Dave & Nicki – Route 66 & San Diego (May 2017)

We did it! Nearly 5 weeks, nearly 4000 miles, 23 beds ending at our regular holiday home resort near San Diego. Met some wonderful characters, seen a lot of sights and eaten in countless eateries, some really great and others perhaps not so. We had cold and wind in Chicago, yes, THAT wind, and 41 degrees on the Arizona border…but fortunately the hurricanes around Missouri stayed a few miles from us although we did have a terrific storm (at night) and saw the aftermath of some destruction the next day.

We mainly followed the old route where possible following our trusty guide and even going on some of the very old byways. We actually met up with Jerry Mclanahan (author of EZ66) who duly signed our book and took photos, I was 66 that day, on Route 66 meeting the author! Some of the hotels were really wonderful, Inn at 835, The Branson Hotel, Blue Swallow, Wigwam & Inn 410…had a chat with the owners at all of them.

Amarillo wasn’t quite what we expected, but the Big Texan Steak House just had to be done, didn’t attempt the 72 oz but we did have a smaller one! Rosewood Inn of the Ananzi was lovely, and they held a classic car show in the square all day Sunday…great stuff. We also came across an earlier car show in Illinois, part of ‘red route corridor’ weekend, when each village we went through put on some sort of event, ranging from a street fete with free popcorn and badges to a stand in the visitor centre, all very friendly.

The View at Monument Valley – wow…what a place looking out over the rocks and desert and El Tovar at the Grand Canyon was equally grand. Unfortunately we arrived there just at the start of Memorial weekend and whole place was rammed, we actually had to park nearly a mile away after dropping our bags and driving around for ages. In retrospect, one day at the View would have been sufficient, you can easily do the monument drive in the evening or early next morning, there’s nothing else there, and for us, a better way of revisiting the GC would have been the tourist train from Williams…the extra day at the View and the El Tovar between them clearly taking a large chunk of the budget. (Note from Jules – some of our clients chose to spend a day exploring from Monument Valley up the ‘Valley of the Gods’ into Utah before back tracking to the Canyon). 

We later saw the train leave from Williams, chatted to the (English) boss and thought of Michael Portillo! We love towers so went up the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Gateway Arch in St Louis and one or two trails that went uphill a bit. St Louis, although being a nice place, has a reputation, so we elected to park the car right outside the hotel door, costing us $30 a night, the alternative being almost as expensive in a street parking lot and considerably less secure. Albuquerque also seemed a bit ‘dodgy’…we detected an atmosphere as soon as afternoon went into evening and went back to our hotel quick; this was confirmed a day or two later when we met a couple of guys who had lived there previously.

The Hard Rock at Tulsa was one of those OMG moments, are we REALLY staying there…the car park is the size of Southend and the whole of Blackpool would fit in the gaming hall…had a good swim, a great buffet and only lost $20! We were warned Needles (California – Colorado River Valley) was not great, but actually found a backway right to the edge of the Colorado, a small beach to the river. Paddling in the cool clear water in California but looking over to Arizona, 41 deg and with a bar right behind us! Can’t be bad. The last part of the route in California isn’t as good as the earlier sections, to say the least and LA of course is just busy, busy, busy. Got our photos on the pier at the end.

Loads of souvenirs, loads of photos to sort through and lots of memories and events to ‘dine out on’. Thank you so much for your organisation, everything went well and worked seamlessly…the car was even upgraded at the beginning, as often happens.