Friday, July 28, 2006

Happy Birthday to meeeeeeeeee!!!!

Yes, it has indeed been a year since I started posting to this blog. It seems almost like yesterday that I was a wee lad in short pants, dreaming of one day making daily posts to a blog, and having scores of fans hanging on to my every word, waiting for each witty pearl that I passed down.

Of course I have done no such thing. Tumbleweeds scurry across my page, and in the distance you can hear a screen door banging forlornly in the wind. What readers I once had have now gone on to better and brighter blogs. The sound of merriment no longer fills the room.

Too bad.

Well, since it's my birthday, I will tell everyone my birthday wishes.

  1. I wish that Anne Arkham's sister would make a miraculous recovery, and that she (Anne) would finally get a really cool job and start posting again.
  2. I wish that CheesburgerBrown would get some more books published, and that Oprah would tell everyone that he is the greatest living writer, hurtling him on towards multiple best-sellers. And I wish for his children to grow strong and happy and wanting nothing (although I have an idea that will be the case even without my intervention)
  3. I wish that Steven Spielberg would show up on Neilochka's doorstep, begging him to screenwrite his next project which then becomes the highest grossing movie ever. And that he and Sophie would get back together. (Yes, I'm a sap!)
  4. I wish for DeadpanAnn to get a job in a wonderful schools system and that decades from now, she and Tim are swamped by mail and calls from her past students telling her how none of their successes could have been possible without her guidance.
  5. I wish that 1-2-3/Grumpy Teacher/Derek would finally get laid, and by a cute, smart girl!
  6. I wish that TC Byrd would start writing again, so I could keep up to date on what's going on in Hattiesburg. And I wish for her pending nuptials to go flawlessly - even if she wears Doctor Martens.
  7. I wish that Hillbilly Mom will enjoy her new home, for the sake of gummi Mary and all that is holy!

So let it be written... So let it be done!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Road Trip - Part 3

Day 7 - Wednesday, 7/5/06

The last time to ever wake up in Suite 12403 at the Stardust West Tower. We took a nice bath together in the Jacuzzi and then a good, long shower. Grabbed muffins and juice at the lobby coffee shop, tipped everyone huge, and hit the Boulder Highway towards Henderson. Stopped for provisions in Henderson and found no avocado Pringles. Damn! Traffic over the damn dam was atrocious. (Go figure the traffic at Lake Mead would be bad over the July 4th holiday!) Wasn’t even halfway down 93 to Kingman when my girlfriend passed out. Woke up at the same Chevron station (fortunately the one-tooth burper was off duty) where we gassed up. I was learning that the Marquis did not hold a candle to the Impala we traded in when it came to gas mileage. And out west the gas is about 40 cents higher per gallon than back home. Ouch. This was going to cost me, now.

At Kingman we took route 66 northeast away from the interstate. This is (I think) the longest, unbroken stretch of original 66 left today. Some areas can only be described as magnificent desolation. Did I steal that from some astronaut? Sounds good, though. After winding up the hills through Hackberry and Peach Springs. You can see the southern end of the Grand Canyon from here! Not many people know this. On past Grand Canyon Caverns and Truxton. The road runs next to the Sante Fe RR through here, and we must have seen 12 huge trains in 150 miles. Long ones, with several locomotives pulling and a couple pushing! We were making our way to Seligman (what many consider to be the Capitol of 66) when, of course, the rain set in. A nice hard one, too. Couldn’t see the mountains, save a random glimpse through white sheets. Lightning flashing… Then about 2 miles west of Seligman it quit!

Stopped at the World Famous Snow Cap while in Seligman. Quite a crowd stopping by to get squirted with fake mustard. I also learned that since my last trip the owner, Juan Delgadillo, tossed in his apron, as it were. He died a couple of years ago. But his sons have taken over and seem to be keeping the place up to the same standards. The late Juan’s brother Angel was pretty much instrumental in creating the Nation Route 66 historical society in Arizona. “The Mayor of Route 66” is how Angel is referred to in just about any Route 66 book you can pick up. I did not see him, and unfortunately I did not talk to the boys and their families. It was like being in the presence of Pete Townsend or Keith Richards. But I took photos and we told everyone goodbye and got back on the road.

At Williams, we made a left through town (Arizona really touts it’s 66 traditions well) and moseyed on up to the Grand Canyon. We arrived about 6:30. It was cold and the threat of rain was in the air. I had been making big plans for this moment, timing the trip to arrive at the canyon to catch sunset. It also looked like all my plans were going to be for naught. Lots of tourist (duh!). This is where I realized that dads on trips are assholes to their kids and wives. I had been making these observations for a few days, but this one asshole really nailed it here. Plus he was rude to my g/f when she accidentally nudged his tripod. Dude! It’s not film! You can erase and shoot over! Now can’t you see I’ve been waiting patiently for your spot? After a span, the throng diminished. The light was fading fast, but I had my tripod so I could shoot good 20 second, light-gathering shots. It was us and one other couple (the girl had a nice Canon). We were all watching the little slice of clear sky on the horizon that we knew the sun was going to hit in a few minutes. We had out positions… Bam! Gold! In about 45 seconds, the crowds returned (except for the ashoole. Good!) but we stuck to our hard-earned positions. Once the sun passed the slit of clearness everyone left again. We remained but it was not to be. So at least we had that.

Back into the car and into Flagstaff. Checked in at the Fairfield and went exploring for some grub. We were both starving. I got a sammich at Arby’s, she got a salad and potato at Wendy’s. Stopped at a gas station for beers, when lo’ and behold - Wasabi Funyuns! Mmmmmmmmmmmmm! I had seen the BIG bags in L.V., but no small ones. My patience was to be rewarded! Went back to the hotel, ate, drank and passed out (after some really good “what a great day” sex!)

Day 8 - Thursday, 7/6/06

After 3 nights in the huge, spacious suite in Vegas, the Fairfield?marriot – while nice, don’t get me wrong – was like waking up in a steamer trunk. The bathroom was so cramped that you couldn’t touch any toiletries on the counter without knocking something over. But we managed more sex, a shower, followed by more sex. Then breakfast. Which tastes so good after sex! (Yes – I haven’t been talking about sex much, but as I said on the first installment, Oklahoma City and Amarillo were the only 2 times there was no sex. I figure you would get tired of hearing about how incredible I am! HA!) Anyway, the day was bright and clear (a rarity) and I was hoping to finally get some of the pictures I had planned (blue sky, puffy clouds, road and telephone poles looming into the horizon) but it was not meant to be. The good stuff was to be behind us all day (where we had been, dammit). A quick check of the groceries turned up no Avocado Pringles.

Bought more water and struck out to the next destination – Tucumcari. On all of my trips I had only been there during the day. I always longed for the chance to shoot the wonderful neon signs. This was to be it! Stopped at the Jackrabbit (what a wonderful place) but Two Arrows has fallen into such a state of disrepair, I just drove on by. Passed Meteor Crater again. Stopped again for gas in Holbrook (but no DQ this time). My g/f passed out about 2 hours west of Albuquerque. We stopped at Garcia’s in Albuquerque to get some more-authentic-than-you-can-get-in-Mississippi Mexican food. What a great place. I love Albuquerque. But I hate typing it. Go ahead – try it!

Drove into Tucumcari about an hour after dark, and was shocked to see that half of the city was dark. Even the streetlights! Had there been a power failure? I was crushed, yet again. Got pictures of the Blue Swallow and Teepee Curios. The rest was a bust, though. Disheartened, I drove on to Amarillo instead of staying in Tucumcari.

Of course, arriving in Amarillo at 1AM when there is a Jehovah’s Witness convention AND a rodeo does not make for an easy time finding a bed for the night. After stopping at 3 different places, the clerk said that the only place he knew of that had rooms was the EconoLodge. We had trouble finding it (since the name had apparently changed in the last five minutes) to the point where I almost drove on to Dallas! But my navigator – sleepy though she was – saw the little sign that said “formerly EconoLodge” and we checked in.

I have learned one thing. In my youth spent in a touring band, I had no qualms about stayin gin less-than-savory digs. Although I liked the really nice places with bellboys and room service, we wisely chose to bring back lots of money instead of spending it. In the autumn of my years, however, I now look askance at places that would have bothered me not at all 20 years ago. And I absolutely will not even think about checking into a motel that has different colored doors for each room.

While the “Luxury Inn”, as it was now known, boasted all the same color door, it was one of those places where I was sure I did not want to walk on the carpet in my bare feet. And while she passed out quickly, I wasted another 45 minutes trying to slumber. Such was also the case in Oklahoma City. So now you know my secret - I can only have sex in nice hotels.

Day 9 - Friday, 7/7/06

At about 4:45, some d*ckhead decided to roll his suitcase down the stairs just outside our room, instead of carrying it. WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! I laid there for about another hour trying to get back to sleep, but it was not meant to be.

After a quick shower, I woke up baby girl and tossed her in the shower. As I was carrying the luggage to the car (carrying, not rolling down the stairs, mind you), my nostrils were assailed with the rich smell of bovine excretions. Welcome to Texas, y’all!

Again, no Avocado Pringles. Bought some beer to have icing down for our arrival in Dallas. Road a highway I have never been on before... Saw Wichita Falls... Made it into Dallas around 4:30 and checked back into the Sheraton Suites... Got the requested room on the downtown view side… Took showers, closed the curtains, and had sex until 7:30. Ordered room service, popped open the beers and watched “Monsters, Inc.”. Stood out on the balcony and took pictures of the Dallas skyline and watched the crowds leaving “Medieval Times”. A couple of hours later, drunk and sore, we passed out in a hotel for the last time on the trip.

Day 10 - Saturday, 7/8/06

Woke up around 7:30. Showered, occupied ourselves for about an hour, got dressed, wrote postcards, checked out, went to the post office for stamps, and then went into Dealy Plaza. We wandered around there and at Pioneer Park for a while, then headed back up to Northpark for Le Madelaine and the Puzzle Zoo (my new favorite store in Dallas). I bought a 2 level maze, a 3D Puzzle (level 4) and a wind-up bucking donkey. New office toys. Headed out Northeast Highway, got on Highway 80, hit I-20 at Terrell. Stopped in Kilgore at the Albertson’s to score some Lone Star beer, but was denied. So I settled on Asahi and Dos Equis. Crossed into Louisiana and stopped at the Welcome Center at 4:30. Hit the Mississippi River at 7:00. Dropped my girlfriend at her apartment at 8:00.

On Sunday, she came to my house and we had a clothes washing party, made a big salad and decompressed. It finally caught up to me and I passed out at 2:30. We woke up at 6, I took her home, went back to the house and went to sleep, after setting my alarm to wake me up for work at 5AM.

The trip was over.


While my girlfriend has been to Vegas prior to now, she has naver made a trip like this one. I had the most fun showing her pieces of Americana that she never new existed or had only read about. I can never thank her enough for her patience and understanding, either. ANd we are looking forward to the next trip. Perhaps Mount Rushmore and the big sky country...

I shot about 500+ pictures, dumping the chip to my portable hard drive daily. I just haven’t dumped them to the PC yet. Then I have to convert them all from raw format to JPEGs. So I promise – pictures are coming soon.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Road Trip – Part 2

Yes, it's long. But so was the trip. And I keep remembering stuff, so this is good!

Day 4 – Sunday, 7/2/06

I love Albuquerque. I like the people, the smell, the view and the grocery stores. Most of all, I love the fact that you can get Avocado Pringles there. Never again did we see these on the store shelves. It was a fluke.

Had a quick “continental” breakfast at the hotel (since we were Club Level – woohoo) and hit the road. But first we visited Smith’s grocery and purchased munchies and lots more water. Also, we deposited a large batch of postcards into a mail receptacle. Jumped onto Central (old Route 66) and headed west through “old town”. Beautiful. We also invented a new term – “Jesusy”. As in pressing the scan button on the radio, listening for a second and saying “sounds Jesusy to me.” Scan… When out west, you go through spells where you can only receive 2 stations. One is Mexican. When you have several stations, about 60% of them are “Jesusy” – at least on a Sunday, they are. Occasionally a good rock station. These increase exponentially as you cross state lines.

Here I must also add that in all of my trips to the southwest – including Death Valley – I have only seen it rain twice. Once, I saw a rogue storm scooting across the Arizona desert near Meteor Crater. Another time as I was driving back from Death Valley to Vegas, I could see angry clouds over the mountains near Pahrump, and the Vegas radio station I was listening to was giving traffic reports that would have fit well at Gomorrah. By the time I crossed the pass, it was over. Las Vegans driving in rain are somewhat akin to Mississippians in ice, apparently. Anyway, from the time we left Albuquerque, we saw storms every day until we went back through Albuquerque. They (Albuquerque) had over 2” of rain while we were in the SW area (compared to 1.5” in the previous nine months).

Most of the morning we played the “guess how many miles to that farthest rise in the road” game. My girlfriend is a wonderful travel companion, I must add!!!! We also noticed that we were both starting to miss green. Not much green to be found out there. We found more nice stretches of Route 66 and tumbled into Arizona around noonish or so. Lots of nice dinosaur statues along the road as well. We stopped in Holbrook for gas and burgers (at an ancient DQ) and hit the road again. No time for fooling with Rt 66 as we were trying to beat the weather to Meteor Crater. She had never been and I knew it would be a treat for her. Remarkably, the storm we drove through stopped 4 miles east of the crater. And from the “moon tower” overlooking it, we had a splendid view of the east side storm and another on the west side. We could also see smoke from the Sedona fires. Creepy.

While at Meteor Crater, I saw 2 girls (actually, they were “grrrrrls”) placing a Styrofoam chicken to be photographed with one girl, then the other. As we were walking up the steps from the observation post inside the crater, I noticed that this chicken had “Bob Mould” printed on the bottom. (Of course, I’m sure you all know that he was the songwriter/guitarist for the great Husker Du, before embarking on his solo career.) So I had to quiz them. These two were probably in their mid twenties and looked like a nice couple, and I was impressed that they would even know who Bob Mould is so I stopped to ask them about it. Their reaction? “She (the chicken) went to his show. Wow – I can’t believe you know who Bob Mould is!” This made me feel really old. I mean, Bob and I were playing the same clubs at the same time, way back when. He got famous – I did not. Then they also proudly displayed John Doe’s signature (and were duly impressed when I knew about “X” as well. You may remember him as Amber Wave’s husband in “Boogie Nights”.) Anyway, that chicken has been to some pretty cool shows. But how old did they think I was? “Yeah, I never got anything new once my Edison Cylinders wore out…” Hmph. They probably don’t even remember LPs.

Back on the road, we bypassed Winslow, the Jackrabbit and Twin Arrows because we were kind of in a rush to hit Hoover Dam before nightfall. It wasn’t to be, however. We watched the mountains of Flagstaff approach and marveled at how green everything got as we entered the Ponderosa pines. We crossed through 7000 feet and the Arizona divide, and then she passed out until Kingman. Again, drove through a pretty heavy storm, but then I got to watch a great electrical storm stuck in the valley at Kingman for about 30 minutes as I approached. Stopped for gas at the Chevron at the bottom of 93 and got waited on by a woman with one tooth that burped out loud – I mean LOUD! Headed north up 93 into that electrical storm and missed the best opportunity I will ever have to get pictures of lightning, mountains and sunsets. I could kick myself. (I just did!)

Crossed the dam exactly at 9PM Pacific Time. Breezed through Boulder City and Henderson to be welcomed with a view of Las Vegas herself, sprawled out and twinkling. What a sight! Made the trek into town and got stuck in traffic on the strip, of course. It took 45 minutes to go the length of 2 casinos. But we got to watch the Bellagio fountains, so it was cool. Made it to the Stardust at 10:30.

For those of you who don’t know, the Stardust will be imploded at the beginning of next year. She is one of the last of the original strip hotels. This is the only place I’ve ever stayed in that city – and I always get suite 12403 on the 24th floor. There are nicer places to stay, by all means, but from here you get the best view of the strip, and if you stay during the week you can get a 1000 square foot room for $140/night. Great bed for king-size sex, too! The bathroom is bigger than my bedroom at home! Huge whirlpool and a walk-in shower with a bench. The shower alone is about the size of my bathroom. She’ll be hard to replace. Anyway, we ordered room service and several beers, stuffed ourselves, got tipsy and passed out.

Day 5 – Monday, 7/3/2006

Skipped breakfast. She wanted to go to the Korean BBQ we passed on the way in, so we struck out on foot. It was only 90 degrees. We walked through the new mall (I think it’s called “The Fashion Show”) that sits between the Frontier and Treasure Island. They know how to do things right, for sure. It was cooled to within an inch of your life, lots of stores (that stay open LATE) and a great food court. Coming out of there, you have to take a bridge to the next corner and then around the front of Treasure Island (as opposed to walking through the casino – I prefer outside). 91 degrees. Past the Mirage. 93 degrees. Caesar’s Palace. 94 degrees. Stopped at the Bellagio under a blessed shade tree. We had only walked 1 ½ miles, and even though you don’t sweat out there, I could feel it sucking the life right out of my body! I came very close to diving in the fountain! Once past the Bellagio, we had to hop to the other side of the street just past the Aladdin. Our destination was just this side of the MGM Grand, behind the Walgreen’s. Ate some wonderful Korean food (I had never experienced it before) and then moseyed up the other side of the strip, past Paris, Balleys, The Flamingo and the (new) Hilton and Harrah’s. Went into the Venetian. I love that place. Got to see a couple of free performances, but didn’t ride the gondola as the lines were pretty long. Finally made it back to our hotel for a quick shower. The plan was to drive out to Death Valley and go exploring, but the rental car began showing signs of stress and developed a rumble at top speeds. We turned around at the Hualapai reservation and abandoned Death Valley. I am kind of sad, and she has never seen “real” desert before. But it would certainly have sucked to have the wheels fall off out there! So we went back to the hotel and then walked down to T.I. to catch the cheesy pirate show.

The cheesy pirate shows are at 7, 8:30, 10 and 11:30. We arrived at 6:30 and it was already packed. So we listened to it (oh, it is so freaking goofy) and then immediately parked ourselves in a good spot for the 8:30 show. (Yes – I am the best boyfriend in the world.) Chatted up with a nice lady and her friend (turns out she’s from Australia), watched the show and then tried to get some food. The food court at the Fashion Show closes at 9, by the way. So back to the hotel for more room service! Whee!

Day 6 – Tuesday, 7/4/06

Happy Birthday, America. Ran into some Brits in the elevator (excuse me, the lift) and had to chide them somewhat. Went to the Budget Car Rental to exchange vehicles. They tried to downgrade us to some trunkless wonder that was beeping for an imminent oil change. Went back in and managed to wrangle a Mercury Grand Marquis out of them, but I was going to miss the Impala. The new car had leather seats (instead of fabric). But Tony Soprano could have stuffed several bodies in that trunk. Of course, it was showing 37% oil life left, but at that point, I was ready to go.

Drove out to Henderson to find out where the fireworks show would be that evening. Can you believe that no one at our hotel knew where any fireworks shows were? Nor did the paper say anything about fireworks in Vegas. It just happened that 3 weeks ago I googled Vegas fireworks and found a small blurb about Henderson. So we visited and talked to an uber-polite EMT coming out of a 7-11 carrying what could only have been a seven gallon soft drink. He told us where the park was, how to get there, and what time we should show up to get a good spot. It turns out this was an annual festival they do. Lots of kiddie stuff, some food, etc… And fireworks. So we went back to town and visited the new Wynn Resort – the newest since the Venetian (which was the newest on my last trip). I must say that it is indeed the most sumptuous and well appointed place I have ever been. But it still wasn’t as fun as the Venetian.

Then we hit New York, New York and rode the roller coaster. That was a stone gas, baby! I really wish we had gone again (it’s cheaper, then) but for some reason we did not. We wandered around inside (got lost, actually) and then made it over the the MGM Grand and saw the lion. Back over to NYNY and found the car and headed on out to Henderson, but not before driving the rest of the strip into north Vegas (past Fremont) and then south to the sign. Got to Henderson around 6:30 and wandered around the park, enjoying the festivities. One reason I love my girlfriend is that, while she is most certainly an adult, she has the ability to get so excited about certain things that she appears quite child-like on occasion. We watched a couple of nice clowns making balloon animals for lines of kids, and she sent me off in search of a sheet of paper while she got in line – her goal was to trade an origami crane for a balloon duck. The crowd was pleasantly entertained during this show! Then we wandered over to the “Mad Science” tent and they helped her make some “goo”. She spent all evening shaking it and getting it to the perfect consistency. Then we set up the camera about 50 feet from where the fireworks were set up. I have to say that was the best fireworks show I have ever seen. And the loudest (since I’ve never been directly under the big aerials before). Car alarms were going off all over town. And it lasted a good 20 minutes or more. And on the way back, we could see hundreds of aerials going off all over Vegas. It was so freaking beautiful!!!!

By now we were exhausted. It was too late for room service, so we wandered into one of the restaurants to get a kick nibble before going to bed. Then I was reminded once again of the thing I hate most about Las Vegas (or any casino). Keep in mind, it’s after midnight. At the next table sat a puffy, round dumpling of a woman sitting across from her 2 kids. She had her cellphone cradled in her ample neck, chatting it up with someone as she sat there and cut her steak and ate. To me, this was wrong on so many levels! First, she was ignoring her kids. Second, why are the kids up after midnight – they looked to be about 5-ish to me. Third, don’t talk on a goddamn cellphone in a restaurant. Fourth, don’t talk on a phone while you are eating. Can you say “gambling addiction”? But then, as if she didn’t get a chance to ignore her children during all of that – she immediately started writing a text message once she hung up from that call. I can only hope that the phone call was her despondent husband’s lawyer threatening to take the kids.

For all the fun I can have in that city, it is really a depressing place – especially when you see people in gas station parking lots, sitting on their luggage. You know they lost the car on a crap table somewhere. Or old ladies shuffling through the lots next to convenience stores like they are looking for coins – like all they need is one more pull to get it all back. Any idiot should be able to look at the Venetian or the Wynn and know that they weren’t built by philanthropists trying to fill a void in their lives by donating to the public. The were built by greedy millionaires looking to exploit the weaknesses of the many-headed. C’est la vie.

Tomorrow – leaving Las Vegas

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Road Trip – Part I

First of all, thank you CheeseburgerBrown for the parting sentiment. The smells of cattle, desert rain and Ponderosa Pine are fresh in my nostrils as I write. And Lisa – we didn’t have sex in OKC or Amarillo. But we had sex everywhere else, in case you are keeping score…

Day 1 – Thursday, 6/29/06

So on Thursday morning, I picked up my girlfriend at 6AM. Yes – I was late. We hit the road and stopped for some coffee on the outskirts of town. We crossed the Father of Waters at about 7:15AM local time and made it across the Louisiana delta without incident.

We stopped in Shreveport to fill up at the ATM (our bank – no fees) around 9:30 and hopped into Texas with a stop at the Texas Welcome Center around 10. Hot and humid. Fortunately, the rental car had a bitchin A/C with dual temp settings – she and I are pretty much polar (no pun intended) opposites when it comes to comfortable ambient temperatures. It also had pretty good gas mileage, as well. We were getting about 30 MPG so we didn’t stop until somewhere around Van, Texas. Nothing special happened, except I almost elbowed the teeth out of a young Mennonite lady that snuck up behind me.

Hit Terrell around 1PM. Into Dallas and checked into the Sheraton around 2. The bonus item here was that the hotel was next to Medieval Times. For those of you unfamiliar with this name, it is where Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick eat in “The Cable Guy”. (Janeane Garofalo was a “serving wench”) I hate to disappoint, but we did not feast within. No, instead we struck out for Northpark (a very rizzycratic mall) and wandered around for a bit. Then we drove around town to check out some sights, went back to the hotel, showered, changed and then made for downtown Fort Worth and The Cattleman Steak House. They did not actually slaughter a steer at the table and chainsaw it into cutlets, I’m sad to say. But a fine steak and a few Lone Star beers made it a wonderful evening. Got back to the hotel around 10PM and bedded down for the night.

Day 2 – Friday, 6/30/06

Friday morning dawned bright, and we struck out for pastries at La Madeleine, and tracked down a boba (bubble tea) shop. Unfortunately, they did not have coconut milk boba for me, but my g/f was more than satisfied with her purchase. Hit I-635, looped around to I-35 and headed to OK City. Made a boo-boo at the Red River and ended up turned around back into Texas. After turning around at another exit, we finally made it into Oklahoma. Stopped at the Welcome Center to powder our noses, and I sat in the most comfortable rocking chair in the world. Kudos to the Welcome Center. Good info, too.

Hit the city (OK, that is) around 3PM, jumped onto Route 66 (after a bypass to the big milk bottle) and checked into a “couple of steps away from sleazebag” hotel across from the 66 Bowl. Went to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and got thoroughly depressed. We were kicked out promptly at closing time, so we didn’t get to see the last few exhibits. Wandered through the chairs and then decided we needed to perk the scene up. Went down to Bricktown, but it turned out to be a touristy contrivance. The canal was nice, though.

I was also very saddened to see that the 66 Bowl (a grand sign in it’s day) has a lot less animated neon than it did 5 years ago. In fact, that would be - none? Just a few stationary circles. Apparently the cost of maintenance is too much to bear? At least I got good shots on the previous trip...

Day 3 – Saturday, 7/1/06

Saturday morning, we got out of town around 8. We stopped at McDonald’s in Yukon for some quick carbs riddled with fat. Being from an area that is littered with small towns, I was not surprised to see that at 8:30 in the morning, the Yukon McDonalds was packed with lots of old men (or codgers, in the vernacular) drinking coffee and talking about farm stuff and such. However, my g/f had never witnessed such a thing. She found it fascinating AND funny, trying to listen to their conversations. It was indeed a treat for her. And everyone was nice and polite, but I think they don't get too many Asian girls dropping by, so they had their onw stare-fest. Of course, it may have been the cute-factor, too...

Once on the road again, we spent the next hour or so tracking down long, lost bits of the old Route 66. Up towards Geary and Bridgeport and across the old Pony Truss Bridge that looks so cool. Then to Hydro with a stop at Lucille's. (Although Lucille Hamons died a few years ago, someone bought the old building on eBay and is supposedly going to fix it up. They are also opening a new tourist trap at the exit into Weatherford.) Then, Weatherford (home of Astronaut Tom Stafford and a quick stop to shoot the F104) and into Clinton and the Route 66 museum. While there, we chatted briefly with a French couple we had found on the old road. They were on a motorcycle and were navigating 66 by notebook. After buying souveniers, we were back on the road.

Foss, Canute, Sayre, wind farms, Erick, Texola and then on into the Texas panhandle. Shamrock (with the famous U-Drop Inn), Mclean and Alanreed. Onto I-40 to Jericho and then back on 66 past the leaning water tower. Of course, we had to stop at the western hemisphere’s second largest freestanding cross (since we saw it looming for the previous 10 miles) and a view of multiple Jesi doing the crucifixion, as well as a mock sepulcher and fake shroud of Turin. (It was THE largest, but I read that Effingham, Illinois built one 8 feet taller. Bastards!)

On down the road we broke off from I-40 again to follow the trail of 66 into Amarillo. On the other side of town, we visited Cadillac Ranch. We also got knocked over by a little tornado while standing out on the windy plain. The weather was clear and hot, too.

After stopping to take a couple of pix in Glen Rio (Exit 0 – long abandoned ghost town, but it sported the first and last hotel in Texas), we blasted out of Texas and into New Mexico. Several stretches of old 66 through here. Nice and mountainous… Wind farms…

As we were nearing Albuquerque, we got a wonderful sight. For about 30 miles, we were able to watch a small storm stuck in the valley just east of the big mountains going into the city. As we finally got next to it, we had the added bonus of the smell of desert rain. I have no idea how to describe this smell. But it certainly smells different from rain in the south!

Pulled into Albuquerque just as the sun was setting. Checked into a nice hotel, and hopped out to downtown to go photograph the neon paradise that is Central Ave and have dinner at the Route 66 Diner. Be advised – on weekends, Central is barricaded! Good and bad… Back to the hotel after dinner (philly sammich and beers, mmmmm) and passing out around midnight.

Next installment – Viva Las Vegas, baby!

Oh! And pictures soon.