I’ve had a nightly visitor serenading me in my garden the past few weeks. I’ve recorded his song and put some words to it. Enjoy!
The beautiful and FREE view from atop the 40th floor of the Hyatt in downtown San Diego! I always look for great places to look out on a new city, I am a map nerd and need to “get my bearings”.
The Hyatt has a cocktail lounge at the top (of course) but there are plenty of windows all around the 40th floor. Usually, if you look like you know where you’re going and aren’t dressed poorly – nearly any hotel will let you up! The Coronado island bridge in the distance. Beautiful!
Back down through Navajo country to the eastern edge of Arizona’s Route 66. Arizona has the largest stretches of the original highway and it’s fun to drive off highway 40 for the telltale brown “Historic Route 66” signs.First stop is Holbrook – a wonderful Main Street town with lots of charm and character. There are leather stores, pubs, old diners and of course, souvenir shops galore! I especially enjoyed finding an enoteca, a region nal wine tasting spot on the main drag. The wine was pretty good, too! The town museum had a great old jail house, (third photo) used as recent as 1976. If you look on the walls, you can see where bored inmates drew – a few of the paintings and drawings are really good! Yikes, imagine being cooped up in here! ;-}
Leaving town is the iconic Wigwam Hotel – actually motel rooms shaped like teepees. They have classic cars parked throughout the motel, as well. I stayed at the Lodge on Main street. Newly remodeled with lots of luxurious touches and a great outdoor fireplace lounge. Yep, it was cold, but the fireplace was on and the overhead heaters made my time there wonderful! Off season this is an affordable place to stay but in season, it might test your budget. Hence, travel in the “shoulder season” – after Labor day! The weather’s a little cooler, but not too cold until mid-October and the hotel owners and attraction workers are happy to see you, too!
WOW…truly the most AMAZING geological formation I have ever seen! Antelope Canyon is in northern Arizona, not far from Page Arizona, home of Lake Powell. As it is Native land, small groups are brought in by Navajo guides in truckloads. While driving there in the open bed of a large pickup truck – the wind blowing in my face, I felt like a big dog with his tongue hanging out of the window, excited to be in the car.
Our guide Irene led us through the “slot canyon”, so named because it looks like a slotted opening in the rock, just wide enough for a powerful force of nature like water to enter and sculpt the soft sandstone to this incredible formation. The canyon is only about 1/4 mile long but winds around beautifully striated walls of stone and every upward gaze is a photographic moment.
If you are ever in northern Arizona, do NOT miss this.
Bryce Canyon is sort of tucked away, you must stop and get out and peer over the edge to see it – but WOW, when you do…
Behind the Bryce Canyon lodge are short hiking trails along the rim of the “Ampitheatre”, a vast circular congregation of stone columns called “hoo-doos”. Native legend says that Coyote wanted to punish the people for not doing what he wanted so he turned them all into stone. If you look hard enough and with enough imagination – indeed, the grouped columns do start to resemble clusters of people with heads and shoulders – some in pairs, some alone.
I arrived late afternoon when the sun was going down, it was a sunny 71 degree day, so I decided to pitch my tent and camp in the campground. However, not long after sundown the temperatures dropped fast and I huddled in my tent wrapped in my sleeping bag and piled with blankets. By the wee hours of the morning just before dawn (5 a.m.) the temperatures had plummeted to 28 degrees. Finally, I bravely put on my shoes and made a mad dash for my car! Off to the nearby Bryce Canyon lodge and to it’s cozy fireplace and comfy chairs to thaw out. What a delight! So much for camping in fall…
The up side is that by getting up REALLY early, I was wide awake and able to explore the park before the tourists got up. All the viewpoints were virtually empty, just me and my thoughts and maybe a stray Park Ranger or two. It was not until about 9 a.m. when I reached my final viewpoint that the tourists descended on the park. The early morning sunrise lit the tops of the rock formations nicely and I’m pleased with the photos I took. What do you think?
First stop on this leg was Hurricane, Utah – my first venture into an AirBandB lodging listing. The B&B where I stayed was GREAT! I had a first floor room and first class service – cool room, great bed and sheets, a BIG welcome from my host Marla with wine & cheese and fun conversation, all at a very reasonable price. Isn’t this what travel is all about? Greetings, connections, laughs and crazy life stories… If you’re Zion park bound – go here! https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4135571
It’s only a short drive to nearby Zion Nat’l Park – but stop at the River Rock Coffee house on the way and get a great coffee, a yummy spinach & tomato quiche and a VIEW! Their back patio overlooks a wonderful Utah-esque canyon. http://www.riverrockroasters.com/index.html
First major hike in the park is the Watchman Tower hike – a 2.7 mile hillside hike – which was amazing! Between the blooming wildflowers (oh, how I love Indian Paintbrush flowers!) to the endless vistas – WOW. Wear your sunscreen, though!
As I walk, I generally look about for cool stuff – and find a collection of heart-shaped stones on my path. I collected them in my pocket and left them on a large stone next to the trail entrance – I hope someone sees them and smiles. Pay it forward!
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!
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, here just now to bring 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!
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!
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…
Barstow, 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 about 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…