Sometimes you need to leave the forest to see the trees. In our case, it was leaving the heated chaos of Las Vegas and heading to Los Angeles to see the beauty of the neon desert we left behind.
This weekend was Debbie’s birthday, so we planned a three-day excursion to La-La land. Part research, part nostalgia, and part rest and relaxation. I wanted to trace a little bit of Historic Route 66, she wanted to visit her childhood home and we both just needed to see the ocean and some green trees that were not palm trees.
Returning to the Scene of the Crime
I really hate to admit this, but it felt really nice to finally escape Las Vegas and not be leading a bunch of tourists down the highway! Just to see the “Welcome to California” sign gave us a little bit of comfort in a weird way. It’s been a few years since my bride and I traveled this way together. So it has some nice memories and good vibes for the both of us.
One of the first times we traveled this way together was after our first Christmas together and she was a little bummed that I didn’t propose marriage to her with the family around the Christmas tree. I had other plans. Something a little more romantic and memorable. Ok, maybe not romantic as most people would define it as. But I had already taken her to some of the most beautiful places on earth, so it had to be someplace she was not expecting it and she would remember it. A truck stop in Barstow was the spot (Travel America to be precise)! That’s where I had the urge to get romantic. So on this trip, we had to return to the scene of the crime for a photo op. A handful of M&M’s and a Dr Pepper made it all official.
Traveling the Mother Road
I talk a lot about the Mother Road, Route 66. I do that because it’s an important part of the history of the Southwest and the settling of the western United States. Barstow is an important stop on that highway and from a recent presentation I was at – they talked about the upcoming documentary “the Women of Mother Road” by Katrina Parks, I was inspired to go a little deeper in my research on the western side of Route 66.
I learned that no true Route 66 trip can be complete without a stop at Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch just outside Barstow. Never be said, I never stopped at the bottle tree ranch. Elmer wasn’t home, but the gate was open and the hummingbirds were all around. It is an exhibit that is unexplainable! But I will try in a later post. Just know it’s there and it needs to be seen to be believed.
Childhood Flashbacks and the Golden Arches
We continued on down the highway. Weaving off and on Route 66 until we hit San Bernadino. There we headed first to a childhood memory of many people, the famed Golden Arches of McDonald’s. San Bernadino is home to a few famous people and the launching pad for some famous careers. It is most known to the world for being the birthplace of the McDonalds brothers restaurant as well as home to the oldest operated McDonalds restaurant.
We stopped at the spot of the first golden arches. Nothing remains of the original building or arches. A little dispute Ray Kroc had with the brothers and some other issues led to their demolition. There is a replica of the golden arches and a building that houses the offices of Juan Pollo Resturant and a museum dedicated to all things McDonald’s and the Happy meal on the site.
Afterward, we headed over for lunch at the historic and popular Mitla Restaurant. If it weren’t for the founders of this place, you would not have a neighborhood Taco Bell. Good or bad, that’s just how it is. More on that later.
I’m not sure when I became such a foodie, but I do have a post planned about the food on our trip….
Debbie got to see her childhood home, plus her grandparents home as well. You don’t realize just how good we have it in Las Vegas for housing until you see a 900 square foot house in a middle-class neighborhood costing almost $500K. Vegas is so much more affordable and we don’t have a governor with the nickname “Moonbeam”. In Vegas, you get 3 times the house for the price.
The Real End of the Road
The mystery of almost all mysteries of the west was solved and it will have its very own post soon. It is a story for the traveling ages, finding the true, original western end of Route 66. I kid you not. It was not easy from beginning to end, to find the actual marker telling us the truth about the famous road. It was hiding in plain sight and nobody knew it. It’s just a little higher than you would expect. But we can now say that we have documented proof of finding it!
It would not have happened had it not been for a friend on Facebook (Thank You Purple Patty!) who pointed us to a video explaining the more aesthetically pleasing end of the road at Santa Monica Pier versus the actual original end of Route 66 in downtown Los Angeles. No shots were needed, we used sanitary wipes…
We did spend some time at Santa Monica Pier and I realized that again, Las Vegas knows how to move people better than any other city in America. What a ClusterF*ck parking at the Pier is… The water is wet, the people watching was sub par compared to Las Vegas, but the cool ocean breeze made it all worth the effort and aggravation.
After all of this and a couple of really good night sleeps at Hilton Los Angeles Airport – one 12 hours the second 10 hours! This makes us wonder what do they put in those pillows? Or maybe it was just the fact that after a long road trip and another exciting night out, we got to sleep in a real bed without the “kids” keeping us awake or waking us up in the morning. We ended the trip with a few hours on Sunday spent at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and a stop to see the Queen Mary. The last time I was down in this area, Howard Hughes famous plane the Spruce Goose was displayed in a big bubble next to the ship.
Ok, a few days away from the deserts of Las Vegas renewed my love for this town. The traffic in LA is unbelievable, the prices the people pay to live there is unimaginable and the idiots who do are worse than the idiots living here. Even if 45% of all new residents are from Califonia, something happens to them when they cross the border into Nevada. The people watching was on par to Las Vegas. Only in Las Vegas, the crazies are all located on a 4-mile roadway we call the Las Vegas Strip or caged in the Fremont Street Experience.
I am still not a fan of parking fees in the Las Vegas Resorts, but compared to what we just paid to park in LA, Vegas is a steal. Still not a reason to charge them for locals. Coming home, we averaged 80-85mph while watching the bumper to bumper traffic coming out of Las Vegas.