Day 21: June 29, 2011
Cars, Mostly
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The first operation of the day was heading to nearby Pete's Breakfast House for some perfectly done French toast. My advice is, just like the banner says, "give Pete's a chance".

One of the optional pre-conference activities for the Lincoln Highway group was a visit to Harrah's automobile museum in Reno. It was on the same day as the tour from Fallon so I didn't attend. It came up and was praised in a couple of conversations and it somehow got mentioned while I was riding with Jim Stevens through Kings Canyon. It was pretty good, he thought, but it wasn't the greatest. His favorite? Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angles. When I asked why, he said it was because of how the cars were displayed. They weren't just cars on a bare floor. I joked about being able to see both museums on this trip if I worked it right but I didn't really expect to see either.

Although I headed north when I left Tahoe, I hit I-80 well west of Reno. No Harrah's cars for me this time. San Diego was sort of in my mind for a southern destination but not after I'd spent some time in the traffic approaching LA. Actually, it wasn't even LA. It was probably somewhere around Santa Barbara where I decided to head east "soon". I toyed with the idea of reaching San Bernardino and spending the night in Wigwam Village #7. I ended up at a Motel 6 in Ventura and, when I determined that the Petersen was only a few miles off my best path east, I decided to head there in the morning. Before I even entered the museum, I was looking at cars. The heir to Art Arfons' Green Monster and this 1938 Reo "fifth wheel" rig are in the connected parking garage.


I immediately saw what Jim meant when he spoke of the way cars were displayed. The first exhibit beyond the lobby is a 1911 American Underslung in a realistic roadside scene. Of course, the Petersen isn't the only museum to present cars in scenes rather than on bare floors but they do a really good job of it. A 1922 Ford Model T is shown between two streetcars in a scene from a Laurel & Hardy movie and a parade of three hand built customs is surrounded by neon lights and reflective surfaces. The parade consists of a 1955 Cobra built by Harry & Wally Hansen, the Ol' Yaller race car built by Max Balchowsky in 1959, and a car built by Arthur Bentas in the 1950s. The streetcars are cutaways but you can climb aboard to get eye to eye with Stan & Ollie.

The Petersen contains whole streets. The 1928 Dog Cafe is reproduced complete with smoking pipe. Men with hats look at Chevys in a new car showroom and there is a hotrod shop where a young man and his money were often parted in the '50s.

A recently opened temporary exhibit is filled with scooters including one by Indian. The exhibit opened on the 18th and will run through May 28, 2012.

Even though I've filled four panels with pictures from the museum I've barely scratched the surface. There's the current display of supercars, a wall filled with one of every Hot-Wheel model ever made, an alternate fuel area, lots of motorcycles, and on and on. It almost made me overlook the traffic.


When I pushed "home - fast" on the GPS, it routed me across the country on I-40 after a little I-10 and I-15. Once I realized that this is essentially the expressway equivalent of US 66, I decided to do some Route 66 "cherry picking". I intended to get home by the fastest route but slipping off of it once in a while wouldn't really hurt anything. The first such slip was at Victorville to catch the nearby bottle tree farm. What is almost as amazing as the farm is the fact that I believe I've driven by here twice without seeing it. I thought that maybe it was set back from the road or hidden by trees of the regular sort but it's pretty much front and center can't-miss-it roadside. 'Tis a mystery.

With the help of some wind, the ear show is just about as good as the eye show. Random ringing, clanging, tinkling, and rattling provides a sometimes musical sometimes not background for a stroll through the "trees".


A last bit of California highway before entering Arizona.

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