Sunday, May 11, 2008

Day Thirteen

Well, this is it. The last day on Route 66. I started the day by returning to snap a couple of pictures of the El Rancho in Barstow, where I failed to spend the night and purchased the beer can airplane the previous evening. Apparently this entire hotel was constructed from railroad ties.

Cool sign along the road.

Obviously this one caught my attention, so I decided to stop for (a very yummy) breakfast. There's no real Holland connection, it was the first owner's last name.

Hummingbird feeders! I don't think I'd ever seen a hummingbird in real life, at least not outside a zoo.

I like the graffiti head.

Victorville CA.

After crossing the mountains the weather went south; gloomy and cold. Again, unused westbound lanes roadbed running alongside the current two lane road.

Of course I had to see what was past this.

Nothing much apparently but the end of the road, with the freeway that replaced it running in the background.

Some pictures heading into San Bernadino, which as a town does not appear to have a single redeeming quality I could discover. Many of the old motels seem to still be in use, some residential, some as motels, although none of them appeared to have any activity.

Trademark dispute anyone?

Bad (snapped while driving) pic of a cool sign. Almost in Pasadena now.

A very rare Citroen SM, an old French coupe with a Maserati engine. A friend's dad used to own one, but it was neat seeing one in the U.S.


Palm trees... The weather cleared up just as I was heading into Santa Monica, which was a great relief as I would not have wanted to end the trip under a steel gray sky.

Hmm, the light isn't quite right.

The Will Rogers (for whom Route 66 is named) plaque at the end of the road.

There are some beautiful vintage hotels along the waterfront in Santa Monica.

Obligatory into-the-sunset-palm-tree-pic.

After sitting in the car for a while and then chugging a Patron margarita on the pier, the lights come on.

And so the main leg of the trip ended, and what an amazing adventure it was. The whole journey turned out to be much more interesting than I had expected setting out from Chicago two weeks earlier. From restored little vintage gas stations to the ruins in Jericho TX, from the Grand Canyon to goofy little motels, I feel like I succeeded in capturing some of the spirit of the old road.

Only time will tell what will become of many of the things I saw along the way (except for the Grand Canyon, presumably that's here to stay). There were many more old buildings still standing than I had expected. Living in a big city where an empty structure is either put to a new use or bulldozed, I was astounded. Many of the buildings seemed ready to fall down - with little economic incentive for anyone to restore them.

As with many other wonderful things in the world, their fate is a paradox. Only tourism can save them, but the same tourists who could bring investment to some of these forgotten and blighted areas will also either ruin their decrepit charm or turn them into a Disneyesque parody of themselves. Luckily, this seems natural and right. The old road was lined with gaudy tourist traps, and any resurgence in people taking the Great American Road Trip would only bring about more of the same.

The decay I take joy in observing is not a natural state, and if it continues little will be left of this intriguing stretch of modern American history in ten or twenty years. If it is reversed, we will have a new version to enjoy of the garish, twenty four hundred and eighty eight mile long theme park that Route 66 was once. Whichever comes to pass, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to drive the old road and catch a glimpse of America as it once was.

I will post some pictures tomorrow night from the Bay Area and the trip back for friends and family, but for those of you that are interested in Route 66 this will be the last post of interest. Thanks for coming along with me, and get out there and drive it yourself before it's gone!


Nico van Wijk said...

I have enjoyed your detailed journal of this road trip enormously. The combination of pictures and text really gave a nice impression of route 66.

However, I did expect a hint of fear and loathing on route 66. Where’s the mischievous side of this journey or isn’t there any to report?

All in all, I definitely feel like hopping on plane, renting a car and following in the burned rubber tire tracks of Jacob Saunders.

All the best to you,


Route66News said...

Your parting thoughts mirrored many of mine after my first trip.

Don't be surprised if you find yourself doing it again in a couple of years or so. Route 66 is addicting.