Category Archives: Hotels

Day 32 – Thursday 1 June 2017 Pontiac – Chicago

We made it!  Distance travelled today 124 miles.  Time on the road just under 8 hours.

Just like Santa Monica, there are two start points in Chicago and Pauline managed to catch this one as we drove by in heavy traffic.  Note to Self – avoid Rush Hour in big cities!  She never managed to catch the other one, as it was behind us as we turned a corner.  However, we will be visiting both sites tomorrow.

Some basic stats:

  • Distance travelled from Santa Monica – 3,516 miles.  2,448 is the official mileage, so our side trips, and meandering along pretty well every different alignment as we came to it, certainly added some extra miles!
  • Cost of fuel – 281 USD so approx £225!
  • Photographs taken – over 6,000
  • Hotels/Motels stayed in – 22 + 1 Resort Apartment
  • Days on the road – 32

We were up and out early this morning so that we could visit the Pontiac sights before we got going on the day’s journey.  This is outside the, now disused, 1941 State Police Office on Old Route 66 South of Pontiac.  It is next to an original alignment of the Route.  I have not posted a photo of the Station itself, as it is fairly nondescript from ground level.  However, from the air it is in the shape of a Derringer pistol!

Pontiac is another small town that it was a pleasure to visit.  A whole collection of Museums, including Route 66, and some really good murals.  I have only posted some of our pictures as there were so many:

The owner of this converted School Bus, the late Bob Waldmire, used it to cruise up and down Route 66, and he was a major contributor to the Pontiac Museum:

Little cars like these were all along the pavement around the Museums:

Rose who told us all about the Museum and Pontiac, and she gave us a free badge each:

This VW Campervan was also owned by the late Bob Waldmire:

A Steak & Shake Diner Table:

I always grab centre stage!  This will keep me in Pauline’s Good Books for many years to come!

Some more murals after we left the Museum:

The approach to Odell:

A beautifully restored Standard Oil Gas Station:

Next to the Gas Station was this 1953 caravan just like the one Pauline’s parents used to have in their garden:

Another Gas Station in Dwight this time:

We met the owner of this bike at Ambler’s Gas Station, also in Dwight, and he was from Iowa and had ridden across to Chicago to start his trip down to Santa Monica.  He has allowed a month for the trip, and he will certainly need it judging by the amount of interest his copper plated bike was generating:

Amblers Gas Station:

The Mining Museum in Godley:

In Braidwood, we stopped at the famous Polka Dot Drive In where I had a Shake so thick and full of fruit that I had difficulty finishing it!  When we signed the Visitors’ Book we were given free key rings which was a nice gesture:

Then it was on to Wilmington.  The Green Dinosaur was much bigger than the Guide Books had suggested:

and then we had all three!  The Gemini Giant which is just along the road from the Dinosaur:

When we reached Elwood we spotted their monument to Munitions Workers who died in a massive wartime explosion:

Joilet.  A large city but with a small town feel to it.  Used to be called Juliet, and was next to the town of Romeo,  However, Romeo changed its name to Romeoville so Juliet chnaged their name to Joilet:

Joilet’s 1926 Vaudeville Movie theatre:

The Jefferson Street Lifting Bridge:

On the “Must See” list:

A very inviting looking Ice Cream Parlour – but I had already had a Milk Shake! Not a brilliant picture (fast traffic again) but you can just see the Blues Brothers dancing on the roof.

Dell Rhea’s 1938  Chicken Basket in Willowbank.  Its iconic sign is being refurbished and is being re-erected in July:

The former Snuffy’s 24-Hour Grill on Joliet Road in McCook:

The Cindy Lyn Motel in Cicero:

Approaching Downtown Chicago:

Traffic was very heavy, and fast, going into Chicago, so we could not take photographs of all that we wanted to as we passed by.  We finally reached our destination, and here it is again for good measure:

and we then set off for our hotel for the next three nights.  Very tall buildings and SatNav’s do not mix very well!  The GPS signals can’t always reach the receiver, and we ended up doing a lot of random turns, but arrived eventually.  Very tired and very happy, until we checked in.  Over 1,100 USD for the three nights and we were charged extra for parking!  No breakfast provided either!  Corporate Greed.

Day 29 – Monday 29 May 2017 St Louis

End of week four mileage is 2957.  Suspect that if we totted up all the little local trips during the evenings etc. we would be well above 3000 by now.

Note to Self:  When you have a painful foot, and it is very hot and humid, walking around a city for nearly 6 hours is not a good idea!  On the plus side, we spent an hour on a cruise up the Mississippi River, on a paddle boat called the Tom Sawyer.  As we were walking back to the hotel it started to rain big droplets, but it only started to come down heavily just after we got into the hotel.

Camera battery fully charged.  A better view from our hotel room window:

The historic St Louis Courthouse.  We spent quite a lot of time wandering around inside;

Looking up at the inside of the dome.  If I had lain down on the floor I may have been able to get it all in, but I would probably have had to ask for help to stand up again!

The booking office for trips up inside the Arch is in the Courthouse, but it was fully booked.  Not surprising as it is the Memorial Day holiday.  When we saw what we would have travelled up in, we didn’t mind so much that we could not make the trip:

A lot of the exhibitions in the Courthouse were about the abolition of slavery, and we watched a very moving documentary about Dred Scott and his wife Harriet, and their fight for freedom.

Everywhere you turn in Downtown St Louis there are sculptures:

You can almost hear her shrieking because she had got her hair wet:

Front and rear view to illustrate that it is about to hit a tiny being with a sledge hammer!

Power Walker:

We saw a lot of these inset into the pavement so, presumably, every State is represented somewhere in the area we were in:

We were arguing about where to go for lunch.  If you look closely you can see Pauline’s gritted teeth:

We went to Laclede’s Landing, which is an old warehouse area alongside the river, where there were all manner of eateries:

Needless to say, there was a sculpture just inside the entrance.  Pauline in full pose mode:

and we ate in Joey B’s.  As well as tipping the expected 20% for good service, Pauline also gave our server a winning Scratch Card for 2 USD.  Her largesse knows no bounds…

After lunch we headed for the Arch and, although we could not go up it, we went into the Visitors’ area under one side of the base and watched a really interesting documentary about how it was built in the early and mid-60’s.  630 feet tall and weighs more an aircraft carrier!

Then it was down to the river side for our cruise.  Lots of horse drawn carriages and this one is for Evie, our Granddaughter.

A log masquerading as a seal:

Lots of bridges:

Pauline’s “I am enjoying myself really” look:

Me demonstrating my usually well hidden artistic side by capturing the old Courthouse through the Arch:

As I am finishing Blogging for this evening, the thunder has started – again. Now we have two Arches:

Day 13 – Saturday 13 May 2017 Albuquerque – Tucumcari

Distance travelled 180 miles.  6 hours on the road.

Having spent the last 2 nights in a suite in a 21st Century hotel, tonight we are in one of the most iconic of Route 66 motels, the Blue Swallow in Tucumcari.  More about the motel later.

As it is Saturday, the road out of Albuquerque was fairly quiet and we were able to stop without difficulty to take the occasional picture.  I am not exaggerating when I say that old motels were literally every 100 yards, less in places, so we only stopped to photograph a few.  Despite being so old, quite a few were in use which was great to see.  We needed fuel, but had to bypass the first opportunity because the forecourt had about 8 homeless types on it, which is always a bit off-putting, and we stopped at the next one without noticing that a similar number of less than savoury teenagers were clustered around the door.  As we pulled in, they were hidden by the pumps and the first I knew about them was when Pauline got back to the car (she had gone in to prepay) and said, “Get me out of here”!  Even one of the young girls regaling anyone who cared to listen about her varied sex life, was not an inducement to stay any longer than we had to.

We were soon on our route, and what was immediately apparent was the change in scenery.  Lots of trees and a landscape that was predominantly green.  After days of basically desert it was a pleasant change.  The road was excellent, and although I knew it was coming, I was not sure just where, but as we passed Tijeras the road sang “America the Beautiful”!  If you pass over the rumble strips at exactly 45 mph, which we did, you hear it loud and clear.  Very clever.

We passed through some really nice small towns, including Moriarty where we got into conversation with a US Navy Veteran who had spent a lot of time in England during his service, and he homed in on our accents when he heard us talking.  We had a lot in common and, had we not got about 150 miles still to go, we would probably still be talking now.

The landscape became very flat for a very long stretch, with buffeting cross winds,  and we passed a sign saying that, topographically, we were on one of the flattest places in the US, and the winds were something to guard against.

One thing that really stood out during the day was that bridges, even those miles from anywhere, were decorated with murals or sculptures as you passed under them.  The builders of the grey, concrete, and totally boring bridges in the UK, should be shown what can be done with a bridge.

Some pictures from the day:

66 Diner in Albuquerque.  One of the best preserved we have seen, and still in use.

The TEWA Lodge on the outskirts of Albuquerque.  Despite having very tiny rooms it is still in use and seemed to be very busy.

The Bow & Arrow Motor Lodge a bit further along the road.

At least 200 miles away from the Midway point.  Perhaps that is why it is closed down.

The historic El Comedor de Anayas restaurant in Moriarty.  If it was not so far behind us now I would be tempted to go back after dark to get a picture of the neon rotosphere as it is called.

Clines Corners which has been open 24/7/365 since 1934!

Joseph’s in Santa Rosa where we stopped for lunch.  Their menu’s are in the form of a newspaper that gives the history of the restaurant and the family that owns it, which is now in its third generation.  The original owner left school at 16, fought in World War II, and then came back and built up quite a business empire which includes the restaurant.  Food and Service were excellent.

The Paradise Motel on the approach road to Tucumcari, including a picture of one of the suites.

Our home for the night; the Blue Swallow Motel which is a beautifully restored and classic Route 66 Motel.  The old garages all had classic cars or murals painted in them, sometimes both.  To use the word practically every Server in the US seems to use, the place is awesome.

Took our cameras on the way out to Dinner and got some more photos on the way there and back:

Day 6 – Saturday 6 May 2017 Las Vegas

A really great day today.  After spending a few hours on the Strip yesterday evening with Barry and Malia, we met up again this morning for the day.  We just took a few photos last night as, although the skyline changes every time we come here,  with new hotels appearing, and old ones disappearing, the iconic sights tend to stay the same.  Years ago we walked past one of the old hotels on our way up the Strip during the morning, and when we walked back that way in the evening the whole hotel had disappeared and there was a large empty space where it had stood.  There weren’t even holes where the foundations had been.  Time is money so the sooner they got on with building the new hotel, the better, but it was an awesome piece of demolition work.

Just a few pics from yesterday evening:

I almost look slim!  Well slim’ish…

Barry and Malia.

Our hotel.

“The Conservatory” in the Bellagio.

Malia is living and working in Vegas,temporarily, and knows the place better than most, so she suggested we spend the day off-Strip in Freemont where things are much less frenetic, and a bank loan is not required to buy something to eat and drink.  Vegas is far more expensive than we remember and, as we have not spent much time in Fremont in the past, off we went.  It was a good move because we had a really relaxed afternoon, sitting outside a bar for a lot of it, watching the world go by, chatting and people watching – and there are plenty of every variety to watch here!  Perhaps we fell into that category for some of the other visitors, but at least we were fully clothed, which seems to be optional for a lot of stunning looking females here, and not just the professional “come and have your photo taken with me for $25″ types,  and watching Chippendale’esque men giving lap dances to young ladies meant that it wasn’t just Barry and me being treated to eye candy.  I think the expression”what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” sums it up nicely…  A couple of random pictures:

Back on the road tomorrow.

Day 5 – Friday 5 May 2017 Bullhead City to Las Vegas

Distance travelled only 93 miles.  Time on the road just over 2 hours.

Not much to say about today’s journey; just cruised along the US Highways to Las Vegas.  A couple of things to add to our memories were:

  1. The SatNav basically telling us that we would be in a straight line for 46.7 miles then the road would then just kink slightly.
  2. The road signs on US 95 dedicating the Highway to Veterans of every war since the First World War, with each conflict on its own sign.  A nice touch in keeping with the general attitude to Veterans here in the US.  Not quite the same back home in the UK…  Even I got a “Thank you for your Service” when, chasing a discount, I mentioned that I was both a Senior and a Veteran.  The fact that I am a Brit did not matter.

A couple of random photos from the journey.  Not brilliant as Pauline took them through a grubby windscreen when we were travelling at speed:

Vegas with 21 miles still to go.

As planned, we arrived in Vegas early enough to do some essential shopping en-route to Treasure Island, and we eventually checked in just after 1400.  Nice room on the 22nd Floor.

Meeting our friends at 1700 to plan what we will be doing between now and early Sunday morning when we hit the road again.

All Accommodation booked!

  I sometimes wonder if we are just a bit too organised, but it is probably a manifestation of my time in the Royal Navy when detailed planning was a way of life.  That is one trait that has stayed with me throughout the years.  Sometimes a bonus, but sometimes a curse.  Pauline and the Girls spend many a happy hour resisting my need to do everything by the clock!

Just over 4 months until we fly to Los Angeles, and all of our accommodation is now booked.   Spontaneity whilst we travel might have its merits but, having read more than a few articles about the journey, we don’t want to find ourselves at the end of long and tiring days, trying to find somewhere to sleep that night.  Also, arranging everything so far in advance means that we have been able to  make reservations in a good mixture of iconic motels and modern hotels/motels.  In an ideal world, staying every night in a classic Route 66 motel would be great.  However, for a trip lasting 5 weeks, staying in some modern hotels, with all of their conveniences, particularly as our kids have funded so much of it, seems sensible.

One lesson learnt whilst booking our hotels is “do not trust the rates that first appear online”.  Without naming names, which might be foolish in this litigious age, when looking for somewhere to stay in one of the major cities on our route, the online quote was $169 per night, and that seemed fairly reasonable.  However, before making the booking I telephoned the hotel to check a few details about its location.  The employee I spoke to could not have been more helpful, and she offered to make the booking then and there over the telephone.  I told her that I had the quotation open on my screen, at $169 per night, only to be told that “the offer” had now expired and the new rate was nearly $600 per night, and if I tried to complete the booking online at the lower price it would be rejected as the flash sale had ended during the time we had been talking.  Hmmm!   Whilst arguing the point with her I was cut off in mid-sentence…  We booked another hotel.  Still expensive but nothing like the first one.

Hotels, Motels and Wigwams

  Half the fun of this planning phase is deciding just where we will be laying our hats at the end of each day.  Pauline is the resident expert when it comes to sorting out hotels and, very occasionally, I am granted the privilege of giving an opinion.  Not too often though as she has to keep me in my place!  To adjust our body clocks when we arrive we are spending the first two nights in a nice hotel in Santa Monica (The Best Western Gateway Hotel), and we have also booked nights in Barstow (Desert Villa Inn), Bullhead City (Days Inn) for Oatman, Las Vegas (Treasure Island), Holbrook (Wigwam Motel) and Tucumcari (Blue Swallow Motel).

With all the hotels to choose from in Las Vegas, we opted for the Treasure Island deliberately.  As well as being very competitive with its prices, on 3 previous visits to Las Vegas we have never managed to watch the Pirate Show and we are hoping that staying there will help us to do so.  We have always decided to watch it, but always been distracted by something else.