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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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windmills

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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And still the mountains prevail.

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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.

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The menu above; and our oysters below.

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

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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.

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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 12 – Rt 66 trip

I want to take a minute to thank a couple of people that have helped make this blog process a fun thing to do. I belong to an international writing group called Carrot Ranch Literary where we write 99 word flash fiction stories. Charli Mills is the lead buckaroo. She led a writing retreat in Vermont this past July that I was lucky enough to attend and she introduced me to an author by the name of Craig Childs. Craig’s books are step by step “walks” through canyons in Southwest USA. He wrote about a time his walking partner looked for him and he was scribbling in his notebook. From that example I learned to scribble in a notebook at all our meals, during tourist breaks, and in the hotel room. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to give you all the details I do, sort of in the right order. Also at that retreat was Ann Edall-Robson. She had a camera with her and took many pictures of the same thing then later picked one picture to share. So I take many shots, and before I send the pictures from my phone to my computer, I check for the best ones and delete the extras. You, my friends, get the details and the best. Thanks for sharing our trip with us and thank you Charli and Ann for teaching me.

Bob and I live in a suburb of Rochester, NY. The Monroe county population is 748,000. We have nice neighborhoods and not so nice, but I have never seen the number of examples of expected crime as I have since we hit Oklahoma. The below sign was at our hotel in Amarillo, but we have been noticing bars on windows, businesses with not only fences, but barbed wire on top of the fences. The farther into the southwest, the more noticeable the security becomes, even on personal, inexpensive real estate. What a sad testament to our current society.

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We enjoyed our dinner at the Big Texan last night so much, we went back for breakfast. Once again there were big rigs parked along the side street. If the truckers get off the highway to eat someplace, you can bet it’s good. We could get close enough to the building for good pictures this morning.

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Just west of Amarillo, Texas is the Cadillac Ranch. The story goes, a rich man bought a Cadillac years ago and it was a lemon. He got mad and buried it nose first in his field. To prove his point, he continued doing it. I don’t know when the “tagging” started, but found out today you have to take your own paint, park 200 yards away and walk to the site. Last week some “person” decided to burn one of the cars. Today it is almost all covered in paint again. The only real damage was melting the tires off the rims. (Rhonda, it’s all right!)

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Below is the line of cars. All but the front one have their tires.

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We have seen little trash in the fields and along the roads, except here. Loads of empty paint cans and smashed remnants. Sad, but almost expected.

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You never know who will talk to next on the Mother Road. The fellow that owns the van shown below is from Switzerland. We figured him to be in his mid to late thirties. He shipped the vehicle and his Rhodesian Ridgeback (hound) dog over so he could travel Rt. 66. We didn’t get a chance to ask if the dog had to go through a quarantine process. We did ask which language the dog answered better to. The answer was, “It’s about equal.”

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As we left Amarillo, the speed limit went up to 75 mph. Among the windmills, cows, and brown range, here goes a UPS truck down the road in front of us at 75 mph.

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We made our first stop in New Mexico in the town of Tucumcari. Below is a typical RV park. Really! No trees, no pool, no nothing, except a place to park. Not to my liking. And my niece and her husband are now traveling through the mountains in Washington state. Now that’s some scenery compared to this.

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Below is the inside of the Pow Wow Restaurant and Lizard Lounge also in Tucumcari. Take a look at the booth and figure out how many people are eating. Four, right? Wrong. The older couple are painted on the wall. They fooled us too. The paintings above the booths are top notch. The next picture is a mural of the Lizard Lounge. We were disappointed we didn’t get to experience the night life there.

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Below is a new apartment building in the same town. Bob works in construction so we are always interested in buildings, bridges and steel structures. He sent this picture to his office to see if they were interested in building this type of structure in New York. You can guess the answer. Next to our car, on that truck, is our needed Wyoming license  plate. We are still missing some of the east coast states and Hawaii.

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Below is a good example of how, even residences, are barred and locked.

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Our three hundred miles to cover today, that we thought would be a grueling day in the car, turned into only 4 1/2 hours with the 75 mph speed limit. The roads might be a little bumpy, but they are straight for the most part. We did change elevation gradually, which I only realized because my ears popped a couple of times. We got in to Albuquerque about 4 pm. I took a quick nap, a shower, and now I am writing this is in a jumping hotel lounge with live music as an accompaniment. The bar tender is ridiculously slow, but the “floor show” is great, and we even got to dance to a Patsy Cline song, before dinner!

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Ray and Eva performing in the lounge with only a lead guitar and a tamborine. They played old country, spanish folk songs, and other songs the crowd knew.

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The crowd, some from a tour traveling on a Carolina Tours bus, some from the local area, and us. What a blast. Now we need some dinner in the restaurant located in the hotel. And I’ll get to bed before 11 pm. Yeah.

Day 10 – Rt 66 trip

We are having to admit, we can’t see it all. When I made all the plans for the excursion I rarely had us traveling over 200 miles a day. Except I figured all that out using maps which calculates highways. I didn’t know Rt. 66 would be hard to locate and follow from town to town. I didn’t know the speed limit would be about 45 mph in most places and I didn’t allow enough time at each stop. So, ten days in, we are getting to our destination later than expected so take the next morning to explore it which gets us on our way to the next hotel about noon. Gotta figure out a way to break the cycle.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, Bob and I both like to eat. Diners and good food abound. Tally’s was our breakfast spot this morning. April took good care of us. The retro decor was the best we’ve seen and the employees seemed to like being at work. I had a Popeye Omelette which had spinach, bacon, onions, and mushrooms inside. Bob had the Tally’s Bomb plate. Both were delicious and huge portions. We ate our leftovers for lunch.

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Bob had the Tally’s Bomb plate.

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Retro look inside Tally’s Cafe.

After we ate we went looking for the Rt 66 Harley Davidson store. Bob still wears all his Harley shirts and the good polo shirt he has needs to be retired. The picture of the bench that is the lead photo for today was in the store. Bob did get a new shirt. It will probably show up in a picture before this trip is over.

Next we went in search of the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza. He is considered the “Father” of Rt. 66 because he was instrumental in bringing together representatives from all the states involved to build a continuous road from Chicago to California. Below, with a messy background, is a statue depicting the change from horse drawn buggy to automobile. The statue was life size, detailed and a beautiful piece of art.

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A walking bridge with the Tulsa Medical Center in the background. And you know who in the foreground. We heard no sirens last night.

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I have mentioned the EZ66 Guide we are following. The guy in the blue shirt is its author. Jerry McClanahan lives in Chandler, OK. He is an artist as well as an author. In the guide is says to stop by and meet him and he will autograph the guide for you. He was very friendly, gave us some updates on road changes, and was happy when we bought a print of one of his paintings. He could flip through the pages of the book like it was his child’s baby book.

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Our next stop was in Arcadia, to see the Round Red barn above. It was built by slaves in 1898. A pencil drawing of the innards had Bob figuring prices. Below is just a contrast in size of our Mini Cooper to a tour bus. It made us smile, so we had to share.

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Also in Arcadia is a 66 foot pop bottle replica. The store and diner it advertises is called POPS. They have any flavor pop you can think of. Who knows what some of them taste like. Below this picture is the flavor I’m sure my dog enthusiast grandson would pick. For lunch I picked an Australian ginger beer and Bob had something that was grapefruit flavored. It was called KISS and made in Mukilteo, WA.

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It was just after 3:30 pm when we got to the Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City. We stayed until it closed at 5 pm. Inside there were exhibits about rodeo riders, old time cowboys, Native Americans and the TV stars that we all know from playing both on the big screen. It deserved more time than we had to give.

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Leaving a museum in one city with 100 miles to go to the next city where your hotel is booked means you deal with 5 o’clock traffic because of poor planning. And I thought I had done a fantastic job getting all the stops in a row. We got on the highway and made time. There is not a whole lot of scenery in Oklahoma and you can literally see for miles across the plain. The first picture below, if you look closely at the haze in the background you can see windmills. We couldn’t guess how far away they were. The last picture is of some windmills right next to Highway 40 that we passed on our way to Elk City. The curious thing, in this area, most houses are fenced with gates. When we asked why, we were told to keep the cows out of the yards. The little black dots in the plains picture are black Angus beef cattle.

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Once we arrived in Elk City, we went to dinner at the Prairie Fire Grill. Sara our server was helpful and bubbly. Bob said his pork chops were delicious, but my Chicken Caesar Salad couldn’t compare to last nights salad. One surprise, I have heard many times about the country music scene in Texas and Oklahoma. Last night we too tired to go in search of a honky-tonk and tonight the Grill was playing classic rock. Nothing wrong with that type of music, I was just expecting to hear country. Maybe tomorrow night.

 

 

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