Wednesday, October 31, 2012

DAY 70- Sultan Sea, Dunes, & Border Patrol...

Having regrouped and gotten a few days off from my BIG Adventure, I was ready to head out again.  This time I was heading south east to Yuma, AZ.  I had already covered most of the northern territory of Arizona but really felt like I needed to get south.  I will admit that this wouldn’t be my first time to Yuma.  I was there years ago during a couple of Spring Breaks in college.

Before I was even headed out of Palm Desert, I was stopped at a light when the guy in a pickup truck rolled down his window to talk to me.  “Hey, I lived in Salt Lake for 16 years!” he said.  “What part of the valley are you from?”  He continued to ask questions while we waited for the light.  He moved to southern California because you can have it all and he hated the cold up north.  He said that he could ski in the morning and then drive a couple of hours and be surfing on the ocean.  The light changed and he gave the parting comment of “… You’ve got to love California!”  As he stepped on the gas and left me and my station wagon in the dust. 

Okay, I thought; as I headed east on I-10 and shortly after went south on the Hwy 86 split.  I went along for miles with not much for scenery in this southern California area and then out of the blue comes the Sultan Sea.  Yeah, Sultan!  Of all of the names to choose for a name of a lake.  The Sultan Sea is like an oasis out of the middle of nowhere and just happens to also be below sea level.  This sea was created by accident with a flood in 1905 and is still maintained through yearly run offs of water from agriculture and is fed from New White Water and the Alamo Rivers in the area.  It is the largest lake in California and is the second saltiest lake in the US; The Great Salt Lake is the first.  I just drove by the lake but there didn’t appear to be much going on its surface.  There was a fair amount of green areas with houses and I’m sure businesses along its shoreline on the west.
Photo- The Sultan Sea, a huge lake in the middle of California's desert country. 

I continued southeast direction.  My plan was to drive through the Imperial Sand Dunes in southern California.  I had seen the dunes years ago once and I figured it would be something scenic that I could see along the way; there’s really limited scenery between California’s and Arizona’s borders.  I went through a couple of smaller towns and in each one I kept on seeing signs mentioning about purchasing your Glamis permits.  What was this?  Well, it turned out if you wanted to do some off road time or do any recreational things around the sand dunes you needed a permit.  The Imperial Sand Dunes surround a town called Glamis; which is really more of an outpost in the middle of the sand dunes where you can purchase supplies and hook up RV’s.  I drove through and didn’t purchase a permit.  I stopped only once for a quick opportunity to take some pictures.  It was like a giant sand box and I didn’t see that many people playing in the sand box which I found disappointing.
Photo- The Imperial Sand Dunes near Glamis, CA.

I continued on the same road and the landscape changed dramatically to a red like mountains.  There was a HUGE mining operation I drove by that had tall chain-link fences and razor wire along the top.  I’m guessing it was a successful mining operation that REALLY didn’t want trespassers.  Of course, every few feet there was a no trespassing sign; that was a big clue too.
Photo- From sand dunes to red rock mountains in a matter of miles.

The road started to change and the scenery and road began to get really dippy.  The suggested speed limit went lower and then there would be a series of dip after dip after dip that you could see on the road.  It was a little like driving a car on a smaller version of a roller coaster; which is totally not my thing.  I felt my stomach lurch up and down as I drove along; hoping I wouldn’t have to hurl.  The next thing I know I see a warning signs about all vehicles must stop and the speed limit keeps on lowering.  I see stop signs and a covered area above the road where four guys and a dog are standing.  What’s up with this?
Photo- Driving on a mini roller coaster ride and hoping I didn't hurl.

I pulled up and stopped.  The guys are all wearing dark green uniforms that say border control.  One of the guys asked me,” Hi mamm.  Are you a US Citizen?”  Yes I say and then I teasingly say,” Did I wander in to Mexico by accident?”  Oooops! NOT the thing to say to a border control officer.  His face got stern and serious.  He then asked where I started my day, where I was going, and where I had last driven through.  I answered them and thinking to myself all along-”Oh great!  This guy has no sense of humor and he’s going to make me unload my car.” 

Then, he says that did I know that I was heading north to Blythe.  No, I thought I was heading south and hoping to find I-8 to head into Yuma.  I must admit that I played up the dumb part a bit more than I normally would have.  I got out my atlas and asked if he could show me where I was.  I must have really gotten turned around and I needed help I said as I tried to look as dumb and doe-eyed as possible.

He showed me where I was and said that if I turned around.  I could take the second left turn and then I would be about 25 miles to I-8.  I thanked him profusely and he said to be very careful of oncoming traffic when I turned around.  The whole time the other three guys and the German Shepard dog were just standing on the other side of my car.  Okay, I thought as I drove away… Note to self- The US Border Control does not have a sense of humor and to just play it straight the next time.

The rest of the drive was uneventful and I managed to get checked into my hotel for the night in Yuma.  I ended up deciding to stay close to the hotel for dinner since it was dark and went to an Olive Garden.  No one interesting to talk to at the bar, and it was just an over stressed woman who was bartending.  This was no fun and the food was just okay.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for a friend who called to see how I was doing on my adventure; I wouldn’t have had any dinner conversation at all.  Boring!  Note to self- maybe no more Olive Garden meals for a while.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

DAY 67, 68, & 69- Regrouping and Days Off…

After the eye opening problem with the debit/credit card fiasco, my nerves were a bit over stressed and it was affecting me.  My stomach was upset and anything food wise just didn’t appeal.  I found myself misplacing stuff and I just couldn’t quite focus on things.  I was in need of some serious downtime and needed to re-evaluate what and how I was doing things.

John had offered for me to come stay with him again in Palm Desert and I kind of jumped at the idea of it.  It was some place where the weather was warmer and where I could hand out a friend and I would be in someone’s home rather than an impersonal hotel room.  So, after picking up my debit/credit card from the museum in Kingman on Friday morning, I found myself driving for Palm Desert; a bit of a back track but the possibility of downtime and days off flashed in my mind.  I couldn’t wait for the 4.25 hour drive to be over.

It was good to see John and it was a very good weekend of just relaxing and hanging out. 

Highlights of the weekend—
Friday night-               
We had a bit of partying fun at the Tilted Kilt, which is an upscale restaurant version of Hooter’s in Palm Desert with gals that wear short kilt skirts and skimpy front tied shirts but with a lot better food than Hooters.  Our server was a cute 19 year old blonde named Christina who helped make the whole experience of the restaurant fun.  John and I ended up taking a taxi cab ride home we were having SO much fun.  The fun continued when we got back to his place and we ended up running around on the wet fourth green of the golf course that’s just off of his patio area.  I’m amazed and thankful that the police weren’t called.
Photo- The sun setting and the moon rising in Palm Desert.

Well, a bit of a HUGE hangover for me and most of the day I spent trying to recover from it.  My stomach was almost as angry with me as was my head.  OMG!  Why did I drink THAT much?  But flashes of the night came back and it had been well worth the hangover.  John kept on looking at me and cracking up.  I guess I must have looked pretty pathetic.  However, I did finally manage to give John a ride back to pick up his car from the Tilted Kilt.  Later on, I was alive enough to prepare a meal of chicken Dijon for John and myself which we enjoyed while watching the Notre Dame Football game.  We watched the Fighting Irish win; that made John very happy.

In the early morning, I managed to get a nice climbing ride in on the bike in the Palm Desert area.  I climbed part of the way up Hwy 74 until the shoulder of the road got too narrow and it wasn’t safe to be with the speeding cars.  But it felt good to be climbing on the bike.  They have wonderful bike lanes in Palm Desert that are also designed for golf carts too.  I worked on my 5 loads of laundry but had enough time to go get a mani-pedicure at a local nail place where a cute gal named Kim from Vietnam waited on me. I also discovered that Palm Desert is really into their golf carts.  They closed down a main street area for a golf cart parade.  A parade of them?  Now that’s some people with some serious golf cart issues.  Later on, I made a batch of my chili while John grilled up some brats on his back patio area.  We enjoyed chili dogs while we watched the Giants win the World Series game; another wonderful way to end the day!
Photo- My pretty new purple toes after my mani-pedi.

Overall, it was a wonderful weekend and I want to thank John for putting up with me; especially when I get silly and drunk.  But it was just what I needed to help me de-stress.

Monday, October 29, 2012

DAY 66- Grand Canyon’s South Rim & a Low Spot…

Since I was a mere 75 miles south east of the Grand Canyon it seemed that it was a MUST see on my trip.  Most of the Grand Canyon National Park closes on October 15th but the south rim area is open until snow closes down the road.

It was a beautiful sunny day when I headed out of Flagstaff in the morning.  There were trees here and there among the pine trees that were turning the gold’s and yellows of Fall.  It was chilly.  Flagstaff had gotten down to the low -40’s overnight and a high of maybe mid-50’s was predicted.  I so needed to do laundry because I didn’t have any long sleeved shirts available for me to wear.  I grabbed a hooded jacket and my rain coat, the Oregon rainy day purchase, and proceeded to drive northwest.

I was a bit concerned as I got close to the south entrance of the park and I see clouds of smoke.  There were flashing signs to dial the radio to 1610AM and to slow down for poor visibility due to smoke.  There was a fire somewhere off to the west of the road but it must have been under control or a prescribed fire because there was no other directions being given to the visitors.
Photo- My first sighting of the Grand Canyon from the near Mather's View Point.

 I continued driving north.  When I entered the park and I was rather surprised by the rather a bland scenery until you get to the actual rim.  Then, it’s a breath taking view.  I walked along the rim and was just amazed by this HUGE expansive hole in our earth; all caused by water erosion.  But I kept on say WOW at the view.  One guy was standing nearby and cracking up at me. It was rather funny because everyone was standing and posing for pictures with the Grand Canyon behind them.  I admit I did a couple of those by grabbing someone else and asking them to take my picture. 
Photo- Yep! I posed like everyone else in front of the view.

It was windy and cold while I walked along the rim path.  Quite a few people were wearing winter coats.  I walked from the rather packed Mather View Point to the Yavapai Museum about ¾ mile hike along a paved path.  I stopped in at the Yavapai Museum and checked out the view from the enclosed window area.  I also warmed up too.    
Photos- Some amazing views from the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

I walked past the turn off for the Park Headquarters.  At another ½ mile when my legs were starting to feel like they had enough.  I shouldn’t have run those 1.5 miles on the treadmill that morning.  I decided to turn back having hiked 1.75 miles along the rim trail and what a beautiful view to hike along.  Back out on the rim trail, periodically there were areas that had benches where you could rest along the trail.  There was also markers in the trail about the stones that you saw as you went along and talked about how many thousands of years ago that this stone was formed.  It really kind of put my short life on earth into perspective.
Photo- A bench along the south rim path of Grand Canyon Nat'l Park.

After my hike of 3.5 miles, I walked through the Visitor’s Center and learned more about the formation of the Grand Canyon.  I also thought that it was interesting how there was a lineup of almost 15 people to talk with a National Parks Employee to help plan their park experience for the day.  I had enough hiking for the day and needed to drive to Kingman, AZ where I had a reservation for the night.  I visited the book store and got a bumper sticker and some postcards of course.  Then after that I was off driving down the road towards I-40W.  It was already 4pm and I still had at least a 2 hour drive in front of me.
Photo- A National Park Employee giving a tour for young children
near the South Rim of Grand Canyon Nat'l Park.

The drive to Kingman was basically a straight shot on I-40.  I have to admit that I had already driven through Kingman and part of the reason I ended up going back was out of need.  You may remember me mentioning dropping my wallet a few days ago while at the Route 66 museum there.  Well, I missed a debit/credit card and thank goodness it had been safely turned in by someone.  I needed to go pick it up.  This had added an extra stress hanging over my head for the last two days on my adventure.  I had discovered the card was missing when I was getting dinner and brew from the Raven in Prescott.

But things seemed to be working out and the plan was that I would stay the night in a hotel in Kingman and then when the museum opened up I could pick up my card.  Then I would be back on track for my adventure; no worse for the wear.  The sun had already set for the night as I found the hotel and went to get checked in.  I talked with the clerk and started the whole process of checking in when my other credit card was declined.  She ran it again, and it came back declined again.  She asked if I had used it a lot in the last few days and that maybe I just needed to call the credit card company. 

I knew that I was probably cutting it close because I had only been able to use the one credit card but that a large payment should had gone through earlier that day on the credit card.  I later found out that the payment on the card hadn’t gone through until midnight and that what I thought was available was on hold from the London Bridge Resort and hadn’t been released as of yet. 

The hotel clerk asked if I had another card.  No, I’m here to pick up a card I had accidentally left at the museum in town and couldn’t pick that up until the museum opened the next day.  She asked if I had cash.  I only had about $12 on me.  She said that there was an ATM across the street.  I told her that wouldn’t do me any good because the card that had access to the ATM was at the museum. 

I asked the clerk where the nearest truck stop was and thanked her; jumped back in my car and headed for the truck stop.  It looked like I would be sleeping the night in my car.  I got to the truck stop and looked around for a place to park between or at the edge of the semi-trucks but the place was rather packed.  I found a place near the restaurant and went into the coffee shop area. 

I could always hang out here I thought to myself as I helped myself to a booth near the front windows.  I was the only female in the place outside of the waitresses.  I ordered a diet soda and took my time trying to decide what to order.  I need to keep the bill and the tip under $12.  I ordered a grill cheese sandwich with fries.  I then got out my nook and did a bit of reading.  I took my time eating and reading; getting a refill on my diet soda.  An hour and a half later the waitress is asking if I can pay my bill so that she can close out for the night and go home.  I put what I have in cash on the check and ask if okay I do a bit more reading and get a refill of another diet soda. 

About an hour later, I’ve drank all of the diet soda and the other waitress is eyeing me.  It was time to find something else to do.  I went back to my car and started to arrange the contents inside so that I could sleep on one side of the back part.  This was quite a process of rearranging but it was doable.  I also noticed a rather well lighted spot between two semi-trucks where I could park for the night.  I pulled my car over to it, got parked and rolled out the sleeping bag.  I was hunkered down and ready for the night.

I had texted my friend John, a traveling salesman, to see if he had gotten safely home after a 4 hour drive.  He ended up cutting it short and opted to stay at a midpoint of his travels.   I texted him about what happened.  No, ifs, ands, or buts he set me up in a nearby hotel.  He texted me that it was taken care of and they were expecting me for the night.  So I repacked the car and headed to the hotel for the night.  He said the idea that I would sleep in my car was crazy.  I texted back and said I AM CRAZY don’t you know I’m supposedly going through my mid-life crisis; at least according to some of my friends.
I got to the hotel and the sweet gal gave me the key and wished me a good night.  But I rather felt bad because I kind of experienced a bout of what I felt like was failure to take care of myself, and I will admit that I find it very hard to ask or to take help sometimes.  I always saw that as strength but I may need to rethink that. Thank you John for being generous! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

DAY 65- Prescott, Sedona, to Flagstaff…

I woke up to a wonderful sunrise outside my window of my east facing room.  I went down for the continental breakfast.  I had stayed the night in a very nice Hampton Inn in Prescott Valley.  They have fresh coffee out all night for you to partake of which I thought was a wonderful feature considering how I love my coffee.

I went back up to my room jumped on my computer and let’s see where we are going to go today.  I had the idea of going into Prescott again just to check out the area for a bit then I wanted to head north to Sedona and possibly stay in Flagstaff for the night.  My thought was that Flagstaff hotels would be cheaper than Sedona.  As I got on-line with my computer that just what I found out.  Set up my reservation packed and off I went.
Photo- Prescott's Courthouse Square a very walkable park like setting.

Back into Prescott I drove.  Prescott is nestled in foothills and mountain valleys.  It is a very pretty area.  There’s nice neighborhoods that looked average income but were well kept near the historic  downtown.  I parked on the street next to the courthouse square.  Prescott’s historic downtown is centered off of the Courthouse square.  I noticed signs under light poles that stated” Prescott Everyone’s Hometown”.  I will admit that Prescott did have a nice comfortable feel to it.   
Photo- Signs stating Prescott Everyone's Hometown.

On one side of the Courthouse Square there’s a grouping of older buildings called Whiskey Row which has a variety of shops, restaurants, and bars.  The art collective that I visited last night is here.  Almost down at the other end, I visited another gallery call Van Gogh’s Ear.  Yes, I’ll admit I went in because of the name but it was a very nice gallery with a wide variety of art; paintings, photography, sculpture, jewelry, purses, and other wearable art.  I also loved that they were playing soft jazz music. 
Photo- Part of Prescott's Whiskey Row.

I walked around the rest of the street area surrounding the courthouse square.  There were quite a few western wear or art shops but among those were woman’s upscale boutique clothing stores and antique shops.  It was an understated easy going shopper’s paradise in one aspect but I was really enjoying walking around and window shopping because real effort had been put into the window displays.  I bet this place would be amazing at Christmas.

I looked at the clock and realized I had better get going to Sedona or I would really be driving in the dark to Flagstaff. I took a chance that Hwy 89 would run into Hwy89A.  I had a general map but it didn’t show the city area of Prescott and where the highways met up.  As I headed north out of Prescott the landscape changed dramatically from mountain valley to sandy rock formations.  This was very interesting and within such a short distance.  Wow!  I wish I had known and made more time.  I think I may have to come back here to explore more in the future.  But I will admit that I’ve felt that way in several areas.  I often feel I could spend weeks or years exploring some of these places that I have visited.
Photo- A rocky landscape just north of Prescott.

Photo- Scenery along Hwy 89A north before Jerome.
The scenery as I headed north became amazing the further I went north and the closer I got to Sedona.  Warning Hwy 89A is one of those scenic routes which entail tons of curves but the curves are really worth it in this case.  Course, I think I’ve heard men say that too.  Hmmm.   The road runs through a mountain pass and there are rocks, evergreen trees, and the other trees were turning yellow and orange.  It was gorgeous scenery.  I stopped at a view area just before coming into the town of Jerome.
Photo- View Area just before Jerome.

Jerome is a ghost town that has turned into an artist haven.  I was here years ago with a friend and it was marvelous place to spend the day.  The highlights I can remember of that day is eating a hamburger at the haunted hotel and watching a glass blowing demo in a lawn chair from 4 ft. away.  I was there to late in the day to find a parking place easily and I really wanted to spend time in Sedona.  I drove through Jerome slowly remembering some places and seeing new places too.
Photo- Red rock scenery just outside of Sedona.

I was several miles away from Sedona when I started to see the red topped bluffs that surround the area.  I was just barely within the town area when I saw these pink jeeps turning down a side street.  I HAD to check this out.  The side of the jeeps stated that they were off-road tours and they were packed with people.  I followed two of the vehicles and there was another two behind me.  I figured I would follow until they went off the road and get a taste of what the riders get.  I was on Dry Creek Road and it was a nice drive out on the road.  I completely lost interest in the pink jeeps and was enamored with the scenery. WOW!  The road came to a “T” and I took a right hand turn.  I stopped at a parking place not far down the road and took a few pictures. 

I turned around and headed back to Sedona.  I saw signs for a visitor’s center and followed those.  I went in and asked one of the older men at the busy counter if there was a shopping area with a lot of galleries and some restaurants too.  He grabbed a map and told me of two that were very close. 

I went to the Tlaquepaque; no please don’t ask me to pronounce this name out loud.  Parking was a bit of a struggle but it ended up really being worth it.  I walked from the boondocks and into a Mexican Oasis.  Among the Spanish inspired architecture there were graceful arches, the soft splashing of fountains, tranquil plaza areas, and shade covered verandas.  It was all very relaxing and there are about 45 restaurants and shops spread throughout the area. 
Photos- The Tlaquepaque shopping area in Sedona.

There were live musicians playing out in a couple of the plaza areas.  One was a new age on an electric guitar that I didn’t care for but another was playing soft flamenco guitar which just fit in perfect with the architecture.  He had CD’s that were available to purchase.  I sat down and listened for a while on a nearby bench; watching people walk by and shopping.  I just sat and enjoyed this was a wonderful place to come.  It was also rather confusing to find your way around because there are so many nestled verandas and plaza areas of all sizes. 

Most of the shops were galleries, but there were a few restaurants, pottery, clothing, and what not among them too.  I ended up having a late lunch on an outside patio of a Mexican restaurant called El Rincon which had bright colored umbrella tables. The food was okay but it was on the bland for Mexican but it was a mostly white high end clientele in the area.  But a warning if you do purchase or eat anything in Sedona, you need to figure in their 10.75% sales tax.  I overheard one lady complaining about it when she purchased an item that was under $5 at one store with the clerk.

Next I drove further north on Hwy 89A, the highway went by state parks and recreational areas.  I was really enjoying the drive and enjoying the scenery of rock formations, evergreen trees and colored leaves.  About 10 miles out of town, I look down to see the fuel light has come on.  Oh shit!  I should’ve fueled up when I was in Sedona; what was I thinking?  I had gotten a little too relaxed at the Tlaquepaque.  I pulled into the next turn out area, turned off the car, and grabbed the map to see where I was.  Well, I could be anywhere along a 27 mile stretch and not particularly sure if there would be a fuel station at the end of that stretch.  I opted to turn around back into Sedona and hoped that the downhill would help get better gas mileage to get me further.  I thankfully made it to the first gas station and filled up. 

It was getting later and I thought it might be faster to work my way over to I-17 to head north to Flagstaff.  I turned onto Hwy 179 heading south.  It was the only way to get to I-17 from Sedona.  Well, I don’t know if it was any faster to go this way because every 4th intersection was a round-about where you had to slow to 15mph.  They sure love their round-abouts!  There wasn’t as many as Bend, OR but this area from Sedona heading over towards Cottonwood sure had them.  Just before Cottonwood the road finally straightened out and widened.  The speed limit increased and I felt like I finally arrived at I-17.  I turned north to Flagstaff.

The interstate was virtually a straight shot going north but had a fair amount of climbing.  I took it easy.  The car has been fine but I didn’t want to push it.  The interstate speed was 75 but I stuck to about 70mph.  Now the only problem is that I had directions to the hotel from Hwy 89A.  But I did have a Woodlands Blvd that was supposed to be a turn off.  I take an exit off to double check the address and directions.  As I’m trying to get back onto the interstate I stumble upon Woodlands Blvd.  What luck!

I drive along and look for the hotel.  I turn in and park.  I wait while the clerk checks in two married couples.  I get up there and tell him I’m here to check in.  I give him my name, and he asks how to spell it.  Just like it sounds—All Good, I say.  He checks his computer and asks if the reservation maybe under another name.  No, I say.  Is there another Radisson in the area?  Mamm, this is Ramada.  The Radisson is down the street and off on your right.  I turn around and laughingly announced to the whole room,” Go figure!  I got the wrong hotel!”   Out the door I went, while the perplexed faces of the other hotel guests looked on.

I found the Radisson and I was so glad to see it because this was definitely a step up from the Ramada down the street.  I went into a marbled entrance and up to the desk where a clerk helped me right away.  He was happy because I guess my reservation was the only one that had gone smoothly for him for the night.  He said I was his lucky one and upgraded me to a suite.  Sweet!  While he finished checking me in I told him about checking in at the Ramada down the street.  He said that happened all the time.  They used to have a Residence Inn down the street that they used to get people trying to check in here too.  He was probably just being nice but I was feeling rather like a blond.

I got to the room and changed into some warmer clothes.  The temperature overnight in Flagstaff was supposed to get down to 42 degrees.  Brrr-rrr!  Man, I’m turning into a whimp!  I decided to just take it easy and stay in the hotel to eat.  I went into the Lounge area where there was only one other couple.  They had the game of the first World Series on and I sat at the bar ordered an appetizer from the Happy Hour Menu and had a bottle of Blue Moon.  It was myself and the bartender watching the game alone for the most part.  We would make comments about the game here and there but neither one of us were really vested in it.  He was a Diamond Back fan and I’m a Braves fan; but we still watched the Giants win the game.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DAY 64- The Mother Road, Road Kill, & Prescott…

I opted to get up early and use the fitness facilities at the London Bridge Resort.  I put on some workout clothes and went out to the car for my running shoes.  Threw those on in the quiet fitness room and stepped on the treadmill or as I often referred to is as the dreadmill.  I started with a quick fast paced walking warm up and then every 30 seconds I started to increase the speed up to 5.5mph which is about an 11min/mile.  It was there that I hit the threshold.  That was as fast as I could go and I was a bit disappointed because a few months ago I was running a 10:30 min/mile.  I’m slowing down and I need to get out more often run or bike and push myself when I do it too.

Prescott, AZ was the goal today and I headed north to I-40 and started heading east.  Just before Kingman, I see a sign for historic Route 66 and mention of a museum.  That sounded interesting to me so I took the exit.  About a block down I find a large building off to my right that’s called the Powerhouse Visitors Center.  I walked in, on one side is a souvenir store and on the other there’s an information both with tons of brochures about the area and Arizona; its Arizona tourists central!  Upstairs there’s a museum. 

I go upstairs and two older ladies are sitting at a desk at the entrance of the museum door.  It’s $4 to get in.  I get out my bicyclist wallet and drop it.  It pops open and credit cards and money go all over the place.  So I’m doing some small talk to the ladies as I’m crawled around on the floor picking up my stuff. I paid the ladies and walk into the museum.  It’s done in a time line fashion and talks about Route 66 history.  Route 66 started just outside of Chicago area and ended at the Santa Monica Pier.  
Photo- In the Powerhouse Visitor's Center Museum.

Route 66 started off as a major footpath that was commonly used by the Indians.  At this point Route 66 was known as the Mother Road.  This Mother Road was used later by pioneers in wagons to head out west.  The railroads were built along the same route.  Eventually, as cars came into existence they traveled along the road.  In 1926, the highway (the Mother Road) was certified as US Highway 66.  During the Great Depression millions traveled along Route 66 in hopes of finding new beginnings.  In fact, the mention of Route 66 in John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath put the road on the map in history. 

After World War II, the economy surged and up along the Route 66 new towns, businesses, and restaurants came into being.  In the late 50’s and early 60’s, route 66 was in the height of its glory.  In 1957, President Eisenhower signed the bill that created the interstate system that we have today.  It ended up being the kiss of death for Route 66.  By the late 1970’s quite a few of the communities along Route 66 had turned into ghost towns; also some of the route had been paved over by the new interstates.  In the late 1980’s there was a resurgence of interest to save some of old Route 66.  Now some of the areas of the road are being maintained and have historic signage.  I found the museum very interesting.  I only thought of the 1950’s and 1960’s part of its history but there was so much more.
Photo- A great deal of Route 66 places in Kingman.

Next, I discovered that I could take another segment that goes along I-40 and it would get me to the same place.  Off I went along Route 66 again; only this road was quite a bit better maintained and traveled than the section I did yesterday.  I will admit as I went through the town of Kingman did market everything along the Route 66 and it kind of soured it for me because it was too much commercialized.  But as I went along the road, the scenery made up for all of the commercialization.  The colored rock formations gave way to sandy colored rocky piled formations and then to green topped bluffs with small green trees in fields of wheat colored grass.  It was very scenic.  I drove through an Indian reservation and I will say it was nothing compared to some of the reservations I have experienced so far.  This one looked very well kept up and had very nice community buildings.
Photo- Scenery along Route 66.

As I drove along, I saw old model T cars driving from the other direction.  They seemed to be in groups of two or three traveling along the road.  I counted at least 15 of them that past me from the other direction.  I found it interesting because they would’ve been the first cars on Route 66.  I did see other old classic cars along the route but most of them were parked and had for sale signs posted on them.
Photo- Older classic cars along Route 66.

I was ready for lunch and decided to take a chance with the Road Kill Café in Seligman.  I ended up ordering a diet Pepsi which came in a huge mason jar and a sandwich called Too-Slow-Doe.  Sorry to say there was no venison in this sandwich; it was a barbeque beef on a hoagie bun served up with your choice of fries, potato salad, or chips.  I sat at the bar and noticed there were tons of dollar bills along the ceiling of the bar area.  The dollar bills had names, dates, and numbers on them.  I asked the guy behind the bar what it was all about and he said that people leave a dollar with their name and date in hopes of locating it the next time they come through the area.  Well, good luck with that I said.  The guy laughed.
Photo- Road Kill Cafe where the motto is-
You Kill Them and We'll Grill Them!

I struck up a conversation with the guy and found out he was originally from LA.  He lived in Vegas for a while and somehow ended up here.  He would specify why he ended up here in a small town along Route 66 working at the Road Kill Café.  I asked him how he managed coming from large cities to a small town.  He said he goes to Vegas once a month.  I found him rather tight lipped and cagey.
Photo- A ceiling of dollar bills in the bar area at Road Kill Cafe.

Next, I decided to pick up the pace just a bit more and got back onto I-40.  Shortly, after that I was on Hwy 89 heading south to Prescott.  Oh, and I was told that all the locals pronounce it as PRES-kit.  I followed the Google directions again and took the LONG way to the hotel.  Go figure!  I got checked in and then drove to the Prescott’s downtown area.  It was starting to get dark already at 6pm; winter is here that’s for sure.  I went into a local gallery and got to talking with the guy manning the shop.  He was one of the artist in the shop and all of the artist take their turn manning the shop; it’s an artist’s collective.  I knew of several in Salt Lake City too.  This shop had quite a bit of variety. 
Photo- Inside of the Raven.

Then I asked about where to go eat and what not in the downtown area and he suggested the Raven.  It is like “Beer Nirvana” he said and none of that mainstream piss water served there.  That peaked my interest and it was about 3 blocks away.  I headed that direction and looked at menus in several other places along the way.  I also looked to see how busy or how much activity there was in some of these places.  Quite a few didn’t have much going on and then I got to the Raven and it had a hum of activity.
Photo- Artwork inside the Raven that's available for purchase.

The Raven serves coffee up during the day but serves beer and wine in the evenings.  They also have an organic menu which I’m sometimes wary of places that do that because then it’s to veggie for me.  But I saw a pita pizza on the menu and that sounded good.  It had sweet red peppers, onions, and olives with a bit of olive oil.  Unfortunately, they were out of the chicken that they could add on for a bit more but I had already waited in line so I stuck with just veggies and beer.  I tasted a couple and then decided on a pale ale from a local brewery.  They had at least 30 beers on tap and another variety of 40 bottled beers.  All of the beers were non-mainstream beers.  In other words you guys that drink Bud light were out of luck in this place.  I ordered at the counter then found a table along the wall.  They had some interesting art on the wall.  It really was an interesting atmosphere and there were Halloween decorations up which you would expect in a placed called the Raven.

Before I know it, I’m talking with a guy that is a disabled retired vet.  He’s planning a driving trip to Mexico starting in November.  We talked for a while and he bought me another beer.  It was an interesting conversation but what was driving me up the wall is the whole time he’s talking to me he’s staring at my chest.  I’m wearing a form fitting t-shirt and there’s no cleavage but he’s staring at my chest.  It was very disorientating.  He finally had to leave and I finished the beer he had bought me slowly.  Then, I walked back to the Prescott square which is the center of town where I had parked my car.  I found my way back to the hotel using a map the desk clerk had given me when I checked in.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DAY 63- Getting My Kicks & London Bridges...

The plan today was to end up in Lake Havasu City, AZ.  I drove across the river to the Arizona side and fueled up.  After being in California for a little over a week, it felt like a dream only paying $3.79/gal.  I headed south out of Bullhead City on Hwy 95 back towards Needles.

About the second stop light on my way out of Bullhead City, I saw a sign pointing east that said to Historic Route 66.  Why not?!!  I was in the wrong lane of course, so I take the next available right hand turn and do one of my famous U-turns.  I headed east and I had no idea how any of this would connect in with my drive southeast to Lake Havasu City, but I’ll figure that out as I go along; that’s all part of being on a road trip.
Photo- Historic Route 66 heading towards Oatman.

A mile down this road off in the distance, I can see part of the landscape that is often used in the posters of Route 66; the car with the road and the colored rock towers in the background.  Meanwhile, in the back of mind I hear the song…I get my kick on Route 66.  I continue to drive east and 4 miles later the two lane highway comes to a “Y” intersection of which I’m on one of the top half.  This is Route 66, there’s historical road markers and a little ways down I see a worn wooden sign pointing north with the word OATMAN on it.  Huh? Oh, why not?  I came this far didn’t I?
Photo- A worn sign for Oatman.

I head north into Oatman; whatever Oatman maybe, I have no idea.  I head further north and come to a burro warning sign for the next 8 miles.  Okay, this is a little new to me.  There are wild burros roaming the hills, hmmm?  I continue north and arrive at a little wooden rustic town with a speed limit of 15mph.  I slow thinking that’s kind of an extreme low speed limit.  But then I see burros roaming the streets, people petting/feeding the burros and people walking around.  It’s relatively packed for a small area.  The burros have the run of the street area and everyone just goes around them.
Photos- Burros on the main drag in Oatman on Route 66.

I ended up paying for parking at the end of town for $2 which I get a $2 coupon that’s good for the purchase of something other than postcards in the shop right next to the parking lot.  This is a huge marketing ploy if there ever was one.  I go in the store and look around but everything seems to be marked up $2 more than what it should be anyway.  I think I need to just stick with losing the $2 to parking.  I walk along the street.  Most of the store fronts are rustic worn wooden and they have wooden boardwalk sidewalks.
Photo- Locals on the boardwalk.

There are a couple of local guys hanging out on a boardwalk area and I catch part of their conversation.  One of them is carving something in wood while the other stands.  “Working on another one, I see.” The one carving says,”Yep!  I can’t seem to keep them in stock.”  The other one says,”Yeah, that kind of how it goes.”  Then they talk about the weather.

It’s a hodgepodge group of people.  There are the Harley biker types with their scantily clad women, families with kids and strollers, older retired couples, and almost every age between.  A lot of the locals are clad in jeans and cowboy hats and they traverse the main road area in ATVs instead of cars.  I hear all kinds of accents from the twang of Texas, the slip sliding lilt of Savannah, the proper English of England, the average American accent and plenty of Germanic accented English.

I wandered in and out of shops on one side of the street.  The sidewalk gets crowded in one area so I walked out on the street.  I walked out past a burro that starts walking towards me like I have something to give it.  No, I don’t have anything for you.  I told it as I pet its nose and continued past it.  Then, I felt a tug on my little knapsack that I’m carrying.  I turned around to find the burro had my bag clutched in its mouth.  What!  No you are giving that back to me buddy.  I quickly tugged it back and I heard people commenting about the burro trying to take my bag.  I stated out loud,” It must have thought my bag had food in it!”  Later, I see a guy that bought a whole bunch of burro bag treats that they sell at all of the stores.  A burro just went for the paper sacks in his hands like there was no tomorrow.  It was kind of funny but I could see it scare the heck out of small kid.
Photo- A Burro going in for snacks!

I walked down to the one end and then crossed the street carefully watching my bag when I went past the burros.  I checked out the stores on up the other side of the street.  Some of the stores were your typical t-shirt souvenir stores but there were some that had pottery, leather goods, and other items that looked like they were made locally.  I did find a cute Route 66 t-shirt for $13 that I just couldn’t pass up and then I got a couple of postcards.  At the other end of the street was a pair of cowboys playing guitars and singing.  No, it wasn’t the tune of getting kicks on Route 66, but a Johnny Cash song.
Photo- Old Route 66 heading south from Oatman.

I got in the car and headed south this time on Route 66; hoping eventually I would cross the path of I-40.  The road curved and wound through color rock towers, groupings of scrub brush, ocotillo patches, and scattered all around were cholia cactus.  The sun was high and off in the distance on the horizon was a shimmer of light on water which was Lake Havasu.  It was a wonderful scenic drive and all I could think about was imagining driving along this road in an old 1950’s car with the windows open at the height of Route 66.  That would have been grand with weather like this.  I did notice warning signs about not continuing if the road was flooded.  The road dips ever so often, as it curves around, and I wouldn’t want to be out here when it was raining.  A great deal of these wash area would be quickly filled with water.

 Eventually, I get to the town of Topock and come out to signage to I-40.  I go by the Lake Havasu Wilderness Preserve area just before jumping on to I-40 heading east.  Shortly after that I get off onto Hwy 95 south into Lake Havasu City.  I get to my hotel which is the London Bridge Resort.  It’s as close as you can stay in the area to the London Bridge.

I know you are asking the London Bridge in Arizona.  Yep!  Lake Havasu City has the old London Bridge that was imported to the city and put back together.  It was purchased in 1967 and was dedicated in October of 1971.  The chainsaw and oil tycoon Robert Paxton McCulloch purchase it and put it on land that he owned in a city he founded in 1964.  It all came together as a way to get tourists to come to the area.  It must have worked because people are still living, working, and visiting.
Photo- The London Bridge in Arizona!

The London Bridge Resort where I stayed was right next door to the bridge.  You walk out of the hotel’s back door, down the hill, and off to the right there’s the bridge.  I took pictures and visited what shops were open under the bridge area.  But it was kind of the off season right now, so it was a bit slow.  I ended up walking across the bridge and taking pictures and just enjoying the scenery.  There are both American and British flags that fly over the bridge.  Cars were driving by while I walked along and it was an interesting feeling to know that I'm walking on a bridge that was once in London England.  But it is a pretty bridge and a nice area to have a bridge.

I had dinner at a chain restaurant nearby and then came back to the hotel early hoping to get sometime in the hot tub.  I changed into my bikini, threw on some clothes on top, walked down to the front desk area for a towel, and off to the hot tub I went.

There were some people hanging out at a table nearby but there was only one guy in the hot tub.  Yeah, I thought a nice quiet time relaxing in the hot tub.  Well, not quite as it turned out.  I did have a bit of a conversation with the guy in the tub.  He was a married architect and from Huston.  Then, these two other married men show up.  One of them was quite the conversationalist and rather intoxicated, while the other, was a quiet highway patrolman who kept running to the bar for drinks for both of them.  The conversation was all over the place from what you did for a job to the state of California to construction to fiber optics on the ocean floor.  Mr. Conversation did something with getting permits to lay fiber optics in areas of California, or at least that was the gist of what he did.

The next thing, another group of three shows up in the hot tub.  It’s a 24 year old guy that just got back from a tour in Afghanistan and his parents.  The guy is smoking a cigar and is all casual about what went on over there while he was there.  Mr. Conversationalist is all over talking with this young military guy.  I would buy you a drink but they just closed the bar he says.  Then this other older lady shows up and has a son who is also over there but doesn’t know where or what her son is doing over there.  It’s quite the conversation.

But over time, it breaks up and I end up talking with the married architect who is amazed by what I’m doing and always wanted to do something like that.  I ask him about his work and he admits to owning his own company.  Things are going well and he has a possibility of gaining business in China designing stores for Starbucks.  Wow!  I thought that this sounded like an amazing opportunity but he just shrugged it.  He wasn’t sure if he would get it and he wants to work towards retiring early; doing something like what I’m doing.  He wanted to get my blog info. and offered if I was ever in Huston to contact him.  He seemed very nice.  I’m always amazed at all of the nice people that I’ve met on this trip.

Everyone started to head off back inside to their rooms at the resort.  The architect and I left about the same time.  I shared my info with him and then I jumped onto the second floor where my upgraded hotel room was; sometimes it pays to be patient and nice to the front desk clerk.