Thru the eye of Needles

Friday, 5 June 2009.  I woke to find cloudy skies and cool temperatures which did last.  However the weather is as one might expect in the desert – dry.  I had a light breakfast at a restaurant adjacent to the motel and caught up on my diary which I hope to post tonight from Needles. 

I had a slowly down Route 66 to where turned into the Oatman highway.  On my previous trip I had taken the 6 mile dead-end stretch of very old 66 which was part of the National Old Trails Road.  This is a marvelous stretch of old, old 66 with a delightful blind 90° turn that can give you nightmares when you consider meeting a semi trailer in the middle of the night at this point. 

66 crossed under a I-40 and the Oatman highway turn off quickly appeared on one’s left.  Under mostly cloudy skies, which kept the temperature down, I headed across the Sacramento Wash towards the Black Mountains.  It’s an easy drive with almost no traffic.  I cruised along at my Route 66 cruising speed of 42 miles an hour and enjoyed the landscape.  I stopped to read the country by wayside just before I reached Cool Springs Café. 

I took a break tackles brings and chatted with the gentleman who actually rebuilt the building, Dennis DeChenne.  It was an enjoyable break from the road and some delightful conversation. 

Then I headed further down Oatman highway, crossing Sitgraves Pass in the long descent into the town of Oatman.  Avoiding the wild burros I managed to park my car along the main drag and went in search of lunch which I found at the Olive Oatman Restaurant.  I then strolled up and back down the wooden sidewalk checking out the various stores along the way.  There was a fun shoot out for the entertainment of all visitors.  They then pass the hat with the money going to charity, the Shriners, I believe. 

I wandered in to Fast Fanny’s Place which is owned by Jacky Rowland who is an occasional visitor to the Route 66 e-group.  We at a delightful chat and she most graciously gave me a copy of her book: OATMAN – History, Recipes, Ghost Stories. 

I continued on from Oatman down a most delightful road to drive.  While it was very dry desert along the way, I enjoyed this scenery, a stark beauty, and the curvy nature of the road itself.  One has to actually drive good portions of this road. 

I topped up the gas tank in Golden Shores as gas is much more expensive in California.  It turns out to be about 80 cents to a dollar more in California than Arizona.  I wonder who gets the money? 

However, before a cross in the California I took the short dead-end stretch of old Route 66.  Many years ago 66 crossed the Colorado on a bridge that now carries one or more gas pipelines.  Then up the interstate for one exit to explore the small bit of 66 which passes through Park Moabi.  The old road ran through some really rough land.  Bits and pieces of where the road continues can be seen from the sections you can still drive. 

Back on the interstate for one exit and then ought to old 66 which joins US 95 after a short while and continues on in to Needles.  Just as you get off of the interstate and on to old 66 you can see the dusty dirt road heading south across the desert landscape.  This was your highway back then. 

I continued a 95 taking my time into Needles.  I spent the next hour or so has slowly wandering around Needles looking at noted Route 66 icons.  I finally got to my hotel which is the Days Inn and Suites.  This is a motel I don’t recommend.  Not only was the room small but for some reason the wireless didn’t work in my room.  I just could not get any speed, and everything was downloading at a dial up rate. 

I need is some food so I headed over to the Wagon Wheel Restaurant.  It was very laid-back and home-style, and I had some very good chicken fried chicken. 

Before going back to the motel I checked with the Motel 6 across the street and tentatively booked a room there for the next night.  It was cheaper and maybe their wireless would work.  Back at the Days Inn I suffered through the very poor wireless connection getting a little bit done, chatting with a friend and finally crashing out so I can get some sleep before heading into the desert on the morrow.

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