Route 66, Day 11: Morning in Williams, Arizona, near the Grand Canyon

Yesterday was a long drive from Albuquerque to Williams, Arizona, and the timezone changes haven’t helped too much, because we keep staying up an hour later. But we had a lot of fun and a bit of trouble yesterday. We headed out in the morning with a couple of pitstops along the way. We really had to take I-40 most of the way, because Route 66 doesn’t go all the way through anymore, and we had to cover a lot of miles.

Luke had to stay behind to go back to the VW dealer in Albuquerque; he was having some trouble with his cooling fans, I think. I guess the VW dealers really helped him out and helped him back on the road, so I take back when I said about them being disappointing yesterday. He caught up with us later on the road.

We stopped off at a small fireworks trading post just to use the restroom, shopped for turquoise, and goggled at the wagon wheel sized roll of firecrackers you could buy for $130 bucks that would go off for an hour and a half. We hopped off I-40 and went in to Gallup to stop at the Sonic Burger for lunch, and we took photos at the El Rancho Hotel, where lots of movie stars stayed while filming westerns in Gallup.

We got back on the road and set out looking for the Jackrabbit Trading Post, which was an iconic place back on old Route 66 due to the bright yellow signs with a black rabbit silhouette, placed for over 50 miles on either side of the tourist trap. We found it, and a few of the signs are left, but the Jackrabbit Trading Post is sort of smaller than I expected. We got pictures seated on a giant jackrabbit, and we got t-shirts and good souvenirs.

Stephanie with Giant Jack Rabbit

Here it is.

Just a few miles down the road is Winslow, Arizona, the town name-checked in the Eagles song, so we stopped there at the “Standing on the corner” park where there’s a photo opportunity at 2nd and Kinsley to stand in front of large “Winslow, Arizona” sign. I did not have seven women on my mind, however. Happily, just one, a car, and a stuffed monkey. I believe I have it much easier than the Eagles.

There’s also a Route 66 museum in Winslow, and we were turned around headed that direction when someone spotted Bob Waldmire’s van in the parking lot of the old El Posado Hotel, another spot where the westerns were filmed. As Stephanie and I tried to turn into the parking lot, she hit the curb, and flattened her right front tire.

Jerry and John were to the rescue immediately, and put the spare tire on, but Stephanie was pretty upset at hurting Phoebe, even accidentally. We’re going to run out this morning to find a new tire before we get on the train to the Grand Canyon, so we’ll have all we need and a spare.

After the tire problem, we went over to meet and talk to Bob Waldmire again. He has solar energy panels on his van, and Stephanie and I told him about our plan to put them on our house, along with micro wind turbines. He showed us a picture of the wind turbine he built himself on his property out here. You can also seek the help of to guide you in property related matters . He’s completely off the electrician grid, which is cool.

After taking off from Winslow we drove on through Flagstaff and into Williams to check in for the evening. We ate dinner at a family restaurant, and watched the staged shootout the enact in the streets every evening; I got video of part of it before my camera battery ran out.

Today we’re taking the Grand Canyon Railway up to the Grand Canyon, where we’ll get a tour and eat and take a million pictures, I’m sure. I took 280 yesterday, just on the drive. I was pretty trigger happy, but the last time I was in New Mexico and Arizona, it was dark and I never really saw the landscape. I’ll have to sort out what’s good and what’s redundant. I wish I had a panoramic camera; that would be awesome. We don’t have wireless here, so I’ll have to upload photos to flickr, and add photos to this post later.

Continue ReadingRoute 66, Day 11: Morning in Williams, Arizona, near the Grand Canyon

Route 66, Day 10: On to Albuquerque

We drove into Albuquerque yesterday, which is really beautiful city cradled in mountains, so every view has a gorgeous backdrop. I can see why people move out west; the landscape is so stunning. The sunset last night was really pretty. A small part of the trip was on old Route 66, so we drove through Clines Corners, a pretty big tourist trap, but we didn’t stop.

When we arrived in town, we drove directly to the VW dealer, who seemed sort of less than impressed to see us, which many in the group found disappointing, I think. Some of the guys came out to see the customized cars and look everything over. Stephanie got the mass airflow sensor that she needed to replace, and one of the other cars had to have their fuel pump replaced, which they did right there, because they needed it. And we spent some time looking over their new and used beetles on the lot. The had a beautiful new gecko green convertible with a cream top that I liked a lot, maybe even more than the new red with black. If we win the lottery, I’ll get one. I should think about getting a ticket sometime.

After that, we stopped at the motel, and settled in. One of the guys on our trip, John and his wife Linda decided to go to the emergency room; back in Devil’s Elbow, John got an insect bite that seemed to be getting worse, and he was in a lot of pain, so he and his wife and Cori and Verlaine went to the hospital. We heard they treated him, so I think he’s okay; I’ll find out more when they join us today.

The caravan went to the home of Sue and Aaron, who are the owners of Ciao Bug, and old friends of everyone on the trip. They hosted us to a barbeque; very nice to eat with everyone and have a meal cooked at home; very delicious.

Their home is really pretty; Sue’s painted some nice southwestern art on the walls that I took pictures of. Aaron let us on his super-high-speed internet, where I uploaded something like 400 photos to my Flickr set, which should keep you busy for awhile. They included yesterday’s pictures of the drive into town, too. I’m getting tired of trying to hunt down wireless, so I may just blog and put photos up later, since I seem to have so many pictures. I am apparently going for sheer volume, rather than artistic merit on the photos. But I like everything I’m putting up, for the most part, and wouldn’t eliminate any of it.

At the end of the day, we lined all the beetles up in Sue and Aaron’s drive and the neighbors took pictures, before heading back to the motel. John replaced Stephanie’s mass airflow sensor in the motel 6 parking lot, while Luke from California and Mike hung out and watched. We need to find a present to give to John for working on Phoebe, because he has really been a big help, and so nice. Mike and Luke and John and Stephanie talked about cars for an hour on a level that was way, way over my head but fascinating to listen to. I’m traveling with some really smart people who know a lot about the machines they run; I really need an idiot’s guide to how the car works to even follow along.

At the end of the evening as the sun was going down, we watched a bus try to maneuver a tight turn around the motel parking lot without hitting any cars, get stuck, and have to get out to find the car owners, which weren’t any of us, so we were entertained. Then we headed to bed. Hope the bus got out.

This morning, I’m up a bit early (I started this post at 3:30) due to the predinsone we picked up back in Roswell. But I feel GREAT, so I don’t mind.

Today’s we have a pretty long slog to Williams, Arizona, where we’ll stay for a couple of days to take the train to the Grand Canyon. Everyone has laughed about my irrational fear of falling off the edge. I guess they have rails around it, or something. We’ll seen when I get there. (I’m from Iowa, people. It’s hard to fall off stuff, there. Everything is nice and flat and safe.)

On the way to Williams, we’ll probably stop at the Jackrabbit Trading Post, which is a really big tourist trap, and we will (of course) go stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.

Continue ReadingRoute 66, Day 10: On to Albuquerque

Route 66, Day 9, Morning: Leaving Roswell

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We’re in the car heading out from Roswell with 14 other beetles, on the way to Albuquerque, which is back on route 66. It’s a fairly short trip – just 4 hours – so we’ll have time to stop at the VW dealer there to get Phoebe’s mass airflow sensor. John thinks he can put it in for us. We’re having dinner with some beetle folks from the email list who live in Albuquerque, and we can have a pretty leisurely day, I think.

Yesterday Stephanie and I won First Place in the Road Rally – which is basically a scavenger hunt on wheels. We got a cool trophy, which Zig Zag monkey has adopted as his own.

We ate dinner at Kwan’s Golden Buffet with a big group of beetle folks, including Jerry and Kathy who told us the story of the Baseball beetle they have – it was a Cracker Jack prize in 2000; they gave away 15 of them. I took lots of photos – you’ll see the interior seats are baseball glove leather and the emergency brake is a wooden bat, and the shift knob is a baseball. They bought it from the second owners, and had to do a lot of restoration on it because they really didn’t take care of it well. Jerry also owns Herbie, which is a red beetle with a great flame job that he designed himself.

Jerry in Herbie


We spent two hours at McDonalds uploading pictures, and I still didn’t get them all up. I’ve uploaded about 785 photos of the trip so far, and I have about 200 more to put up. What’s up there is through the beginning of the Car Show on Saturday – I took 280 pictures on Saturday. I still have to upload the rest of the car show, the parade through Roswell, the Drive-In movie, and yesterday’s Road Rally pictures.

Don’t forget to check out the Flickr set; the link should be above. I’ll go back through and add the appropriate photos into all the blog posts when we get a good internet connection.

Continue ReadingRoute 66, Day 9, Morning: Leaving Roswell

Route 66, Day 8: Sunday Morning, Roswell

Yesterday was the Car Show at the Roswell Convention Center and Beetle parade through Roswell; lots of fun; the weather was very hot. I have tons of pictures; the modifications on cars are dizzying; I can’t keep track of them all. I found myself wanting a beetle, too. Today though, I realize I need to be practical and just take good care of my truck.

Uploading pictures doing so in the room isn’t possible (I got four photos up yesterday) so we might venture out to find a real internet connection today sometime.

Roswell R2K Parade

We had dinner at a restaurant called Farleys – I think it’s a chain, but the interior was very cool; futurama steampunk. And the food was good; wish we had one it Indianapolis.
On Friday afternoon, I started having another bout of my reoccurring pleurisy. I’m loading up on ibuprofen and trying to ignore it. The other alternative is to try to get a prednisone prescription over the phone, which I may end up doing, cause I’m not feeling great.

Farley's Restaurant

In the evening, we did a drive-in movie in the Convention Center parking lot with an inflated screen, where they showed an episode of Car Crazy featuring this car show last year, and the Herbie the Love Bug, which was much better than I remembered. I haven’t been to a drive-in in quite a while; we need to go when we get home.

New Beetle Drive-In Theater

This morning there isn’t much to do, we we’re going to visit the laundry room, and this afternoon is a rally – which I guess is like a scavenger hunt in the car.
Tomorrow morning we head out to Albuquerque, to hop back on Route 66 with the rest of the caravan and start the western leg of our trip out to California.

Spacepod and Phoebe at the Drive In

Continue ReadingRoute 66, Day 8: Sunday Morning, Roswell

Route 66 Trip: The RoswellR2K Show

Yesterday after blogging at the internet cafe, we visited several Alien shops downtown hunting for small aliens for our aliens vs. dinosaurs diorama in the car, then came back to the hotel for a nap before heading out of town to the Sky Watch Party, which is a bit more of people walking around looking at their custom jobs on everyone’s cars than watching the sky for the mothership. You can also get jeep dealership Wichita KS at affordable range. It’s almost as though they don’t really think it’s coming. There was a nice dinner in the clubhouse  with a mariachi band, and then people started decorating their cars with lights for the “Podglow” parade into town, which is not called a “Buglow” due to trademark concerns with VW. (Hi, Volkswagen!)

Now that I’ve seen what people come up with to light up their cars – next time we go to this, Phoebe’s going to be seriously decked out. although I don’t think I can do what one guy did – he built an entire flying saucer and mounted it on the back of his car. Pretty damned awesome – I took some pictures, and will get more today at the car show. You can also go to the car dealership near corpus christi to know more about the cars that are popularly winning this contest.

While hanging out in the “deglow” parking lot where people take the lights off their cars, John determined that Phoebe’s check engine light is indeed the mass airflow filter that everyone speculated that it was, so we can have the part ordered in Albuquerque for when we drive through.

We came back to the motel and hung out watching the “Roswell that ends well” episode of Futurama on Britt and Marie’s laptop before retiring to bed.

Today is the car show during the day, and official parade through town in the afternoon.

Continue ReadingRoute 66 Trip: The RoswellR2K Show

Route 66, Day 6: Morning, Roswell NM

Yesterday was great; nice and leisurely. We really enjoyed Blue Swallow in Tucumcari. It was a nice change from the Motel 6, homey, clean and pleasantly retro. It reminded me a bit of the motel room in The Lost Room which does a lot to recommend it.

Blue Swallow Motel

Tucumcari has a long strip where the businesses have the cool googie retro signs, and the blue swallow is one of them. When we cruised in at night, we wondered why the sign wasn’t all lit up; turns out they had a hail storm a while back than damaged a lot of the neon and they’re having it fixed in Amarillo.

Tucumcari, New Mexico

When we got up yesterday, we had breakfast in the Kix on 66 diner that The Blue Swallow recommended; big omelets and huge slabs of bacon. Then we poked around in the famous Tee Pee Curios shop and took pictures of many of the signs.

Tee Pee Curios in Tucumcari

Tucumcari has an interesting dinosaur museum; it wasn’t the concrete dinosaur park we thought we were looking for, but it was fun for a couple hours, and I got small dinosaurs in the gift shop so we can set up a “Dinosaurs vs. Aliens” diorama in the back window of Phoebe for the car show.

Scary dinosaur!

Eventually, we took of to Roswell. New Mexico is really beautiful; I took lots of landscape pictures on the road that I’m afraid will all look about the same when I upload them. I was trying to convey how wide-open and vast the land is, but that never comes out in pictures. I should have done a stitched together panoramic.

New Mexico Skies

Last night we checked in and met the rest of the caravan, plus a lot of new folks at a nearby Mexican restaurant for some tasty margaritas.

Zig Zag has some margaritas

I think the plan for today is to find wireless access, give the car a bath, and go hunting down some aliens. I’d love to find an Area 51 sign somewheres if we can.

While puttering around in the hotel room this morning waiting for the day to begin, I started reading Kerouac’s On The Road. I’m wondering how in the hell I made it to the age of 39 without reading it. Why was this not on Mr. Bray’s hyper-testosterone-laden “Great American Literature” reading list in high school? I feel extremely cheated by my American Literature education. Damn you, Mr. Bray. It’s like I put on a pair of glasses for the first time and saw literature clearly. Don’t mind me; I’ll be over here with my nose in a book.

UPDATE: we ventured out to find a donut, then hit target for some car wash supplies and gave Phoebe a bath. She still needs some TLC before the car show, but we started getting hungry so we drove to downtown Roswell to find the Not of This World Coffee shop to get sandwich and free wireless. It’s verrrrrryyyyyy slllllloooooooowwww, but at least we’re connected. I’m going to attempt to upload yesterday’s pictures and plug them into this post.

Continue ReadingRoute 66, Day 6: Morning, Roswell NM

Route 66, Morning, Day 5: Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico

I’m up and about in the motel room; Stephanie’s trying to catch a bit more sleep. We’ve been cutting it pretty short on the sleeping, by arriving very late and getting up with the rest of the caravan. Hopefully today we can hang out and be more leisurely; we only have about a 4 hour drive to Roswell.

I’m on a high-speed wireless connection, finally, and I’m hurriedly uploading photos. The Blue Swallow doesn’t actually offer it; some kind fellow named Shawn has left his/her network open. Thanks, Shawn!!

I’ll try to go back and insert some relevant photos into the last several posts about the trip if I can before we actually get up and around.

Tilted Water tower at Britten, Texas

Giant Cross in Groom, Texas

The Big Texan was entertaining; lots of beef. Of course their featured attraction is a “free” 72 oz. steak – if you eat the whole thing in an hour, plus sides, salad and bread. I did not try. Two guys did while we were there; if you’re attempting the challenge, they stick you at a table on a raised platform with a count-down timer. Neither of them could do it. I took pictures, of course.

The Big Texan

Big Texan

72 oz. Steak

Couldn't do it.

We drove from Amarillo, Texas to Tucumcari, New Mexico in a wicked looking lightning storm (I tried to video it; well see how it comes out.); fortunately it didn’t open up and rain much. I think today we’re going to poke around Tucumcari a bit; they have lots of great old googie signs and route 66 shops. Then we’ll take off for Roswell.

Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari

Phoebe and Spacepod in garages at the Blue Swallow Motel

Tomorrow most of the day in Roswell is free; all we have to do is wash the car and find some wireless access. And see aliens, of course. Saturday is when the car show and parade start, and Sunday there are activities, too, although most of the day is free. Monday we head out on the rest of Route 66.

Continue ReadingRoute 66, Morning, Day 5: Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico

Route 66: Tulsa to Amarillo

We left Tulsa in some pretty tricky traffic, which is really fun in a caravan of 17 people.

Our first stop was the shoe tree, but we did a drive-by, although I think one of our leaders really wanted us to stop. Our next stop was the Rock Cafe in Stroud, a 1939 Route 66 institution. The young woman who runs it Dawn (Welsh?) was the inspiration for the porshe Sally from the movie Cars. It was a fun, tiny little place; we packed the room. I had a great Buffalo burger and fries – very tasty, but oh, the grease. Wow. After we all ate, Dawn gave us a history of the place and how she ended up being part of a Hollywood movie.

Rock Cafe in Stroud, Oklahoma

Dawn ("Sally") from the Rock Cafe

Dawn told us about a guy we should visit – a tinkerer guy named John Hargrove who built a very cool machine shed/garage tricked out with route 66 memorabilia, old cars and signs. It’s hard to describe; I’ll have to link to photos. One of the attractions was a VW Microbus restored and painted to look like the bus in the movie cars.

Double Arrows from an Old Gas Station

Herbie Bug in the side of the building

Mr. John Hargrove's Home

"Fillmore" Microbus from the movie cars

After that we did a drive-by photo op at the Round Barn in Arcadia.

Phoebe at the Round Barn

Because we had to make it to Amarillo in a short amount of time, we hopped off 66 and onto I-40 through Oklahoma. Unfortunately we ended up at the end of the pack of (now) 18 cars, and we had a hell of a time keeping up. Due to the traffic wave effect, the guy in front was going 65, but we were doing 85, 90 and 95 to keep up. Really hard, especially when it pouring rain. Trying to keep up was too unsafe, so we dropped back and let the rest of the pack go on. We caught up to them soon, and stopped in Clinton, Oklahoma at the Route 66 Museum there.

The highlight of the day was that Bob Waldmire was there – he’s a Route 66 institution; the son of the Waldmires of the Cozy Dog we visited back in Illinois, and an amazing traveling artist documenting the attractions and people of Route 66; driving around in an old VW Microbus. It was in the parking lot, so I took photos of every single inch of it. I took one of the postcards I got of it work and asked him to sign it, and he did; very nice guy. And a HUGE liberal, which was awesome.

(I think based on some of the radio conversation that some of the people on our caravan A) don’t know Stephanie and I are a couple and B) are openly homophobic if they think there aren’t gay people around. Although I think everyone’s caught on by now.)

Bob Waldmire's Microbus

Those of us going to Tucumcari have broken off from the pack; we stayed behind a bit to drive more slowly, ditch on some of the photo ops, and be a bit more laid back. We weren’t the only ones stressing about keeping up with the caravan, it turns out. Now we’re headed out to Amarillo, Texas to try to visit the Big Texan for dinner, then we’re going to head to Tucumcari, New Mexico for the night. I’m googling concrete dinosaur parks as we speak.

Continue ReadingRoute 66: Tulsa to Amarillo