Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts


Rt 66 trip

Bob’s Rt 66 Beer List

My husband is a beer man. When we set out on our Rt. 66 trip he decided to support the local breweries when possible. Sometimes when he would ask the bartender or server for a local beer, he would have to explain what he meant. It was obvious some of the people we encountered had not done much traveling.

We picked up Rt. 66 in Joliet, IL and headed south. The first couple of nights Bob drank his normal Miller Lite so the first true local beer he had was at the Cheeky Monkey Bar in Branson, MO. Yes the place was as fun as the name. We were met at the door with a shot of their signature drink by a friendly gal who asked us our names. What he drank is pictured below.


The next evening we were in Tulsa, OK, and there isn’t a picture for that night. Now that it is a few weeks later, we don’t remember why. The following evening we were in Elk City, OK, and he had OK Pils.


On into Texas we went. The Big Texan restaurant brew its own beer and they don’t sell it anyplace but there. People were buying “growlers” of their favorites. Bob drank the Texas Red Amber Ale and got to compliment the brew-master on its quality. Sometimes he took a picture of the menu too so he could remember what the names were later on. If you have a touch screen and can enlarge the menu, some of the names are a hoot. For instance: Whoop Your Donkey IPA. He isn’t an IPA guy, but the name is fun.

Don’t let the next glass fool you. It held Pepe Loco and he drank it in Albuquerque, NM. That evening we had the pleasure of chatting with and sharing the dance floor with some fun-loving Irish folk that were doing the Rt 66 trip on a huge bus.


The following evening we were in Holbrook, AZ, where we found the Corral Bar and Kilt Lifter Amber Ale. The band was four guys who looked almost as old as we are, and played our kind of music. We do an old-fashioned swing and their beat got our toes moving. It was the night we will remember as the most fun because of the people we talked to: Lou from England and Alvin, a full blood Navajo.

One of the  most famous spots on Rt. 66 is “standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. The corner name is insignificant, getting there is supreme. We had lunch, after the obligatory pictures were taken, at the Relic Road eatery where Bob had a Grand Canyon American Pilsner. Again, the menu is so we could remember the name. He also drank this beer at the Grand Canyon Pizza Pub.

The next afternoon found us on a train riding from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon south rim. The young lady that served the beer shown below attended the same high school I did in Wayland, NY, and graduated from a high school which was Bob’s high school football team arch rival. And at the beginning of the conversation she didn’t think we would recognize the name of the town she called home. It is indeed a small world when you get out there and explore it.


The night we spent on the South Rim we enjoyed the best prepared meal of the trip. We shared our table with a couple from California that we had been talking to throughout the day as the El Tovar Hotel frowned on just two people at a table that could seat four. Bob had a single malt scotch instead of beer as we helped Gail and Gene celebrate their anniversary and it was a couple of days before Bob’s birthday.

Back in Williams, AZ, via train, we had a light dinner in the hotel lounge while I wrote that day’s blog and Bob enjoyed the Railhead Amber Ale. Don’t think I let him drink alone. My drink of choice is Jack and Coke for those of you who want to know.


Our next stop was Las Vegas, Nevada, Sin City as it is casually called. In one of the restaurants of the Mirage Hotel we were disappointed with the quality of our meal, the service and the lack of any other local beer other than Sierra Nevada pictured below in the ultra thin, tall glass. We made up for it in the “free” drinks I drank while at the Craps table. Overall in my total craps play I am still $35.00 to the good, though I did leave $100.00 in Vegas. It might be good that I lost, I won’t want to play again so soon.


From Vegas we drove on to Barstow, CA., our least favorite city overall because of the number of street people. We would go back to have dinner at the Idle Spurs where we met Suzanne and Wayne. It was Bob’s birthday and Rachel, the bartender, brought him an ice cream sundae with a candle in it. Bob drank Red Trolley Ale while we ate our dinner at the bar.


In Palm Springs, having dinner at Shanghai Reds and then dancing to the blues band, Bob found his favorite beer on the whole trip. The 805 had the right taste and temperature to be refreshing as it was still 88 degrees when we walked back to our hotel room.


Staying another night in Palm Springs, we drove north to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneer Town Palace, way up in the mountains, on recommendation from Jack and Bonnie Garner back in Rochester, NY. We were seated at a table with another couple, Mike and Jennifer, from Atlanta, GA. They pointed out the Budweiser they were served had a notation on the label that it had been totally produced by wind energy so I had to have one to promote the cause. Bob drank the Saint Archer. It was another 100 degree day in the Palm Springs area, so the ice cold beer was good no matter the name.img_0585.jpg

The next night found us in San Diego. We jay-walked across the street from our hotel to Mitch’s, a fresh seafood place. Bob said his swordfish was great, I was not satisfied with my poke (fresh raw tuna) because it came by itself in a small cup, and we both left unsatisfied. He said the Chronic Amber wasn’t bad.



We walked further west on the boardwalk and found Eppig Brewing where Rob, on the left, and Mike, on the right, poured Bob a Festbier and me a Prekend Kolsch. Now that was some good beer. Too bad Eppig doesn’t sell nationally. One could buy six-packs of their flavors from their cooler but alas we were about to leave the beautiful bay on an airplane. We expect to see Rob back in Rochester as he was raised in our fair city and will be here for a wedding in a couple of weeks.


Above, Festbier on the left and Kolsch on the right. They explained the different glass use, but we wouldn’t have minded if it had been in a Red Solo Cup. (Thanks Toby Keith)

Below is the final beer of the trip. Bob enjoyed it at the Fish Market restaurant on San Diego Bay where Jeff and J.V., the bartenders, made sure we had full drinks and liked our dinner. 


We arrived home on Thursday evening, the 26th. On the 27th we went to one of our favorite live music haunts just a few miles from home. Bob had a Rohrbach Highland Lager, brewed in Rochester, to celebrate a safe, fun, educational trip.


This is not an advertisement for any of the beers listed. It is just what was available and wasn’t an IPA. We hope if you are a beer person, you have the opportunity to try some locally made beverages when you travel. Enjoy.

The Day After – Rt 66 trip

Sometimes an unpleasant little surprise turns out to be a blessing. Bob went down to the “office” in our hotel on Wednesday to print our boarding passes and found our flight had been moved to an hour earlier. That meant we had to set an alarm for 3:45 am Thursday morning. One thing this trip has been for me is a month without alarms, except for a couple of days that is. So, of course the night we want to get to sleep early, a noisy group of people decided it was the time to hang out on the front steps to smoke cigarettes and tell stories. The way the hotel was designed, all the noise carried right up to all the front windows. We put up with it for half an hour then tried to call the front desk to ask them to quiet down. The phone in our room didn’t work! Bob called the main desk on his cell, then after being on hold for four minutes, he got dressed and went down in person. The lady working wasn’t helping anyone check in, she was just looking at the computer. I wasn’t with him, but I know he was angry by this time. I did hear her yell out the front door for the people to quiet down and I also heard someone ask, what floor complained. Bob came back into the room and nothing changed. He’s usually a patient man. Usually. He went out on our balcony and hollered down, in not a nice tone, but using the word please. They dispersed. I think it was because of his age that they listened.

I only share this because it was part of our experience. We actually laughed about the fact our very first night in Cleveland had a bunch of unwanted noise, and so did our last night on the other side of the country. Sort of ironic. The blessing comes in to play when we had a short one hour lay-over turn into a two hour in Charlotte, NC, so we had time for lunch, time to make the 15 minute walk to our connecting flight and time for me to put together yesterdays blog. Only one problem, because of the internet connection I wasn’t able to publish the post.

Now we are on our way to Rochester where Bob’s son will pick us up at the airport and we’ll go to dinner together. There won’t be a lack of things to talk about. We left all the fabric I bought, gifts, extra clothes, and my pillow in the car so we won’t see those items for a few days. That was the plan.

We had a nice dinner in our home town, and got back to our house after dark. Unpacking was bitter-sweet, there are piles of things all over the flat surfaces, like mementos, a months worth of mail, things I didn’t take care of before we left, etc.  We got to sleep in our own bed, use the toilet paper we like, and take a shower under a sprayer of our choosing with the water temperature not fluctuating. I had MY coffee this morning and am happy to be home to the little things that make home, home. Traveling is an experience to be cherished and learned from. It is a luxury, but sometimes a luxury is just that if it only lasts a short time. Now if I could just have someone keep cleaning my bathtub and cooking my meals.


Our house, above, and back yard, below, were fine without us. Notice all the green. After a couple of weeks of seeing only brown, sand, scrub, and no trees, this green was a welcome sight. If you don’t have the chance to travel, you don’t know not everyplace in the country looks like your neighborhood. We also left hot temperatures out west and came home and turned the heat on. It got down to 46 degrees last night. I turn my heat on according to the temperature in the house, not according to the calendar. This time Bob didn’t mind. In the hotel rooms we had trouble getting it cool enough to sleep. And see, my flowers are still blooming for me.


Below: the local diner where the owner and staff know our names and what coffee we drink. We would take any out of town guests here for a great breakfast or lunch.



Above is Rhonda, our trip mentor. Talking with her this morning we discovered she did many different things on Rt 66 than we did. Now she wants to go again. Me, not so much.

Below is a baby we don’t know, but I had to show you the size of the pancakes Steve’s serves. Bob orders one on occasion and I eat the left overs at home the next morning.


Below is just one of the many sewing projects I left in process. I bought the background fabric for this neck-tie quilt on the trip. I always have more than one quilting project going. Maybe I will start posting about those projects until we take another trip.


I was concerned before we left that I would miss being creative sitting in a car for so many days in a row. Writing the blog satisfied that need. It also got me back into the habit of writing daily. It feels more than pretty good.

We know we didn’t see even half of what there was to see on Rt 66, but that’s all right. You can’t do it all. We did learn where we would like to spend more time and where we don’t care to return to. On to some tips and thoughts.

I didn’t drink near the coffee I do at home. I’m thinking that’s a good thing.

Packing daily got old, but it was worth it. We took bathing suits that never got used. We also took a night light for those dark bathrooms (at night) but left it in Missouri. It would have come in handy on the rest of the trip.

We used a very large amount of extra data on our phones that of course we have to pay for. Just consider it one of the expenses. (We decided not to figure out how much we spent. Some things we paid for when booked and other things as they happened. We are afraid we won’t go again if we figure out the total.)

Siri and the front desk folks were excellent sources for good restaurants and things to do if you needed to find out. As to the front desk folk, some are better than others, like any job, but most were top notch. They are willing to try to make your stay better by meeting requests like a quiet spot for a room. Don’t be afraid to ask. We always tip the housekeeper when we leave a room.

Internet connections, especially free ones, are not created equal. Sometimes the closer to the front desk you are, the better the connection. And if traveling to the Grand Canyon, don’t expect it to work at all. I think I told you that when we were there. Bears repeating.

One thing that got to me was having privacy curtains closed on a regular basis. At home I have no curtains to my fenced back yard, and only sheers on the front windows. I like day light even in the bedroom and I don’t like feeling hemmed in. One more reason it’s nice to be home.

I sent postcards to my grand kids, but the parents liked them more. Next trip I will take my address book, or put addresses in my phone, as I know a few people that would have loved to get a card and I wasn’t prepared.

Oh, if you plan to use a laundry room in a chain that advertises them, I recommend calling and verifying it at the location you need it. One of our stops didn’t have it and it goofed up the laundry schedule. Yes, we bought more underwear because we needed it.

A last parting thought. Talk to the people you pass along the way when you travel. The best part of the trip was the acquaintances we made. They made the trip more fun and memorable, and less exclusive. I learned that the people in one corner of the US don’t look like the people in the other corner yet they are under the same government, have the same gripes and challenges and laugh and love the same. People are people and it was a privilege to meet them.

I will be posting Bob’s beer list when he gets it compiled as some of you requested.

It’s a wrap my friends. If you enjoyed the trip, please press the like button either here or on my Facebook page so I know who went with us. Thanks.




Day 24 – Rt 66 trip

We’ll see how this works. I am sitting on a balcony at a Best Western Hotel in San Diego, CA. There are people in the pool five floors below to my left, there is still an occasional plane landing at the only airport in the US with just one runway, and I can hear other voices and vehicles but can’t tell where they are coming from. Traffic goes by, but the cars are few compared to noon time. There is a well lit fishing boat coming into the harbor. I hope the guys that paid to go fishing are coming home with a good catch. I could get used to living in this city because of its temperature, things to do, historical significance and abundance of US military and retirees. That being said, we probably couldn’t afford it, and I won’t leave my family on the east coast.

Last night we were serenaded by a couple of seals at 1:30 am. I was awakened, but smiling. It’s been a long time since I have heard their barking. Today when we asked, we were told they were probably begging fish trimmings from one of the boats. After supper as we walked the boardwalk we looked for the culprits, but didn’t see them.

Below is a picture out the back side of our hotel. This is a typical neighborhood in San Diego. The unique part is our hotel is one sided, meaning there are only rooms facing the bay. I’ve never seen a hotel that didn’t have rooms on both sides of the hall.


We aren’t crazy about hotel breakfasts, so when money or time isn’t an issue we go looking for locally owned places to eat. Today, in Old Town, we found the Livingroom Cafe. Our server was a lady in her 40’s. She was pleasant, anxious to make sure we were satisfied, and helpful with directions.



Above is the patio we shared with other guests. It was interesting because of the signs in the trees. At one point, without total awareness, I thought their huge coffee cups looked like rolls of toilet paper. They were about the same size. (Note: Bob says if we ever do this type of extended trip again, we are bringing our own toilet paper. The stuff we have been using, made for older systems that need coddling. tends to shred before it’s done its job.)

Below is my omelette. One can only eat so many huevos rancheros. I haven’t had much fruit lately, so finished that and left part of the omelette. Bob also had an omelette, but with a lot more spice to it. The homemade toast was delicious.


After we ate, we toured Old Town. Lots of history, gift shops, and the cactus I have longed to become acquainted with.


And another one. If you look at the bottom left corner of the plant you can see it is large enough to give one shelter. The lady was reading a book.

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Once done in Old Town we got on, paid handsomely to ride, the Hop on/Hop off trolley that tours around the city. I can’t tell you how many museums we could have visited, It was a lot. The historical neighborhoods were driven through, and there was a running commentary from the jovial, retiree age drivers. It was very interesting. To see part of Gaslight town we were advised to get off at one stop and walk to the next. Well, there aren’t too many public toilets waiting for people like me on a street corner so we had an unplanned lunch at Roma Mia. I had a cold, sweet glass of wine and Bob ordered iced tea.



We shared some tiramisu, which is the best I have ever had. Our bathroom stop cost us $30.00, but it was worth it.


Back on the trolley we went across the curved bridge to Coronado Island. Below is a picture of what the locals call a bouy town. Whomever, rents a bouy from the city for $160.00 a month, attaches their boat and lives on it. It is up to the individual to haul all necessary water, provisions, propane, etc, back and forth to the boat by dinghy. I don’t think I’m a candidate to live that way, but there is a four year waiting list to be able to do so. To each their own. The rent is so cheap you say, well yeah, if you don’t add in the cost of the boat, and the manpower necessary to make it all work.IMG_1704

Coronado has some beautiful beaches that beckon. Today neither Bob nor I thought walking a ways in soft sand was a good idea. The sun was hot and we are finally admitting traveling for almost four weeks has worn us down.


We stayed on the trolley and went back across the bridge getting to see part of the huge Navel Station that is located here.


More Navy vessels below. Bob’s granddaughter was stationed here when she was in the Navy.


We got off at the Balboa Park stop and visited the Veterans Museum. It was nothing compared to what we saw weeks ago in Illinois, but still reverent.


Neither Bob nor I knew that the Medal of Honor has a different design for the differing branches of service. I guess I’ve ever only been close to an Army one and thought there was only one style.


When we got back to the room, we were hot and tired. We rested a bit, cleaned up and walked across the street for some dinner. The pizza was not like any we have had any where so it was a good choice. The veggie pieces were cut larger, the sausage different than at home, and the crust much thinner. After, we walked the pier to see what interesting tidbit of fishing information we could glean, or critter we could see, with our destination Eppig Brewery where we chatted with Rob again. (He’s the guy we met last night, that is from Rochester.)


And now as I finish, still on the balcony. the seal is once again making his/her presence known. Wish I could see it.

Day 23 – Rt 66 trip

We started our day with breakfast at the Lulu California Bistro, right next door to the Broken Yolk, but with food about the same, much better service and awards. Yet, I heard our server, Daryl, get reprimanded for still waiting on his customers when he had been told to go on break. I used to work in food service, and was thankful I no longer have to when I overheard what Daryl had to put up with. It’s still all about the buck, not the employee. Sad.


I took a picture of Lulu’s interior because of how it differed from yesterdays dinner; from Pioneertown to modern.


Another Huevos Rancheros. It can literally be presented any way one feels like as long as the ingredients remain somewhat the same. The best I have ever had has not been on this trip, but in Bakersfield, CA, a couple years back.


I have been sending postcards to my grandchildren along the way. This morning we asked where we might find a mail box. We never would have found this. It isn’t blue, nor big, but does fulfill the need.


We decided to stay off of highways for the most part and took “back roads” on our way to San Diego. The below photo was taken in Mountain Center. In the car, I could see those mountains off in the distance as real things, not a haze in the yonder.


The next scene is from Aguanga, CA. So beautiful in person. Once again, Bob enjoyed driving the winding, well banked roads. I was able to look out to the horizon in some cases.


And another from Anguana, CA. We are now in greenery and noticeable habitation. It was a relief. The terrain was more like western New York state, though not the same flora. We have once again started seeing cows, horses, and some deer among the trees.


There is a special man in our lives that wants some boulders to put along the driveways of his rental properties in order to keep people from driving on the lawns. We found them. Alas, they are on the wrong side of the country.


We have arrived in San Diego. This is our view for tonight and two more nights. It is cool by the water and we enjoyed sitting on our balcony to unwind, read our email, marvel we could keep the drapes open and not have anyone see in our room, and be thankful we drove 3,922 miles with no car trouble.


We went across the street and had supper at Mitch’s. Bob’s swordfish was fresh and delicious, but only came with a baby serving of coleslaw. My poke bowl (poke meaning fresh fish) was just the tuna and some corn chips. We were still hungry.


We walked further away from the hotel and found the Eppig brewing company where Rob (in the blue) and Mike poured us some beer and served us some hummus to finish filling the hole. Here comes another small world story, Rob is from the same suburb that my daughter lives in and he will be back home in Rochester on Columbus Day weekend. We exchanged phone numbers and have intentions of meeting up at Iron Smoke Brewery in Fairport, NY, where the owner is a long time friend of his. My daughter and her special man, Gino, will be invited to join us as Rob and Gino went to high school in the same suburb. The best part of this whole trip has been the people we have met and connected with.


Walking back to the hotel we noticed the Great Blue Heron hanging out with the gulls along the marina waterfront. Since I attended a writing retreat in Vermont, in July, herons have a special place in my heart. (Hi Ann, Charli, Dede, and Jules.)


We also noticed many boats with lots of lights on, and lines of men, and a few women, along the walkway. We stopped and asked questions. Turns out the paid fishing excursions leave the night before in order for the boats to have time to motor out 15 to 20 miles before daybreak. Then they fish for tuna during the day light and get back in tomorrow around dark. I asked if the fisherman drink or sleep during the dark hours. You can guess the answer. My son would love to do one of these fishing trips.


A catch being unloaded. The fish have a numbered tag on them so they know which fish belong to which fisherman when they get back to shore. The trip costs about $350.00 per person. We didn’t stick around to see who cleans the fish, but I can just imagine the taste of that fresh catch.


We have only been in San Diego a few hours and already understand why people who move here, stay here.

Oh, our room to finish this trip is above par, except when I sit on the toilet the paper roll is literally in my arm pit. After all the hotels we have been in, in the last month, I feel like I could be an adviser to the designers. Maybe I should send some letters with my suggestions.

Day 22 – Rt 66 trip

I don’t think I have mentioned, we are staying at Best Westerns whenever possible. We are rewards members and have earned a couple of free nights staying with the same chain. There are a couple of foibles to doing so; you take the  location they offer, sometimes a gem and sometimes not, and each hotel is owned by a different person so the amenities are not always the same. In Tulsa we were given a free upgrade to a suite, in another location we were given our points and a couple of battles of water, in Elk City, OK, the desk person said let’s make sure you aren’t by the laundry or elevator. Thank you. Here in Palm Springs we accepted a room by the pool. Mistake, and it’s our fault we didn’t ask to be moved. The point, when you travel, open your mouth and ask for a quiet spot in the hotel. Generally they are cooperative.


Above is the view walking from the hotel parking lot to go across the street through the parking garage to the next street to have breakfast. It was 88 degrees at 10 am. and that mountain was a couple more streets away from the one we walked to. One thing about desert temperatures, the flowers are still blooming and the young women are running around in sleeveless sundresses. Most of them looked very attractive.


Above is the Broken Yolk Cafe menu. Below are my savory crepes. The food was good, my coffee lukewarm and our server uninterested. We sat outside and enjoyed watching the people walking by.


After breakfast Bob watched a bit of football. The games are on at decent times on the west coast. Then we took a ride to Palm Desert to find fabric depicting California landscape. I actually found some with windmills on it. Considering we have seen windmills the whole trip that selection was a no-brainer. We were happy the store was open on Sunday. We are not fans of the Spanish architecture and all the same adobe color.


We then took “back roads” towards Yucca Valley to find a restaurant we had heard about from more than one person. The picture below is typical California mountains. It looked like the road went no where.


Now we know where the road goes, right up over the top, through a slight pass. It was a pretty drive, in some areas four lanes and two in others.


We found Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace out in those mountains. It has no cell service, but parking for over 100 cars. Dating from 1946, this rustic desert motel was a former movie set built by famed actor Roy Rogers. It’s 3 minutes’ walk from historic Pioneertown Main Street and 4 miles from Twentynine Palms Highway. It has been a biker bar and is now a “must visit” location for locals and travelers alike.


I was taken by the artwork in the bathroom. The first picture is the door to designate the ladies room, the next three are the stall doors.



Below is the best satirical sign I saw on the trip. The beer was extra cold, the food was yummy and the service was fine. We were seated with a couple named Mike and Jennifer. She took the picture of us, and I took a couple of them for their memory book. Once again, we made instant friends with an invitation to stay at their house should we ever travel through their state.


Below are a couple of pictures of the buildings that are part of Pioneertown. Very unique.


And us, having finished our dinner at Pappy and Harriet’s. I had ribs and Bob had a quesadilla.


Day 21 – Rt 66 trip

I’m a lady that requires regular potty stops. Some travel companions would become impatient with me, but not my Bob. I only have to ask, and he stops even if it’s only been half an hour since we finished breakfast. He never tells me to limit my coffee and sometimes before we find a suitable place I feel like the lady below. I’d never seen a sign like this so had to share. Some of you might be thinking,,,TMI. Sorry. I thought it was fun.


While at this pit stop we watched a young man get out of a vehicle and drop an empty water bottle on the ground. I wish I had had the nerve to go pick it up, hand it to him and say, “I think you dropped this.”  He went in the station/store too, and on the way out purposely stepped on the bottle and left it. That young man is not my kind of person and I’m glad we saw little of that attitude on our trip. Unfortunately that type of attitude was prevalent in Barstow and we were very glad to leave that town behind. Mind you that doesn’t apply to any hotel or restaurant patrons/workers we met.


Leaving Barstow we saw more arid desert and mountains. It’s hard to accept California is the most populated state in the US when half of it looks like the above picture.


Molly Brown’s had been recommended so that’s where we went for breakfast. The service was tops, Sharon told us we had an East Coast twang in our speech and I had yet another style of Huevos Rancheros. I sent the picture of the menu to my adult kids and my son wanted to know if anyone ever orders the Big Breakfast. We were told families do and then share. I wish we had seen that happen.


We haven’t found any funny bathroom signs lately, the one above doesn’t count, so I decided to share the sign below. It’s a good way to live one’s life.



Above is an example of “grass” in this region. It doesn’t exist. Many homes have just dirt, this place had what they refer to here as “crunchy” grass. I have to say I will enjoy seeing our green, full of weeds, lawn and maple trees when we get home. Below are two pictures from the “Bottle Ranch” we had also been told not to miss. I’m not sure what the date of 1883 refers to, but the sign proves we were on the road we wanted. The bottle displays were many, varied, and colorful. It appeared someone had made all the bottle trees by welding spokes on an iron pole. The welding was rough, but the job got done. I only noticed the quality because my father was a welder in his day.



We continued on historic 66 through the mountains, again, on our way to San Bernardino. The silver ribbon through the center of the picture is the line of traffic. We learned later, most of them headed toward Los Angeles.


We found this nice mural outside a Rt 66 museum on 5th in San Bernardino. The building housed the original McDonald’s opened in 1948. Today it belongs to a happy, singing on the street, African American gentleman that welcomed us with song and a big smile. Inside the take-out restaurant we entered the museum for free. I can’t say I’ve ever been greeted that way anyplace I’ve visited. We will talk about it for a long time. Of course when he saw our New York license plate, he assumed we were from New York City, but that’s common and we didn’t try to correct him.


When we got back in the car we kissed our EZ 66 Guide good-bye and put it away. We left the route to go south to Palm Springs and left the traffic behind. We’ve driven in LA before, and have no desire to do it again, though we have family and friends there.


The mountains are still present, but have a bit different look and feel. We once again found ourselves surrounded by windmills. These weren’t as big as the ones we saw in Oklahoma, but the number was comparable.


And still the mountains prevail.


Our GPS had the last laugh today when we got in to Palm Springs. It took us to the locked back gate of our hotel. We figured it out, eventually. We are among flowers, palm trees, and it appears a lot of shopping with few residents. There has to be houses away from the highways we can’t see.

After some decompression time, we jay-walked across the street to Shanghai Reds. Siri came through again. We had tasty fresh oysters as an appetizer and then a wonderful dinner served by Javier. I had cioppino, a seafood stew. We were told the seafood comes in fresh each day from Santa Monica. Then we stayed to listen to the blues band. We love an empty dance floor and one song was good for our old style of swing, that is ours alone, no lessons under our belts.  To get to dance under an open sky is a huge treat.  It’s a lot of fun, more so than dancing in the rain, which we have also done.


The menu above; and our oysters below.


My Cioppino; the fresh scallops were the best. I soaked up some of the broth with garlic bread.


The blues band. Who knows what their name is, but we enjoyed their talents. And I don’t know the significance of the “Union Ice Company” either.


We are officially off Rt 66, but our time in California is not done. I’ll be back tomorrow night.

Each night when I finish writing, Bob proof reads my work, and then I publish it for you to enjoy. Writing daily is one of the perks of this trip. If I’m smart I will continue to do it when I get home. If you know me, you know there is this long manuscript waiting for my attention once I get back to New York. Not the city, but over near Niagara Falls. When you are out of New York state, people assume you are from the city. We have given up and say Niagara Falls, because they know that is not near the city. It’s all a part of living in western New York State.




Day 20 – Rt 66 trip


Where do you take the Jewish kid for breakfast on his birthday? A bagel  shop of course. We checked out of the Mirage and wanted to get off “The Las Vegas Strip” for breakfast so we wouldn’t have trouble parking the car we had to give a few fingers for to get back from valet. Not complaining, we knew that going in, but jeeesh, expensive, like downtown Boston. When I spotted Einstein’s Bagels I knew that was the place. Of course I’m the one that had lox and Bob had an egg sandwich. I think it was the best bagel I have ever had, mostly because it wasn’t hard to bite or chew. I liked the poster in the shop because it represents the many nationalities and different American ethnicities we have met along the road this month.


On Rt. 15 South out of Vegas going to Barstow, CA, we saw another huge solar farm. The shiny part of the picture below that looks like a lake is really solar panels. This particular landscape is well suited for this because it isn’t good for anything else but some bugs and wildlife.  Yes, that is sand in the forefront of the picture as this is the Mojave Desert.


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I also found some cool cacti to photograph. You are probably wondering why so many pictures of the same landscape. Well, it’s because that is what we have seen for many days. And they call the mid-west, the fly-over states where there is nothing but fields.


Below is also on Rt. 15. Changing elevation from 5000 feet above sea level to 2000 feet. That’s a big sand bowl in the distance (the grey sliver.) You can see the trucks climbing slowly toward us.

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Below; This looked like a big cat stretched out on someone’s lap. See the ears, back and curly tail. Who knows why that spot was sand and not rock, but it got my attention.

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The “rabbit” below was on our bed when we checked in to the hotel  in Barstow. We thought it a homey touch. There were also ear plugs by the clock-radio. Uh oh. We have heard one train, but we are used to them, so no big deal. I know these pictures aren’t very exciting, but that’s the kind of day it has been. We have done laundry and now are going out to have a nice meal for my honey’s birthday.


So Google did us a favor, again. We asked what restaurants were near-by and picked the Idle Spurs for a nice dinner. The place is well known to the locals and travelers alike as it is just a few  minutes off Rt. 66. We had reservations but ate at the bar once we got to talking with Howard and his wife, and then Suzanne and her husband, Wayne. We realized when we got back to the room no one had made a comment about Bob’s mustache, very unusual. The parking lot had lots of cars when we pulled in and they were happy we gave up our table to eat at the bar. The welcoming card, and verse are below.


The verse is especially true at this moment in our lives as the people we have met on this journey have  made it special for us. We will be talking about the individuals for a long time and realize we were probably just one of many in their lives.


Rachel (below) made Bob’s night when she brought him a chocolate sundae with a candle in it for his birthday. And yes, Suzanne  insisted we sing. Rachel was an attentive server to us, and a good bartender as she listened to us talk but made sure her staff got the drinks they needed for their tables in quick order. She knew Suzanne well and we listened to their conversation as they listened to ours. We got good recommendations for restaurants for the next couple of days, and left the Idle Spurs knowing if we ever get to Barstow again, we have a friendly place to go. The decorations inside what used to be a house were from our era and fun to reminisce about. My prime rib and Bob’s London Broil were perfection.


The birthday boy.

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Day 19 – Rt 66 trip

My headline picture today is part of the skyline of Las Vegas, Nevada, from the 21st floor of the Mirage Hotel. The city sits in a big bowl at 2000 feet above sea level. You can see the mountains in the background. It is the gambling capital of the US. Yes, there are other cities, and towns in a lot of states with legal  gambling, but this is the biggest. The saying goes, for visitors, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, because it is also known as Sin City (prostitution is legal and trucks with big billboards on them advertise, the girls come to you, though of course not everyone partakes of that activity.) When you look at a map of the city, there is a casino/hotel next door to another all down the “The Strip.” The best way to view them is to walk, but they are so massive, walking would be about a five mile distance.


Above is the Mirage. Our sleeping quarters for two nights. The beds were the best since Rolla, Missouri. We walked across the street for breakfast at Denny’s because the prices were reasonable and the service was just as good.

The picture below is one side of the outside of the Mirage. Every spot is decorated in a big way, is beautiful and expensive to build. Meals are double what I’m used to paying and drink prices are triple. A number of the hotels are built in a Y shape so most every room has a window with a view.


The next two pictures are the atrium inside the Mirage.




Below is the outside of a shopping mall next to the Mirage.


Below is just some of the decoration inside the mall. Massive and impressive. We went into one store to look at a beaded purse. It was $2555.00. Not in my price range. I thought back to the articles made by Native Americans we saw in Santa Fe and regretted not buying some hand made items from them.


It was 87 degrees and we had a very late breakfast so The Blue Hawaiian below was my lunch. It did have fruit. Bob had a beer and we sat on the open deck in the shade to drink them. The food and drink female servers wear halter top short dresses as their “uniform.” I hope they are wash and wear.


Bob was feeling lazy today so he went to the room for some quiet time and I went to the craps table. We had set a  limit of $200 for me to gamble with. I played for two hours, sometimes the only one on the table, which I like, and got back to the room with $260 after tipping the crew of four it takes to run the table. I’ll leave it to you to Google what a craps table looks like. I hadn’t played the dice game in a while and the guys working taught me some more of the nuances. I quit so we could go to dinner and the Rat Pack Is Back show. Below is one of the tickets. Our dinner of Chicken Marsala was very good.


The Rat Pack actors. As you can see the guy playing Frank Sinatra could be his double and had a fantastic voice. “Dean” sounded like he should, but as you can see, didn’t quite look right. The guy playing Sammy Davis Jr, needs to be replaced for both looks and voice. Just  my opinion. They did a lot of bawdy jokes and sang the songs we all know and love. The band was great.


Because I was still ahead money wise, I went back to the craps table when we got back to The Mirage. Bob stayed with me a while then went to have a beer and watch some sports at the bar. The table was busy, and the numbers were going against me, so I left with a $100 in my pocket. No sense giving it all to them.

It’s nice to be able to say I’ve fulfilled a bucket list of playing craps in Vegas, but now it’s done. The city is too big and too commercial to draw us back again

Below is a tip for couples who travel. You know you get to the hotel room with two suitcases and there is only one luggage rack. We have been utilizing the ironing board for a luggage rack and on occasion when the desk and chair don’t fit my body, I use the board as a desk. I can lower it to just the right height. This picture was taken over a week ago, now the cases are fuller. Good thing we can leave things in the car to get them home.



Day 18 – Rt. 66 trip

When we got to the car this morning we found our low tire light on. This happened a few days ago, we got air and it hadn’t happened since. We probably have a nail or something that is causing a slow leak when the tire is in just the right position. So, we went in to the town of Williams to find an air pump and discovered there were many Rt. 66 attractions we missed by not venturing away from the hotel. We are still learning we don’t quite have this touring thing down pat, but we sure will be able to give other travelers advice.

The next few pictures are scenery between Williams and Oatman, AZ. There was some spectacular sights I didn’t photo because we were on a road with switchbacks and no guardrails. It actually made me sick to my stomach and I was doing my best to not look. Bob thought it was great, the curves and the scenery.


We also were treated to three Burma Shave signs.

If Daisies are your favorite flower

Keep pushin’ up your miles per hour          Burma Shave


These signs cost money so roost awhile

Just don’t do anything funny        Burma Shave


Cattle crossing means go slow

That old bull is some cows beau           Burma Shave


We spent most of the day on Rt. 66 so we could get to the the town of Oatman. As I said above, the last six miles of the drive almost had me in tears, but the destination will be one of our top three talked about by the time we get home. The story goes, when the mines in the area were shut down by the government, the burros that were used in them were left to fend for themselves. Their descendants now freely roam the town. They all have names and when we asked where they sleep, the answer was where ever they want to.


I have been on the search for some big cacti. I found some.


Three of the many burros.


If it’s an animal, I have to pet it. This one wasn’t too interested since I didn’t have any sweets or food to offer.


The town had good old fashioned boardwalks rather than sidewalks. We were lucky to get a parking place in the town center.


This sign was outside Patty’s Place where we had lunch. The wording isn’t quite right, but who cares. The sentiment sure fits.


The ice cream bar decorations inside Patty’s. I love the old cash registers.


Patty’s lunch menu. My chili dog was ample and Bob’s BLT salad was good sized too.


This guy looked over the hallway to the restrooms. He is supposed to deter people from taking the signs off the walls.


Below is the men’s bathroom wall. No I didn’t barge in to see, the door was open and I thought this some good memorabilia. Of course the mustache caught my attention right away. Not too many people said anything about’s handlebars today, everyone was too interested in the burros.


The town is shoved right up against some cliff walls. The scenery is beautiful but I’m not sure I would like living where there are no trees.


The burros spent a lot of time in front of one particular store. The lady who runs the store was constantly yelling at them like they were her children. They tried to walk in inside to get carrots. She told us they will try to take ice cream cones out of your hands and will steel whole bags of candy. One of them took a bite out of my shopping bag and it din’t have any food in it. They run along the board walk and also get into squabbles. Quite the free entertainment. The town looks after their well-being.


We  left Oatman and Rt. 66 to head north to Las Vegas which was still two hours away. Once again we were driving through arid country and mountains. When we got to Laughlin, AZ, we stopped at a Walmart for some necessities and it was 102 degree.

We passed the largest solar farm I have ever seen. It sure is a good place for it. I’m sure there is plenty of animal and bug life in the arid fields, but very few people to complain the don’t want the “farm” in their back yard.

Our GPS took us around the back side of Vegas to find the Mirage Hotel which was nice of “the lady.” Problem was, we were driving right into the setting sun. At least it wasn’t rush hour. I don’t know how Bob kept the car in the right lane it was so hard to see. Then we went into the wrong parking garage, walked to our hotel to check in, than had to go back and find the car which turned out to not be as hard as we thought it might be. The outcome, the Mirage got us for Valet parking, one person to unload the car, and another person to deliver out stuff to our room. We can’t use the fridge in the room without paying to open it because it is actually a mini bar. There is no coffee maker and our usual drinks were double the normal price we pay at home. I know, we are in Vegas, probably the first and last time for me.

Day 17 – Rt 66 trip

When you take a trip like we are, you learn as you go, especially about the questions you should have asked when making reservations. Night before last I mentioned I might not have internet when we got into Grand Canyon Park. Well, I didn’t know how accurate that statement would turn out to be. Bob had trouble getting emails on his phone, I didn’t. We could only connect one device in a room at a time, but then it didn’t work. I’m sure you’ve seen that thing on Facebook in the past few months; could you go without internet for a year? Well, maybe if I planned ahead, but if one is trying to blog daily and your husband is trying to be available to his boss when he’s on a month long vacation, the Grand Canyon is not the place to go. I finally posted yesterday’s blog about 7:30 pm, Arizona time. Vent over!

Packing the suitcase and getting in the car daily is starting to wear us out. It was nice to take the train yesterday and just sit. We slept late this morning deciding we didn’t need to pay for another tour. While still in the room I could see different birds in the woods behind our room. One was the size of a big sparrow, but was blue. I didn’t get a picture, but will look it up when we get home. There were also Ravens. A bit bigger than a crow with a hooked beak. They are professional beggars. Our bags were picked up from our room on the south rim and then delivered back to the Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams. That’s service.

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We wandered around the public areas of the South Rim today, visiting different buildings, sights, and seeing the canyon from different spots. There are shuttle buses that will take you from place to place, free of charge. A constant, other than people, were the squirrels. There are signs everywhere with warnings not to feed them. They are known to be the most dangerous animal in the park because of their aggressiveness and bites. They often carry rabies. We took a picture because they are so different from our grey squirrels in western New York state.


I also took a picture of a cactus, maybe it’s a succulent, because that’s one plant I don’t have at home.


Below is a noon-time picture that shows more of an expanse of the canyon.


Below is a picture Bob took. The clouds are gone and you can see a thin line through the center of the photo. That is a hiking trail. We didn’t see any people on it. While writing post cards to the grandchildren this morning I realized I am a bit afraid of the viewing spots that have no protection from falling over the edge.


A lot of our view today was near the Bright Angel Lodge where we had lunch, at 2 pm. We asked for a table at 1:30 and were told the wait would be about 20 minutes. That wait turned into a little over half and hour. The couple behind us, from Bozeman, Montana, were also hurrying to get on the same train back to Williams that we were so we invited them to join us at our table instead of waiting for one of their own. Richard and Shirley are still Harley riders, as we used to be, and I have a love affair with Montana, so there was plenty to talk about while we kept checking our watches.  Lunch at the Harvey House Cafe was good even if the service was a bit slow. They were busy.


As soon as we finished lunch we headed for the train.  IMG_1461

Above: inside our bubble on the train. Christina was our hostess today and Clyde sang us some tunes. We saw antelope on the way back to Williams, and yes, I had another Nutty Almond to drink. Bob had another local beer. He is taking a picture of each one and will post a city by city, beer by beer collection once we get home. If you want me to share it, please leave a note in my comments box. Below is a picture of the bubble car from the outside. It is considered first class, so we had a “free” champagne toast today, to our military, the Grand Canyon, and the US with all its faults and strengths.


Back at the hotel in Williams, we retrieved my pillow from the car, then sat a while in our room so I could finally post yesterdays events. Now I am writing in the lounge, where we had pizza and a night cap. The service wasn’t wonderful tonight, but the pizza was good and there is blues playing in the background. All good!

Since I didn’t take many pictures today I thought it would be a good time to share how I take my notes, they are from the 9th, then end up giving you all the details. I don’t expect you to be able to read my hen scratch, sometimes I have trouble deciphering it myself.


When I post this we will be back up to date. Bob and I can have an early night, thankful for life, each other and the internet.





Day 16 – Rt 66 trip

The organization at the Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams, AZ, was a pleasure for me to be a part of. We had to have one suitcase apiece packed and by a certain door by 8:30 am. That meant two things; we had to get up to an alarm clock, and we had to leave some things in the car, like my pillow, the little cooler and our dirty clothes. We buried our computers safely in the middle of our clothing to take them with us.

The vacations package we bought gave us breakfast this morning, along with about 200 other people. The buffet, pictured below, was extensive and I enjoyed my veggie omelet slathered with guacamole. Each table got their own coffee carafe. I can’t imagine how many line the shelves when not in use.


From there all the people taking the train to the South Rim Hotel run by Xanterra went outside to see the “Wild West Show.” Well, it wasn’t wild, and I don’t think I know anyone that would have played one of the parts of an old-time cowboy, but it was entertaining and a great way to get everyone to the train on time. They pulled the tourist out of the crowd and accused him of cheating at a card game. He was a good sport.


Our car hostess was a cute young redheaded female that made the trip lively. She gave us lots of reasons it was all right to have a drink at 10 am. When she came to take orders she asked where everyone was from. Small world she went to the same central school, Wayland-Cohocton, I did for five years, and also lived in Wellsville, near where Bob grew up.


Above: Our train, we rode in a bubble, or on the top floor of a two floor car.

Below: my toasted almond.


The 2 ½ hour train ride took us 65 miles further north to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It took so long because they only do 40 miles an hour and sometimes slower. For us, having just driven three days through arid lands and then coming into trees again, the ride was a repeat of that scenery. It was relaxing and we had an older gentleman named Syd play a Roy Rodgers and a Gene Autry tune on his ukulele while he sang for us.

As soon as we got off the train, we got on a bus for a tour that included lunch in the Maswik Lodge cafeteria. Our driver, Terry, was a lot of fun and told us things we didn’t know about the Grand Canyon National Park. It is the only park in the US that has its own village including a school, clinic, magistrate, fire station, employee cabins, grocery store for employees, bank, (a gift shop in every building) and a cemetery. You have to have worked in the park for a specific number of years in order to be buried there.

The bus tour took us to two different lookout stations that were not accessible by car. I didn’t write the names down so will just post the best of my pictures. They are all taken a few feet from any ledge, most of which had no guard rails or fences. No wonder people fall off.







One of the fun things we have been doing is meeting new people. After a short rest this afternoon, we went to dinner with a couple from California that we had been talking to during the day. He is in construction and she just retired so we had a lot in common. Before we went to our table in the El Tovar Lodge, we took sunset pictures outside. I’ll post four as the light changes.





The El Tovar Lodge was the first hotel in the park. It is majestically beautiful, and our dinner was the best. I had a strip steak, pepper jack cheese au gratin potatoes and broccolini. We were all too full for dessert. It happened to be Gene and Gail De Young’s anniversary and Bob’s birthday is Friday, so we shared the celebration.


I think everyone should see the Grand Canyon once. It is so huge it’s indescribable. There are many tours you can pay for, and also shuttle buses if you want to make your own way around. It is a busy place until the sun goes down and then the public areas are barely lit. We had to use the flashlights on our cell phones to safely walk to the bus station where we caught a ride back to the main lodge, then we had to walk to our rooms in separate buildings still using the flashlights. They have this thing about light pollution, but in my opinion it was unsafe especially with all the unevenness of the paths.

If you are a hiker, or interested in riding a mule into the canyon the visit would be even more enjoyable. One can purchase a permit to hike in and camp. We saw elk very close to the employee village and I was unable to get a good picture of the mules in their paddock, but Bob got one of a mule in training. They have quite an extensive crew to take care of the animals.


Day 15 – Rt 66 trip

We got up when all the people walking past our door and slamming car doors woke us. Some hotels are just better than others. Last nights was the old model with all the doors outside and a parking lot between two buildings so every noise reverberated off the walls. Oh well, it was time to get up anyway. We had a small breakfast that came free with our nights stay.

We backtracked on Rt.40 to visit the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. It was worth every penny of the $20.00 fee. One scenery picture is as good as or different in some way to the one before. Even the little kids were going, “Wow,” when they saw the sights over the railings.


Painted desert. Needs no other explanation except the pictures don’t do it justice. It was cloudy and misty the whole time we were there. Some sunshine would have made everything more vibrant.


Another view.


And another. Sorry my finger likes to get in the shots.


More depth.


Below was taken straight down over a railing. The shiny copper color at the bottom center is a petrified tree. You must see these views for yourself to appreciate them.


The blackness comes from volcanic rock and basalt.


So much of 66 in this area is buried under Rt. 40, not driveable anymore, or inaccessible on Native American lands, but going through Winslow, Arizona, the route is alive and well for a few miles. We guess it is probably the most famous corner of the whole route because of the Eagles song, Take It Easy, which mentions standing on the corner. Some guys that had just arrived on their Harley’s took this picture for us. Everyone was very friendly and having a good time. The eagle on the window sill and the couple seen above us are paintings. Really good ones.


Below is Glen Fry, one of the musicians in the Eagles band.


A brewery down the street was serving lunch to football fans, beer fans, and travelers. Bob and I both ordered a salad.


The server brought us our beers and said the glasses looked different but were both 16 oz. We told her we would share a water so she brought a large mug and two straws. It was just like being at the old fashioned soda fountain again.


We got back on Rt. 40 and decided we didn’t need another gift shop or similar museum to what we had already seen, so headed to Flagstaff. Below is a mountain that loomed large on the horizon and the fields were still arid. There were signs to watch for Elk and deer, but we were lucky enough not to see any.


That mountain range is getting closer and now we have fur tree lined roadways.


The closer we got to the mountains, the less easy it became to get another picture. We did stop so Bob could put a coat on. We had the top down and the temp had fallen to 68 degrees. There’s a pretty good wind chill when you are going 75 mph. We hadn’t seen any real trees in three days.


Tonight we are sleeping in Williams, AZ, in the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. The building is a huge and shaped like a baseball diamond with a nice courtyard in the middle. The ticket office and restaurant are in different buildings so we are getting our steps in. We bought a package so  had dinner in the buffet room. I had penne pasta with pesto sauce and shrimp and a salad. Dessert was a apple pie ala mode.


Singing folk songs during our meal was Jason. We sat and listened until he finished for the evening. I got another spurt of country music. Live at that. You can tell how good he is by the over flowing tip basket, and a lot of those bills are fives.


The internet has been going off and on all evening. Tomorrow we are going into the park and will stay on the South Rim. I don’t know how the internet will work, so if I miss a day, check my regular Facebook page at Sue Carmichael Spitulnik for pictures.


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