The personal authentic travels of a world-wide drifter, you'll always see pics of me at the locations being described (if the other blogs you're reading don't do that, odds are they were NEVER there, just saying…)
From what I’ve been seeing on line, the current Ludlow Cafe on Route 66 in Ludlow, CA is resurrection of what had been. That said, this whole area is kind of disturbing. As you drive, its through the mohave desert, where there’s nothing… and then you come across this cafe. I didn’t eat here (it looked kind of sketchy to tell you the truth) … but when I started reading the various plaques on exterior walls… well it was a bit disturbing.
So if you head just pass this café heading back north you’ll see the route 66 that no longer exists. The road’s blocked, but you can see where it was.
I’m currently seeing truckers, as the sun is starting to go down, parking their trucks on a closed off stretch of road that is in fact where 66 used to be. The last few miles I was driving on the opposite side of the freeway from where 66 had been (it was fairly obvious that this was the case) even though the signs were telling me I was on 66 (I think it was more a marketing ploy than the reality… I wasn’t on 66 but rather a frontage road constructed after I-40 had cut off that piece of it) …
because the road had been cut off by the freeway construction… if that makes sense. ANYWAY, when I got to the building I started seeing the signs below embedded into the walls and into concrete pillars in front of the place
These two shopping areas, The Grove at Farmers Market & The Original LA Farmers Market are directly adjacent to each other, are built on what was initially one property, are radically different from each other and still, should be done as one visit. The Grove is a VERY upscale open-air shopping mall that is frequented by locals, and out-of-town tourist flock to in hopes of seeing movie stars. The Farmers Market, by comparison is a historic landmark, is a far more down-market, mostly indoor facility where the locals go to buy fresh produce and to grab very tasty but affordable meals from over 100 small vendors … that also sells a lot of affordable tourist stuff (T-shirts, mugs, etc).Anyone who watches TMZ is familiar with The Grove; it is supposedly frequented by Actors and stars; and as such, it’s just a major draw for tourists hoping to run into said stars. According to a friend of mine who is movie star adjacent (he grew up in Beverly Hills and has worked in the film industry his whole life, not an actor) they in actuality NEVER shop there… with the caveat that if they do, they’ll usually call the photographers before they get there to let them know they’re coming. Usually they have a project about to be released that needs press, or their marriage is rumored to be in trouble so it’ll be a “happy family” outing, etc. My friend went so far as say that the mall has a sort of copacetic (you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours) relationship with said actors, singers, etc., to make sure that they choose The Grove as the location for said ‘upstaged out-on-the-town ‘ photos. And it’s “outdoor” venue is highly useful in that respect.
[I have to admit, I watch TMZ live regularly, as in almost every night. I load their pod cast, put it next to my pillow; I don’t usually really listen to it closely, so much as it lulls me to sleep. Occasionally it holds my attention and is genuinely interesting and informative, but more often than not — on the days when there’s no real “news” of any note, they’ll start with something about the Kardashians or Kanye West and I’m out like a light. So, that said, I was a bit excited to see it. (AND, my cousin lives walking distance from it so it was it was walking distance from the Airbnb I rented in order to be near her.)]
But, now that I’m here, I don’t get what the big deal is…
it’s an outdoor mall, a bit like Old Orchard in Skokie, near where I grew up… maybe a bit nicer/newer.. but similar… although a bit more upmarket… unlike the Grove, Old Orchard does NOT have its own trolley that runs INSIDE the mall area
Among the stores was this desert place called Dominique Ansel Bakery that was kind of to die for from the looks of it. It makes all sorts of very fancy looking deserts and ice cream concoctions that look like other kinds of food.
I got the water melon thing, which was made with a non-dairy ice-cream… but in retrospect I wish I’d gotten the avocado sandwich, because the other than the little chocolate seeds and the actual hollowed out melon, it was a major let down. (The non-dairy ice-cream kind of seriously sucked. It didn’t taste good, nor did it taste like watermelon… I ended up dumping it into the trash and just eating the fruit and the chocolate)
—OK then, I had to go to the bathroom and discovered it is the NICEST mall bathroom I have ever seen, it is far more like a 4-star hotel’s bathroom.
… and after that, as I was standing at the roundabout where you’re supposed to get picked up by “Taxi”‘s (including Uber and Lyft), the valet guy offered me two bottles of water one for myself and one for the cab driver… (this is NOT a level of service I’ve ever encountered at a mall before) …so, that said, I think I’ve discovered what the big deal is
The Farmer’s market was (with the exception of the Grove’s bathroom) far more my speed. I went there one night on my own, and discovered it has a music scene
The night that I was there (a week night) a game of trivia was being hosted
There were SO many tasty choices… I could eat here over and over and go months before I had to repeat a dish.
But I found this Afghan/Middle eastern place called Moishe’s — known by most for their Falafel, but they were also selling one of my favorite things, so I bought it, and it was good… I got a doughnut at Bob’s for desert, as they were described as baked and not fried (it was too bready/cakey for my taste).
and then my cousin and her spouse brought me here for dinner. They’re vegetarians, so they got the Falafel from the vender I had eaten at the night before, and I opted for this seafood place which I discovered puts all the food that’s already out in their case for sale at half price starting at 7pm on weekdays. I got a very large lox and bagel sandwich — tasted like they were using Costco purchased lox and bagels, but I love that stuff. Afterwards we got ice-cream from Bennet’s, which they promised me was handmade. I got one of those cones dipped in chocolate and topped with nuts. It was very good.
Like I said my cousin lives nearby, and she and her wife come here to eat regularly and buy produce — which she did again that night.
I have begun my route 66 road trip!!! Only, I’m doing it backwards from California rather than starting in chicago like the song does.
Rather than beginning it on the Santa Monica Pier, which is where the powers that be want you to begin, I started my trek on the 2nd historic beginning of the route (the furthest end point). Namely, I started on the corner of Lincoln and Olympic Blvd — adjacent to the freeway, and a walking distance from the pier. That said, I could not find any markers there…. (I THINK there may be two Lincolns and Olympics, one on either side of the freeway, with Lincoln being one way on each side… the sign MAY have been on the other side.)
That said, the ORIGINAL ending point didn’t make it past the corner of 7th and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. It only extended to Santa Monica as the greater LA area grew, with Santa Monica being a desirable location to live and downtown LA degenerating into a massive skid row (There are over 60,000 homeless living in LA county, and they’ve created a tent city in downtown LA takes over 50 square blocks, HUGE! With only nine toilets per 2,000 people…. If you’ve never seen it, I suggest watching this video)
This is clearly NOT what tourism officials want tourists focusing on… So Santa Monica is a MUCH nicer start…. I made my way to the Pier in order to get the “tourist” aspect
This couple from Germany was just finishing up their Route 66 trip, and were strongly advising this book to me, which this shop called 66-To-Cali had for sale… I gave it a look. I think it’s more useful if you have TWO people and one person can follow the book giving directions to the driver. So, not so good for me. I HAD wanted to buy the California 66 end of the trail T-shirt but they run VERY SMALL and they didn’t have one my size.
A video I took while there
Then I started the drive, stopping to take snaps of various “Historic 66” signs along the way…
Then I hit, BEVERLY HILLS!!!!
Me in front of Beverly Hills Building & Safety/Police Building… and a picture of the nice Japanese couple who took the picture for me
So far for the MOST part I managed to stay on the road with one hick-up when approaching Pasadena where I got off the Arroyo Seco Parkway (110/66) too early…. which is sad because it turns right into Route 66 at its end.
I had used Google maps to chart out 66, then found landmark addresses (some of them just being local business of no import) and plugged them in … problem is I think I ultimately plugged it into my GPS system wrong because of two very similarly named roads (Blvd vs St. vs Rd type issues).
The view of the mountains north of Pasadena from E. Colorado Blvd/W. Historic Rt 66 near N. Hill Ave
This sign was on E. Colorado Blvd Arcadia, in front of Coco’s Bakery Restaurant (I used their rest room)
There’s a Costco directly on route 66, 1220 W Foothill Blvd, Azusa, CA ….got a love it, of course I filled up on gas, used the bathroom, etc.
At this point it was getting dark, and my stop for the night was at the historic Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino — see the blog post about that — which is family owned and if you don’t get there by 8pm you need to call and tell them or they’ll give away your room, and you’re expected to show up at a decent hour… so I stopped taking photos and just drove the next 40 minutes with no stops
And then, after I checked in, I went to get my dinner in San Bernardino was a place that had the most reviews/highest— it was an all day breakfast with dinner till 10pm. Everything I had tasted homemade —Corky’s Open 24 Hrs Rialto, CA
One warning… including stops it took 6.5 hours to drive from Santa Monica to San Bernardino … I was expecting it to be 4 hours, i.e., WAY longer than I thought it would, or google said it would take, to get from Santa Monica to San Bernardino
On route 66 in Oro Grande California is an outdoor found art piece worth visiting… a Ranch of trees made out of glass bottles
When I arrived the other visitors that were there on my arrival were just leaving so I had it all to my self, and I discovered that the piece is as much about the sounds as the visuals (two videos I took)
And then, just as I was leaving a THREE mini-bus loads of tourists showed up and two freight trains passed by one after the other going in different directions, all of which would have greatly altered my enjoyment of the place
(I found this YouTube documentary someone made that includes an interview with the owner/artist.
This is a private Museum to all things McDonald’s located on the property that HAD been the location of the first McDonald’s. It is NOT owned or operated by McD’s corporate. The actual building had been destroyed in the late 70s — and this building doesn’t even look like that one did… but it is on the original property of the burger joint owned by Dick and Mac McDonald, who essentially invented the fast food model… that Ray Kroc took international — AND the sign out front includes elements of the original sign.
I came here as part of my Route 66 road trip. I have to admit I was kind of let down. The website I found this one did NOT make it clear that this was not the original building.
And then, I was kind of irritated to discover that the collection is completely un-curated. When you walk in what you see is a collection of display cabinets chock-a-block full of stuff… as though it were a store selling collectibles rather than a museum of them
Less is more people!
Essentially… They built the building they put some stuff in it and then over the years people have been bringing and/or sending them stuff to add to the collection… so that at this point they have McD’s related stuff from all around the world. Only they completely lack the space to display it in any sort of meaningful way.
THESE were my favorite items because we used to have them at our house. I have a feeling my brother ended up with them, which makes me sad… but that’s why G-d made eBay… apparently you can get the full set for like $20
Sept 21st… Driving east, just past Amboy California I discovered that a section of road 66 was closed, I knew not way, and traffic was detoured north on Kelbaker Road to I-40. Writing this, I’ve discovered that it was due to a construction project that began last year (from the looks of it had I driven this a few weeks later I could have done it):
“San Bernardino County Public Works will be constructing two new bridges and road improvements on National Trails Highway (Route 66) at Dola Ditch (2.08 miles east of Kelbaker Road) and Lanzit Ditch (2.77 miles east of Kelbaker Road), east of the community of Amboy. The construction will include removing the existing timber bridges and constructing new timber bridges….Construction of the project is tentatively scheduled to start on March 6 and run through mid-September.”
And then once I got to I-40 it was already approaching 7pm and sunset, so I knew it would be simply silly to return to the road and try to back track it… Which means I missed the ENTIRE trek from Amboy through to Needles, CA (where I grabbed dinner) and then on to Kingman, AZ.
So I missed Chambless, Danby, Fenner, Goffs, Homer, Bannock, Ibis, and Klinefelter (2nd map because some of the towns didn’t show up when zoomed out to include Needles)
That said, MOST of what I missed are ghost towns… once the traffic that populated 66 moved to I-40, all of those small towns died… but still …
The next day I DID backtrack one hour to Needles and do that bit (I slept late and got some blogging done in the morning), but I’ve now missed a big chunk and will have to do it at some other point in the future because right now … because I booked all my hotel rooms along the route… I just don’t have time to backtrack… this makes me sad
Back in the late 1980’s one of my favorite movies was The Bagdad Cafe. It’s a movie about a run down cafe/motel on Route 66, and definitely worth seeing. Anyway, the shooting location, which had been known as the Sidewinder Cafe (before the movie came out) is REAL, although it’s in Newberry Springs (the town of Bagdad which isn’t that far away was leveled after traffic was redirected from Route 66 to I-40, and before traveling the OLD route 66 became a thing) and this week I got to visit it.
As much as I love me some bumper stickers… I don’t like what they’ve done with the interior of the place
First opened in 1949, this motel is a classic Route 66 experience that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s the sort of thing they used to build in the late 40’s that they just don’t anymore. Of the seven initially built, only three are still in operation, and this is the only one in California. The price is highly affordable (although there are cheaper places to stay in town) and in my opinion well worth doing — at least once in your life, just so that you can say you did.
Just checked into this historic Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino/Rialto — the address says Rialto but my car’s GPS said San Bernardino and it couldn’t find the street address in Rialto… so be warned. (A mind blower is that GOOGLE has it listed twice, once in Rialto and once in San Bernardino).
That and this is a family owned business and they don’t stay open overnight, so if you’re NOT able to be there by 8pm you MUST call them and give them an ETA, and if it’s NOT at a reasonable hour — OR you don’t call, they might give your room away to someone else.
That said,WOW! The rooms are cute! Granted they’re a lot cuter on the outside than on their insides, but I understand why the association gave them an award, they really have tried to keep the units up to date as much as possible without destroying their charm, and in good repair.
And when I first tested the wifi at around 9pm, it’s was 76.58 Mbps download and 25.57 upload .. that’s BLAZING fast. I don’t know of ANY hotels that offer speeds like that. I tested it a 2nd time at around 11pm and 166.74 download (TWICE as fast) with essentially no change in the upload. That said, the place was built in the 40’s, so there’s no electricity in the bathrooms — this was normal then, water and electricity not being a great mix.
One of the things I found kind of cute (and a bit smart) was how reflexive the place is to the Disney/Pixar Movie “Cars” — a cartoon you SHOULD know if only because it was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Animated Feature and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film. Anyone who’s seen it KNOWS that it’s animators were clearly influenced by many of the iconic Route 66 locations in the Southwest, which include either this motel, or the one other Teepee motel located in Holbrook, Arizona (where I’m also going to be sleeping in about a week) in the creation of the Cozy Cone Motel in the movie
To ‘promote’ the point, if you will… they’ve parked a bunch of old un-drivable classic cars around the property.
The Cozy Cone can also be found be found in the Pixar “Radiator Springs” section in Disneyland’s California Adventure Park, as I discovered when I was there.
Ignore the jack’o’lantern touches… I was there during the park’s Halloween period, and the black eyes and mouths are all temporary/removable appliqués added for the holiday (along with the black widow spider dropping down from the electric pole.
I found this cool little video about the place back from 2013 that includes an interview with a guy who I assume was the owner at the time.
The food at the Wagon Wheel is ok, large varied menu … you might like it, you might not… but oh my LORD get the homemade Pies!!!!
I arrived in Needles at around 8pm (sunset was 7). I ordered a cup of the Navy bean soup and it tasted odd/wrong so she took it away… the guy next to me had ordered the pot roast skillet, and had not only sent back his dinner but had warned me against ordering it (Truck driver) … but I was seriously hungry and too tired after a long day of driving to go looking for someplace else to eat (this place had by far the highest ratings in town)…. All the yelp reviews said “get the pie” so I did… SO GOOD!!! Very low sweet so you could really appreciate the baked fruits… flakey savory crust…. The first time I went I had the apple caramel … and it was SO amazing (and more about the fruit than about the sugar) that I followed it up with a slice of the blueberry which again was all about the fruit (arguably one of the best blueberry pies I’ve ever had).. she said there’s one woman who bakes their pies— this woman needs an award….
The next day I was backtracking on 66 to see the road I had missed because it got too dark to drive it safely anymore, essentially discretion had forced me back onto the freeway till I got to my hotel for the night (The Ramada in Kingman, AZ) and stopped at the Wagon Wheel again… this time I didn’t bother with “food” I just got pie. I got the apple (again, for a late night snake… it keeps well unrefrigerated) and also got a slice of the homemade cheesecake and a slice of flan with a brownie crust (OH MY GOD that was AMAZING!!!)