Tag

California

July 6, 2019

Elmer RIP

Elmer RIP my friend. I loved meeting you back in the winter of 2010 when my wife and I did a California-Arizona Route 66 trip. I was very excited to see the Bottle Tree Forest, buy didn't realize I'd meet the genius behind it.

Elmer RIP my friend. I loved meeting you back in the winter of 2010 when my wife and I did a California-Arizona Route 66 trip. I was very excited to see the Bottle Tree Forest, buy didn't realize I'd meet the genius behind it.

Elmer RIP my friend. I loved meeting you back in the winter of 2010 when my wife and I did a California-Arizona Route 66 trip. I was very excited to see the Bottle Tree Forest, buy didn’t realize I’d meet the genius behind it. I was saddened to hear of your passing.

Elmer R.I.P. my friend.
Elmer Long 1946-2019

I was exploring your creations when I saw smoke coming from a small shack. I approached the shake wondering if someone actually lived here. As I got real close you came in to view with your arms full of scrounged wood.

You gave me a friendly greeting and we dove in to conversation. I learned you love the Bible and were quite well versed. We then talked about your creation.

Bottle Trees

Stop Sign Bottle Tree

I was impressed when you told me that most of these bottles came from your hikes through the desert. In my mind I could see you going on treasure hunting treks and coming back to your property with your booty.

As I looked around I could see your welding equipment, and envisioned you welding up a rack. Eventually, the rack would hold dozens of bottles arranged to look like a makeshift Christmas Tree. After all, everyday is Christmas at the Bottle Tree Ranch.

Elmer RIP

I Came Prepared

I came prepared with some toys I was going to photograph for my grandchildren, and then I would give them the toys along with pictures of their toy. When I told Elmer of my plans he smiled and thought that was a neat idea.

Action Figure on a Piece at the Bottle Tree Ranch
Action Figure on a Piece at the Bottle Tree Ranch
Little Critters on Bottles
Little Critters on Bottles

It’s too bad my grandchildren will never meet you in this life. They would have loved that.

2017 Tour

In 2017 I was nearing the end of a 30-day tour of Route 66 with my friend Paul Bardotz. We met a young couple, nursing students, who we had fun photographing.

Nursing Students We Met at Elmer's Ranch
Nursing Students We Met at Elmer’s Ranch

While we were talking to them and taking pictures, I caught you out of the corner of my eye.

“Hey, you two,” I said to the young couple, “come over here I want you to meet the mastermind behind all of this.”

I then introduced them to you. It wasn’t difficult to remember your name because Elmer is what Ham Radio Operators call a mentor who teaches them about radios. You struck me as a wise old man whom someone could learn a lot.

When the couple wandered off, you and I got talking about God’s commandments. I knew from previous visits you were a Bible reader. We exchanged scriptures we had memorized. You said something about the importance of memorizing verses from the bible.

Paraphrasing a line I once heard, and applying it to you, I said, “You know Elmer, there are only two scriptures you need to memorize.”

You looked at me very perplexed as if you were thinking, “What does this young man (comparably) know that I don’t know?”

Elmer - September, 2017
Elmer – September, 2017

I smiled and said, “That’s right. Only two — The old and new testaments.”

You laughed with a twinkle in your eye and I knew even though we’ve only met a couple of times that we were friends.

Elmer RIP

Paul Gets to Meet Elmer

I was excited that my friend Paul would get to meet you. Our Route 66 trip was more about the people we were meeting, and you were no exception. We talked quite a bit about your having seen you. It was a highlight of our trip.

Yes, Elmer RIP My Friend

Yes, Elmer RIP my friend. There’s no doubt in my mind you were greeted by loved ones and our Saviour when you passed through the veil of death.

October 9, 2017

Superlatives

What are the superlatives of Route 66 as Paul and I saw it? Well, let us list them.

What are the superlatives of Route 66 as Paul and I saw it? Well, let us list them.

Superlatives

What are the superlatives of Route 66 as Paul and I saw it?

Well, let us list them.

Best & Worst

Friendliest

The friendliest state was New Mexico.  I’ve never been to New Mexico before, but every single person we met was friendly.  We’re not talking about the tourists, but the people who live and work in New Mexico.  They score a 10 out of 10 for being friendly.

And Not So Friendly

California.  Yup, California.  I had one guy walk up and call me a “scum bag”.  Okay… that’s a first.  While we met friendly people, many of the businesses there could use a course in customer service.

Biggest Surprise

The biggest surprise along the way is the Los Angeles Temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is right on Route 66.

copyright 2017 db walton - Superlatives
A Family of L.A. Dodgers Fans Visiting the Temple Grounds

Best Food Superlatives

This is a very tough one.  I found it not too surprising that the beast meals were comped meals.  I guess when you are providing a complimentary meal to two journalists, you want it to be the best.

That isn’t to say the non-complementary meals weren’t good (well, some weren’t), we noticed a trend.

Burgers

I love a good burger.  The best burger is a tie – Santa Fe Grill in Santa Rosa, New Mexico and Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner in Kingman, Arizona.  Their onion rings… the same – a tie.

copyright 2017 db walton - Superlatives
Mr. D’z Diner Staff

copyright 2017 db walton - Superlatives
Santa Fe Grill Burger

Mexican Food

Best Mexican food was at Jerry’s Cafe in downtown Gallup, New Mexico.  The food was good, authentic and they are the friendliest people you’ll meet.  If you like sopaipillas with honey… mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.  This is the place.

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Sopaipilla

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The Staff at Jerry’s Cafe, Gallup, NM

Funniest Place

The funniest place on Route 66 is in Seligman, Arizona – the Snow Cap Drive-in.  Just ask for half a cone and see what I mean.  You don’t go here for the food, you come here for the entertainment.

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Inside the Snow Cap

Saddest Place

I remember the Oklahoma City bombing vividly.  Any news like that is sad, however, I was not prepared for the emotions I felt when I visited the site. Consequently I cried a lot while visiting this memorial.

I wasn’t sad for the slain, I was sad because of the evil that exists in the world today.

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Sad Reminders

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Jesus Wept

Happiest Place

Oh, there are lots of happy places along Route 66.  It depends on what you’re in the mood for.  For me, it would be the nicely restored Corvairs this couple have.  Or, maybe it was the fun people we met along the way.  Well, it could have been the tongue-n-cheek humor in Uranus, Missouri.  Therefore, there are MANY happy places on Route 66.

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The Axe Hole at Uranus

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Young Couple Enjoying Frozen Custard

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Fully Restored Corvair Monza Wagon

Road Conditions

To say there are superlatives with road conditions on Route 66 is an understatement.  Hence, I’ll just share a few of photos that tell the story.

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Cobblestone Brick

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A Dead End Section

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A Big Drop Off (this was actually closed to cars)

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Washboard and Potholes

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Unexpected Road Closures

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Winding Mountain Roads

Hotels and Motels

We stayed at many great places.  All of the hotels who provided complementary lodging were clean and nice.  I can’t say that about all the paid rooms.

It’s best in this category that I thank those who comped us roomes:

  • Comfort Suites in Rella, Missouri – Clean and friendly staff and right on Old Route 66
  • Enlight Inn in Joplin, Missouri – Charming Cottages, I want to go back.
  • Fairfield Inn in Tulsa, Oklahoma – Clean
  • Broadway Inn in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Off the beaten track, but close to everything
  • EconoLodge, Elk City, Oklahoma – Elk City is the middle of nowhere, but here’s the place to stay.
  • Quality Inn, Tucumcari, New Mexico – Treated us like family (in the good way).  The pool was ultra clean!
  • Holiday Inn Express, Gallup, New Mexico – Another clean hotel on Route 66
  • Ramblin Rose, Kingman, Arizona – Best Value for your money near the Grand Canyon!  Clean too!
  • Hilton, Pasadena, California – Best place to stay in Pasadena.  Service is top-notch
  • Special Mention
    • Fairmont, Santa Monica, California – Amazing view.  It’s a couple blocks off Route 66, but you can see it from the rooms that face south.

Not So Good

On the not-so-good side, I would not recommend Motel 6 in Normal, Illinois.  And, I would not recommend Budget Host Inn, Williams, Arizona.  The Motel 6 in Normal, Illinois, is filthy, and the Budget Host Inn in Williams is very over priced for what you get (or don’t get).  Don’t be fooled by Budget Host’s “free breakfast”.  It was a gallon of milk sitting on the counter, two sugary cereals and a couple of boxes of mini doughnuts (boxed, store bought kind).

More to Come

There is more to come.  Check back often for updates as we review our trip.

Thanks to Sponsors

Also, a very heartfelt thanks to all those who sponsored our trip…

  • Bay Photo Labs
  • Republic Wireless
  • Warner 5 Color
  • Walworth Animal Hospital
  • Alien Skin Software
  • Anthropics Software
  • ACDSee Software
  • Topaz Labs
  • On1 Software
  • Nataliacha Doodley Do
  • Fine Art by DB (Yeah, I personally put a lot of my business money in to this trip)

September 26, 2017

Longest Day

This was our longest day yet.  We got up at the crack of dawn, drove to the desert, and photographed the sunrise.  Our location - Cool Springs Station.  It is just outside Oatman, Arizona.

This was our longest day yet.  We got up at the crack of dawn, drove to the desert, and photographed the sunrise.  Our location - Cool Springs Station.  It is just outside Oatman, Arizona.

Longest Day

This was our longest day yet.  We got up at the crack of dawn, drove to the desert, and photographed the sunrise.  Our location – Cool Springs Station.  It is just outside Oatman, Arizona.

The management at the Ramblin’ Rose were very nice.  They didn’t have a key slot, so I had to wake them at 5am to return the key.  Even thought I woke them to do so, they were cheerful and kind.  The place is a great deal.  No thrills, just a clean comfortable place to stay on Route 66 near the Grand Canyon.

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Cool Springs Station, Arizona

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Sunrise This morning

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Just before the Sunrise

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Twilight

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The Road Down from Oatman

Desert Sunrise

We got to Cool Springs a few minutes before twilight.  It was quite chili before the sun came out.  The wind made it feel colder.  It wasn’t real cold, but cold enough to make my fingers numb.

Once the sun came out, we took a few more pictures and made our way to Oatman.  Oatman is an old gold mining town at the top of the mountains between Kingman, Arizona, and Laughlin, Nevada.

Oatman is best known for its wild donkeys.  Many business take advantage of this.  Sassy Ass, Saving Your Ass, etc.

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Yeah, there are a lot of asses in Oatman.

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See What I Mean?

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Old Gold Mine Addit

 

Road Closures

After leaving Oatman, we discovered the west bound Route 66 was closed between I-40 and Oatman.  This detoured us through Nevada and in to Needles, California.

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Road Closed

Then, every time we exited I-40 for Historic Route 66 the road was closed.  We ended up going 3 exits before we found our way south to Historic Route 66.  It was a long drive south to meet up with Route 66, but once we did, things sailed along.

Bagdad

The Bagdad Café is a Route 66 icon.  We stopped and added our names to the door as well as a Bay Photo sticker.  (We’re sneaky that way.)

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Where’s Bay Photo? It shouldn’t be hard to spot where I put their sticker.

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Leaving Our Mark When Allowed

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Bagdad Cafe on Route 66

The owner posed for a photo, and we were on our way again.

Bottle Tree Forest

The bottle tree forest blew Paul’s mind as I thought it would.  We met a young couple from L.A. there, as well as a man from Sweden.  Then, while we were walking around, the owner, Elmer, came out.

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Elmer – The Artist Behind the Bottle Forsest

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A couple of students we met in the Bottle Tree Forest

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Paul Takes a Break in the Bottle Tree Forest

Elmer has built the bottle tree forest and loves to memorize scriptures.  We had a very nice talk.  He’s a very nice man.

On To Pasadena

From there we pretty much booked to Pasadena.  We made a stop at a biker bar that is being rebuilt after a fire.  The owner explained they provide memorials to any dead biker.  He showed us celebrity biker memorials like Evil Kenevil, James Dean, Dennis Hopper and more.

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Owner Poses with Elvis Memorial Guitar

We finally arrived at our hotel where we were warmly greeted, our car parked, and luggage taken to our room.  Our room tonight is courtesy of the Hilton of Pasadena.

After checking in, we enjoyed a nice Brazilian BBQ dinner.

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Our Room at the Pasadena Hilton just off Route 66 (Colorado Blvd)

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Dinner In Pasadena

Special Thanks

Special Thanks to day to…

Republic Wireless – worked amazingly well through the California Mojave Desert

Bay Photo – People are loving the bookmarks!

Ramblin’ Rose  – for nice accommodations the last two nights.

Pasadena Hilton – for superb service and a very nice room tonight.

P.S. More photos will be added to this blog tomorrow.

October 29, 2016

Decommissioning

Route 66 is a decommissioned U.S. Highway. Decommissioning a highway means it will no longer receive Federal funds for its maintenance. This is exactly what happened to Route 66 piece by piece.

Route 66 is a decommissioned U.S. Highway. Decommissioning a highway means it will no longer receive Federal funds for its maintenance. This is exactly what happened to Route 66 piece by piece.

Decommissioning

Route 66 is a decommissioned U.S. Highway.  Decommissioning a highway means it will no longer receive Federal funds for its maintenance.  This is exactly what happened to Route 66 piece by piece.

It was known as the Will Rogers Highway.  Kingman, Arizona, (a city on Route 66) was home to actor Andy Devine.  This was a very popular stretch of highway.

When they decommissioned it, some sections became “business loops” along Interstates.  Some were abandoned and left to decay.  Others were adopted by local states and counties.  For example, one section is California became State Route (SR) 66.  All of this makes it literally impossible to drive Route 66 from Chicago to L.A. as one contiguous section of road.

It is common to find abandoned equipment, buildings and automobiles along Route 66.  It is the Ghost Town of roads.

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Abandoned Truck

Used To Be

It is what used to be.  Along Route 66 are abandoned buildings too.   You can’t tell what some are, while others may be obvious.  Because of this,  be respectful and do not remove anything.  If you do, there will be nothing left for others to enjoy.

As we drive Route 66 we hope to identify what those buildings were.  If we find old pictures of before they were abandoned, we’ll see if we can use them.

Ukulele

October 4, 2016

Get Your Kicks

When someone mentions Route 66, do you immediately think, "Get your kicks on Route 66"? If you do, you're not alone. A lot of people think that. What's on Route 66 that justifies the lyrics, "Get your kicks on Route 66"?

When someone mentions Route 66, do you immediately think, "Get your kicks on Route 66"? If you do, you're not alone. A lot of people think that. What's on Route 66 that justifies the lyrics, "Get your kicks on Route 66"?

Get Your Kicks

When someone mentions Route 66, do you immediately think, “Get your kicks on Route 66”?

If you do, you’re not alone.  A lot of people think that.

What’s on Route 66 that justifies the lyrics, “Get your kicks on Route 66”?

Today it is mostly iconic diners and businesses, many of which have been restored.  Then, in big cities, like Pasadena, California, there are modern businesses that didn’t exist when Route 66 was in its prime.

Back in the pre-Interstate highway days, Route 66 hosted many gas stations, motels and restaurants.   It wasn’t unusual for your car to overheat on Route 66 in California, Arizona or other southwestern states.  For that reason, there were service stations and garages along the way.

copyright 2016 db walton
Abandoned Gas Station

More Than Just Ghost Towns

Route 66 is more than just ghost towns.  There are small communities that have survived the I-40 devastation. (When Interstate 40 was opened, many businesses and communities died.)  These communities benefit from the tourist traffic.  They host gift shops, restaurants, and other delights for the Route 66 travelers today.

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Diner in San Bernadino

Once you hit the L.A. basin, those portions of Route 66 are thriving as they are surface streets in cities like Pasadena and Santa Monica, for example.  It is when you get out of town that Route 66 becomes a piece of Americana from the past.

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Oatman, Arizona

Here’s Bobby Troup…

For your entertainment, here’s Bobby Troup’s version of the Route 66 theme song.  Bobby Troup WROTE the song, and then Nat King Cole brought it to the top of the Billboard hits that same year. (click here for the Wikipedia story)  Since then at least 50 artists have covered the Route 66 Song.

THANK YOU BOBBY TROUP!