Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Our last day with the lovely Harley!

We should have probably set of earlier but got caught up in taking some pictures of the Wiener mobile (a massive hot dog on wheels) from the good ol' rt66 days. The owner rents a Wigwam permanently but was still in bed otherwise the lady would have asked him if we could have a ride!

We have completely embraced the American way of living by starting the day with a McDonald's breakfast! We pressed onto Santa Monica which was a long journey through lots of traffic lights which we were not used to, and most of which were red causing us to take a very long time. But we did it, our trusty steed took us to the end of Santa Monica Blvd which is technically the end of route 66. Craig stayed with the bike and Clare went to find the brass plaque marking the end, when she returned we found a parking spot and went onto Santa Monica pier the spiritual end of rt66, here there is a stand there which we've been told about and which appears in many tourist photos so we got a couple of pics of our own.

Now it's over we still had a Harley to get rid of and a hotel to get to, but the journey didn't need to be on rt66 anymore, so we found a McD's for WiFi and set the Asus up for Google Navigation to Glendale Harley dealership. Clare wasn't keen on holding it but we managed to get there after fuelling up for the final time and just in time for the 4pm drop off. We explained why the bike was a bit beaten up and gave the report details before having a coffee (all dealers we found had comfy seats with hot and cold drinks supplies for customers). We realised that we didn't have any, so got a couple of pictures of Clare on a nice shiny bike and on our broken one before leaving.

With some help from the rental girl and her computer we had found that it would only take one train and one bus to get back to LAX airport where our hotel was located. As a result we decided to experience some more of American travel and walked to the train station.

There ends our route 66 trip, we may have a little update from LA as we have a couple of rest days time but in case we don't hope you've enjoyed the trip as much as us.

Craig and Clare
Route 66 "The Mother Road"
Thurs 30 Aug 2012 to Tues 11 Sept 2012

Sleeping in a Wigwam tonight cont...

Needles to San Bernadino was an early start with a quick Skype call from Jenny and Isabelle, which was a lovely bonus! Hot Hot Hot today and some very beautiful landscapes. We were like big kids  when the huge freight trains went by, waving and waiting for them to toot their whistles/horns which most of them were quite happy to. We had to stop a lot for drinks and on one stop passing through Amboy we went to Roy's Cafe which was a little bit special so we drank up our route66 root beer and got back on the road.

Newberry Springs, Dagget and Barstow were a few places that we passed through just as the black clouds were moving our way. You could feel the temperature changing and the wind picking up, so we pulled over and put on the waterproofs ready. Good job we were ready as the rain came thick and fast but not for too long. We thought we had escaped it when we came across a wash section in the desert which was flooded and fast flowing, and not really safe to pass on two wheels. So we turned around and headed back to the interstate (which luckily wasn't far) a shame we couldn't pass rt66 here, on the interstate Craig even saw one of the 4x4 cars which tried to pass the washes (so even they couldn't do it!).

Heading for Victorville we got lost a few times, due to missing the signs, or them saying "next Junction" but it should have read this junction (Americans!) This meant we missed the museum that we wanted to visit as it shut at 4! The heat, the rapid changes in weather, and all those miles were making us both quite tired by now. We were both ready for a shower and some food, but we now had to find San Bernadino. We found San Bernadino but it was not what we had expected. The Wigwam motel was the only thing related to route 66 for miles and it looked out of place in a what seemed like a run down area.  However this didn't bother us as it had a pool, a fridge and free wifi which we weren't expecting. We went on a hunt for something to eat, when eventually after passing Mcdonalds, KFC, and more similar fast food outlets we found a Sizzlers (Steak place). When we got in, there was no one there, bar a Lions rotary meeting next door??? Loved the Wigwam experience and we can now say that we have slept in a classic route 66 Wigwam motel!!! Inside was not at all what we expected, we expected to be able to see right to the top of the wigwam but it has a ceiling, and it was actually quite roomy!

Tomorrow is our last day with the Harley and the final stretch of route 66! We can't believe the end is nearly here!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Sleeping in a Wigwam tonight

Sorry we haven't updated with blog and photos last night, we've had a couple of very long days and late nights. We drop our battered Harley of this afternoon, so while we have a few days to recuperate we will try to catch up ;-)

All our love Clare and Craig x

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Ride like lightning to Needles, California

(Before anyone panics that we're using the Harley like a rocket, the headline is referring to the weather).

Well, for the first time in a few days we were able to have a lie in, well we should have been except for the American family next door. Last night they were talking so loud they obviously wanted people to know of their lacking domestic bliss, and we could all hear the episode of South Park their children watched til nearly midnight. And the loud talking (otherwise known as shouting) began again at 7 this morning.

Rant over...

This morning, we were blessed to be able to Skype family in Swinton, including our newest niece in her first Skype call!

...this was as far as we got before falling asleep! We will try to complete yesterday's blog including pics later today :-) x

Cont... today's journey was due to take us from Arizona into California, but en route would have some good stretches of the old road. First stop was Seligman, AZ, the place name wasn't immediately familiar but there were coaches full of tourists and more arriving every few minutes. Within a moment the crowds were drawn to a new arrival, not a coach but a replica of the De Lorean from Back to The Future. This allowed us to get into the previously crowded shop and Craig saw the main man was 'Angel' the guy who featured in Billy Connolly's route 66 programme, so photo time before a quick escape from tourist coach city.

Next came the Grand Canyon caverns, a privately owned cavern system which is not part of the Grand Canyon but takes its name as its internal air supply comes underground from the distant landmark. We took a guided tour and found that this was also featured on TV and is the caverns where you can book an overnight stay in a room built in the caves, it was also chosen to be a nuclear bunker with supplies of water and military/sanitation rations (which were never taken back out due to the cost and effort!).

We then pushed onto Kingman, AZ where we chose to have lunch at Dennys (home of the PB and Nana milk shake, it is V nice) but were caught up by a major electrical storm. We were warned that if we planned to wait it out we could be there several hours, so got our water proofs out and set off to brave the weather. Fortunately we were soon out in front of the storm, and then up through a twisty road network into the mountains where we found Oatman, a rt66 ghost town brought back to life for tourism purposes (and home to such places as Outlaw Willies, Fast Fannies and Jackass Junction). These twisty mountain roads then lead into the Arizona gold mine territory in which we didn't find our riches but continued on.

That was it for Arizona, it was now Mojave desert time, to take us into California, across the Colorado river and into Needles. As we travelled through the desert we saw a few of the long freight trains we've come to be familiar seeing in this part of the world, we also saw quite regularly wash channels through tunnels below their tracks. These channels apparently became fast flowing washes of flood water from the hills which went through the desert and across dips in the road and could take cars away and send rocks and gravel across the road (not to be messed with).

That pretty much took us to Needles then, but late enough that after a quick dip in the pool then tea it was a bit late and we were a little too tired to blog :-( hope you enjoy the pics and this late update.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Smith / Beecham holiday curse strikes again, our noble steed was battered by a Pink lady!

Don't worry parentals that sounds more dramatic than it is!

A very early start at 6.45! The road to where we had to catch the helicopter was straight and simple, so Craig got his foot down (throttle open) and we made it in good time. We had to watch a safety recording which was very similar to the ones you have on a plane, (craig thought it was like the video briefing before the simulator Starwars ride at MGM studios), basically the exits are here, here, this is how u put your life jacket on and if the helicopter crashes this is how you eject the door! Like you'd remember if you're crashing? However this was no help for Clare as when we got in the Helicopter she couldn't get her seat belt on, but luckily there were staff on hand to help all 6 passengers get in correctly. We were both very excited as you will be able to see from the photos! Craig got some really good pictures with being sat by the window. There are not many words that would describe the views, just that they were amazing and we hope you like the photos. We were also treated to audio commentaries in Dutch and Italian, for the other two couples on our flight, who took our couples photos for us as we did for them.

That excitement done and not having to reach another distant destination this evening we decided to go back to Flagstaff to have a late breakfast and enjoy the classic car show which was organised by a route 66 association! We parked the bike near a hostel next to another bike, but on the front of the building it said No Parking in front of our property or you will be towed! Now family and friends who know of the Smith family holidays will understand why Clare was a little worried about the sign.  Craig re-assured Clare that it was a private sign and nothing could be done about it as we were on a public road without parking restrictions. We went on our merry way and enjoyed the many different classic cars. Clare found a very nice VW Camper Van and even Britain was represented with a classic rat style BSA dirt bike. By 12 noon it was getting very warm so we decided to make our way back to the hotel. When we got back to the bike Craig delighted in saying that the bike was still there. However as Clare noticed rather quickly, he had not yet seen the huge dent in the front mudguard (and much more damaged bits incl a side stand which wouldn't hold up a daisy let alone the huge bike).

It turns out that because of the classic car fest, the hostel owner asked an employee to park his classic Cadillac around front, the lady had then reversed the pink Cadillac (called Pinky) into our bike and knocked both ours and the one next to it over. The owner was waiting to give us his details which was fairly simple but as its a rental a Police report was needed for insurance. The cop wasn't a very happy guy but Craig got talking to him and he cracked a smile eventually, probably when Clare asked to sit in the police car! The car that did the damage didn't have a scratch on it as it was such an old car it didn't have seat belts or a hand break (and it turns out its brakes haven't worked for ages!!!) and was built like a tank! It could have been worse and no one was hurt apart from our lovely bike and our desire to go back for a rest!

Time then for a conversation with the rental lady at Harley Davidson, she took it well but the conversation was difficult as the Amercians struggle with the English language! Mudguard = Fender, Brake disk = Rotator, fork guards = shields and on and on and on.

We took our bike to the nearest Harley dealership in Bellmount where they were very friendly and helpful. At first they thought they would have to get the stand Fed Ex'd to the dealer ship but they managed somehow by stealing of a showroom bike and we were on our way with a wounded steed!

Overall a very eventfully day for lots of reasons, it could have been a lot worse and it has not affected the trip, we will be on our way to needles on sun.

A steady Gallup to Williams.

An early start today as we had lots to see and we were aiming to get to the Grand Canyon. We were on the road by 8.15 it was looking a little cloudy and was cooler than the rest of our trip, our first stop was the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. The landscape and views were amazing but there were no trees! It was a natural beauty caused by the forest being preserved by falling into streams and flowing into the flood plains where they were preserved and created many patterned fossils etc.

We then went on with our trust steed, heading for the Wigwam motel in Holbrook which was a really nice photo opportunity, as they have classic cars parked out side like the Delorian and a classic Hudson to name a couple. It looked like they were painting and prepping it to be run as a motel again, but no worries we will be staying in one of the Wigwam motels later in our trip.

Next was onto the Jackrabbit trading post, as stop which had been recommended by our guide book. It wasn't much and not really what we expected so we pushed on to the next thing.

We now came to the Meteor Crater, in Arizona. Here we took a guided tour which was a 1/4 mile walk around the rim of the crater with an excellent guide (Edwardo) who was both informative and funny. Edwardo was fortunate enough to have the crater and all of the Bar T Bar ranch as his back yard as he lived in an apartment on site. The crater measures nearly a mile across and more than 550 ft deep, if you put a 60 storey building on the craters floor it would not reach the rim! And at the museum they still have one of the largest pieces of surviving meteor, which was 90% iron and so dense it weighed in excess of 1000lb. We could have happily stayed here much longer but had to press on (or so we thought).

We arrived in Flagstaff, AZ near to Grand Canyon where we hoped to find info on helicopter tours. Unfortunately we missed the visitors centre 1st time and after a detour came back and got some leaflets and advice. At this time we left the flights for morning thinking it was gone 4 o'clock, later though we realised that once again we had changed time zones and our clocks were an hour ahead, doh!

We got to our hotel and after checking in phoned and booked flights for early next morning to fit in with our continued adventure. This is when we realised our second thing, that our itinerary had another 2 night stop here in William, doh again!

Although frustrating, not the end of the world as the visitor centre told us of a rt66 festival in Flagstaff on Saturday we could now go to.

Early night for an early start this night, and yes Craig is managing the early starts!
(sorry this blog comes late due to failing WiFi at the hotel)