Thursday, June 6, 2013

Route 66 - part fifteen

Stagger off bus in Barstow, California.

Barstow has a Greyhound station, a McDonald’s in railway cars and Zoltar the fortune teller.

I predict it can't get any hotter.

Actually, I'm wrong. Near here, in Death Valley a century ago, the thermometer reached 134 Fahrenheit (57 Celsius), the highest temperature ever recorded, well on earth anyway. In fact, it really was virtually a hundred years ago, July 10, 1913. 

Remember those 'Twenty Mule Team' Borax commercials? Borax originated near Barstow, a supply centre for Death Valley mines. I feel like death. Back on the coach for a final run into LA. The I-15 heads southwest towards and through the San Gabriel Mountains. Not long.

Finally, out of the corner of my eye, a sign, ‘Los Angeles,’ and the downtown towers

LA is a rejuvenating 77 degrees (25 Celsius), although - no surprise - smoggy. After a much needed, late lunch, I rejoin Route 66 for a walk along Sunset Boulevard. 

A youngster skateboards outside Hollywood High School.

A few steps further is the Hollywood Center Motel, a distinctly spooky place some compare to the hotel in Psycho.

On old Route 66, only a couple of blocks from where the Oscars are presented, the neighbourhood has a seedy feel. To compensate, the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, which numbered among its congregation Bing Crosby and Loretta Young, is quite splendid.

Late afternoon, I reach the end in Santa Monica on the Pacific. Route 66 arrives as Santa Monica Boulevard terminating at the T junction with Ocean Avenue. If I wanted to - and I really don’t - I could follow the road all the way back to Chicago.

Here's another shot of the intersection with Santa Monica Boulevard leading off to the right. 

I cross Ocean Boulevard into Palisades Park to look for a bronze plaque. More than fifty years ago, Route 66 was named as the Will Rogers Highway. A fitting place for last pictures.

Okay, just one more … in 2009, some bright spark thought it would be good for business if Route 66 ended at - on - Santa Monica Pier. Arguments continue. I prefer the T junction, but, as it’s only a short walk, stroll to the pier. As I turn up so does an old Corvette, all the way from Illinois. It seems appropriate. 

For now, I’ve had my fill of busses, patched up motels and even Corvettes. I wish I could write something profound, but need a drink. My account has been hasty as others take months to trace the road. Some go back to Route 66 year after year. Was this weird idea worthwhile? Yes, I’m glad I did it, but should have gone to the vacuum museum and had an extra scoop of frozen custard. 

I’m pooped and have what feels to be the start of a cold. Perhaps a more discerning summation another day. For now, I’ll leave it to you to judge.