P Bocciardi's Route 66 trip

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This morning at 9:00 a.m. my wife and I are meeting up with Paula. She spent the night here in Amarillo. She asked that I show her where the Cadillac Ranch is. That's where 10 Cadillacs are half way buried nose first. Then we will head up to 6th Street which is old Route 66. Ought to be fun with our two yellow birds.

Yellow/Yellow Prem. 02 Bird

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Hi, all. Well, never in a trillion years would I have thought there would be so much interest in my travels! It's wonderful! So I will try to keep posting here and on the old BON until everything gets straightened out.

As Lon said, we are in Amarillo this morning, exhausted because we spent much of yesterday going 75 miles out of our way, getting lost and heading north through Oklahoma until we realized that we were nowhere near Route 66 and certainly were not headed west! It was then that my 'Bird had his first encounter with . . .


Yes, I'm afraid that we were going just a tad over the speed limit -- only 76 in a 65 mph zone -- as we sashayed past an Oklahoma police officer who just happened to be sitting by the side of the highway with a radar gun.


As it turned out, though, he ended up being very nice to us and asking us where we were headed, and we couldn't really tell him, because, after all, we'd been going north trying to go west, and we said that we had absolutely no excuse for flying along as fast as we were (except gosh, in that car it really feels like you're just CRAWLING if you're going 70). So he let us go, and I stopped crying, and all was well.

The only person we met today was an older guy hanging out at the Route 66 Restaurant in Clinton, Oklahoma, who said he'd lost his wife 5 years ago and was looking for a way to meet "another lady," and he was wondering whether if he bought a T-Bird, maybe he could be somewhat of a chick magnet. But then we discussed the fact that if it didn't work, he'd be stuck with the car payments! I suggested that perhaps a Toyota would be a cheaper proposition, but he noted that it was doubtful a Toyota would attract much of anyone.

Mainly we took more pictures of gas stations, stopped at a couple of museums, and found that after 5 hours we had traversed exactly 100 miles. Which means that we were averaging a blistering speed of 20 miles an hour. It is highly doubtful that we will ever make it back to California at this rate. Hopefully we will make it to New Mexico by March.

The weather has still been beautiful, except that it was ridiculously windy in Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains, and the winds continue here in Amarillo. Yesterday morning when we took the California Car Cover off the car, both of us were blown backwards 20 feet when the cover billowed up and went flapping skyward.

-- Paula

Looking forward to meeting Lon!
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Well we met Paula and her friend Julie this morning. They are both wonderful people. We went down old historic Route 66 and shot about a dozen pictures at a couple of different locations. We then packed up and headed for the Cadillac Ranch. After a couple of miles Paula & Julie pulled us over letting us know they left one of their three cameras at one of the picture sites, so we made a mad dash back and at the last place that we took pictures (J&M Route 66 Cafe) low & behold there was the camera sitting on the ground by the J&M sign. Those two girls must be the luckiest people around to find that camera still on the parking lot. So we headed off to the Cadillac Ranch again. After arriving at the Cadillac Ranch we walked about a 1/4 mile to the cars and shot some pictures. All three girls were about to freeze to death in the cold windy weather.
We then headed back to town and went to The Big Texan Steak Ranch, home of the "Free" 72 oz. steak if eaten in one hour. Looked at all the names of people who have successfully eaten the dinner and took in all the sites inside the resturant and shot the bull for about 45 minutes. It was then time for Paula & Julie to head for Tucumcari, so we said our goodbyes and wished them well.
Thanks Paula & Julie for the full filled morning - really enjoyed the company.
It's our turn to go to San Francisco next and see ya'll.

Yellow/Yellow Prem. 02 Bird
Thank you, Lon! Well, here is my next update.

[Warning: this is an awfully long post. Read at your own risk of drowsiness.]

Saturday was the best day I've had on Route 66 so far -- although, not surprisingly, we got only as far as Tucumcari, New Mexico, which is less than 100 miles from Amarillo! Sigh. This is getting ridiculous.

I truly think we should be able to travel a greater distance today, though -- the towns in New Mexico seem to be spaced much further apart, and we will need to drive a lot on the interstate (unfortunately), because of impassable roads.


You've all seen Lon's message -- thank you, Lon! I'd been following his posts ever since we both joined the Thunderbird forum in the early Spring. My heart had bled for him when his T-Bird had been built this summer and he'd followed its progress as far as the railhead near his home, when suddenly Ford discovered that the cars were overheating and they were all recalled! So poor Lon could see his car sitting at the railhead, and he even went and SAT in it, and then the little yellow thing was whisked back to Wixom. Oh, the torture of it all!

Anyway, I was a little nervous about meeting a total stranger, but what nice people Lon and his wife were! (You can tell just by checking out the pictures, posted as usual at
We followed them to 6th Street in Amarillo, which is the best-kept section of Route 66, and parked in front of J&M restaurant, where of course we snapped a bunch of photos. We also collected quite a crowd of gawkers. I then took advantage of Lon's kindness and asked him to show us where the "Cadillac Ranch" was. This is when a bit of excitement transpired. First, as we pulled out onto the road, there was a screeching, scraping noise under the car that just about gave me a stroke. Apparently we had inadvertently driven over some kind of hump in the pavement, and I was convinced that the entire drivetrain was hanging by a thread. Too mortified to tell Lon and Shirley, however, we drove on in a state of panic. Then, as we were zipping along out of town to go see the Cadillacs, I discovered to my horror that my precious 35mm camera from the 1970s was no longer with me! Obviously in all the discombobulation I had left it back in town (you can actually see it sitting on the ground in one of the photos), so now I had to force Lon and Shirley to drive BACK into town to look for it with us as my panic grew to epic proportions! Luckily we found the camera at J&M's restaurant, still sitting meekly on the ground where I had left it. Thank God it was Texas. If this had been California, the camera would already have been stolen and sold for parts.

The "Cadillac Ranch" was something created by an eccentric local millionaire who began burying his Cadillacs halfway in the mud, nose down, back in the 50s or 60s. Apparently these were not old Cadillacs at the time of burial -- perhaps they'd been driven only a year, but the guy just felt like buryin' 'em and buying a new one! They have since been covered with graffiti, but that lends an air of "pop art" to them.

I might add that there was a wind-chill factor of about 4 degrees out there, but Lon insisted on not wearing a jacket. Undoubtedly he is in bed sick today with a bad case of consumption.

At that point, we were going to part ways, but then Lon started telling us about the Big Texan Steak Ranch, where if you eat a 72-ounce steak, and all the trimmings, in less than an hour you get the meal free. Urp. Of course, I had heard about this restaurant, because there had been about 500 billboards advertising it, and I asked Lon and Shirley if they could take us there as one last stop. I'm glad they did, because this place was like Disneyland! Inside the gargantuan restaurant were slot machines, an oversized Edith-Ann-style rocking chair, a rattlesnake, one of those big amusement park games where you shoot things as they waddle across, and of course the names of all the people who've eaten the steak. I decided that in my prime we could have polished off the steak dinner and then probably had dessert. Now I probably couldn't even finish the baked potato.

OK, by then as you might imagine it was getting towards noon and we really had to go. Shirley and I really had to stop talking about our stressful government jobs, and we had to move on. But I will always remember Lon and Shirley and be grateful, as well, that Tweety got to meet his cousin.

As we got gas for our mammoth 85-mile trip to our next stop, I finally had an opportunity to check out the car and determine whether I needed to start crying about any damage. Luckily, there seem to be no visible scars or any parts hanging loose.

In Adrian, Texas, as we got closer to the border, we decided to stop at the Midpont Cafe, which, as you might guess, is midway on Route 66 between Chicago and L.A. (The whole route, by the way, is somewhere between 2,200 and 2,440 miles.) This cafe -- in operation in one form or another since 1928 -- is absolutely adorable inside and stays true to its history. The food was also delicious; my burger was perfect, and I loved the homemade banana-blueberry pie. Anyway, when Joanne Harwell came over to take our order, she asked if I owned the Thunderbird, and then she said that **********, who as we all know is the president of the Vintage ******************************, had called to tell her we were coming! Now, mind you, I have never met or even e-mailed Tony, but he has seen my posts on the newsgroup. Still, he had no idea that I would be stopping at THAT particular place, and if we had decided to eat at the Big Texan Steak Ranch I would have passed the place on by! But Tony -- you were right! Fate brought us there, and we spent a good deal of time taking pictures, checking out the gift shop, looking at old photos in Fran's scrapbook (Fran is the owner), and shooting the breeze. Joanne talked to us about the "Thunder on 66" events for next year, and how she is working with Tony and others to make sure the streets around the cafe can accommodate all the 'Birds that will be making their way to her town. Apparently some Corvettes will also be joining the party there (I know Corvettes are cute, but I wonder -- should we snub them? Oh, and Fran loved the 'Bird so much, she got in it and threatened to drive away. A number of times she repeated an offer to trade me the cafe for the car. Running a cafe on Route 66 sounds awfully tempting, and it could definitely get me away from my &^%$#@! government job! But I opted to keep the car.

After passing through some small towns, we finally made it to the Texas/New Mexico border. Now, when I say "towns," I use the word loosely. I don't mean small towns of 100 people. I mean towns of seemingly NO people. I mean, they'd be on the map, and the guidebook might even say the "town" would provide lots of "photo opportunities," but all that would be there would be two abandoned buildings, a clump of grass, and a couple of spiders.

Now that we're in New Mexico, the terrain is changing, mesas are always on the horizon, and the towns have that pueblo/Southwestern feel. Saturday night we spent in Tucumcari, and it was absolutely wonderful. The stretch of Route 66 through town takes you back in time, and the Blue Swallow Motel, where we are staying, is a breathing pice of history. Built in the 30s, it has been restored to look exactly as it once did. Each room is accompanied by its own garage with gravel floor, which is where the T-Bird now sits. The rooms have old phones from the 40s, deco bathrooms, curved ceilings, and paper-thin walls (of course!). Outside you can hear the whistle of the train and the hum of the traffic, and the neon light of the motel sign vaguely illuminates the blinds on the window. I absolutely loved it!!!!

For dinner I had yet another slab of steak and some sopapillas at Del's, a packed Tex-Mex restaurant down the street (if I don't turn into a cow by the time this is over, it'll be a miracle).

OK, I've gone on much too long. Signing off until tonight--
-- Paula

P.S. No encounters with "THE LAW" today, but we did get the car up to 100 mph -- just for a brief moment. It still felt like we were crawling!

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I'm soooo envious of you! You are in my homestate now and have your Bird as well....

Go to Duran's Pharmacy in Albuquerque (close to Old Town and it is on Central Avenue which is Route 66) for the BEST flour tortillas in the state. Of course, the green chili is GREAT also.
Not sure if its me or the site , but Paula, your site says no such site. Help, you have me wayyyy hooked on your adventures. I want/need more, you are very entertaining. Thanks, Joy
It was warm (about 65 degrees) when we left Tucumcari this morning, but it was windy. Not just breezy. Windy, as in gales and hurricanes. It was impossible to hold a camera steady; cars and trucks were weaving across the road; and worst of all, my hair was a laugh riot.

This evening, though, it is below freezing and we are staying in Grants, New Mexico -- in our second motel of the night. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Much of the day was spent on the interstate, as I'd anticipated, so for the first time we actually made some distance -- maybe even over 200 miles. It was so nice driving past the pink and beige pastels of the New Mexican landscape. We did stop in Santa Rosa, in search of food, but were first sidetracked by the Route 66 Auto Museum. Of course, we were the only ones there, except for the owners, Anna and Bozo Cordova, who opened the place a year ago and do all the auto restoration themselves. Then we had the good fortune of stopping for lunch at Joseph's, another classic Route 66 place that was opened in 1956. The T-Bird caused quite a stir there. All the customers around us went completely ga-ga. For myself, I was rediscovering the joy of the sopapilla; I ate at least 5 of them with my enchilada/relleno/chalupa combination #2.

Heading into Albuquerque, it actually started to snow. I, the Californian, of course panicked and thought we should immediately stop for the night so that we wouldn't get stuck in the snow. When she stopped cackling hysterically, Julie the Kentuckian explained that it was barely even snowing, it wasn't sticking to the ground, and it would be over in 5 minutes. I continued to insist that it was a blizzard. Guess who was right?

Anyway, at the western edge of Albuquerque we pulled into the El Vado Motel. It was absolutely adorable, like the Blue Swallow, and was supposed to be a Route 66 institution. We did the usual routine – hauling about 5 duffel bags , a computer, and three cameras into the room, then taking pains to cover the car and put it away for the night. But once we were inside, it started to become clear that the accommodations were less than ideal. The toilet wouldn’t stop running, the heater didn’t work, and one of the beds didn’t even have sheets! Plus there was a ghost walking around on the roof! So we got spooked, re-packed up all our stuff, and flew out of there, never looking back. We gunned the engine and drove another hour in the dark to Grants, and that was all she wrote.

P.S. gmadams, I got your post too late! I missed the flour tortilla place...shoot...
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At the crack of dawn on Tuesday morning I am writing this update from Flagstaff, Arizona, where it is a searing 12 degrees. Not at all used to this weather, I am hunched over, complaining a lot, and praying I don’t die of exposure.
Periodically, outside my window a train goes whistling by and I am reminded of another joy of traveling Route 66 that I haven’t mentioned before. Route 66 generally follows the railroad, and even when it swings briefly away from the tracks it always returns before too long. Anyone who loves trains, as I do, will love the tracks, the bridges, the trestles, and that beautiful sight of a freight train cutting through the landscape alongside you. Like the old gas stations and motels, the railroads are a part of our past that thankfully have been preserved along the Mother Road.

Anyway, we put a lot of miles behind us today because we were on the interstate so much. Unfortunately, where the old road exists in Arizona, it is often rutty, cracked, and not advisable for a passenger car, let alone a brand-new one. So we had to settle for brief stints on Route 66, and brief glimpses of sections of old pavement. Luckily, though, we can still drive the old route through the towns. In Gallup at mid-morning today, we made one of our lucky stops at the Ranch Kitchen, where I spent a full two hours eating, talking with the management, and buying a few (very flat) souvenirs. I have learned that the little red “Dining and Lodging Guide” put out by the National Historic Route 66 Federation” is the most trustworthy guide to motels and eateries along Route 66. Thankfully, the Guide had recommended this place, and it was a treasure. The breakfast was perfect – I’ve never had such good pancakes, and the tortillas were thick and tasty. The gift shop also had some genuinely good things, not just the tacky mugs and keychains you often find in places like this. It had handmade Native American pottery, belts, great photography prints, etc. I wish I could’ve bought some pottery but there is not one inch of space left in this car to stuff anything with more than two dimensions. The incredibly friendly woman behind the counter couldn’t figure out why I bought only items that were totally flat.

(By the way, the website for the National Historic Route 66 Federation, which I joined before embarking on the trip, is
An absolute must-see in Gallup is the El Rancho hotel. Built in the 1930s by the brother of movie magnate D.W. Griffith, it became THE hotel of choice for movie stars of yesteryear because so many films were made nearby. The second floor walls are completely covered by autographed pictures of everyone from John Garfield to Katherine Hepburn, and the lobby is absolutely stunning.

Our next stop was the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest in Arizona. Although it cost us 50 miles out of our way to go the Petrified Forest, it was a mission I absolutely had to undertake. You see, I play drums in a rock and roll band (believe it or not), and our guitarist Dina Munsch had purloined a piece of petrified wood when she moved out to California over a decade ago, and because it had weighed on her conscience ever since that sinful day, she had given us the Piece of Pilfered Petrification and asked us to return it it to its rightful place.

The kidnapped wood has now been put back in its home, with its new family. It was a bit of an unnerving experience returning the thing, because the rangers are extremely strict around here about the high penalties for taking things into or out of the Petrified Forest, and the fine is $250. It's posted and written in about 500 places and yet SOME people, like Dina, apparently insist on flouting the law! When we entered through the gates we were point-blank asked whether we were bringing any rocks into the park, and we had to blatantly LIE, even though we were doing a good deed! I then had to smuggle the rock in under my jacket, make sure absolutely no one was around, and then drop it in with a bunch of other rocks that were MUCH bigger! I felt somewhat mortified that Dina’s little rock looks kind of silly in there among the big ones, but what can ya do. If you look at the photos at I’ve marked the newly returned rock with a red arrow.

From there we moved on to Holbrook so that we could see the Wigwam Motel, which has been in existence since the 1940s. The owner – whose father started the motel – came out to see the car. A man passing by on the sidewalk asked if it was a Mercedes.

Then I made one of my favorite stops of the whole trip, in Winslow, where I got to stand on a corner. This may not seem to be an exciting proposition to many people, but anyone who loves rock and roll will know what I mean. Being a musician, I just HAD to go find the spot mentioned in the Eagles’ “Take It Easy”: “Well, I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see…” And lo and behold, at the corner of 2nd and Kinsley stands a statue of a guitarist in front of a gorgeous mural that includes the “girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford.” I just loved standing on that corner with my arm around that guy in the statue. Okay, I’m bizarre.

A brief stop in Meteor City to see a 66-foot mural painted by Route 66 aficionado Bob Waldmire, another stop in Winona just to get a picture because I want a photo of every town mentioned in Bobby Troup’s song “Route 66,” and we finally landed in Flagstaff. An elderly gentleman in the motel lobby saw the car and exclaimed. “Wow! That’s an old sucker!”

Did I mention that it’s 12 degrees?
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Paula-guess I have to post it here also! LOL

Thanks for the compliment, but I'm not the President of ****, just the Publications Director-my job is oversight of the print and electronic media operations for our organization. I enjoy what I do, and love Thunderbirds-the people I have met here and anywhere that Thunderbirds are gathered are the greatest!

I hadn't realized you were in a rock & roll band. Nothing better than classic rock & roll. After Flagstaff it wasn't so cold at the Cadillac Ranch after all - was it. LOL

Yellow/Yellow Prem. 02 Bird
Jodrod -- that is a good one!

Tony -- oops! Well, you are doing such a marvelous job!

Lon -- whew, you are right! It certainly was a bit nippier in Arizona. But then, the winds weren't as strong...

We left Flagstaff in a hurry on Tuesday morning, forsaking even the free continental breakfast when we discovered that it was snowing, and a woman in the lobby said that it was 2 degrees. I have my doubts about that figure, as the “Ext. Temperature” display on the T-Bird never got below 16, but still, I’ve never been in 16-degree weather. Fearing that the precious computer would freeze in its usual pace wedged inside the “boot” in the trunk, we now gave it a new place in the car -- on the floor on the passenger’s side, alongside the guidebooks, cameras, and everything else stored there. At this point, whoever rides shotgun has to do it in a fetal position.

Of course, one of the beautiful things about this country is that you can travel from the high mountains to the low desert in a matter of a couple of hours, and I watched the temperature rise from 16 to 60 as we dropped down into the Arizona desert and crossed the border into Needles -- always the hottest spot in California. Somewhere along the way I heard that the road from Seligman to Topock, Arizona, is the longest continuous stretch of Route 66 -- perhaps about 160 miles. I was happy to be able to finally get off the interstates here in the West, and to drive the Mother Road through such stark country. Dipping into the desert out of Goldroad, we negotiated miles of curves, switchbacks, and narrow road, with steep dropoffs just inches away. The guidebook talks about what this was like many years ago, when travelers would be “competing with trucks, buses, and the locals who drove between Oldman and Goldroad in reverse because of their gravity-fed fuel systems. . . . Imagine, if you will, coming down this stretch of road in the old Hudson. Mom is clinging for her life to the door on the passenger side. Dad is wheeling as best he can, a truck breathing down his back and the switchbacks getting worse with each turn. Suddenly, around a curve ahead, is the rear of a Model-T coming toward you. The driver is pushing 20 miles-an-hour in reverse, his head hanging out the window as he guides the flivver up the road . . . . How are your nerves, Dad?” [Bob Moore and Patrick Grauwels, Illustrated Guide to the Mother Road]

(By the way, Oatman is an interesting town. After passing through miles of ghost towns, you come upon Oatman and the main street is absolutely TEEMING with elderly tourists and donkeys. They’re all there in the middle of the road, the donkeys and old folks seemingly mingling, yakking it up, and having a party.)

We stopped in Williams for food at Twisters Soda Fountain, another adorable Route 66 café, but alas in the winter they do not serve breakfast. There just isn’t much business along the road this time of year. So we ended up eating at the Copper Cart Cafe in Seligman. There was no one there but the friendly waitress, the cook, and an older gentleman they called “Grandpa” but who seemed to be just another of the locals. I ordered the “Copper Cart Skillet,” which turned out to be an enormous heap of oddly-juxtaposed food that was bigger than a man’s head. Eggs, corn, potatoes, and about 40 pieces of chicken-fried chicken, each one an inch square. Imagine that. Forty pieces. I’m a hearty eater, but I barely made a dent in the pile.

We could have eaten at the Route 66 icon in Seligman -- the Snow Cap Drive-In -- but it was being inundated by a group of Australians who’d just gotten off a tourist bus. It seems that people from other countries are perhaps even more appreciative of the Mother Road than we are. Sometimes Americans forget the respect we need to have for our own traditions and institutions. In parts of this country Route 66 has fallen into great neglect, and we need to make sure it doesn’t continue to deteriorate. It was, in fact, through the persistent efforts of Seligman’s Angel Delgadillo that the Arizona Route 66 Association was started. Angel at one time owned -- and maybe still does -- the barber shop in town, and his brother Juan owns the Snow Cap. I do know that for a fact, as I saw him shuffle out of his house (he’s no spring chicken) and get ready for the onslaught of tourists. The back of his restaurant is something to behold, and the photos don’t even do it justice.

Just before stopping for the night in Barstow, we passed through Bagdad and Newberry Springs. Bagdad ---- which used to be the home of the real Bagdad Café that inspired the movie of the same name -- was once a rail town, like so many of the old Route 66 towns, but it dried up in the 60s, and apparently vandals decimated the Café in the 70s. Now there is nothing left of Bagdad except a tree. The movie was actually shot in Newberry Springs, and THAT café is still there. It looks just about the same inside, and it is still populated with odd characters, to say the least. The “waiter” was so laid back that he casually took away my menu after I gave him my order for a beer. Later I had to ask if I could possibly have some food. As I was eating my burger, I got engaged in a conversation with the (by then) only other person in the café, a white-haired, white-bearded gentleman who, it was obvious, was crazy as a loon. For whatever reason, I always have an affinity for these people. At one time he was a little boy climbing trees like everyone else. Then at some point, something happened. I wonder what brought him here, really, and what he used to do? He told me that he was around in 1887, that he’d built the Golden Gate Bridge, that he was in Bagdad to avenge the murder of his family, and that he had taken many trips into the stratosphere. Hey, I’m jealous. Who wouldn’t want to be a frequent visitor to the stratosphere?
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Paula: reading your stories had brought back great memories I has of Route 66 back in the early 60's. I was form Toronto, Ontario and moved to LA in 63. I had a 62 MGA at that time and wanted nothing more than to be like the Route 66 guys -- travelling around with no destination in mind. I couldn't afford a Vette, but as I said, I did have my MGA. A few years ago, my wife and I rented a car in LA and drove most of the way East to Flagstaff over the same route you are now travelling west on. We were in most of those same places and I even remembered many from the 'early days'. At one point, I was VERY close to empty and saw the interstate close by. Every town we came through had been closed down and there was no gas anywhere. I headed for the interstate and turned east, only to run out a few miles later. We used the call box nearby and waited for about an hour for a rescue truck with 5 gallons of gas. Then, after we filled up, we headed back to Route 66. This summer, I hope to ride it on our Gold Wing heading West. We'll pick it up in Oklahoma and head to California from there. I know how much you are enjoying yourself and only wish we all could do it too. I would love to join the group next year, but the timing will not allow that to happen.
Having put on 3500 miles on my Bird in a month, I can honestly say, there's nothing better on 4 wheels. I have to admit though, that 2-wheel riding seems to add just that little extra.

Thank you for your stories, they are marvelous.

What a wonderful adventure! I am enjoying your trip and pictures but I am very jealous! First, the new T-Bird you are driving and second the route you are taking!

My wife and I always talk about 2 trips - the Route 66 journey and driving US1 the entire way from Maine to Key West!

I'm afraid both the car and the trips will have to wait till the kids are done with school (is it too early to put in my order for a 2008 T-Bird???) and till then I'll just have to do with my 2000 Mustang convertible!

Good luck and thanks for the cyber-thrill!

Thank you Paula for your superb commentary and fine photography from your historic journey. It should be noted that Tweety is the first 2002 TBird to travel Route 66 from the Mississippi to the Pacific. It has been great fun sharing this bit of history with you.
Alas, I am so sad. The Route 66 trip is over, but even worse, my 15 minutes of fame on this board are up! I am thoroughly depressed.

Anyway, here is my last post from the Mother Road:

On Wednesday, November 28, I finally reached the end of the Mother Road.

And though we started out back in Barstow early in the morning, I knew I was getting close to Los Angeles when the top news stories on KTLA was Cher’s garage sale.

Breakfast was spent at the Summit Inn outside of Victorville, California. As usual, the café was almost empty except for the truckers who came in for a break, all of them discussing the yellow T-bird out in the parking lot, and how it might compare with the Corvette, and then going on to reminisce about all of the cars they had owned and all of the engines they had worked on, throughout their lives. The food was outstanding. As usual, I had a normal breakfast of a waffle, eggs, and bacon. And as usual, Julie had a bizarre morning meal of chili, a burger with onions, and an ice-cold Coke. Lord.

From that point on it was actually kind of a tortuous day, as the rest of Route 66 now is just a busy boulevard that runs through San Bernardino and then for miles down into Los Angeles. It took SEVEN hours to drive those few remaining miles, and it was tempting to jump on the interstate and get out to the coast in an hour or so, but I persisted. I wanted to make sure I finished driving to the true end of the Mother Road.

Well, I’ve worn the same socks for a week; my cholesterol has GOT to be over 300; and my uncut hair looks like Ringo-Starr-meets-Bozo-the-Clown. This is the end of the line. A bittersweet end for me, but it was certainly a joyous ending for the Dust Bowl travelers who saw the orange groves of the L.A. basin for the first time. For me, my reward was to see the orange sky over the Pacific Ocean at sunset in Santa Monica.

One thing all of us have been brutally reminded of this year is that it is all too easy to make our way blindly through the minutiae of daily life. But we live in a gorgeous country whose past and present we need to respect and cherish. All of it is out there to experience: the roads, the burger joints, the friendly motels, the abandoned buildings, the farmhouses, the autumn leaves, the canyons, the desert, the sun setting over the ocean.

This land was made for you and me.
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