Sunday
Jun272010

Day 29 - California has Wigwams too.

When we woke up in Needles it was already hot and on its way to being even hotter. Although we had coupons for free breakfast next to our hotel, we decided that since we had so much fun at the Wagon Wheel the night before, we would go back there for breakfast. As it turned out it was a great idea since, one, breakfast was great but two, we got to meet Mike, Susan's husband, and other owner of the Wagon Wheel.

Before we left town we headed back to a landmark that we had missed as we drove into town the day before. We've done a lot of this backtracking on the trip. Two miles here, 4 miles there, many times more than that. It really adds up after a month of driving. But the old wagon with "Needles" on it looked cool in the photo that we had seen at the Wagon Wheel so we got the directions to where it was from Mike and headed back that way.

There are definitely portions of 66 that are long gone in California but there are some real jems left too. We decided that today we would mostly keep to the old road. Heading out of Needles we took the 95 exit north toward Las Vegas and headed west at Goffs Road. This is an old portion of 66 that takes you to none other than Goffs California, known in the guide books as the home an old one room schoolhouse.

Goffs is an old railroad town with an old refurbished one room school house that was used in the early part of last century to teach the kids of the railroad workers. Like many Route 66 sites it was abandoned, fell in disrepair, and then restored over time.

As we walked up to the schoolhouse this old guy walked up and invited us in and he just walked to the front of the class room, sat down, and motioned for me to sit down with him. I didn't see an out so I just sat down and "went to school".

Another fun part of Goffs is that there are tons of old bits of machinery all over the place.

We left Goffs and got back on Goffs Road which eventually crosses under 40 again and heads south. This then merges up with National Trails Highway which you could call the prototype to Route 66. National Trails Highway was established in 1912 and we had some exposure to it before but today we drove on a lot of it. This next bit of Old 66 is a large loop that runs south of the interstate and it takes you toward Amboy, CA.

Amboy is nearly a ghost town but you can't have a ghost town if you still have a gas station and Amboy still has a gas station, and a post office, and all things considered, the gas is fairly priced. Amboy is also the home to Roy's. Well... its the home to the Roy's sign, a real icon on Route 66. The Roy's sign is a giant neon sign for a motel & cafe that use to be there. Its very photogenic and really fun to shoot. I'm not sure if it lights up at night but I would bet it is a real spectacle if it does.

At Ludlow CA the National Trails Highway comes back to the interstate and runs parallel for a while. Ludlow has a section of the road where every single building is either burned out or marked for demolition. Sad and unfortunate but very interesting views to shoot.

Just before Newberry Springs you come across the Bagdad Cafe. We have never seen this movie, but we will. It turns out that the French have a particular fascination with the film and apparently about 3/4 of the visitors here are from France. I will say this that there were 4 tables with guest at them when we were there... 2 of them were couples from France. I think the explanation is that there was a famous french actor in the movie. Bagdad Cafe was where we chose to stop for lunch. It was probably the worse meal we had had on the road and as we were leaving a huge tour bus was showing up and unloading. Could this be the end of the Midwest charm we had been enjoying during the trip. We're not sure.

After Bagdad Cafe comes Barstow. Barstow is a real Railroad town. What is amazing about Barstow was that Barstow has become the punch line to jokes about "being far away from anything" and yet we had already driven thru long stretches of the desert that were further from LA than Barstow and even more remote.

Beth had read about Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch in the guide books. In attempt to make some time on the road we decided that from Bagdad Cafe we would get on the Interstate, bypass the Bottle Tree Ranch and then backtrack from where the old Road crosses the Interstate again. This, as it turned out, was a waste of time. By the time we got to the Bottle Tree Ranch there was a family there already that we had seen at two other locations out on the National Highway. Oh well, so much for making time.

The group was what appeared to be a mother figure, an adult son and his niece. The niece was a photographer, the man was an ex news editor who had recently moved on and started a business doing videos for families telling their stories. We had seen him pulling out his camera at Roy's but I hadn't wanted to bother him and chat then.

We talked a long time about business, the road, video formats etc. before they moved on. I had enjoyed talking with him and since we were both on the same schedule I even briefly considered suggesting meeting up for breakfast but that would only delay us so didn't even bring up the idea to Beth.

Our next stop was the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino. Yes... you have TWO chances on Route 66 and we may have made the right choice. The San Bernardino Wigwams had just been upgraded with new beds and new flat screen TVs. We met Kumar (yes, as in "Harold and...") whose family bought these Wigwams in about 2003. He told us that the Wigwams were a chain that had been built in the 50's and all used the same blueprints to save cost. Unfortunately Kumar's family suffers from being at the END of the drive and most people who wanted to stay in a Wigwam probably did so in Holbrook Arizona. HOWEVER... I want to encourage you to remember... San Bernardino is more than an "alternative" to Holbrook. Kumar's Wigwams are very well maintained and have VERY comfortable beds. Definitely give them a call or drop by. We had a pleasant stay.

Kumar also helped us find a great pizza place just down the street. We ate at Brothers which coincidentally is the name of a Pizza place we ate at with Scott and Cindi and the kids when we stayed in Tulsa. Pizza was great but we were tired and it was time to "hit the wigwam"... (seriously... how many times in your life do you get to say that?)

Tomorrow... we get to the Pacific!

 

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  • Response
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Reader Comments (3)

Every time I see one of those old buildings out in the middle of nowhere, it makes me want to buy it and restore it. Probably not a wise idea, but would be pretty fun to do none-the-less.

Sunday, July 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Stennet

yea, the old buildings are totally neglected because there is no traffic and the whole towns literally turn into ghost towns. restoring one of those old buildings is almost certainly a mistake... unless it has a gimmick and is right on the route.

There are business opportunities today on route 66 as long as you are faithful to the history of the road.

Monday, July 5, 2010 | Registered CommenterBeth Fenwick

Great job folks;

It was great having you folks, even though i was busy that morning glad I had a chance to speak with you folks, I would love a copy of that photo I took with ya'll.

Kumar Patel

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkumar patel

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