make the cover of Vogue.

After a couple of hours in the sun soaking up crazy stuff going on throughout the length of the pier like a person doing Daddy dancing to hip-hop and shaking his booty which will be the stuff of giggles for a while yet, we headed back to the car and plumbed in the address of the hotel which is in a quiet area only three miles away from the airport. 

Day 19 - Dippy roads

Who knew that roads could be a fair ground ride?  I didn't.   Route 66 is poorly maintained in sections and it is like driving over one long cattle grid of shaking judders straight into a smooth section and then back into the shaking judder.

The road ahead looked like a series of steps way into the distance.  Each step was a dip that left your tummy way high in the air which elicited some really strange noises that I had no control of - the most common was "uuuughoooooffff" as my stomach fell back to earth before lifting again.  Just out of the Desert at Ludlow, the price of petrol increased and cost $20 for half a tank.  For the first weekor two it would have cost way less to fill the entire tank.

We stopped in Daggett for a funny building called MugWumps, isn't that a gorgeous name?

On to Barstow that is the home of Peggy Sue Diner a step back into the 50's of pink frill.

We stopped at other towns called Lenwood and Hodge (hilly like Eldorado), and then we were on the look out for a cement factory that is quite famous where everything is covered in white dust and a Bottle Vinyard - bottle trees abound and sounded like wind chime city.

By the time we arrived in Oro Grand, we were looking for rest and a motel, I don't think we could quite manage all the way to Pasadena.   Matt used the power of our TomTom who told us that shed loads of hotels and motels were in striking distance of 7-10 miles away.   Dinner and hotel lay head. 


Day 18 - Needles to 3000 miles

Woke up in Needles with pins and needles cursing up and down my fally leg.   Matt had me stocked up with pain killers and ankle wrapped in ice in no time.  It took some time to get going... I recall an event from the day before that needed blogging....

The afternoon before we encountered our only real border control at the California state line the where we had to declare "stuff".    Matt shuffled around in the back seat to show them a giant seed we had picked up earlier in the trip that is as big as the dome on a maraca but it doesn't make any noise.  The state guard shrugged, as if to indicate that California had them too and so whoop-de-doop.... and Matt happily ping ponged it back into the car.  Whether or not we can get it home is another thing - will make a good desk toy for Matt's office until it turns into a sasquatch.

We then headed to Goffs and saw our first signs to Los Angeles.  Matt kept correcting my Geoff with Goff, each time I mentioned the town until he gave up trying to get the right word in my head.  We stopped at the Wagon Wheel restaurant when Matt spotted workers repainting the road with the infamous 66 sign.  They repaint it every year.

We then dipped into the Majove desert by 10:30am it was 76 degrees Fahrenheit and climbing rapidly.  There were so many trains on the full route until late California.  Trains that needed five engines and pulling 112 + transport cars.   Some trains were covered with ornate graffit, and it was interesting to note that these artists respected each other's work and deface other tags. 

Fenner was a tiny oasis in the desert..... but had the most expensive Gas in the USA!  Over 5 dollars per unit.  to park cost $10 so not really much of an oasis and we carried on.

Essex was another Ghost town with a population of 100.  Names written in large stones ran along the highway and a railway embankment, many were colourful and creative but meant tackling the sheer heat of the desert to collect enough stones to sign your name (and dodge what would also be snake country)..... no thank you.  We hit our 3000th mile here and it was a joy in the midst of the desert and hills with the road ribboning off into the distance.  We took pictures to mark the moment.

Chambless was a small town in the middle of the desert which had more palm trees than people.  It must have taken some work to irrigate the land as it looked so out of place.

Amboy had a famous sign that is in many films but it is very run down and the desert winds are unkind to the structures.  It did have a crater though.... we saw the edge of it as the structure climbed high into the sky.  We walked to a viewing station but that wasn't the crater. We would later learn that we would need to hike for 3 hours to see it... not on your nelly in the desert and on crutches.   We ate cold satsumas ad homemade cheese sandwiches instead.


Day 17 - Mission Impossible and Donkeys

Well where do I start?  

Matt mastered a mountain - 9 miles of hairpin bends and sudden drops.  We sucked in a deep breath and said "let's do this".   I have videos.  My stomach still twists with the road that play back in my head days later.  Roads turning tight following the steep mountains with sheer drops from the passenger side.  I was a brave soldier and didn't holler out Car! or EEEeeek! for fear that Matt, who was carefully controlling the car, continued steering in the direction of yellow lines.

The 66 lead us out of the mountains into an old mining town called Otman which used to be prosperous but now only mines for tourist dollars (from the EZ bible).

I fed protected wild Burras (donkeys) sooooo cute.   A baby Burra had a sticker on its forehead to not feed but it was very tempting.  Matt went back to the car to get carrots (yes sadly I had carrots in a salad pack) which went down very well with the donkeys. For all of 30 seconds, the time it took for the carrots to be wolfed down, my hands were the focus of the donkey's attention.

We watched a cowboy shootout which was something comical and full of well-used and rehersed one liners that still drew laughter and participation from the crowds.

Nuked pasta and opened a bottle of wine x

And realised we had stepped into California!

Day 16 - Bears and wheelchairs

I thought that Bears would be off the agenda today but no.  We rocked Bearizona, met a Jaguar and many other animals.  I was in  heaven.  A large group of bears paid too much attention to the car, not sure if they smelt the remnants of the pickled sausage earlier the holiday or the cheese.   A ranger in a striped zebra truck honked to the rescue.  Matt also grabbed a wheelchair so I wasn't shuffling so much.

That was the highlight of my day.

We then trucked into Seligman where a coach of tourists  became the attraction.  I also had an enormous chocolate milkshake.   We then passed through more towns - the Americans sometimes call them cities (I don't think so).   Matt met his match when we bagged another giant.  Giantus Headicus - based on an easter island head.   The headicus won. Just. 

I don't know what I would do without my Matt, I wish we could  on holiday forever.   I am already thinking about the next adventure and no honey..... not across Australia or a tuktuk in India xx

Day 15 - Saturday - From a high to a low

What an amazing day.  We woke up New Mexico on the boarder at Gallup and decided to take it easy as we had lived in the car the day before where a 120 minute trip had taken about 8 hours as we drifted into the Hopi tribe areas and had discovered a bit of dirt roads.

Our next hotel was in Williams, Arizona about an hour and a half away, into a new state and time zone.   We went via a crater that we both agreed wasn't worth seeing for 18 dollars each so did an about turn and carried on through open landscapes and big big skies.

On route we found Walnut caverns and a spherical dome gas station that was in the movies of Starman.

We took a bathroom pit stop at a campsite in a forest (we were vigilant for moose having been warned that they could leap out at us at at time in the 60 mile stretch). We didn't spot any moose which was equally disappointing and a relief because the road sign shadow images were a bit scary.  I did manage to fall and take out my knees in the car park (I didn't need the skin anyways).  My "holiday fall" had happened - job done and it was minor.  Phew.

Matt pointed the car at the Grand Canyon and we both agreed it was spectacular and so big that it didn't seem real.  I managed not to fall over.  Bonus.  

Onward to Williams and our rest point for the evening.  Car unpacked and WiFi password needed. I stepped out of the room and into a local private hospital.  Six x-rays and 300 dollars later I was strapped up with an air cast and driving American style crutches for a few weeks.  I was diagnosed as being an idiot, bad twisty sprain and the steps had won again.  One day I will win.   Maybe I just wanted to join the Hopi Tribe.

I get the hard drugs tomorrow.

Day 14 - No crater and a painted desert

The second week seems to be flying by.   I love New Mexico it is by far my favourite state.  Did I say that already? 

Today we took a major detour and it was worth every second. We saw many tribal areas.  A fed stray dogs and araven (one bird morphed into three). We got lost and found on route.

We decided to stop in at the painted desert, and a petrified forest where trees had fallen to the ground, buried and eventually resurfaced millions of years later as rock.  I was expecting a forest.  Doh! The painted desert was vast and extremely colourful.  Imagine a flatter version of the Grand Canyon and you'd be thinking along the right lines.

We then headed to Gallup and not the best hotel but microwave pasta beckoned.

Day 12 - Coolidge

This was a tiny place but had to stop for a photo.  A dog circled our car barking like a loon and tried to take us hostage or corral us.  Not sure which.  Matt spotted him immediately but I didn't.  Lucky I'm not the one driving.  Weleftthe dog behind add got the photo.  Unfortunately it was a dead end and had to circle back and do another round with the dog.

Later that day we saw a pack of dogs and the windows were very much rolled up and I was on high alert.  They were only interested in each other though so all was golden.

Day 11 - Trump Lost

I was there watching the Debate and saw Clinton squash Trump and went to sleep with the issue settled.  I must have woken in a parallel universe, as  Trump was claiming a win.   Only a breakfast at Denny's  would right this weirdness.   Matt and I then hopped back in the car and aimed it back at the Route without an alien hitch hiker. 

Miles and miles of a ribbon road swept us through flat lands back to the mountains and hopefully away from the snakes.  There were some rest stops which were manned and needed an ID.  We were only looking for stops to take photos of the landscape.  It didn't make us uneasy at all pulling out the cameras while we were being observed.   I also figured out the 360 degree picture capture.   I call it the click and twirll.

We did a couple of circuits of Eldorado to grab the right shot.

We are now booked into a hotel in Santa Fe   b had dinner at Applebee's.  My oh my it was a lovely evening.

Matt has spent a good hour and a bit booking UPS to pick up a lost camera tri-pod to ship it for pickup in Hollywood near the end of our trip. Nothing gets left behind.  I want to thank Sarah on reception who pulled out all the stops to help Matt.  Wine to end the day.   Matt is carefully planning the days ahead.

Day 10 - Aliens!

Having woken refreshed at the Roadrunner the best night's sleep, we headed off to find Aliens in Roswell. A slight diversion but worth it.  I had my camera set to stun mode.  We stopped half way and signs warned us about snakes.  Im not a fan.  I was bitten by a mini swarm of horse flies not snakes and I am super itchy scratchy.

We went to the Alien museum... Very amusing.  Apparently there are different kinds of aliens from things called watchers to the yeti.  Now I was a belieeeeeever until they mentioned the yeti.  

We picked up a couple of bottles of wine for Debate night.  We hadn't thought about a corkscrew but reception helped us out.



Day 9 - Half way home

Adrian is the mid point cafe.... But we will be clocking up more miles as we leap into Roswell tomorrow to bag an alien, and Death Valley in a weeks time.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

We awoke on the Texan Steak Ranch and Matt said I had sounded like a drill through the night.  Maybe I was rebelling at being on a Steak Ranch.  It doesn't sit well on my veggie tummy.

We set off early for the Cowboy Church.  Their service is a world away from what we experience in the UK, but their passion and warm welcome shone through.  The opening section was enchanting and I got stuck in and sang along.  We then found the Canyons in Texas which was breathtaking and then went on a hunt for Cadillac Ranch and tagged a few cars.  We met our first passionate group of Hillary supporters who think Trump is a joke and quite an embarrassment.  They were erasing all the Trump tags.

Now in New Mexico at the Roadrunner Motel, renovated to the swinging 60s.   Tomorrow we chase aliens in Roswell. 

Day 8 - Devil's wire and the search for tumbleweed

Woken by a storm.  Mighty and ferocious - nothing in America is meek.  Flood water was at our door in minutes and then settled. 

Today the adventure continued.  The landscape changed again in Texas with lush pasture and red soil.  We were on the hunt for tumbleweed.   We explored a museum dedicated to barbed wire, and an age where an entire state moved as its fertile soil was blown away causing devastation.   Matt selected some petrified rock for his office for when we return home.  Later in the day it was good to snap a picture of the leaning water tower, added by its owner who installed it at an 80 degree angle to look like it was collapsing.  Worried passersbys stopped to warn the cafe owner and then stayed for refreshments. 

We also got pics of a giant cross and bible stations, a pair of great barbeque guns and buggy ranch where I was more interested in a wild rabbit (yes I have pictures).

We then settled into the Texan big steak ranch.  I think it's very gimmicky place.  Honestly, the beer was good but the hotel was noisy, dark, expensive and not really welcoming at all.  We didn't have WiFi so that was the icing on the cake as we couldn't add to our blog.  Tomorrow we step into New Mexico.

PS.... The search is over.  Matt has a hat and it is mighty fine.

Day 7 - Hanging around Shamrock

We spent another night in Shamrock as we were days ahead of schedule, when out exploring first thing we met the artist Tye who is responsible for much of the artwork in the area.  We ask also chatted to the guardians of the du drop cafe and over coffee chatted to Betty whose grandad was one of the last owners of the petrol station.

Feeling hungry I fancied fruit, simp!e honest to goodness fruit.  We then went on a treasure hunt around Shamrock to find some.  Were found the Blarney stone, and discovered the tower and a museum.  Fruit was becoming tricky.  After 90 mins, we were given directions to a single source.  It was like an oasis.  I was peeling clementines in the car park after stocking up on the fruitness.   

Following the Fruit-Search I was pooped, and spent the remainder of the day was spent recovering.

Day 6 - Stepping into Texas

The day started early.  Apparently I snored like a trucker but slept like a princess.  I think Matt thought about sleeping in the car.

Over breakfast of apple crepes, the waitress told us of someone wanting weeefeee and she didn't have a clue, resorting to handing him a menu.  He was simply requesting wi-fi.  

Back on the road to meet the author of the route 66 bible who lives in Chandler.  On route Matt saved a life when a motorbike stopped working in front of us, and toppled over.   He helped him pick up his bike which was a dead weight.  Two others also rushed over to lend a hand.   We didn't meet the author but got photos instead.

We then blitzed through a pile of towns to grab sunset pics of two ghost towns.

Highlights were:

  • Warwick - A bike museum andthe first plumbed in loo in the state
  • At 10:55 am bursting through 1000 mile marker
  • Arcadia - Pop restaurant and giant 60 ft bottle
  • Fort Reno - chatted to a veteran who retired three years ago.  He owns hundreds of horses and even more cattle.  A proper cowboy soldier.  

Now settled in s Route 66 motel just over the border in Texas.  We will be exploring this state over a few days.

Day 5 - Three States

We hoped we would find a Kansas sticker to add to our collection, we went from shop to shop in Baxter Springs with no joy.  Matt also couldn't find a hat for his hot head.  It was disappointing but the town was unique and lovely all the same.

We then crossed into Oklahoma and the first town was Quapaw.  It had a giant mural and a tiny one room house serving as it's city hall.   We were waved at by a police women.  I have this compulsion to wave at police peoples.

We passed through Commerce which is a town that had a sign advertising the next (so it wasn't that fabulous).   Miami was certainly a bigger town, we stopped for lunch at the KuKu where I didn't eat a fish sandwich as it was slimy.  Matt added it was mother roading awful.

We tried to find the largest totem pole in Foyil but apparently it wasn't big enough to spot bit we did capture a giant whale in Catoosa.  A man built it for his wife.  He was 60 at the time and took two years to complete.  Now that is love.  I have ordered a giant rabbit version from Matt.

At Narcissa we took pics of ruin down barn and a train crossing sign.

As we travel west, cows were standing in lakes to keep cool it reached 97o f by late pm.  

Looked up a motel whilst drinking coffee opposite an honest to goodness Trump rally office.  Matt initially thought it was someone's idea of a joke while its family was away on hols

Raced to Stroud and the Skylight's Motel, it was a lovely town and also had a great rock cafe.  The room was  quaint with two beds and a fridge that didn't work. I really could have stayed another day.

Day 4 - Uranus to Joplin

Thanks to Matt, our first stop was the best start of the day.  In Uranus.  I was amused from start to finish.  I was very tempted to buy a hillybilly nut scratcher.  Oh yes indeed.  We had seen signs to Uranus the day before, my favourite was "exit for fudge packets in Uranus".

The basic route for today had 5 towns..... In fact we stopped at 16, two of which were ghost towns.  Highlights were:

  • Devils Elbow - walked over part of a bridge in the town which was named because  of a sharp bend in the river that caused log jams.
  • St. Robert - to buy a new camera as mine conked out and stopped auto focusing
  • Waynesville  - where we spoke to a lovely chap caled Pat who filled up our car and worked there 45 years.  He gave matt a numberplate
  •  Somewhere on route, matt chatted to some criminals out working
  • Buckhorn - to snap a picture of a GIANT bowling  pin
  • Lebanon - stopping off at the famous Munger Moss Motel.  Buying stickers for the suitcase.
  • Conway - where kids drove themselves home....  they looked 12
  • Avilla - a ghost town where we popped into  bar and had iced tea and was offered radishes fresh from the ground by a tipsy man driving a buggy.
  • Carthage - a 1950s neon hotel called Boots Court.  Pixie gave us a tour of her establishment and we were tempted to stay.

Tomorrow we aim the car at Kansas and clip its corner before heading into Oklahoma.



Day 3 - Into Missouri

Im tucked up in bed wrapped in sheep PJs which matt picked up at Walmart

Photos will be uploaded when I get a couple of days in one place.  The days are long and exciting.

Woke up after the best nights sleep ever but it was 6.30 am people. Holidays are for sleeping but we are not on holiday,  we are on an adventure.   Not even Matt's snoring stirred me as I was catching up with the zzzzs.  Awake and refreshed our first stop was at the Rabbit Ranch in Staunton that a huge amount of photo ops.   We spent an hour chatting with the owner who has 11 real rabbits and other vehicles also called  rabbits.

We did  a lot more driving and we've ended the day a few miles from Devils Elbow, half way through Missouri.  Isn't that a stonking great name?  

In between the begining and end of the day, Matt ate a pickled sausage, (I know it smelled as horrific as it sounded) and no, he isnt pregnant.  A welcome cold chocolate milkshake at white castle, and veggies and humous for dinner at a hotel decorated like swinging London in the 60s.

Today we think we discovered a ghost town that was cremated because it was flooded with dioxinxs by some numpty maintaining the roads.  This town was called Times Beach, today it is a field after it was cremated. 

At Fanning we discovered another BIG THING:  the largest rocking chair. 

We also found a giant ketchup bottle (water tower) and amused a local as we were obvious tourists.

Day 2 - Finding Lincoln

We had dawn breakfast before dawn at Dixie Diner.  They were in THE BOOK of Route 66.   I ate pancakes but more importantly coffee was good.   Chatted to another customer who was very nice but he couldn't understand my English - need to slow down.   He was very keen advise us how to avoid St. Louis (Vigilance mode re-engaged) but it was painful as the instructions kept changing and was a blur of Interstate numbers and exits.  He was a trucker who looked like he had had a hard life with too many miles on the road.  

Matt suggested we pop by a place called Funk Grove as dawn rose.  Beautiful and eerie.  Misty place full of giant containers we would later learn could have possibly been Syrup Vats.

We then discovered a treasure called Atlanta. I was expecting a city but charming picturesque town that was characterful.  I will upload pics later but the Launderette was a book store and full of old music and you could buy someone's pants (trousers) for four dollars.

Atlanta was the town of murals, a smiling yellow tower and the first of the BIG THINGS: GIANT BUNYAN MAN holding a mahoosive hotdog.   

More to add later....

coming up - Lincoln that wasn't really Abe Lincoln

Springfield that was all about Abe Lincoln

A real bed !