Tuesday, January 17, 2017

California - Lake Elsinore to the end of Route 66

Lake Elsinore

November 22, 2016 was the day we headed to Lake Elsinore, CA and the Lake Elsinore Marina and RV Resort.  It was a beautiful sunny day for travel, but traffic was very heavy. 

This is the second time we have stayed at this park as we were here in January 2016. 
First time we were in Site #211 which was much better than Site #223 that we had this time. This one was much narrower and shorter. It is a back in with full hook-ups and 50 amp electric. We were very close to our neighbors, there awning almost touched our slide out. 
We forgot to get a picture of the site, but Nancy got lots of the park. The park itself is beautiful, it sits right on Lake Elsinore and is surrounded by mountains. There is a beautiful beach area, perfect for walking the dog. We paid $36.43 a night with our Passport America discount. Wifi was spotty and our Verizon signal was strong.
When we were here in January we explored Joshua Tree National Park but didn't realize at the time that the Peter "Wolf" Toth Indian was just outside of the park in Desert Hot Springs. So we ventured back to get pictures of the carving and drove through the park again. 
This Indian carving, named Waokiye, was carved in 1977 out of a Redwood tree. It is the 27th carving on the Trail of Whispering Giants and stands 43-feet tall.

We entered Joshua Tree park from the north this time, we didn't get up to this end last time. We were just as impressed with all of the rock formations and crazy Dr Seuss trees as we were last time. We saw lots of rock climbers this time, some at just about every pull off. 

We finished Route 66 from this stop and as promised in the last blog we will cover from Kingman, AZ to Santa Monica Pier. So grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the ride. 

We took a little side trip from Kingman, AZ  to see the Rock Murals in Chloride, AZ. Chloride was once a mining town that was home to over 3,000 people and was almost gone when artists starting moving in. There are metal sculptures and art work all over town.
The murals were painted by Roy Purcell in 1966. He took a break from studying Fine Arts at Utah State and worked as a miner in a nearby mine. 

"The Journey", covers 2000-sq feet and has withstood the harsh desert weather for all these years. These murals led to world-wide recognition for him and launched his professional career. 
 The road used to get to them discourages some, you need a high clearance vehicle to navigate the road, or you have to walk a little over a mile. It was worth the bumpy ride. Stopping in Santa Claus, AZ only took moments, as there is nothing left of the amusement park that once sat here except a few abandoned buildings and a For Sale Sign. 

We did toy with the idea of calling to inquire about the land. Really, how cool would it be to live in Santa Claus, especially when you look like him! 
We finally made it into Kingman, this is where we left off at from Sun Valley. The old power house has been turned into the Visitor Center and Mr D's Diner looks like a fun place. 

The train station which is still in operation was built in 1907.

There is a section of the pre-1930 route left. It only takes you a short distance before you have to turn around and come back to the current route but it is history and there are some cool rock formations along the way. 
There are a number of motels still in operation.

You twist and curve your way along County Highway 10 (Historic Route 66) from Kingman to Oatman. Some of the curves are not for the faint of heart, but they do offer some beautiful views.

Apparently some people didn't quite make a curve. 

First up is the Cool Springs Station Museum and General Store. It wasn't open when we passed but we did get a picture. 

Once you go through the Sitgreaves Pass  there isn't anything until you reach Oatman where you are greeted by the towns burros. They come into town in the morning and stay till dusk when they head back out to the hills.
 The townspeople have adopted them and are very protective of them. Especially the babies who wear stickers on their foreheads telling you not to feed them as they are still nursing. We of course had Mielikki with us and she was going crazy trying to get out of the car! 
Nancy got out to snap a few pictures and then we drove on with plans to come back the next day without the dog.

Like many of the other towns in the area Oatman is an old mining town that has used its history to bring in tourists, the burros help! There are a number of quirky little shops in town. 

One of the shops has a motorcycle and bicycle museum upstairs. All and all a great place to stop.

The section of Route 66 west from Needles to Barstow is known for its temporary road closures due to fierce dust storms - luckily we only encountered sunny skies. 
Our first stop was in Goffs at the Goffs Historical School. The town sits at the eastern end of the Mojave Desert and was once a thriving railroad town with a population close to 3,000. During WWII Army troops were stationed here with up to 10,000 people at times. Today there are 23 people who live here and keep the school and Outdoor Museum Trail running. 
We thought this would be a quick stop to snap a few pictures, boy were we wrong. Nothing we read prepared us for what was waiting for us. The last classes were held at the school in the Spring of 1937. The building had fallen in disrepair and had been vandalized, it was restored in 1999 and is filled with local history.
The mailbox is a replica of the school and turtles greet you along the way. The cement fence post is one of a few that remain of the original 100 posts. 
Goffs may have a small population of people but the amount of history they have certainly makes up for that.
They have acres of old machinery, trucks and cars, household items and more. Well over 100 items are waiting to be discovered. They have a booklet that you can use with descriptions of all it. Very well put together. We spent two hours walking the property and could have spent most of the day there. Of course Nancy took 100's of pictures. 

There are two stamp mills and lots of rusty tools, bolts and screws. Nancy wanted to take them all home.

There is a strip of railroad track with a car sitting on it. One section had piles of old items along the path. There were tractors, today's tractors may have more power but the look hasn't changed much. 

From there we found  a small post office in Essex that has very limited hours.
There is one section that the side of the road is lined with rock graffiti. We couldn't resist stopping and making our own heart shaped one. 
The only things left in Danby and Chambless are abandoned gas stations and motels.

Just before you get to Amboy you see large Chinese Dragons standing guard in the middle of a field. Not sure why but couldn't pass up getting some pictures. The town of Amboy or whats left was up for sale on eBay in 2003 for $1.9 million dollars, an offer of $995,000 was rejected. They should have accepted because in 2005, Juan Pollo bought it for $425,000. He had hopes of resuscitating the town, but it doesn't look like that has happened.  A stop at Roy's Motel and Cafe was fun. 

The lobby of the motel has been kept as it was back in the day and you can purchase some snacks or souvenirs in the gift shop. 

The cabins are no longer used for sleeping but they have put them to use holding art work. The art displays were a little interesting and we didn't understand all of them but as an artist Nancy never disagrees with someones art. A poster inside one of the cabins shows what the view would be like if the window was still there. We got a shot of the scene through the door.

You won't go hungry in Ludlow, the Ludlow Cafe is famous for it's biscuits and gravy. The Bagdad Cafe inspired German director Percy Adlon's 1987 film of the same name. At the time it was still located in Bagdad, but was moved to Newberry Springs in 1991. Along with a gas station this is all you will find here.

In Daggett like most other places we found empty buildings and lots where buildings once stood. In the 1800's it was a supply town for the local silver mines and borax mines. 20-mule teams hauled water and ore to and from the mines.

Barstow, CA is a much bigger town than any of the others. There are a number of motels still in operation. 
The most unique restaurant in town is the Fake Train Station McDonald's. It is three train cars side by side and a small shopping mall. 

The Casa del Desierto Harvey House is home to the Western Railroad Museum and Route 66 Museum

In Oro Grande, between Barstow, and San Bernadino, we stopped at the Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch. Thousands of different colored glass bottles have been used to create stunning art pieces. The bottle trees are topped off with many different items, a guitar, wagon, rifles, pans, radios and more. As if this wasn't enough there were dozens of Hummingbirds flitting all around.

For fans of Kill Bill II a stop at Emma Jean's Cafe in Victorville would be in order. It is the restaurant Uma Thurman walks into after after being buried alive. We arrived just after closing, so couldn't go in. 

As you enter into San Bernardino the overpass commemorates the route.
While the road is very busy and loaded with businesses not much is left from back in the day. There are a few motels, the most interesting is the Wigwam Motel, how fun would it be to stay there? The 20-foot tepee rooms were built in 1949 and the current owner has invested a great deal into restoring them. 

You pass through many small towns on the way to Santa Monica Pier. In Monrovia we snapped some quick pictures in the rain of the Aztec Motel.  

In Pasadena we made a stop at the Fair Oaks Pharmacy. Not only can you still get prescriptions filled here, you can get a float, phosphates, egg creams or lime rickeys, just like you could in 1915. 

The route takes you through Chinatown, we did it both in daylight and in the dark which gave us totally different sights. The neon was great.

Sometimes you snap a picture and don't really see what is happening. Nancy took a quick shot of the opening to Chinatown as we drove past. It wasn't until she loaded the pictures onto her computer she saw the family taking a picture of their dog sitting on one of the posts!

Just outside of Chinatown you come to the first of three endings of Route 66. 
At Broadway and 7th Street is the 1926-1936 ending. Then at the corner of Olympic and Lincoln Boulevards is where the Route ended until 2009 when it was moved to Santa Monica Pier. There is no fan fare at the second stop, but there is a large penguin on a sign.

As you pass 7th street you come to an entertainment district, lots of neon here and the sidewalks were full of people coming and going in every direction. 

Four months and 2000+ miles later we made it to the end of Route 66 at the Santa Monica Pier. What a ride it has been, all the history we have drove through has been pretty 

While we didn't see a naked Fruitcake struttin' through a cross walk (Jimmy Buffett fans should get the connection) we did see some interesting characters on the Pier.

We arrived in time for an amazing sunset and got to watch the pier come to life in neon.  

We hoped you have enjoyed sharing Route 66 with us - it has been a memorable trip.

We headed north to Sacramento from here and we moved pretty fast going and coming back down so the the next blog will be a combination of a number of stops. 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Protecting our tires.
As you know we try to stay in the sun as much as possible and while we love the sun, it can cause some damage not only to our skin but to tires as well.
 We have tire covers for the RV and the tow-dolly tires. They are easy to slip on and secure with the elastic drawstring and easy to remove.

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