Day 14: August 7, 2012
Into California
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Sam at El Travatore had provided a voucher for breakfast at the Hot Rod Cafe. I confess to not expecting much but I was very wrong. It's around the corner for El Trovadore and a block or so off of Route 66. The place looks pretty good and the breakfast was excellent. Dean Kennedy, who also spent last night at El Travatore, joined me about halfway through. Dean would be spending another night in Kingman and would be treated to a tour of the area by author Jim Hinckley. That's Jim with me in the second photograph. I stopped for a brief chat with him after breakfast. I grabbed a picture of the Brunswick Hotel before leaving town. The closed hotel has new owners and there are plans to reopen it.

At Cool Springs Camp I enjoyed a cold root beer and a chat with Dennis DeChenne. Dennis is the fellow who restored the roadside stop.

The old road west is both scenic and scary. Jim & Shellee had left Kingman about the same time I did and we were at Cool Springs Camp at the same time. We would pass each other several times today. On one pass, I snapped a picture of Shellee contemplating going over the razor wire while Jim kept the getaway car ready.

The Oatman Hotel is still there but it's now basically a gift shop in an old building. On my first visit in 2003, the bar, a few hotel rooms, and maybe the restaurant were still operating. The town has quite a few operating gift shops, several restaurants, and plenty of burros. Today it had a couple Oklahomans. I found Ron & Roz Jones taking a break and watching the world go by from a bench. With more than a hundred Route 66 related tattoos, Ron has one for just about every occasion and every location.

I entered California at almost the same time as this train then took the first exit to check out some of the old road. I first turned to the east and followed the old alignment to the stone framed "welcome/come back" sign. I'm really confused by the sign's orientation since the "welcome" side seems to face eastbound travelers and the "come back" side seems to face westbound travelers who are just entering California. I must ask someone who knows. The fourth picture was taken from near the sign and is of the original 1916 automobile bridge which now carries a gas pipeline. The last picture is at the other end of the segment that would be reached by turning left from the exit. It ends at a demolished bridge over a gully.

The often photographed sign at Route 66 Motel in Needles, California, has recently been restored. The motel currently operates as an apartment building. El Garces is also in Needles. The restoration project started there several years ago appears to have come to a halt.

The post office and the shell of the Way Side Market are pretty much all that's left of the town of Essex. The array of panels is where a roadside rest stop once stood. The concrete anchors for some of the picnic shelter supports are still visible. Just a bit farther up the road, I stopped to take some pictures of an unofficial Ducati ad and got a chance to see the pros in action.

Geographically these photos should be interspersed among those in the previous panel but I wanted to do a panel of just the stone art work on the north side of the road. The carefully arranged stones, mostly names, are spread along about twenty-five miles of roadside beginning just west of Essex and nearly reaching Amboy. I threw in one non-art picture to show the setting for all of these names.

This is Amboy, California, the ghost town purchased in its entirety by Albert Okura several years ago. Okura also owns the Juan Pollo restaurant chain. In 2008 gas once again became available and, while the price may seem high even in these $4+/gallon days, this is essentially an oasis in the middle of a desert. While I was there, the electricity vanished and put a temporary end to pumping gas at any price. The café isn't really open although it looks as if it could be. Bottled drinks and some snacks are all that's available. The cabins look pretty good from the outside but the insides could use a little work.

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