And there you have it; over 3500 miles, 10 states, 3 side trips and 19 days we arrived at Santa Monica peer the official (or unofficial, depending on who you listen too!) end to Historic US Route 66. Finishing in 19 days meant we were 3 days ahead of schedule and so in hindsight we could have driven a bit slower, stopped at some more places or at least spent some extra days at our side trips. Hindsight is a wonderful thing I guess, and besides I don’t think Suzanne was that keen to spend any more time in Vegas than the one night even though I quite fancied another evening trying to win back what we lost! It’s easy to see how “sin city” hooks you in and so really I guess I’m glad we didn’t stay any longer. I just wish I’d known that the drinks they were bringing round were free earlier on! For a separate holiday guess! For now we’re in California. San Diego in fact. We’ve taken advantage of (unexpectedly) having a car in the Golden State and driven south. We’ve even been as far as the Mexico boarder, it has two fences and a lot of barbed wire, god knows why that maniac is so hell bent on building a wall! Although it has felt odd not spending the last two days on the road, we seem to have forgotten what to do if we’re not headed west in the car! Tomorrow is our last day with the trusty Hyundai, we are heading back to LA to give back the Illinois licensed car back to the rental company and get back on public transport.
Heading north from Kingman Arizona, we arrived in Vegas at around lunchtime where the temperature seemed to have risen by about 10 degrees. Staying a few miles from the strip, we decided to enjoy the heat and walk from our Airbnb to the casinos just after lunch to experience Vegas. And what an experience it was, blizzare is the best way to describe it. Somewhere between the terrible mock up of theBrooklyn Bridge and the awfully out of place Eiffel Tower statue I felt like I just wanted to lie on the pavement and not move. We weren’t really sure where to start, what to do, how to act. If it wasn’t for the Ballagio Hotel water fountain show we might have just given up and gon back to the sanctity of our AIrbnb, but thankfully the spouts of water dancing to music, alongside Elvis and Picachu impersonators, shocked us into Vegas mode and we began heading into some of the famous hotel resorts for a look around. You could see that if you were staying in one of them you’d have no reason to leave for your entire trip with so much going on in the hotels from shopping malls to casinos, the insides of hotels were much more appealing than the strip they are situated on! After some dinner, and a discussion about what we would do with all the money we would inevitably win we headed off to try our luck against the casinos. We had, I think sensibly but perhaps not, withdrawn a small (ish) amount of money each to spend agreeing once it was gone it was gone. It went quite quickly to begin with, struggling to find anywhere wth low stakes tables we regularly saw our chips grimly taken back by the casinos as quickly as we had been given them. I eventually managed to stem the flow of one way money transfers (a little) when we ended up playing blackjack, mainly thanks to the other people on the table explaining the rules to me and telling me when to bet and when not to. I think I doubled my money in the last casino (when you factor in the money I had to give to zan to keep her head above water) but was still down for the whole afternoon. I think I should have played blackjack from the start, Suzanne doesn’t think it would have made a difference. but at least I can say I beat one casino right?!
The next morning, back on the road, we stopped at the Nevada/Arizona boarder to take in the impressive Hoover Dam, it was still hot, and I was still bitter about getting beaten the night before, but it was impressive never the less. I wasn’t overly keen on the height of the bridge we were viewing from, turns out that conquering my vertigo at the Grand Canyon was short lived It was mind boggling to try to work out how they go about building such a thing so I tried to focus on that rather than how high above the water we were!
Once we were back in Kingman, and back on Route 66, we were headed for the old mining town of Oatman over he Oatman High Way; a beautiful 50 mile stretch away from the interestate that winds over the black mountains and down into Oatman. It was a lovely 90 minute drive whete we stopped a few times to take in the scenery and get some pictures. When we arrived in Oatman, I was excited to find the best looking Wild West town we had seen! Old buildings with large false fronts and wooden porches, saloon bars and even an old gold mine! The town is also enhabited by wild Burros (donkey) who are obviously well fed by locals and are very tame, so tame that one stuck it’s head in our window before we’d even had chance to finish parking! Once I’d convinced the donkey to get his head out of the car we had a little stroll round the town taking in all its wackiness. Since the end of mining, the town survives on tourist trade and that is evident in all its stores with plenty of Route 66 memorabilia available to purchase. We resisted the urge to buy anything including feed for the donkeys had got back to our car and headed for the California state line.
Crossing the Colorado river into the last state of our drive meant we were only 300 miles from LA’s city limits. We spent our last two nights on the road in motels. First in needles, just across the state boarder. Still in the desert it didn’t feel like we’d actually left Arizona, very dry and dusty, but the next day as we headed towards San Bernardino the temperature became more comfortable and the scenery became more mountainous, lush and green. After a picturesque 250 miles we arrived at our last stop over, the Wigwam Motel to get our last bit of Americana kicks! We stayed in one of 20 concrete wigwams complete with leather sofa, wagon wheel bed and en suite. It was very quirky and fun. The room was warm and comfortable and probably the best motel we stayed in over the two and a half weeks! After far to much food for dinner and breakfast in a pair of American diners (we were eating left overs for days!) we set off on the 75 miles to Santa Monica.
It took us nearly 4 hours to drive those 75 miles. The lovely rural landscapes we had been cruising along for 18 days seemed a world away as we tackled in infamous LA gridlock but in the end we made it to Santa Monica pier. It was worth the wait. We got our picture with the end of the trail sign and unexpectedly met the custodian of the “Route 66 warrior” cirtificates, after having a great discussion with him about our trip and thus proving we driven the entire length of America’s Main Street we were handed our certificate. It was really fun reliving the whole trip if not a little saddening that it was over!
We’ve since had a few relaxing California days in San Diego, we made it to the beach yesterday and managed to get a little sun burnt even though it wasn’t really hot! Typical! All the way through the desert without getting burnt. Perhaps I got complacent!!