Week One – Route 66 – between Victorville and Barstow, CA

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Right outside of Victorville, just 2 miles north on Route 66 is Emma Jean’s, home of the “Holland Burger” and “Brian Burger”. Since I endeavor to be a veggie, neither appealed – but the classic diner café beckoned, and I gave in and vowed to see what they had. Breakfast fare worked, a cheese and mushroom omelette, perfectly browned home fried potatoes – even homemade biscuits and gravy, all topped off with a chocolate milkshake complete with whipped cream and the extra in the metal mixing tin just for me! I filled up quickly, polishing off about half of the food and totally savored the milkshake and the home fries – two of my weaknesses! Typical American café meal – WAY TOO MUCH FOOD! Yep, I know it’s not the healthiest choice, but OH…it was tasty.

The café ambience was classic, as well.  A tourist family of five from Canada sat at the diner bar, snapping photos of everything from the waitress to the food. A few truckers and some disheveled locals graced the other stools and all were very well fed and happy. When first confronted with the grand menu, I asked the waitress “What’s good here?” to which she replied: “All the food’s good, but I can’t guarantee the quality of the service!” Hahaha…

I ordered my milkshake and her booming voice hollered out “SHAKE!” across the bar to the kitchen. Oh my…reminiscent of John Belushi and “Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger!”

It was a fun meal - Emma Jean’s looks like a total dive but the food is plentiful and good. A classic 50s diner, so stop in and indulge. I did!

Week One – Apple Valley, CA – along Route 66

 

It's Trigger! Roy Roger's faithful sidekick - this is the statue from the now defunct Roy Rogers & Dale Evans museum, now gracing the hillside on the edge of the cemetery where they are buried. I was sorta surprised because Trigger is not a gelding - hmmmm...

It’s Trigger! Roy Roger’s faithful sidekick – this is the statue from the now defunct Roy Rogers & Dale Evans museum, now gracing the hillside on the edge of the cemetery where they are buried. I was sorta surprised because Trigger is not a gelding! Holy cajones!

 

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It’s not a far drive from Victorville to the cemetery and through subdivisions of typical desert homes – with zero greenery, their landscaping consisting of raked sand, maybe a cactus or two, a wagon or other western themed object. One home had a whimsical feel that only PeeWee Herman might enjoy – the front sand canvas of a lawn had two large rock tortoises, a tacky birdbath, a large bathtub painted like a spotted black & white cow, various wind chimes, a giant hummingbird and an 8′ tall verdigris replica of the Statue of Liberty, complete with lit torch. Yikes!

On to the matter at hand, finding the graves of our famed Victorville residents, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans – (AKA Leonard and Frances) I’m led there by the young caretaker at the cemetery – she might be all of 21 years old – lovely but a bit sad. She seems fascinated that I am traveling solo on a roadtrip.  She tells me she started working here after her beloved grandma died, just to be near her. Oh my. So, I asked her “Why would you want to work out here with all these dead and grieving people? It’s a lovely cemetery, but make sure you don’t let it get you down – go out and be grateful for your life!”  She shows me their graves and I note on Dale’s there is a book with an inscription – “Angels unawares”. I smile and ask her if she knows what that means – blank stare. “It’s from the bible, I explain –  meaning there may be angels living among us - in body but not really. Sometimes you will meet them in life for just a moment, for a message, for a bit of help or for a brief encounter, unaware that they are angels.” I’ve met a few in my life. She’s intrigued and will no doubt Google it when she’s back at her desk. While leaving, I remind her that her grandma would say the same thing I am saying – “Get out and enjoy your life!” Who knows, I tell her –  maybe I am an angel unaware in your life, bringing you this message!

There is a really cool vintage hearse onsite, that’s been totally restored and is still used at the cemetery but only for war veterans, as a special offer of respect for their passing. The memorial plaques near the chapel are wonderful, too. Many are for Roy and Dale but for others buried here too. It’s a fun visit – I’m glad I took the time. Happy Trails to you, till we meet again!

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Week One – Victorville, CA – Route 66

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Just 30 miles south of Barstow the Bust is Victorville – still on Route 66 but on the way to San Bernadino. Their Route 66 museum is OPEN and awesome! Walls covered with classic signage, a 50′s diner booth, loads of ephemera along the famous Mother Road. I spend over an hour in here, marveling at the collection of bits and bobs from all over along this famous U.S. roadtrip route. The guest book has posts from visitors from all over this planet – MANY from Europe! I think of the “mystique” of Route 66 that my European buddies would talk about – so here I am to drive a nice chunk of it. I hope my buds are enjoying it vicariously through me!

More photos from the museum -

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Victorville is a sleepy western town and has a famous couple that were from here – Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Yep, they were before my time, but old movie reruns and their legacy keeps them alive. They were both from here and I asked the volunteer Mike where they were buried. He said “Right near here in Apple Valley. Go see it, they even have a large statue Roy’s horse Trigger at the cemetery!” Oh my…it might be worth the route diversion…

Week One – Barstow, CA – route 66

GSWA_009_Barstow2GSWA_010_Barstow3Barstow, California – off I go to the Visitors Center which is by the Route 66 museum and also the Railroad museum – but alas, the building is huge but looks deserted. A sign on a tucked away door confirms it – they are only open on the weekends! Argh…

Well, the Visitors Center at the historic Harvey House (a former trackside restaurant and rooming house) is open and the gal there (Sheila) is really helpful. Barstow’s sort of a bust, she concurs. Many vacant buildings, not a lot of town energy. However, there are some cool wall murals GSWA_024_VictorvilleMap2about town and I catch a photo of my trusty chariot, my Scion tC in front of a mural at Rosita’s.

Sheila advises Victorville as the place to go, about 30 minutes south of here on Route 66, the museum there is great! I look about for something else to do in Barstow, but am amazed that nearly an entire city block is taken up by a large thrift shop collective – The Treasure Chest. Well, I spend a few hours browsing and emerge with a few goodies. I always marvel at how much STUFF people accumulate. This is like a large tribute to hoarding! Keepin’ it lean…

The Grand Southwest Adventure

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First day to hit the road on the Grand Southwest Adventure! I’ve chosen to head to Barstow, about 325 miles away – the hotel prices are low and there are some museums and Route 66 things to do for Wednesday and Thursday morning, then I’ll leave to head to Las Vegas…then, on to the southwest for the Grand Southwest Adventure! I’ll keep you posted… 

Heading out from San Francisco through the farmlands – near Gilroy and Watsonville. The hills are alive – with poofy plastic poly tunnels covering strawberries and raspberries. Like a puff quilt of plastic, they follow the hillside’s terrain on either side of the highway. There are large farms ringed with cars and trucks, transportation for the many hunched over workers picking the berries in the open fields. Gilroy is known for garlic - hence, the annual Gilroy Garlic festival. One of the many delights of traveling solo is that I get to stop wherever I wish, without comment or discussion. The many fruit stands and produce markets along the roadside beckon and I hold out until I see…

The Casa de Fruta! It has a grand complex, filled with tourists and school groups and KIDS – a tipi, farm tractors, a merry go round, hay bales, animals and of course, a largGSWA_004e open market with fruit (naturally), nuts, grand bulbs and wreaths of Gilroy garlic, classic junk food treats and bins of salty & sweet goodies. Unbelievably, I resist the sweets and settle for some lovely fruit, some GGSWA_005ilroy garlic and a bag or two of seasoned almonds. I’d be tempted to get a big pumpkin to take to Las Vegas to carve - but I imagine with their temperatures, it’d look like a shriveled raisin in days.

Not too far down the road is a more rustic mom & pop fruit stand and while getting gas, I pop in there, too. There’s a vast selection of seasoned almonds, pistachios, dried fruits, pomegranates and other seasonal fruits. Deciding between tequila pistachios and garlic almonds – well, I went for the garlic and some rosemary pistachios. I’m stocked for the season! Spending the night on Route 66, in Barstow, California. More on that tomorrow!

 

 

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