End of the line

I write this final entry as we sit in our final hotel of this trip – a hotel room housed within a concrete wigwam! It is quite something.

The last few days have been as packed as ever. We crossed into Arizona a couple of days ago and visited the beautiful Painted Desert (so called because of its layers of different coloured rocks and hills) and the Petrified Forest, in which wood has quite literally petrified over millions of years and is now completely rock. We stayed in Williams, which is kind of a gateway to the Grand Canyon and as such is seemingly a bit more prosperous than some of the places we’ve stayed. It had lots of character and seemed very vibrant – we even got an unexpected tour of a former brothel whilst there! Stuffed from two hearty meals, we forwent an eat-out meal that night and instead grabbed a microwave meal from a local Safeway, where we met a guy who claimed to have “messed about with the SAS” in England a few years ago but couldn’t remember where he was based, eventually deciding that he worked in a base in Heathrow(!) Far be it for me to doubt his story but considering the SAS are highly trained individuals who have to remember streams of information at any given time, it’s unlikely a former SAS member would forget where he was based, much less utilise his training and exceptional skills by spending his Wednesday night serving customers in a supermarket…

Onto Friday where we did a nice long stretch of original Route 66, culminating in a popular gift shop called Hackberry General Store and at Lake Havasu, whose biggest attraction is that they have the very London Bridge that spanned the Thames right before the current London Bridge was built. It was sold and shipped over brick-by-brick in the early 70s. It is bizarre in that this ornate bridge is totally out of character with American architecture, yet it actually works pretty well as a centrepiece to this place. We also stopped in at Mr D’z, a highly recommended restaurant that did great food but also amazing milkshakes – some of the best I’ve ever tasted, and a strawberry milkshake that had actually seen a strawberry at some point in its life, as opposed to the artificial flavours you usually get.

Today we’ve encountered the worst weather of the trip, and in fact had to abandon one visit (to a Bottle Tree Ranch, basically some guy’s back garden in which he has collected a load of bottles and put them on poles to make them look like trees) because of the torrential downpour. Here in San Bernadino, the drainage system has basically fallen over with the sheer amount of rain, and most of the roads have large amounts of flooding as a result. We even had some sleet! Tomorrow we head into Los Angeles, where hopefully the weather will pick up, and finally on to the end of the road at Santa Monica pier.

And so ends our trip, almost. It has been fantastic and totally unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Every meal has ranged from good to excellent – we definitely haven’t eaten a bad meal out here. We’ve seen incredible sights that range from the sublime to the ridiculous; from wonderful natural sights to the hobbywork of some crazy bastard in his backyard. Much of original Route 66 is now overgrown and impassable, so the interstates provide an approximate route. Some of it is really well-signed; at other times, we have been lead into dead-ends, national parks, and impenetrable dirt tracks by dodgy, inaccurate or simply missing signage. We have driven through eight states and have frankly seen more of America than most Americans have. We have met people who are so knowledgeable about Route 66 and its history that they could talk to us for hours, and people who don’t know a thing outside their own town. We have been asked what country England is in, mistaken for Australians, and asked if we have kangaroos in our back yards. We’ve encountered staff who have genuinely gone out of their way to please, and staff for whom actually doing their job is a massive inconvenience. All in all, a fantastic trip, and one I would heartily recommend to anyone considering it! Thanks for reading 🙂