Published: July 4th 2012June 30th 2012
This morning we packed the bags back into the Mustang for the last time and took the I-15 from Las Vegas back to Barstow so that we could pick up Route 66 where we left off on Tuesday and complete our road trip across America.
Edna was a bit funny as we drove along the interstate. We didn't have a destination programmed in - we just had her on to confirm where we were - the only problem was that she was consistently showing us to be driving along about 100 yards off the line of I-15!!!
Despite Edna's vagueness, we successfully exited the interstate at Barstow and managed to track down the Harvey House. In a couple of other places the guide mentioned that the remains of a Harvey House were present, but we hadn't actually managed to find one until today. The Harvey Houses were a chain of railroad depots built by the Fred Harvey Company. Officially the Barstow Harvey House was known as the Casa del Desierto. Now restored, the impressive building houses the Chamber of Commerce and two museums.
From Barstow we made our way through Hodge and Helendale. We almost missed Helendale's most
(in)famous attraction - Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch. We had to execute a U-turn to make sure that we saw it properly! As luck would have it, Elmer was at the ranch today so we got to shake the hand of the artist who created this eclectic work of art (??!) before continuing on through Oro Grande and then across the Mojave River on the impressive 1930 Modified Baltimore Truss Bridge.
After making our way through Victorville, which was bigger and more hectic than we expected, we stopped for lunch at the Summit Inn at the top of Cajon Pass. It was fitting that we should return here near the end of our journey because it was here that the seed for our Route 66 adventure was planted. We stopped at this diner in 2006 when we drove from San Diego to Las Vegas with Michael, Samantha and Simone. I purchased a map of Old Route 66 with dreams of returning one day to undertake the journey in a Mustang!!
After lunch we finally descended from the High Desert region of the US. After being at elevations between 4,000 and 7,000 feet (1,200 and 2,100 metres) for the
last fortnight or so, we made our way down to San Bernadino at a mere 1,200 feet (365 metres) along some classic sections of Old '66 roadway.
After San Bernadino it was all urban driving. We stayed off the interstate highways that converge on the Los Angeles metropolis and continued to follow our EZ 66 Guide through Rialto, Claremont, San Dimas and Pasadena. From Pasadena we took the Arroyo Parkway to Sunset Boulevard. Built in 1940 this was California's first freeway and it replaced two earlier Route 66 alignments heading into LA.
As luck would have it, this afternoon we had the clearest view of the HOLLYWOOD sign that we have ever had ... but no time or opportunity to photograph it!!! The afternoon was rapidly drawing to a close and our priority was to make it to Santa Monica to conclude our journey before making our way to LAX for our 11.30pm flight to Melbourne.
The traffic had been heavy from San Bernadino to Hollywood, but when we joined Santa Monica Boulevard it was bumper to bumper. We crawled our way through Hollywood and then Beverly Hills. Stop, start, stop, start all the way to Santa
Monica where we turned left into Lincoln Boulevard to take us to Olympic Boulevard, the official end of the Mother Road. And there was nothing there to say that it was the beginning/end of Route 66!! So we crawled the extra half a mile to Ocean Avenue so that we see the sea, the Pacific Ocean to be precise.
There was absolutely no parking available anywhere so Bernie pulled up illegally and I jumped out of the car to take a token photograph of Santa Monica Pier to mark the end of our epic journey. Something of an anti-climax BUT, we got some kicks on Route 66 and motored west all the way from Chicago to LA!!
With Edna increasingly confused about exactly where we were - just when we needed her to get us to the hire car depot - we set our minds to finding our way to LAX. Optimistically, Bernie programmed the address of the hire car company in. With Edna still able to point us in the right general direction and confirmation in the EZ Guide that LAX was just south of Santa Monica on I-405 we turned our back on the ocean. Fortunately,
as soon as we were on I-405, we were able to follow the airport signs and then the care rental return signs.
Phew, I thought that we were headed for disaster, having to find our way to LAX without reliable satellite navigation AND no map to fall back on, but it ended up being pretty easy. In fact the whole trip has gone smoothly with no major arguments whilst navigating our way across the country. Wonders never cease!
In fact it must be recorded here that Jerry McClanahan's EZ 66 Guide for Travelers (2nd Edition) has been brilliant. Bernie has done a stirling job of driving us all the way from Chicago to LA (he never once lost his cool about having to execute ANOTHER U-turn when things came up a little more quickly than anticipated!) and I think that I did a pretty good job of relaying the instructions from EZ 66 to Bernie. Although extremely comprehensive, there were a few instances where it wasn't easy to understand exactly how Jerry's instructions translated from the page to the road.
By the time we had checked our bags in and cleared security, we had been on the
go for ten hours, so we availed ourselves of the shower in Qantas Club so that we could freshen up for the next 16 hours cooped up on an aeroplane!
Our time in Qantas Club passed quickly and at 10.45pm we were boarding the plane. Our boarding passes were for 88F and 88G so we knew that we were going to be seated near the back of the plane. It turns out that row 88 is the last row of seats in an A380. The only things behind us were the snack bar, the lavatories and the stairs up to Premium Economy!!
All was looking good for an on time departure, but then the pilot announced that a passenger had taken ill after boarding and been deemed unfit to fly so was being de-planed and there would be a short delay while her bags were located and removed from the cargo hold. So we waited and we waited ... and we waited while they tracked down the bags!
Of course, by the time we pushed away from the skybridge our allocated take-of time was well and truly gone so we had to wait a bit more out
on the tarmac until QF94 was cleared for take off. Finally, we were on our way home at 12.50am - an hour and a half late!!
There are more photos below