2021 Coast to Coast

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Howdy Folks! Here we go again! This one is going to be a big one. A trip for the sixes. Route 6 to Route 666, back to 6 and then to the iconic Route 66. I’ll be taking the latter all the way to the Santa Monica Pier (with a few side excursions). Let’s get started!

Route 6 is a great two lane highway. They call it the Grand Army of the Republic Highway to honor Civil War veterans. It goes across the northern part of Pennsylvania and continues all the way to Chicago.

My first couple nights I stayed at Lackawanna State Park. I came here last year for my first escape from New York’s Covid lockdown. I was so eager to get out of town at the time that I hadn’t even noticed my drivers license had expired. I found out when I wanted some beer.

It was a quiet couple nights at the campsite for the most part.

The most exciting things that happened here was freeing a cute little bird from the bathroom, and thinking I would have to bury a squirrel. I thought for sure this squirrel was going to die right there in my campsite after he fell out of a tree. He seemed old and unhealthy. When he hit the ground he ran about 3 feet and stopped. I approached him and he didn’t move. I touched him with a stick. Nothing. I figured I would bury him when I got back from the store, but when I returned, he was gone.

The next day I continued west. Looking down from this overlook you see the Susquehanna River.

I saw that there was a place across the river called French Azilum. It was a planned settlement built in 1793 for French refugees fleeing the French Revolution. The place was closed, but I walked around a bit. There were a few cabins there, but none are original. Still, it was interesting, and it was a nice ride.

I had passed the Wellsboro Diner numerous times on my previous journeys, but had only stopped for a photo op. This time I was hungry. I went inside and had their specialty, a hot roast beef sandwich sopping with gravy.

After that heavy meal it was on to Chapman State Park. This place was in the sticks, but they had a nice campsite with plenty of wood for the campfire.

I visited the Kinzua Dam seen below. Last year I visited the Kinzua Bridge on the other end of Route 59, which had been knocked down by a tornado.

After the dam I did a loop around the area. I had a look at the small town of Tidioute, which is an Iroquoian word meaning “protrusion of land”, referring to a sharp bend in the Allegheny River that the town runs along.

Then I rode a road I had been wanting to ride for a while. The appeal was purely in it’s name although it was a fun rolling twisty ride. Route 666 in Pennsylvania.

I was surprised that there was very little Route 666 paraphernalia. There were a few T-shirts at a local store, but they were all bad designs. In case anyone is feeling entrepreneurial, here is a window of opportunity. Although there weren’t many Route 666 items, this guy next to me seems to be popular in these parts.

I completed my loop in the town of Warren where I stopped at this ominous looking building at the state hospital.

Back at the campsite I walked down to the Campground hosts. I knew they could get a signal on their phone so I figured I’d try mine. I recently switched to T-Mobile. I had no luck with he signal but the hosts were eager to point out a Luna Moth that had flown under their trailer. Beautiful!

Here is the lake at Chapman State Park. Apparently there is good fishing here.

Back on Route 6 it was on to Ohio. I stopped to take a photo of this old grocery store.

Besides taking the above photo, it was nice to stop under this big old oak tree to have a reprieve from this days rain. And, as you can see, it’s also Amish country.

Route 6 will take you through many old towns along the way. I love these old towns that revolve around the town square. At one end of the square or in the center is usually the old courthouse.

I hopped off Route 6 for a bit around Cleveland. I took the Interstate for a short while just to get past the big city. I might have lingered and looked around but it was pouring. I rode on a small parallel highway (131) for a while which took me to the town of Milan, Ohio, birthplace of Thomas Edison.

While sitting and chatting with old Tom for a minute, I heard a loud scream coming from a nearby tree. I knew this scream, but I wasn’t expecting to see this amazing peacock hanging out in a tree in front of the Edison house.

Back on Route 6 the skies cleared up and I stopped to photograph this amazing house.

Eventually, after a long wet day and a few detours I made it to my destination, Mary Jane Thurston State Park in Ohio. This campsite was a little more primitive than I expected. There wasn’t even a spigot for water, (at least not anywhere close to the camp). There was only one port a potty that was nearly overflowing, and I had to carry my gear about a football field from the parking lot to my spot. The camp was also filled with locals partying their asses off. It was Saturday night and locals fill this place up. They weren’t just local, most of these folks were from the same family and they all took turns yelling and cursing at the kids. It was shared parenting in the worst form. I was too tired to give a shit. I went to the nearby town of Grand Rapids, Ohio to get a bite to eat. When I finished dinner the sky was looking pretty cool.

To the left in the photo above you could see what looked like a storm rolling in. Fortunately a lot of the people who were just visiting the local campers thought that the storm was going to wreak havoc so they split. That storm stayed to the north. When I awoke Sunday morning this was my view.

There were no showers nearby, so a dip in the Maumee River did the trick.

I introduced myself to my immediate neighbors. They were a couple from a nearby town and real easy to talk to. I asked if there was any historical sites around that they might know of. They were happy to Google for me and mentioned and old mill nearby. I then went to get food supplies for the night in the town of Bowling Green. There they had a big old courthouse as well.

After getting supplies I realized I had been in these parts before. I got lost here back in 2008 on my first cross country trip. I remembered an old decaying bridge with a French name. I crossed the river into the town of Waterville. I saw this old hotel built in the 1800s.

I took the road that follows the river and there it was, Roche de Boeuf, just as I had remembered. As it turns out the bridge is called the Interurban Bridge that rests upon Roche de Boeuf, an historic Native American council rock, which was partially destroyed by the bridge’s construction.

Then as I continued to ride along the river I came across that old mill my neighbors told me about. Here is the Isaac R. Ludwig Mill.

Remarkably, this mill has been in almost constant use since the 1800s.

It was fascinating. All those belts and wheels were moving and functional. At the moment they were being powered by electricity, but it was once all powered by the Miami and Erie Canal. This mill produced lumber, flour, and electricity. They are still making buckwheat flour today as they did in the 1800s.

Also at the mill are knowledgeable, friendly volunteers who I enjoyed speaking with. On this recreation of one of the old mule driven barges was this nice dude who shared some stories with me.

He not only told me about this canal, but about how the canal on the other side of the Maumee River came to be. You see, when they had built the dam to supply this canal with water, it had the effect of draining water used by a mill on the other side of the Maumee in Grand Rapids. The people were so outraged that they blew up the dam. The dam was rebuilt and the people of Grand Rapids blew it up again. Troops were sent to protect the dam after it was again rebuilt. With the troops in place the dam survived. Then the troops left and BOOM. It was blown up again. A negotiator was sent to Grand Rapids to talk to the local pastor about the ordeal. The pastor said he wouldn’t have any idea who might have been responsible for the dam’s destruction, but that it sure would be nice if they had a canal to supply their mill as well. Understanding the pastor, the local government decided to dig a canal on the other side of the Maumee for the Grand Rapid’s mill and the fourth dam remained untouched.

Below is the coerced canal in Grand Rapids.

I returned to camp and thanked my neighbors for letting me know about the mill.

My neighbors had this large covering over their tent they had gotten from Facebook merchandise, (it’s like a Craig’s List for Facebook).

It was a great shelter for shade, but unlike the false alarm storm the night before, this night called for a major storm and that shelter was not ready for heavy winds. I offered them some additional support. I have these tent pegs that screw into the ground. So we screwed those pegs down and tied the poles down. We then ended up hanging out and talking shit until after two in the morning. Then at around 4am, I woke up to Kaboom! That storm lit up the sky and the rain came down heavy. I put in earplugs and went back to sleep.

In the morning my neighbor’s shelter was still standing. They said it was rough but without those screw pegs that thing would have blown away for sure. In fact with the ground was so saturated by the storm, one of the screws pulled up covered in it’s surrounding mud. Luckily the others held.

Below is Craig and Annette. I could tell after all of our talking that they had caught the travel bug and were now fantasizing about and planning the adventures they saw in their future. Great! Best of luck Craig and Annette!

After a delicious cup of Jordan Coffee Roasters coffee from my camping neighbors in the Smoky Mountains, I packed up and headed on my way.

Chicago here I come!

I am headed to Chicago for a number of reasons. 1) I need new tires. I booked an appointment at one of Chicago’s Triumph dealers. I’ve had trouble finding tires in the past in more remote areas of the country. Chicago should do the trick. 2) This is the place where Route 66 begins. And 3) I have been sleeping on the ground for the last 6 days. I am looking forward to a bed.

I booked a room at a place called Staypineapple. That’s it in the background.

It was pretty reasonable for a place right downtown, two blocks from Millennium Park.

Also, only 4 blocks from the beginning of Route 66.

After checking in I went to see The Bean before it got dark. The Bean is a sculpture by the artist, Anish Kapoor.

The entire surface of The Bean is perfectly reflective capturing all of Chicago and of those that come to visit upon its shiny rounded surface.

I walked around the neighborhood a bit. I was hungry and tired, and with an appointment at the bike shop the following day, I grabbed a bite and called it a night.

In the morning, I headed over to get some fresh tires. Funny enough, the bike shop, Motoworks was a few short blocks from old Route 66. So the 66 tour began sooner than expected. In fact, I started my way to the bike shop at the beginning of the highway. Why not?

Motoworks Chicago, have a nice shop focusing on BMW, Triumph, and Vespas. They have been having appointment only service for a while since the Covid. Even to look around, it’s still by appointment only.

When I arrived, I approached a guy in a trailer outside who screens people. He called inside to let them know I was there. Frank, who I had corresponded with previously came out to check the bike. Then he had to go back inside. I waited a bit, and then the guy in the trailer finally said I could go ahead inside. He told me to follow some guy through the garage door. As I was following the guy, I realized that I may know him. I said, Jim? He said, yeah, Jim Morrison. I questioned, “Jim from Brooklyn? I’m Pat, Neil’s friend.”

Whoa! This guy used to co-own Brooklyn Triumph! We butted heads when we first met a few years ago, but all is cool since then. He is good friends with Neil, A guy I went to junior high school with. I couldn’t believe it. It was great to see him. I knew he had left NY, but I figured he went back to LA.

It ended up taking 3 hours to get the bike ready (something about the inner tube), but with Jim there there was plenty to bullshit about. He also gave me tips about some things to check out, and certain neighborhoods not to check out.

Chicago is segregated big time! Jim said carjacking is a problem and everyone is packing. I mentioned that I wanted to see some Frank Lloyd Wright houses in the Oak Park neighborhood. He and another guy at the shop showed me on the map a safe way to get there. I must say, I got there safely, but it did look rough.

Unfortunately, Frank Lloyd Wright’s actual home was closed for tours, so I had to settle for some outside shots.

There were quite a few Frank Lloyd designed homes in the area.

This one had a sweet dog in the yard.

And this next one had a dog whose color matched the home.

Also, in the same area of Oak Park was the boyhood home of Ernest Hemingway.

At one of the Frank Lloyd Wright houses, I asked a lady if she knew a safe route back to town, (that wasn’t the interstate). She said take Chicago Avenue. I did. It was totally cool and brings you all the way back to Lakeshore Drive along Lake Michigan.

I parked the bike and walked around a bit before the sun went down. The architecture in Chicago is diverse and interesting.

As I walked along the river I saw a place from one of my favorite scenes in the movie, The Untouchables. It is the scene where, Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner), first meets Jim Malone (Sean Connery), the beat cop. It takes place on the lower level of the Michigan Avenue Bridge.

I can see the Chicago Theater down the street from my hotel room window.

This is another place where they filmed a scene for The Untouchables.

It was on the staircase (you can see in the background in the photo below), where Elliot Ness confronts Al Capone (Robert De Niro).

On this night I had to do a blog post. I am working from an iPad now. It’s a whole different animal and I haven’t figured out all the nuances yet. Blogging and dealing with photos is very different than it is with a laptop, but I’m figuring it out. It takes longer which is tough on the road.

The next morning I was up and on my way. It was perfect timing. As I was taking a picture of the bike parked in front of the first Route 66 sign, a couple pulled up and asked if I would like my picture taken in front of the sign. They even posed with Bonnie themselves and asked if I would take a picture for them as well.

It was too short a visit to do all that I would have liked to in Chicago. Jim had told me of some cool things as well, but they will have to wait until my next visit. Goodbye Chicago, I am about to take America’s most famous highway all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Route 66 Illinois

Getting out of Chicago was a little tough. I decided to wait out a storm before leaving town. Seemed like the right thing to do today in order to have a better day. Since I had done the first leg of Route 66 the day before on my way to the bike shop, I figured I would jump In I-290 just to get out of town. I hopped off the Interstate shortly there after on to Highway 171 South to get to Joliet. My first destination was the Old Joliet Prison.

When I got to the prison there were 3 employees in the office. I asked if Route 66 paralleled Highway 171 that the prison was on. One of the guys said, that 171 is Route 66. Ha! I had been on it all the time and thought I would have to retrace it after the prison. Great. They said I had to wait to go in and visit while two employees left to go open the place up. I was the first person to arrive today. I had the entire prison to myself.

You can’t visit much of the interior of the buildings due to decay and destruction. The yard is impressive. Besides being famous as an old prison, this is the prison that housed the Blues Brothers before they had a message from God to get the band back together.

Some of the weights still lie on the ground in the prison yard.

There was a huge fire here in 2013 that destroyed many buildings. 

The main building is in disarray as well and snow caved the roof in a while back. You can however visit the building where the solitary confinement cells are. This is actually the first place prisoners were held in the 1800s when they were transferred from a prison in Alton. The building was built in 1858. The prisoners held here were put to work to build the rest of the prison.

Later this old building would be used for solitary confinement. Prisoners would get 2 ounces of bread and a cup of water each 24 hours.

All who visited solitary would see this painted on the floor as they entered the building, before spending their time in the small cells inside.

I stuck my arm through windows for some shots.

You can’t walk around inside, but fortunately you can still access the main building from the basement and see the rows of decaying cells within from behind a locked gate.

You can see an old scoreboard in the yard for sports activities.

I had to be especially careful not to snag my arm on the razor wire while taking this shot.

After doing my tour I was free to leave.

This old mansion was the last thing I stopped for in Joliet.

After leaving the prison, I was happy to continue on Route 66. I stopped and turned around when I saw Jake and Elwood propped up on a pole in front of a fast food joint. It’s funny, the town to the south of Joliet is called Elwood.

These giant Muffler Man ad guys are popular and have been repurposed in many locations. This is the Gemini Giant.

Next stop was a two cell prison in Gardner. Built in 1906, it was mainly used for drunks to cool off and sober up.

Next to the two cell prison was an old diner. This diner wasn’t always here. It was donated and relocated to this spot as a gift by the Kraft family.

Route 66 makes numerous turns. Usually there are signs. Sometimes they are brown and white like the one I saw in Chicago. Sometimes it’s painted on the street. Well, somehow I lost my way. I was still riding south (for a while), but not on 66. I eventually figured it out and cut back toward Pontiac, Illinois. Pontiac is a cool town with a great Route 66 museum, but I didn’t have time to linger.

I had been to Pontiac before while criss crossing Route 66 on a previous cross country trip and thoroughly checked it out.

I realized however, upon review, that I had missed a couple old classic service stations on the bit of 66 that I had missed. It was too late to backtrack. Oh well. Another time.

I was staying at Sangchris Lake State Park about 30 miles south of Springfield, Illinois. There were things I wanted to see in Springfield, but it was getting dark and I was still far from the park. I ended up pitching the tent in the dark and figured I could backtrack to Springfield in the morning.

When I looked at the weather report before bed, it said there was a 40% chance of rain.

When I was preparing to leave in the morning, I checked the radar. Uh oh! This was my screenshot (below). The State Park is the purple dot. I was going 30 miles to the north to see Lincoln’s grave and his home when he was a Senator. And I wasn’t letting what I was seeing on the radar stop me.

I had been to Lincoln’s grave once before on an insane road trip with my friend Marc. We borrowed my dad’s Mazda Miata and went for a road trip that was supposed to be from Maryland to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee and then back home. We ended up driving through 26 states, Mexico, and Canada, in 13 days. That included 2 nights in LA. Crazy!

Then despite the impending storm, I was going to visit Lincoln’s home. I did have to turn down a tour of the interior as it would have been an hour wait until the next one.

After Lincoln’s home there really wasn’t much to see until St. Louis, Missouri and I believe Route 66 and the Interstate are the same at this point. Well, whether they are or not, I hopped on I-55 South and twisted that throttle all the way to St. Louis. I could see the monster storm from the radar to my right all the way there. I thought for sure it would clip me in the end, but amazingly I was spared. I had a few refreshing drops, but nothing I needed to put on the rain gear for. It was rather incredible considering what I saw on that radar.

As I cleared that storm, I could see the St. Louis Arch on the horizon. It was time for Route 66 Missouri.

I could see the giant arch miles before crossing into Missouri. I have passed the St. Louis Arch on numerous occasions while on road trips by car and motorcycle. I never had time to stop and see it up close.

I was curious about how to get down to the Mississippi and take a photo from the shore side of the arch. I checked Google Maps and saw that there was a road a few blocks away that could take me there. When I arrived I noticed that this particular area is reserved for parking that cost 8 bucks to enter. Besides that, the girl in the parking booth said motorcycles are not allowed to park here. It’s understandable. The parking lot is on a steep incline made of slippery cobblestones. But with a little coaxing, she allowed me to go in and take a couple photos of the arch.

And of course, when I turn around there is the mighty Mississippi River.

That train on the bridge was pulling car after car, each carrying a propeller for a giant windmill.

There is also a wall along the river a mile long covered with graffiti. I tried to video a large chunk of it, but it doesn’t seem to play properly. Maybe it’s an iPad thing. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am struggling but learning quickly.

From the St. Louis Arch it was back to Route 66. My first stop would be the visitor center at Route 66 State Park.

The visitor center was once Steiny’s Inn and Restaurant during Route 66s heyday.

And before Steiny’s, it was the Bridge Head Inn.

There was a nice man working there who was happy to answer questions and give information. There were a number of displays in the visitor center as well that included this motorcycle and plenty of signs.

A glass showcase displayed various Route 66 paraphernalia.

The man mentioned that he had hoped they would someday repair the bridge outside the visitor center that Route 66 used to cross.

He also told me I would see caves as I moved south on 66. These caves were created by mining for silica for making glass.

I passed some old Route 66 ruins, like this vacated motel.

Other interesting sites were built more recently like these teepees built in the 1980s.

Inside the teepee were a variety of Native American crafts for sale.

I was making good time this day, so I decided to go see Meramec Caverns.

As you ride along Route 66 you will see many signs for the cavern. It reminded me of the many signs one sees on I-95 as you approach South of the Border in South Carolina.

A claim to fame for Meramec Caverns is that it was a hideout for Jesse James and his brother Frank.

The large opening at the beginning of the cavern was once used for dances back in the late 1800’s where it stays a constant 60 degrees.

At one end of the cave was once a dead end with a stagnant pool of water. In 1941 there was a severe drought. The pool dried up exposing an opening. Within that opening was a greater extension of the cavern as well as artifacts that were traced to Jesse James. The loot box and metal items to the left in the photo below are original Jesse James artifacts.

More of the cavern was discovered over time. Stalactites and stalagmites have formed throughout the cavern.

This type of bulbous formation can only be formed underwater.

There are only two places in the world to see this type of formation below. It’s a formation that looks like fat table legs with a platform on top. One place to see this type of formation is in Italy. The other is here at Meramec Cavern. The one in Italy has only two legs. Meramec has three.

In the last room we visited a theater that was built during the 1930’s. There is a wall made of Stalactites and stalagmites that create what they call the stage curtain. Kate Smith once sang the National Anthem in this cavernous theater.

2 episodes of Lassie were filmed here in the cavern. Also a scene for a musical version of Tom Sawyer where Injun Joe plunged to his death was filmed here.

Since it was late in the day there were only 5 people in the tour group plus the guide. The guide was knowledgeable and entertaining occasionally whistling a tune as we walked along.

After Meramec Cavern it was off to Meramec State Park where I would be staying the night. As I was pitching my tent my neighbors were concerned that their music was too loud. Dave came over to ask if it was OK. He also told me they called for a 50 percent chance of rain that night.

This old biker, Bob came over to talk for a bit. After we rapped for a while he joined his wife in a long conversation with my neighbors, Dave and Jen. Jen was a school teacher in a private school. Dave didn’t mention what he did, but after talking to him and hearing their lengthy conversation, I had a suspicion. After Bob and his wife left I asked Dave if he made a living with that voice. It was a smooth calm tone he spoke with. I thought he may be a radio personality. Bingo! Called it! He used to be a DJ in Ocean City, Maryland for 25 years!

That 50 percent chance of rain turned out to be 100 percent. It poured that night and into the morning. I was concerned that I may not be able to pack up without everything getting soaked. I just played around in the tent hoping it would let up. Check out at this park wasn’t until 3pm, so I figured worst case scenario is that I sit around for a few hours. Fortunately it let up after about an hour or so.

When the rain let up, a little skunk came out of the woods and roamed around the campsite a bit.

I packed up and continued down Route 66, stopping for various old buildings, motels, and gas stations.

Have you ever seen those giant wheels of hay lying in farmer’s fields? This a place where they make them.

I stopped to eat at this old service station converted into a cafe. A nice family owned place. Brothers Danny and Pat were there and happy to talk about the cafe. They have only owned it for about 8 months. They were curious about my bike. Pat inherited a Triumph from his brother back in the 70s after Danny skidded out in some loose gravel on the road and decided his riding days were over. 

Here is the same location when it was a service station.

There were all sorts of interesting sites and ruins to see as I rode along. This also made for a time consuming ride. I may have overestimated how far I could travel on any given day if I were going to stop so many times along the way. But I want to see it all!

Uranus Fudge isn’t an old site, but how could I not find out what was going on there. It is a large site with numerous buildings and things to see. And I suppose they sell fudge.

One of those things to see was another Muffler Man converted into an Uncle Sam looking character holding a giant golf ball.

A local library had a small Route 66 museum with displays and a mock service station.

Many of the places I stopped I had previously researched. But then, just as the sun came out for a short visit I discovered a remarkable site. 

This site was the collection of man named Gary who had passed away. This is Gary in the photo of the photo below.

Gary’s daughter and her husband George decided to move here from South Carolina to carry on George’s legacy.

I asked George about the house you see behind the outhouse. I was curious about the stone. I had seen a few buildings that looked similar along the way. He said those are called giraffe stones. Named after the pattern they make. He said you can’t dig two feet without pulling one up in these parts.

George said the sign painted on the street is the biggest Route 66 west of the Mississippi.

George was super friendly. We bullshitted for a while about all kinds of stuff. He even gave me a free ice cream.

The unexpected things that happen along the way and great people I meet are my favorite parts of the journey.

Nearby is the town of Spencer. I had read that Spencer was a ghost town, but George told me there is one guy who has been working on renovating some of Spencer’s buildings. 

I passed an old schoolhouse from 1888.

And I had to stop when I saw this 1959 Chevy El Camino.

Boots Court is another classic hotel along Route 66.

It was tough to get a good photo as people tend to park in front without regard for the people that would like to see it. This happens at numerous sites. I have to admit, I like to ride Bonnie up to places for a photo op, but then I move her if I want to walk around. Oh well. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

I had planned on camping out across the border in Oklahoma this night, but when I stopped for gas the lady inside said major storms were approaching. When I looked at the radar it was frightening. I decided a hotel was the better choice. I stayed in Joplin, Missouri and good thing I did. My weather map was lighting up with flash flood warnings all around the area where I would have camped.

As I stopped to take a photo of the Hogs and Hot Rods Saloon, I looked up to see a sign that said Route 66 End. Huh? What did that mean? Then I noticed a small sign above the Budweiser sign. It meant I was about to cross the border into Kansas. To the west of Joplin is a “T” shaped border with Kansas to the north and Oklahoma to the south. Route 66 enters Kansas on it southeastern corner. Later Missouri!

After a stormy night I crossed the border into Kansas. Kansas? When I was planning my route, I hadn’t even noticed Route 66 went through Kansas. The tiny two lane highway takes a little bite out of the southeastern corner of the state then cuts south into Oklahoma. Though short, that little sliver of road packed a punch.

The first town I approached was Galena, Kansas.

You can tell right away that Kansas takes pride in their small piece of Route 66. Before arriving at Galena proper there were a few things to see, like an old train, a bizarre 30 foot scarecrow, and an old police car raised on a pole like Jake and Elwood back in Joliet.

As I made a left turn into town there was an old service station. I have seen this station on a calendar.

The whole town of Galena was charming. I dig old painted signs. I was a sign painter in NYC as one of my many jobs before teaching.

Then there was an old Texaco station a block from the previous service station.

An old train depot had been converted to a local museum. It was closed.

Across the street was this tank. You can see the tank reflecting in the remnants of the storm that caused me to cancel my camping plans the previous night.

Caddy corner from the train depot was another old gas station. This one was unkempt.

In the next town, I had to stop and put on the rain gear again. There I passed Nelson’s Old Riverton Store. It has been here in Riverton since 1929.

Down the road is another Route 66 treasure. The Rainbow Curve Bridge is the only marsh arch style bridge remaining on the old highway. It predates Nelson’s Old Store by 6 years, constructed in 1923.

The last town in Kansas before crossing the border is Baxter Springs.

The town was named after John Baxter who had a trading post here in 1849 when it was a old military road. Baxter provided needed supplies for travelers heading west. He was known as a gun toting preacher and tragically died in a shootout. The town was then named after him.

Baxter Springs has a fine old service station turned into a Route 66 information center.

Inside is a dry witted old codger. He will fill you with information with his gruff voice and style. It is hard to recognize that he is funny at first. But I sure got it as I was taking a photo and he asked if I wanted a fill up.

Then he told me to visit the Ku-Ku Burger in Oklahoma and tell Sarah that Crazy Charlie says… well, he stuck his thumbs in his ears, jumped up and down and made a turkey sound. So there ya go. That’s what he wanted me to tell Sarah.

Corporations suck. That’s all I have to say about that. Why not just leave a nice old sign alone.

After Baxter Springs, I entered Oklahoma.

The first town I stopped at after Kansas was Commerce, Oklahoma. I wouldn’t have known about a particular site there had I not done some research. I asked Crazy Charlie back in Baxter Springs about it too. He said good luck finding it, cause it’s pretty much unmarked. On the way to finding that special site, I found two old service stations. One was now an ice cream shop, and across the street was a vintage Conoco.

Here at the Conoco you can really see how the old service stations worked. You could get either Ethyl or Regular gas. Then to the right, you can see the big drum where you would get oil. Before electric lighting was readily available many service stations would also have another giant drum for kerosene.

Now, for that special site. This was the boyhood home of Mickey Mantle. It was a few blocks off of Route 66 and without that small dark sign by the door you may never know it’s claim to fame.

As I was leaving Commerce there was a small ballpark that displayed a sculpture of Mickey Mantle.

The next place I stopped was the Ku-Ku Burger in Miami, OK. The line was long at the drive thru so I didn’t get a chance to make turkey sounds at Sarah like Charlie had asked me too, but I did get to talk to a patron in line. As I was taking a picture of the Ku-Ku, a man in this white pick up truck called me over.

He told me a story about strange lights in a town south of Joplin, Missouri. He said his parents had told him about it. He went to see for himself, and sure enough these lights appeared. They moved back and forth and then shot up to the sky. He said government officials have checked them out and no can explain them. He told me the name (as he apologized for not being politically correct), “They are called the spook lights”. He said I could go to spooklight.com for more information. Turns out spooklight.com is no longer. CLICK HERE for more info.

Miami, has a grand old theater along Route 66 and a few interesting signs. There was a nice old sign for a radio station, and a much newer sign for a recent thriving business that has popped up all over Oklahoma, the marijuana dispensary.

As Route 66 starts to diagonally curve to the west I was puzzled to see a couple hotels that I recognized. I guess I was riding east on Route 60 a decade ago when I criss crossed these two old hotels on 66.

Then I saw one more old motel before stopping at one of Route 66’s treasures.

Here is the big blue whale in Catoosa, OK. The whale sits in a big pond where you can do some catch and release fishing if you like. Once upon a time kids could slide out the side of the whale, down his fin, and into the pond to go swimming.

After looking at the whale, the rains returned. I put on my gear and headed toward Tulsa. There was only one thing I really wanted to see in Tulsa. It’s an old Art Deco church designed by Adah Robinson and Bruce Goff.

I hopped on the Interstate to quickly get into town and hopefully out of the rain. My plan was to get in and out quickly before resuming my Route 66 ride. Ha! As my soaked self exited the interstate and entered the city, I ran directly into police roadblocks for Tulsa’s gay pride parade. After many lefts and rights I found myself on back on 66 when I saw these old trucks parked outside of a small Deco building. It was the Page Moving & Storage Company.

I saw an older gentleman watching me through the window. When I waved at him he came out for a chat. Say hi to Ron Page, the grandson of the man who started Page Moving Company.

Ron told me that the old truck was a ‘54 and still runs except that it needs a starter and they are hard to come by. Ron started driving for the company in 1963. His grandfather started the company in 1910 and they used to be located in a 5 story building designed by the same Bruce Goff, who also designed the church I had been looking for. Ron said the old building was a beautiful Art Deco building that the city wanted and bought from them. Then they tore it down. Genius! The present building where they are located, (also Art Deco) was once a commercial laundry service. He also mentioned that during the Black Wall Street riots (100 years ago), the local militia had asked his grandfather if they could mount some guns on his 5 story building. Ron was proud to say that his grandfather refused. I stood around and talked to Ron for about a half hour before seeking the church again.

For more on the history of Page with photos of the old Art Deco building designed by Bruce Goff. CLICK HERE

On the way I saw another Muffler Man.

I got a little lost looking for the church which brought me to another police road block, but also to this old service station turned Avis car rentals.

Then finally to the old Boston Street Cathedral built in 1929.

As I was admiring the cathedral from the outside and taking photos of the Art Deco exterior, a man called out and said, “You want to see what it looks like on the inside?” I questioned, “Are you serious?” He was. His name was Dave and he does volunteer work for the church. I was just fortunate he was there on this day as they were distributing water for folks in the pride parade.

Dave showed me around and took me into the area where services are held. The stained glass was beautiful from the inside. Bruce Goff would design all aspects of the building down to the fine details, much like Frank Lloyd Wright did. Amazing. In fact, Goff corresponded with Frank Lloyd Wright regularly. Goff was one of the few architects that Frank Lloyd Wright respected and encouraged. Thank so much Dave for inviting me inside this special place.

And here’s Dave. Thanks Dave.

After the church I needed to find my way back to Route 66. I was disoriented and had no idea where the old highway was now. I saw signs for I-244 and on a hunch hopped on it. After a short ride, I saw an old train to my left. I said to myself, this must be it! Thanks 244.

That short blip on the interstate lead me right to this old service station and old train.

While at the old service station a posse of about 30 small motorcycles came roaring by. These may be Groms, (which will be significant later).

A little further down the road was a car show in a local parking lot.

I had plans to go south and stay at the Wichita Wildlife Refuge, but it was still far from my present location and major storms were pending once again. I stopped at a diner and booked a room.

I thought I had booked a room nearby. It turns out that the hotel was 27 miles away. Ugh! But no worries. I had a great day and happily rolled along through the dark. When I arrived at the hotel this adorable couple, Rick and Marsha were sitting outside.

They told me they were sitting out there because they like to smoke and this was a no smoking hotel. They were enjoying a few beers too. We talked for a while. They told me that the hotel had it’s electricity knocked out for 12 hours the previous night. They were funny. Marsha is hilarious. They are from Abilene, Texas and said I was the first person they ever met from NY. They like to vacation each year in Costa Rica. Marsha says she makes friends with all the prostitutes there. They call her Mama. She said she even got a prostitute for their friend when he visited. They also ride a Harley, but at the moment were hauling a camper after visiting a sick friend in Tennessee. Rick was excited that he recently got to drive an original Shelby Cobra. He wanted to show me a photo of him behind the wheel, but he couldn’t find it. He did manage to find a picture of his Harley.

In the morning when I woke up I made a shocking discovery as I was looking over the bike. My 5 day old front tire was falling apart. It was scarred, scraped, and cracked. How is this possible? I just had it installed in Chicago. Worried and hyper aware, I moved on.

I pulled off to a parallel part of Old Route 66. Every once in a while there are parts of the overgrown original road off to the side.

The Rock Cafe was closed for a private party so I couldn’t go inside.

I stopped as I crossed Dry Creek. With the torrential storms it was anything but.

The town of Davenport had an old service station that looked like it was for sale.

I thought that this ‘66 Bowl’ sign was an entrance to a museum or something.

No, it was a bowling alley. Inside however were a collection of old signs, gas pumps, and memorabilia.

I passed the old Lincoln Motel, a classic Route 66 place with multiple small buildings that had two rooms each.

Then I visited a real nice little motorcycle museum. It’s called Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum in Warwick, OK.

Jerry, the owner was mopping up from from a leaking roof after the night’s downpour. He doesn’t charge to visit his collection.

I got to really appreciate the wide angle feature on my new phone’s camera.

The museum is in an old service station. This is by far my favorite service station conversion.

There is an old bathroom to the side of the museum with rusty toilets decaying within. Jerry told me, that rumor has it, this was the first bathroom with plumbing west of the Mississippi.

Before leaving, I showed Jerry a photo of my chewed up tire. It was Sunday, and since most bike shops are closed on Sunday and Monday, I was going to try and make it to Amarillo, Texas. He came outside to have a better look at the tire. Jerry said, he would not try to make it to Amarillo if it were him. That tire needed to be changed pronto. He questioned whether I had ridden over something that could have gotten caught up in the wheel well. I told him I am vigilant about keeping an eye on the road and I would have noticed if I rode over something. Jerry gave me a number of a buddy of his in Oklahoma City who might be able to help me out. I called his friend Gerald, who was really nice and said to give him a call in the morning.

I passed more evidence of the heavy rains that would have been terrible had I camped out.

This old filling station, made with giraffe stones was built in the late teens or early twenties. The downfall for this station was counterfeiting. Behind the main building was another room where they made counterfeit ten dollar bills. Eventually one of the folks was caught spending one of those tens which led authorities back to the station where they found the plates they had been using to make the phony money. Everyone was arrested and the service station closed for good.

This old round red barn was built in 1898 in the town of Acadia.

Inside some people were gathered to listen to country and bluegrass music.

The upper level of the barn was remarkable with it’s woven rooftop. The farmer who built it made it round because he believed it would make it tornado proof.

There were a few other nice old buildings in this town.

It was getting more difficult to really enjoy everything with that tire on my mind.

Approaching Oklahoma City I saw this sculpture of a Native American spreading his buffalo hide.

Down the street was the first public school in Oklahoma built in 1889.

I passed this cemetery with a most interesting wall. It was sculpturesque with it’s textured brick and ceramic facade. It was beautiful in it’s complete lack of discipline.

Then I made my unplanned stop in Oklahoma City and booked a room for the night so that I could have that front tire taken care of.

I could not have been more impressed with Oklahoma City. It was clean, filled with public art, and every person I encountered was amazingly nice.

I got a great room at a very reasonable price at the local Sheraton. They even let me park my bike right out front.

The hotel staff told me there was even an art fair going on that day a few blocks away. I checked it out. It was great! A live band, Pax was playing. They were really good!

I talked with a couple artists. I spoke to one realist painter about clouds. I have been struggling with some clouds in a painting I am working on back home. Getting a light source correct in a cloud is difficult because light doesn’t just change the look of the surface, it penetrates, bounces, and glows in clouds. It was interesting to get his take on it.

I walked around a bit after the fair. The public art was impressive.

There were murals lining a wall that supported the freight train tracks.

I was told by a couple people that the city started getting nicer and nicer about 10 years ago. They said taxes were raised 2% and that money was dedicated to the arts and city restoration.

I call the next sculpture, ‘The Lorena Bobbit Milkshake’, as it looks like a whirlwind of chopped up cocks. It may however have something to do with the town’s acronym.

The Brickyard is a really nice area of converted warehouses with a canal running through it. The canal has tour boats running up and down it and it is lined with restaurants and bars. I really liked Oklahoma City.

There were trampolines, a climbing wall, and miniature golf as well.

There was a ballpark there. Home of the minor league team, the Oklahoma City Dodgers. In front was what looked like the same casting as the Mickey Mantle sculpture back in Commerce, OK.

Around the corner was a sculpture of Johnny Bench.

In the morning I called Gerald to inquire about helping me with my front tire. He didn’t respond. I tried again. Nothing. I looked online for other places that might be open on a Monday. I found a place called, The Motorcycle Tire Store. Really? Yes! Not only were they open on Monday, they had two tires my size in stock and I could stop by right away. Woo Hoo! Gerald called me back right after that. He had gotten stuck in New Mexico, but was totally understanding of my need for immediate service with another business.

The Motorcycle Tire Store was in a different part of Oklahoma City called the Stockyards.

It was a classic old bike shop owned by Don “Loose Cannon”, and the folks there were great. They offered me coffee and food as I waiting. I graciously accepted the coffee, but wasn’t hungry yet.

Once they had a better look at the bike, they figured out what the problem was. The guys in Chicago had put on the wrong size tire. The tire was too large and was rubbing up in the wheel well. I knew I hadn’t run over anything. It was kind of shocking and potentially dangerous.

I informed the guys in Chicago about what had happened. They were very apologetic and told me to send them the bill for the new tire and my hotel room and they would take care of it. It was a nice way to end a potentially disastrous situation.

It turns out that Tommy who replaced my tire also know Gerald who I had called for help. He told me to tell him hi, which I did. In the end, everyone was happy and I could confidently move on.

I stopped at a diner for a late breakfast. A man in the parking lot told me I had better watch out for gypsies on Route 66. Hmm. I mentioned it to my waitress. She said she had no Idea what he was talking about. He was hanging out outside of one of those dispensaries. So there’s that.

Another old parallel road along Route 66 contained this beautiful old rustic bridge. I turned off to cross it.

I took a look at Old Fort Reno, which originated in the 1874 as a military camp and was in use until World War II. Artist Frederic Remington spent three months at Fort Reno in 1888, producing many of his drawings of Cavalry, Buffalo Soldiers, Cheyennes & Arapahos, and Scouts.

Then more rain. I pulled over by this giant radio tower and put the rain gear back on.

My last stop in Oklahoma was at this gas station where I pulled over to fill up and wait out part of that storm. A fellow biker, Dan was doing the same. (I would pass Dan later the next morning. We both survived the storm…barely).

In the far distance was Texas, and Texas was getting very wet. I am headed for Amarillo. Dan hopped right on I-40 after the pit stop. I continued on Old Route 66. The rain started coming down hard. Route 66 was getting more torn up and hilly. Now the rain was pounding. I saw a car coming toward me as it crossed the bottom of a hill. Tidal waves of water shot out on either side of the car. Oh shit! I was committed. There was no turning back. It was a washout and I was heading right into it. The water was so high it knocked my boots clear of the foot pegs. I had to lie on my tank bag with my feet flying behind me, like Rollie Free as I plowed through it. There was nothing else I could do. If I conked out or stopped I could have washed away. Seriously. There was a river of red muddy water streaming across at the bottom of this hill from the intense rain. So, the nearest opportunity I had to jump on the Interstate, I took it. I may have missed a few choice bits of Route 66 in western Oklahoma, but it rained the rest of the way to Texas and I was meeting an old friend in Amarillo. I had to keep rolling.

Before exiting Oklahoma into Texas, I did make one more stop. It was at a Route 66 museum. This time I didn’t really stop for a visit, just to take my rain gear off and snap this photo.

It had already been a long day of riding, but I was supposed to meet my friend Randy for dinner in Amarillo. Before I could get to Amarillo, there was one place I couldn’t miss. This is probably the most iconic of all the service stations along Route 66.

The Conoco Station in Shamrock, Texas is pristine and unique with it’s Deco style and plumed tower.

Also at the Conoco was this great yellow Hot Rod. We would meet again.

I left Shamrock and hightailed it to Amarillo where I checked into my not so nice hotel. Then Randy met me there and we hopped in his car. I wanted to eat at the Big Texan. Below is the biggest Texan I know, standing in front of the Big Texan. Randy stands about 6’4”.

They said it would be a 2 hour wait to eat at the Big Texan. We looked around a bit, but decided to go elsewhere. A big deal at the Big Texan is the 72 oz. steak. If you can eat everything in the display below in an hour or less, you get your meal for free. Many try, few go away with a free meal.

They have a giant rattlesnake on display in the gift shop.

Randy and I moved on to some other steakhouse. I had ribs and Randy was served a burnt steak. He asked for medium rare. While his steak was being cooked we had plenty to talk about. I hadn’t seen Randy in years. I like the way Randy talks. He has a great Texas accent along with a few great expressions. I hadn’t heard this one…He was talking about a woman who was ripped off by her own father, he said, “She was broker than the Ten Commandments.”

In the morning I rode out of my way to see these legs. I’ve been to Amarillo a couple times, but I never saw those gams. I had planned on stopping by Cadillac Ranch as well, but when I passed it looked like an overcrowded RV/trailer park. No thanks. I have been there when I was all by myself and it was great. Besides, I knew more storms awaited me today.

Route 66 only passes through the upper part of Texas which is relatively narrow. Other highways down south could take you 3 days to traverse across the state. Next stop, New Mexico.

New Mexico gave me a brutal greeting. That is, after I met these puppies at a service area. I had to stop and put the rain gear on again.

I made it to Tucumcari without heavy rains. Just a consistent annoying one. I have ridden through Tucumcari on a previous journey.

This next bit of road didn’t look like fun. The constant hard rains ended up penetrating my rain gear and the temperature dropped to the 50s. I knew I was going to get wet. I didn’t anticipate the cold. When trucks would pass, I’d be completely blinded. That truck spray creates a whirlwind of mist that gets up under your face shield so you can’t just wipe it off. Anyway, I needed a break. I was freezing. I pulled over at a novelty 66 service station shop. There were other bikers there as well. I pulled up under the overhang to get out of the rain.

When I went in the foyer doors, two bikers were already huddled there. One was holding the door open, which I thought peculiar at first. I brought an extra layer and a dry shirt with me so I could change in the bathroom. When I came out I joined the other two bikers. They were both long distance riders. Both on Harleys but they weren’t together. The reason one of them kept holding the door open is that it triggers a heater above that blasts heat. One of the guys split to weather the storm. I hung around a bit and talked with the other guy. His name was Ghost. He rides with the Carnales MC and the Skoners MC. He gave me his number and the number of a guy named Bones. He told me to give either one a call if I had any trouble on the road. Then Ghost split. I stayed to warm up a bit more.

I ended up talking with this other dude for a few. I forgot his name. I think it’s Lee. He was doing some enduro style traveling with his buddy. That’s their two bikes beyond mine in the photo above. They have a Facebook page where they post their adventures. @ cuz cruz the cdr

I thought I would make it to Albuquerque, but I saw there was a motel only 24 miles away. I was cold and wet so I booked it. I didn’t realize until I arrived that the Sunset Motel was one of those classic Route 66 motels.

This place was great. I really wasn’t expecting to stay in one of these old places. This one has been here since 1959. When I stopped under the Sunset overhang to check in I found a penny of my birth year facing up at me.

It was a great room. Exactly what I would have expected. Maybe even a little nicer. And for you youngsters, all hotels used keys like the one above, with a tag showing the name and address of the hotel or motel. That way if you forgot to give it back, you could just drop it in the mail, postage guaranteed.

In the morning I was talking to my neighbors John and Barbara, when the owner came up and told us a couple interesting facts. Jeff Bridges filmed a scene here in room 18 for the movie Hell or High Water.

And my room that you see to the right of my bike (room 11), will be featured in an upcoming movie with Queen Latifa and Beau Bridges. It will be called End of the Road, (at least that what I deduced by looking at Queen Latifah’s IMDb page). The owner told us they had come to do the film shoot a few weeks ago. They spent 3 days setting everything up. He showed us pictures. There were tons of people and tents. There were a bunch of cops in the photos. He said those were actors. There will be a shooting scene here. IN MY ROOM! They were all set up and ready to do the scene and the rains came in and ruined it. So they have rescheduled the shoot. IN MY ROOM!

I decided to take Route 66 right through Albuquerque. That meant lots of stop lights and more homeless people than I have seen per square acre anywhere else. There were numerous rundown motels along the way, but nothing worth stopping for. I did stop for the Kimo Theater built in 1927 in the extravagant Art DecoPueblo Revival Style architecture.

The Dog House has been serving hot dogs here in Albuquerque on Route 66 since the 60s.

Last week I saw a 1959 El Camino in a parking lot. On this day a 1960 El Camino was behind me at a red light.

In Gallup, NM, I pulled into the El Rancho, a one time Hollywood celebrity hangout.

The place has a groovy western vibe. And if I’m not mistaken, this place was on Ghost Adventures. Yup! CLICK HERE

After a little rain in Gallop I moved seamlessly into the sunshine of Arizona.

I escaped a potential downpour in Gallop, NM where I stopped to get a bite to eat. I zoomed west to clearer skies and pulled over at this old trading post to eat my lunch. Things were now beginning to look like the western landscape that I love.

A bit further down the road there was an abandoned site at a rest area. Here you find no gas, a Pancake House that hasn’t flipped a pancake in decades, and the remains of Fort Courage. At one time it must have been fun!

I made good time today which is great. I was afraid that I might not have time to make it to the Petrified Forest. I was in fact a little late. The sign said they close at 5pm. It was 5:15 when I arrived. Fortunately the gates weren’t closed yet. When I pulled up to the booth, a parks service guy just asked if I had a pass. I said yes, and he waived me along without even looking. YES!

At one of the first pull offs in the park, I saw that beautiful yellow hot rod that I had seen in Shamrock, Texas. This time it was off the trailer and looking glorious with the painted hills in the background.

And from the other side one can see my dear old unwelcome friend Mr. Rain. One of the great things about being out west is that you can at least see the rain from afar and prepare for it. Sometimes it is so far away that you can even alter your route and avoid it altogether. The road here in this National Park actually loops around from this point so I never got wet. And that poor family from Florida with the hot rod never got to drive it. They trailered it all the way from Florida. It was a fine tuned machine in Florida at sea level. After dragging that beautiful machine here from Florida, It couldn’t handle the altitude and merely made for mighty fine decoration.

Parts of this park have a landscape similar to that of the Badlands.

The Badlands however, doesn’t have a collapsed forest of petrified wood. Below you can see a petrified fallen tree that is now supported by a cement undercarriage to prevent collapse.

There are also miles of empty land between sites in the park.

Certain areas are littered with with large chunks of petrified wood.

Of course I had to share my excitement. I may be getting too old for this sort of thing, but I made a safe landing. I just can’t help myself.

At the other end of the 26 mile road that leads through the park is a campground. It is a free campground. But this time of year, it is too hot for tent camping. I would try my luck at a motel in nearby Holbrook.

I saw some cool vehicles on my way to Holbrook.

As luck would have it, I was able to get a room in another one of those classic Route 66 Motels! This one is called, Brad’s Desert Inn.

The room came with another one of those classic keys that I mentioned in New Mexico. This time my room came with a full kitchen, so I could cook my own dinner.

Holbrook, Arizona retains much of it’s Route 66 past. There are shops, motels, and other establishments from days gone by that are still in business today.

I suppose because of the National Park, Holbrook was still viable for business when other small towns were left abandoned by the travelers that were once their meal ticket before the interstate.

One of the most iconic businesses on the Holbrook strip is the Wig Wam Motel.

As I was admiring the Wig Wam from across the street, I saw Mark and Robbie passing by on their 3 wheeled sidecar Goldwing and trailer. Nice set up.

I met Mark and Robbie at the local grocery store. They were doing the Route 66 thing too, but going west to east. They warned me, as others had about the treacherous heat I would experience as I continued my travels. Folks I have encountered since Illinois have told me about this heatwave. Everyone agreed and Mark reiterated that I need to have lots of water to remain hydrated when I go through the desert.

In the morning I had another look at the Wig Wam Motel before leaving town. Each Wig Wam has a classic vintage car parked outside to retain the rustic feel of Old 66.

I checked before leaving NYC to find that the Wig Wam was all booked up. I didn’t mind. There are no kitchens in these tiny rooms.

I pulled over at the Geronimo Trading Post, just to have a look. Outside were a selection of small teepees. They claim to have the world’s largest piece of petrified wood, but I didn’t go inside. I had a big day planned.

Another classic Route 66 site was coming up next. I Had been in this area before, but never stopped here. “Here it is”, that’s the motto of the Jack Rabbit Trading Post.

Their marketing campaign placed mileage markers all along Route 66 with the silhouette of the Jack Rabbit on it. Many of those markers still exist along the highway as you travel along counting down the miles as you approach the home of this giant Jack Rabbit.

A big rig outside of the Jack Rabbit Trading Post was home to these 2 boxers.

In the next town I found myself …

“Well, I’m standing on a corner

In Winslow, Arizona

And such a fine sight to see

It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford

Slowin’ down to take a look at me

Come on, baby, don’t say maybe

I gotta know if your sweet love

Is gonna save me

We may lose, and we may win

Though we will never be here again

So open up, I’m climbin’ in

So take it easy”

The Eagles song is physically portrayed on this corner of Route 66 in Winslow, Arizona. A flatbed Ford and a couple sculptures of figures from the song are there. I didn’t see the girl. Bummer. But Winslow has a few other treats for the eye.

I don’t normally take pictures in the men’s room. Honest! But fans of Speed Racer will understand why I took a photo of this urinal. It’s like you are peeing into the hood of Speed Racer’s Mach 5.

It gets lonely sometimes out here on the road. You have to make friends where you can get ‘em. Sometimes from far away places.

This place was created by an object from one of those far away places. Meteor Crater is located 18 miles west of Winslow. It was created by an an asteroid about 50,000 years ago. The impact has left this gigantic hole in the earth.

Continuing west is another abandoned pull off on Old 66. Two Guns is more than a popular tourist site along the great highway. Native artifacts have been discovered here dating back to 1050.

While I was hanging out by the pool filled with graffiti instead of water, a pick up truck came rolling up. The passenger door opened. A pit bull jumped out of the truck and came charging toward me. I tried to remain calm as I could see the owner in the distance who didn’t look worried. But shit, there are no witnesses. This could be for sport! The dog ended up being friendly, but a little skittish. Perhaps my helmet confused him. At one point the dog came from behind and stuck his head right through my legs and looked up. A precarious position to be in for sure. I don’t think my Kevlar jeans were going to protect me under these circumstances if things went astray.

There was once another building here. I walked around inside it on a previous visit. Apparently it blew down a couple months ago. At least that was the word from the dog’s owner, Dan who was staying here in his trailer. You can see the trailer beyond the wreckage to the left in the photo below.

Dan also told me that there was a cave down by some ruins that was supposed to be haunted by Apache who were massacred here by Navajo enemies in 1878. He said group of Apache had kidnapped and killed some Navajo women. They then hid out in this cave. The Navajo started a fire outside the cave and killed them as they tried to escape. In all, 42 Apache were killed as they tried running out of the cave or by asphyxiation.

In the winter of 1879-80 Billy the Kid and his gang hid out at a house here across the canyon. I rode down the dirt road and across the bridge to check out the ruins of the this old house. Calling it a dirt road is being kind. It was a gnarly, chewed up rocky road. This house across the bridge wouldn’t be the Billy the Kid house. It was probably build in the 20s.

In the 1920s the area was developed as a tourist attraction. A zoo was built here. The remains can be seen in the photos below.

The owner of what was now called “Two Guns” sold Apache skulls discovered in the burnt cave to tourists and the site continued to develop as an attraction.

My next stop is another place I wasn’t able to visit in previous visits to the area. Walnut Canyon is a vast canyon lined with cliff dwellings dating from 1100 to 1250.

Just like my visit to the Petrified Forest, I was a little late. Here, they had closed the entrance, but with the promise of doing the loop quickly they let me in.

When I heard loop, I thought, no problem. The old saying here at Walnut is thrown into reverse. “What goes down, must come up!” That loop descends deep into the canyon as you get an up close and personal look at some of the cliff dwellings.

The only problem with the decent is you have to climb back to the top. I would have brought some water had I known. Whew!

You can catch the Old Route 66 at the exit of the canyon. This takes you directly into Flagstaff, Arizona. I once had to visit Mike’s Bikes on 66 in Flagstaff a few years back, to get a new chain for my bike.

Flagstaff seems like a charming town, but I only had time for a quick look around. I still had many miles to get to my campsite further south in Cottonwood.

On the way, I would pass through the beautiful Sedona. The red rocks here are spectacular. The sun was low in the sky illuminating these majestic red mounds. I figured I had better soak up as much as possible because you can never predict the weather.

I rode toward Red Rock Canyon State Park, but it had closed for the evening. I continued along the route. I am not sure what this house on Cimmaron Ridge was, but it was huge.

The whole area was magnificent to see. Just a beautiful area. Still, I had to get to my campsite before dark. The sun was setting as I rolled into Cottonwood. I stopped at this large consignment/antique store called the Simply Amazing Marketplace. It was glowing in the low sun. The whole place is decorated with various sculptures and knick knacks.

Then it was on to Dead Horse Ranch State Park. I was lucky the park was open as Arizona had shut down all it’s National Forest campgrounds due to the possibility of fire. It was hot and dry. All Forest roads were closed as well.

I pounded my last tent peg in as it was getting darker when I heard someone call out, “Do you need any help over there?” I said I got it, when a very decorated gentleman walked over and introduced himself.

This is Puck. Puck loves ska music and had tattoos of all his favorite bands from head to toe. Well maybe not toes, but pretty much everywhere else. Puck invited me to come over a sit with him on his site, but I was wiped out from a long day and still hadn’t eaten.

Later however, I called out when I saw this sucker below! I think I said, “Oh shit! A scorpion!” Puck screamed, “Wait, I’ll be right there!” I thought perhaps he was as excited as I was and wanted to take a picture before it ran away.

Nope. He ran over with a pair of pliers and snipped the stinger off that scorpion. I wasn’t sure how to felt about this. I guess it’s better than that poisonous critter nesting in my boot for the evening.

The next day, I hung out with Puck for a while. He had a slingshot. I am pretty damn accurate with a slingshot, though it had been a while. We set up some construction cones for target practice and I am happy to say, I still got it. Bam! Dead center. Felt good. Puck was game to shoot a couple rabbits for dinner. I said, I’d pass.

We saw this strange bug. He remained ass high in the air like this. No matter how I tried to annoy him, he was steadfast in his position.

This ball shaped cluster was one of very few that I saw. I am not sure of it’s purpose or what it may transform into.

Puck had a 4 wheel drive vehicle all set up for the long term that he was staying in. He had been evacuated from one of those forest campgrounds that I mentioned.

Puck told me he was into Groms. I wasn’t familiar with Groms. They are these cool small motorcycles that can rip through any terrain. After he described them I was reminded of that large posse of small motorcycles I saw back in Tulsa. Puck also had a Grom related tattoo (below). Then I noticed the one tattoo above the Grom. Fucking great! The piercing makes the eyes for a sloth.

I went for a ride. I wanted to see Jerome. Jerome is an old hippie community from back in the 60s. These days it’s rather touristy. On the way I passed through Old Cottonwood where there was an vintage service station turned diner.

Next to the service station was a large poster of ‘Old Town’ Cottonwood. Earlier I had asked Puck if they had javelinas in the area. He wasn’t sure. The poster told me that it was a distinct possibility (bottom left). I had encountered them once before while camping in Arizona. There was about 14 of them running through a campground beneath the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. I was the only one at the entire campground. Summer camping in Phoenix is unpopular for some reason? Freaked me out!

Before going to Jerome I stopped at Tuzigoot. This old native site was built by the same people who made the cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon.

This ruin was once a major complex with 110 rooms. Below is that crazy wide angle on the iPhone again.

Then up the mountain and on to Jerome.

I rolled through Clarkdale on the way and saw this nice pick up truck. A flatbed Ford. Hmmm. Where have I heard that before?

I stopped to see this flattened snake on the road. I was hoping it was a rattler, but it looks like a corn snake.

Like I said, Jerome was a bit on the touristy side, but it did have some interesting old buildings and structures from the past.

I met Mike up on one of the vistas. He was riding a Bonneville with open pipes. I saw him down in Clarkdale as I approached Jerome. Mike said he saw me too, and “left me in the dust”. He had; it’s true. I did stop for the snake. Just sayin’.

Back at the campsite I had new neighbors. Two ladies were setting up a tent. Only one was staying. Her site had a platform so they couldn’t peg the tent down. Winds can get a little gusty here, and being that I overpack, I had some extra paracord to help tie their tent down to the ‘D’ rings on the platform. Below is Holly from California, she is the one who stayed. She also had a nice old dog, part razorback and part bloodhound I think.

The next morning I was off to the Grand Canyon. I attempted to visit Red Rock Canyon SP again, but it was Saturday and the line of cars was backed up to the main road, so I continued north.

Before the Grand Canyon, Route 66 runs through the town of Williams, Arizona.

Maybe I am jaded by all the road food I have had, but I stopped by the Route 66 Diner and had one of the best club sandwiches I have ever had.

I saw on the map that my campsite was near the bathroom. At first I was unhappy about that, but the campsites at Mather Campground in the Grand Canyon are rather spacious and the bathroom was further than I realized. It was also much cooler than Cottonwood which was a welcome relief.

What can I say about the Grand Canyon? It has to be seen to be appreciated. It is huge and you really only see a small portion of it from the South Rim edge. I have been to the North Rim too and still there is so much more of it to see.

I passed by the mules that take you down to the bottom of the canyon a la Brady Bunch. This one mule seemed very curious about my motorcycle. I was able to go to the bottom on the mule when I was a kid. My dad and I just showed up at the canyon as someone had cancelled a rim view lodge and and overnight trip to the bottom via mule. We snatched ‘em up. It was very cool.

Crows are the campsite predators here. They will tear it up if you leave any food laying around.

A female elk strolled through the site completely unfazed by the human presence.

I started my next morning with another delicious cup of coffee from Jordan Coffee Roasters.

Then Kevin rolled by on his African Twin. I had seen him riding around before, and in an overcrowded parking lot earlier in the day. Kevin gave me invaluable advise. Get a cooling vest! He had one and said it was remarkable how it keeps you cool when crossing the desert heat that everyone had been warning me about.

I took another ride around to see various views of the canyon. At one stop I met Enrique and his adorable puppy. Enrique was curious about my journey. He said he had 8 motorcycles back home.

These folks had a tent set up right on the edge of the canyon. Not sure how they got away with that or how long they were there, but it was kind of cool.

I had a meal at the Bright Angel Lodge. They were telling people it was a two hour wait for a table. But to sit at the bar was about 10 minutes. Once I was inside, I noticed plenty of empty tables. Didn’t make sense to me, but I had my spot.

After dinner, I thought about going back to the campsite. It had been cloudy most of the day and I had pretty much given up hope for a beautiful Grand Canyon sunset. But then I saw the shuttle that takes you to Hopi Point. Hopi Point is the spot to see a nice sunset when the sky is clear. I asked the shuttle driver what he thought about a sunset possibility. He said that he thought it would be great. On pure faith I hopped on the bus. I was the only passenger.

And fortunately the canyon did not disappoint. A crack in the sky opened up on the horizon just as the sun was dropping making for a beautiful sunset.

The next morning I headed out, but not without saying hi to an old friend, Smokey the Bear. Smokey and the Arizona officials were on high alert as it wouldn’t take much to start a forest fire in this arid heat.

I decided I would shack up in Vegas for a couple nights. On the way is a nice stretch of Old Route 66 beginning in Seligman, Arizona. Seligman has a number of great old Route 66 businesses.

Not only was this spot a visual extravaganza, the guy running it is a cut up. As I bought something cold to drink, he asked if I would need a straw as he handed me a gathering of hay. Ha ha!

Then, I as I was exiting, I pulled the doorknob and nothing happened. There were two doorknobs installed. One on either side. I chose the wrong one.

Angel’s Barbershop was a thriving business before the Interstate robbed Angel of his continuous flow of traveling customers.

The Copper Cart had a variety of old vehicles outside and quite a few motorcycles on display inside.

After Seligman I stopped to look around at the Grand Canyon Caverns. I didn’t go in the caverns. In fact, I am not sure if the caverns are still open, but it was still an interesting location.

In Peach Springs there was an old trading post turned Tribal Forestry Department for the Hualapai people. Another casualty of the interstate.

Doing 66 on 66. The speed limit here is 65. I kept thinking, why not change the speed limit. Just one. It makes so much sense. And these regions need all the help they can get. Think of the publicity. Plus 1. Who doesn’t want a little extra. Back in New Orleans (the place of my birth), we call that a lagniappe. A little something extra! Route 66 deserves a lagniappe!

Next stop was the Hackbury General Store. I really like this spot.

I had been here before a couple times. In fact I painted one of the old Desotos rusting away outside.

In Antares, was the another of the 66 stops. They have an old oil barrel labeled with the warning of baby rattlers. When you look inside there are actual baby rattles scattered within. More 66 humor.

A long mostly deserted section of Route 66 then brings you to the town of Kingman, AZ.

I was hot, tired, and hungry. Sometimes just pulling off into a small spot of shade is welcome relief and a chance to reorient.

I was about ready to eat anything. I would have settled for gas station food, when I found this excellent diner, Mr. D’z.

From Kingman it was on to my final stop in Arizona. The town of Oatman. This part of Route 66 is rough. The road itself is all chewed up plus it has some hairpin turns as it winds it’s way up the mountain to Oatman. This is mining territory and those miners in their pick up trucks can be unyielding when driving on this part of the road. You must remain alert. Not only that, you may encounter wild donkeys on the road.

Oatman, Arizona. Not only have I been here before, I spent the night here once a decade ago. I rolled into Oatman late one evening and had nowhere to stay. The hotel was closed for Sturgis. The owners always shut down and split for Sturgis. These days the Hotel is a landmark museum that no longer takes guests.

During that first visit, I went to the local bar and mentioned my housing dilemma. It turned out that the bartender Jimmy and his girlfriend Gerri had a trailer they rented out on occasion. They hooked me up with the trailer and a meal and then jammed all night with their guitars and singing. Great time.

This time I stopped at the bar to find the daughter of Gerri behind the bar. She now lives in that trailer I stayed in.

On the wall of the bar was a photo of Jimmy and Gerri who I stayed with.

As I mentioned a highlight of Oatman is the donkeys. These burros are descendants of the beasts of burden left behind by miners back in the day.

It was getting late and I now had to ride into a blistering sunset. With that cooling vest on my mind I pushed 80mph to the Nevada border.

After Oatman, Arizona, Route 66 would have taken me into Needles, California and then onto it’s end at the Santa Monica Pier. I wanted to visit a friend a little further north in California and thought I would do so after completing the Route 66 journey. As it turns out, my friend was planning a road trip of his own before going to Sturgis. So I decided I would go visit him up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, then resume my 66 journey. Therefore, from Oatman I headed to Las Vegas where I would take a break to rest and catch up on some writing and photo editing.

I rode like mad to try and make it to Vegas before dark.