My dad and I have been on the road together for eight days and well over 2,000 miles. We have had such a good time that we wish that Route 66 could just continue on into the sea and into a weird Alaskan version. But this is it. Our last day together will take us from Needles, California across the desert and into Santa Monica. Then we’ll duck down into Irvine, where my brother lives, and spend the night. My dad’s Mustang USA Road Trip will end there but mine will just keep going. I have to get home somehow, I live in New York!
We spent the night in the town of Needles, California. It was a hot, dry welcome rest after the huge day we had previously; the Oatman Route 66 extension really wore us out.
Did I mention it was hot? That’s the Mohave for ya.
After doing some wrong turns (but fun wrong turns) in the desert, we found the town of Amboy, the “ghost town that ain’t dead yet.” Another story of I-40 decimation, but also another hopeful candidate for restoration. Roy’s Motel has been there since 1939.
The Mohave section of Route 66 is interesting. It’s a lonely, sometimes rough alignment that undulates up and down with the terrain. There is a complete lack of any kind of attempt to keep the road level across the dunes. The construction crew was like: “It’s 110 degrees. Hell no. Pave it.”
Movie buffs might remember the German film “Bagdad Cafe,” in which a German tourist gets a job at a weirdo desert cafe. Well, this is it.
When the movie was filmed here in the ’80s the cafe was called the Sidewinder, but has since been renamed to make the connection clear. Jack Palance was here!
“Boss Lady” Andree Pruett is more than happy to pose for pictures, take pictures, and suggest taking pictures at the Cafe.
Of course, the jukebox at the Bagdad Cafe is weird. Twisted Sister, Chaka Khan, and Paolo Manotovani. About as electic as the characters in the film.
Here was a place we didn’t know about until we saw it going past at 60 miles per hour. Much braking and reversing ensued. The Bottle Tree Ranch is in Oro Grande, and if the Cadillac Ranch was the “darndest thing” my dad ever saw, it’s my turn to say that now.
The Bottle Tree Ranch was another one of those awesome Route 66 places you just wander into and don’t see another soul. It was really cool. Peaceful, actually.
One of my dad’s early memories was being a kid and taking the train right past this very train station. Originally known as the Casa del Desierto, this is a Harvey House station and a historical landmark. These hotel/train stations are very interesting, and maybe someday it can be returned to its former glory. For now, it’s an unstaffed Amtrak station. There are also a couple of museums inside, including a “Mother Road” Route 66 exhibit, but it was too late in the day to check that out. We had to hustle to get to Santa Monica by sundown.
And we made it. Barely! We pulled into a parking lot and ran over to the coast, looking for some kind of official sign or end to the Route 66 road.
It turns out that the photo-op end to Route 66 is actually only accessible by foot, down the Santa Monica pier.
And here we are, looking like we just drove 8 days straight. It was worth it. I wish we had even more time to do it, and hit every page in the guide book. Until next time.
The weather was perfect, the drive was great, and we celebrated a bit on the pier. But like I said before, this journey is far from over. Next, my brother will join me for a drive north into the mountains of California, then to the coast for some Highway One action up to San Francisco. Stay tuned!