My daughter, Melody, and I left Vegas on Sunday morning. We stopped for a really great breakfast at the local IHOP. Usually we avoid chains when we're traveling, but finding a good breakfast isn't always easy, and a known quantity can do the trick. After we ate, we hit the road and headed south to Boulder City and down the twisting road to Hoover Dam. This was my fourth trip to the dam.
My wife and I went on a great tour of the Hoover Dam in 2000, but the tour was changed considerably after September 11, 2001. After that, the tour was shortened, and it didn't feel the same. As it turns out, in the 11 years since I last went to the dam, they've added a longer, more in depth tour in addition to the standard short tour. I wanted to do the longer tour, but there weren't any opening until later in the afternoon, so we settled on the short tour. It was fun and the guide was humorous, so we had a good time. We were there much later than we planned, though, so we were looking at being on the road until pretty late.
We headed down to Kingman, where we had a late lunch at Mr. D'z Route 66 Diner. I had stopped there about a year-and-a-half ago on a business trip, and it was memorable enough to want to return. We had a delicious lunch, then stopped at a Route 66 store/museum right across the street. We bought a few over-priced souvenirs, then hit the road again. We then headed down the most scenic part of Old Route 66.
This portion of Route 66 goes through the highest elevation on the route, through Sitgreaves Pass, which contains miles of switchbacks through the mountains. The road has no guardrails for most of this stretch, and feels very remote. After some time, we came to the little mining town of Oatman, AZ. This town is famous for its wild burros who roam through the town begging for food (most of the local businesses sell carrots), and they have "gun battles" during the day between outlaws and lawmen. The town was almost a ghost town at one point, but is now a tourist oasis for Route 66 travelers. We enjoyed walking the plank sidewalk through town, and buying up more souvenirs, before continuing down the road. It was getting late, and we needed to reach Los Angeles by nightfall.
We reached the interstate and then passed into California (state #32 for Melody!). We stopped for gas in the town of Needles before heading out across the Mojave Desert. Originally I had planned to drive more of old Route 66, but because it was so late, we stayed on the interstate. It was dark by the time we reached the next real town, Barstow, and we had dinner at an In 'N' Out. This is a popular fast food joint native to the West coast, and we enjoyed their delicious burgers. I finally reached the outskirts of San Bernardino and entered the Los Angeles area well into the night. We were tired, and Melody had slept for a while in the car, when we reached our hotel in North Hollywood. The hotel, a Comfort Inn, wasn't the best place in the world, and I regretted having already made a reservation there for the week. But we were glad to finally rest after such a long day. We both crashed almost immediately, but we were happy to be in California!
To be continued....
Have a great evening, everyone!