Bagdad Cafe

With just three full days left the plan was going to be Ludlow > Barstow > Pasadena > Santa Monica, but we figured if we barrelled on through to Pasadena we could spend two nights in Santa Monica and have a rest before we fly back.  That was the plan.


We drove through Newberry Springs home of the Bagdad Café.  Wikipedia: "The film was shot at what was then the Sidewinder Cafe in Newberry Springs, California, 50 miles west of the original site of Bagdad on old U.S. 66. Since then, the café has become something of a tourist destination and to capitalize on the movie it changed its name to the Bagdad Café. A small notice board on the café wall features snapshots of the film's cast and crew.

Through Daggett to Yermo, home of Peggy Sue's 50's diner where we'd had lunch a few years back.  The place was chocker so we walked round the gift shop then drove a few miles towards Calico to get some photos of Ghost Road.

Into Barstow and out again, then Helendale to see a giant parrot (not actually that big) and into Owo Grande with it's HUGE Portland Cement factory and on to Victorville where Emma Jean's is home to the 'Brian Burger'.  Well, I had to and it was a moderately nice burger (pepper - not hot, sourdough bread, etc.) and a portion far too big for me.

We decided we'd driven enough for the day at checked in to at an Econolodge give us about ninety minutes to drive to the end of Route 66 in the morning.


Pushing West

The push to get into the eighth and final state and our third timezone.

Our "bible" the EZ66 Guide said we could take the '66 through the mountains.  There were enough switchbacks that lorries were banned, but steep drops and no barriers - what could go wrong?


On the other side of the drive is Oatman.  A fun (though very touristy town).  Donkeys roamed the one street.  There was a gunfight at midday (never wolf down a burger to go to a gunfight - awful stomach ache).

On through a town called Golden Shores with its small squat buildings.  Seemed liked a poor area, but quite a few people seemed to have boats.  As we drove out we came across a nice big lake and the boats made more sense.

On to Topock which was on the border between Arizona and California.  A cold drink and a sit down and watch the trains going back and forwards across the big iron bridge.

Then - into our last state and checked into the River Valley Motel (the cheapest motel of the trip, but nice).

We couldn't find any motels for tomorrow's stretch so we'll have to wing it.  We'll hit the 3,000 mile mark at some point in the morning.  So, 500+ extra miles so far.


Williams is only ten minutes drive from Bearizona.  We'd been a few years back and had enjoyed it so we went back again.  You can drive through several areas with bison, elk, buffalo, bears, etc. then park up and see some smaller animals and watching a show with hawks.  All good fun.

Abandoned Motel, Ash Fork.

Abandoned Motel, Ash Fork.

Driving on towards the hotel in Kingman we saw a road called "Devil's Dog" so we turned down.  There was nothing there but you can't not, right?  We re-joined '66 at Ash Fork.  Ash Fork was pretty much a Ghost Town.  Closed down gas stations, motels, etc.

Into Seligman we had an Ice Cream at Delgadillo's Snow Cap.  The original owner (who died about ten years ago) liked to pull pranks on the customers, and they've continued in that vein.  As I was ordering the coffee/chocolate ice creams (only one size available; 'diabetes large') the guy behind the counter squirted a fake/string tomato ketchup bottle.  Seligman is also the home to the Roadkill Café.  "You kill it.  We grill it."

Driving down through xxx you can see the Grand Canyon in the distance.  We thought we could wend or way through the small, ill-repaired homes to get a better look but the only road out towards was closed with a sign saying you needed a permit from the Hualapai Tribe.

Almost at Kingman we drove through Hackberry which had a cool store.  On the outskirts was Giganticus Headicus and it'd been a while since we'd passed a Big Thing.

The hotel had a coin-operated laundrette so we got some washing done. #ExcitingTimes

Tomorrow we head for the final state.  California.  We have about five days to cross it.

A slower day

Only an hour to drive today.  The hotel was book for Gallup, a town on the border.

The first town we found on the drive was Bluewater (population 600 or so).  We passed a pottery trading post so popped in.  I bought a little Story Teller clay figure.  The owner said a woman called Ajo from the local Navajo tribe comes by when she needs firewood, grabs some earth from outside and makes these figures which she then trades for what she needs.  Hopefully it's a true story.  Ajo collects yellow flows because they help with acid and that, she thinks, causes cancer.  She also speaks of a GIANT snake, and a hole in the local mountain which leads to the centre of the Earth.

We listened to a local Native American radio station.  You'd think that Indian was a derogatory term, but not so much.  Was pleased to hear their church service was "an animal blessing followed by karaoke."  Two cultures collide.

We ate some sandwiches in a town called Thoreau by the Navajo Outreach Centre and watched the huge trains roll on past.

Passing through more towns with populations in double figures we saw a sign to 'Red Rock' which looked cool so we drove round for photographs.  Jane got chatting to a guy called Ken who owned the horse she was patting.  He was going to vote for Trump simply because he couldn't bring himself to vote for Hillary.  I don't get it.  He warned us that the town we were staying in was the Murder Capital of New Mexico so we decided we'd get pizza delivered to the room.  Turns out that though it's not a dry state, the local Native Americans can't bring alcohol home they get crazily drunk in the evenings.

A mile from our turning a lorry jack-knifed and blocked all three lanes.  We waited about 45 minutes for it to get cleared.

Finally in the hotel, pizza ordered.


About the journey

Today was about the journey.  We started with a drive over to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum as it was a fifteen minute drive up the road from the hotel.  After a wander round the paintings we saw she had a house called Ghost Ranch out in a town called Abiquiu.  Based on her paintings we knew the scenery was great out that way so we decided to take a detour from our final destination of Gallup.  On the way through our detour we saw a sign to Los Alamos where the developed the Nuclear Bomb, so we took a detour from a detour.  More amazing scenery.  Climbing the winding roads (pretty high at 7,320 feet) there was a stopping off point that looking out at THIS.  So, all in all, a good day.


Back in the car and onto the original detour towards Abiquiu.  More great scenery, but a lot of driving.  Abiquiu was kind of okay, the journey to it was better than the place itself.  We were disappointed to learn that we now had three hours of driving get to the hotel in Gallup.

At various points there were signs saying you must obey both Federal and Tribal Law.  Not sure what specific tribal laws there were.  Being the good, law-abiding citizens we are I'm sure all was good.

We hit the first traffic jam of the trip.  Six lanes of Albuquerque fun trying to get from one land to another with people doing their utmost not to let you.

A lovely day of scenery and lots of good photographing and we drove over the Rio Grand - twice, but I think we drove about 350 miles in total - so ended up pretty tired.

Santa Fe

A nice lie in then back (so we thought to Santa Rosa).  We had breakfast at a Denny's and tried to figure out a route.  There were three choices;

Roswell > Ft. Sumner > Santa Fe

Roswell > Ft. Sumner > Santa Rosa > Santa Fe

Roswell > Santa Fe

As you'd expect Roswell to Santa Fe was the quickest at three hours (but only by forty-five minutes).  We plugged it into the GPS which said; "Turn right in 198 miles" which pretty much summed up the journey ahead.  An undulating road ribboning off into the horizon for hours.   The route took as back via Vaughan so we stopped off for a coffee at Penny's Diner were we'd eaten lunch the day before.

We pulled over in a few towns as we pressed on to Santa Fe.  None had signs that we could see and it wasn't for the GPS we'd not have known their names.  I saw towns - expanses of ranches, mountains and endless roads.

Getting to Santa Fe by 4:30pm or so we had a rest before heading out to Appleby's for dinner.  The lemon chicken was one of the nicest things I've eaten on the trip.  Each table had a portable device which allowed you to order more food and pay when you were finished.

We've mapped out the rest of the trip to make sure we're on schedule.   We think it's about seventeen hours of driving to go.  4 hours in New Mexico, then about 7 in Arizona and finally 6 in California.  By our calculations we think one more day in New Mexico, then four in Arizona and five to get across California.  We did have a plan to drive North at Needles, California to Death Valley but it'd be a round trip of another 400 miles and that'd be pushing it.  Next time then.

Finally fell into bed about 1am or so.  Should go to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum tomorrow before driving to Grants, New Mexico (it's It is the county seat of Cibola County.)


We both woke up early again (6:30am) so we were more than ready to set off by 8:30am.  A slow drive out of the Tucamcari taking lots of photos as we went.  A rest stop at Newkirk, through Cuervo (though not related to Tequila).  At Santa Rosa we came off Route 66 and headed South towards Roswell.

At Pastura I went to take photos of a broken down shack, and Jane crossed the road to photograph cows.  At Vaughan there were lots of photo opportunities, though one was guarded by a roaming dog so we stayed in the car for that one.  Across the road was Penny's Diner so we grabbed a nice lunch before the rather long, uneventful drive down to Roswell which was pretty much a hundred miles in a dead straight line.  Threw the car into cruise control and tried not to nod off.

Finally getting to Roswell we checked in, put the cases into the room then drove to the UFO museum.  A weather balloon crashed, someone took it away and I assume pretty quickly someone decided to start making merchandise.  Everything is covered in aliens.  Everything.

It was the Trump/Clinton debate which we were looking forward to,  but you don't want to watch Trump without a drink in hand so we bought a couple of bottles to take back to the motel. 


Cowboys and Colourful Cars


We were in Texas on a Sunday so we decided to go to a Cowboy Church.  We figured it was like a normal church but with bigger hats (if you discount the Pope who packs what must surely fill about fourteen gallons).  We were warmly welcomed by many, many people.  In my limited experience of English services it was different.  A lot of guitar, a man with an outdoor voice inside and the crowd whooping and holding their hands in the air.  It felt quite like an episode of the x-factor (but with more scripture).  We were pleased we went though.

Onwards to try and find the Cadillac ranch.  There wasn't a specific address to head towards so their was some t-turning involved and you can't see it from the wrong side of the road (which we were on) but we got there in the end.  Someone leaving handed me an aerosol spray so I sauntered up the mud path towards the cars and sprayed 'Trump Sucks' on a car, which seemed appropriate in the current climate.  Another visit had spent some time spraying over all of the Pro-Trump messages.

Yesterday, while at the Red River Cafe a couple told us that we were close to the Palo Duro canyon and that it was the second biggest after the Grand Canyon, so we drove over, paid the $10 to get into the national park and enjoyed the view.

A re-fuel then onto Adrian as there's a cafe on the mid-point of Route 66.  Called, as you may expect, the mid-point cafe.  So we're half way there and nine days in of twenty-one.

Many abandoned gas stations later and we crossed the border into New Mexico.  A new timezone and state number six.  We drove as far as a town called Tumacari and found a nice motel called the Roadrunner Inn.

As the sun went down the eagles circled around the Tucamari mountain, and we walked along looking at the nice neon signs on the main street.

Rain rain go away

We woke to thunder and a small bit of rain.  The plan was to hang around until 1pm and go to a local rodeo, but we'll see what the weather does.  We have two whole days to get to Amarillo which is only one hundred miles away.  Then it started to RAIN so hard it cut off the television signal.

We turned on the news as we tend to do when we get to motels and you can see why Americans can end up very insular.  As important as it is to the report the shooting of yet another black man that's the only thing reported across three news stations.  Literally the only thing.  We've no idea on what's going on in the rest of the country, let alone the rest of the World.


The town that fruit forgot

Waking up just over the Texan border we did some calculations to see how we were doing.  Though Texas is HUGE it's actually for the second shortest stretch of Route 66 (after Kansas).  According to my calculations via the major towns (seven of them) and using the GPS it's just 104 miles and slightly less than two hours if we didn't stop.

We figured we'd rest up and have a non-driving day so we booked a second night at the Route 66 Inn.  Up early, as always, we took a walk up the road to see the Conoco Towers in the day, and had a walk around the museum and talked to the nice, knowledgable volunteers there.

It felt as though we should get some fresh food and asked where the local supermarket was.  Walking back to the car we struck up a conversation with the guy painting a mural on a wall and it turned out to be the artist who has done 90% of the all the murals you see in the area.

Back to the car and supermarket location typed in and GPS followed we were deposited in a decidedly non-shop location so we parked up and went for a walk.  We saw more murals by the artist.  Many (closed) antiques stores, but no supermarket.  We wondered what people do for vitamin C round here.  Giving up we went to the Dollar Store and got some fresh juice, etc. and when paying the cashier explained where the proper store was.  Oh, the site of things without a ten-year best before date... Lovely.  We stocked up and drove back to the room where we had a restful day.


One Day - Three States

Today is the only day we'll be in three states.  We crossed the border into Kansas of which we just clip the corner.  A mere thirteen miles of Route 66 pass through the state or, if you ask some people - fourteen miles).

Our first stop was Galena.  I went into a flea market to see if they had any brass knuckles (for a photo idea) and that lead on a discussion on the second amendment with the owner.  "They're coming for our guns" type thing.  Kansas is an open carry states so the terrorists would never come there, apparently.  Let's hope he's right.

Up to 'Four women on the route' which was closed but we looked at cars on the forecourt, one of which was the inspiration for Pixar's "Tow Tater" character from cars.

From there we went up to Baxter Springs where the main street was always used in the 'Cars' movie.  "Angels on the route' cafe that James and me had visited a few years back was still there so we popped in.  It's changed hand, but still a nice place.  I ordered a coffee and a frozen custard.  For reasons unknown I got Rocky Road ice cream instead.  It was nice, but I'm still none-the-wiser on what frozen custard tastes like.

We "NEEDED" to get a Kansas sticker for the suitcase before we left the state.  Alas, no stickers to be found.

We were warned from the guy in the tourist information office in Baxter Springs that the cops in Quapaw were big on giving speeders tickets so we kept to the speed limit as we drove through (not that we don't always do that, officer.)  If you can read about the Quapaw Tribe here.

We drove through more towns that didn't really warrant stopping.  Commerce, I'm looking at you - sorry.

As we entered Miami (not that one) we saw a nice sign so pulled up to take a photo.  Seemed rude not to go in for some food (I'm eating WAY TOO MUCH food on this trip). I had a nice burger, and Jane ordered a nasty, greasy, inedible fish burger thing.  I won.

Through more and more towns; a nice shack in Narcissa, a closed down blue hotel in Vinita - its paint peeling off in a nice way.

We had our eyes on a BIG THING in the form of a large blue whale.  As we entered Catoosa there it was.  Much bigger than we thought.  Try and find Jane for scale.

Yesterday we went rogue and decided not to book a hotel/motel for today as (a) we didn't know where we'd be, (b) we wanted to stay somewhere other tha a chain.  We stopped off at a Subway to use their wifi and Jane found two options within striking distances.  The first was the Skyliner so we jumped in the car and within twenty minutes or so we had a room.

Everyone recommended the Rock Café for eating so we strolled the fifteen minutes up the road.  I ordered fried green tomatoes and abuffalo burger and Jane went for some sort of cheese based toasty thing.  Again, I win.

We were both knackered after being up at 6am or so, and with the prospect of trying to get close to the Oklahoma border by the end of tomorrow we settled down by 11pm.