As we began the 9th day of our Rt. 66 journey, we thought we would, as the song says, “Take it Easy,” and only travel the 155 miles from Needles to Barstow. We had breakfast at The Wagon Wheel - a Rt. 66 favorite.
With a high of 105-degrees predicted for our drive through the desert, we loaded up with ice and water and hit the road. One thing I noticed driving the Mother Road through California - there were very few street signs marking Historic Rt. 66 - instead the iconic shields were on the pavement itself!
Driving through the Mojave Desert was hot - our car thermometer was proof, but that did not take away from the majestic beauty of the mountains in the distance.
As this is monsoon season here in the desert southwest, we found ourselves driving into threatening looking storm systems with severe lightening in the distance.
Fortunately the storms stayed to the north allowing us to partake in the “Rock Art” along the railroad berm just east of the town of Amboy! There is a several mile stretch decorated with initials, greetings, signatures - all spelled out in rocks! And yes, Facebook fans - I did watch out for snakes and other desert critters!
Our next stop was a National Natural Landmark - The Amboy Crater and Lava Field. The crater is an extinct 250 ft. high volcanic cinder cone that lies within a 27 square lava field in the Mojave Desert. You can hike to the top of the cone, but with temps topping out at 108-degrees, we chose to take pictures under the shade of the visitors’ lookout!
One of the most delightful things about driving Rt. 66 is the people you meet along the way. The people in every town we’ve visited have been more than hospitable and all have had stories to tell. Travelers, like ourselves, have conveyed the same amount of enthusiasm and wonder, venturing cross country on this historic highway. We met Scott and Linda, driving Rt. 66 on a motorcycle from New York! Now that's a road trip!
Roy’s Motel and Cafe is one of only a few left along this stretch of 66 in the desert and comes with an interesting story. Amboy was a railroad town before Rt. 66. When the highway, and the subsequent travelers came through during the Great Depression, Roy Crowl opened a diner with great success. When I-40 rerouted traffic around Amboy, the town died. Fast-forward to 2005 - Albert Okura, owner of the Juan Pollo Restuarants bought the entire town, and is said to be in the process of restoring many structures. It was looking good as we drove by!
Our final stop today, the Bagdad Cafe in Newberry Springs. It was the inspiration for the 1988 film “Bagdad Cafe” which was filmed in the area.
Overnight in Barstow - tomorrow our final destination on Rt. 66 - Santa Monica!