Friday, July 4, 2008

The Mother Road

Yesterday, while caching in Victorville, I had the opportunity to log a virtual entitled, Route 66 - The California Route 66 Museum. The cache itself isn't much, being a simple, "answer this question and email me the answer before you log it" type of cache, but the museum that is at ground zero is absolutely amazing. My caching buddy, 3blackcats, had already been to this cache, but she encouraged us to go and see the museum. It's definitely worth the trip here.

The museum used to be a restaurant called the Red Rooster and was the filming spot for the 1980 film, "The Jazz Singer" starring Neil Diamond. I might have to rent that one now, just to see if I can recognize some of it. The inside is one gigantic tribute to Route 66, the Mother Road. I had been to another Route 66 museum down in San Bernardino about a week ago when I visited the first McDonald's, but this one is by far and away much classier and better organized.

This museum serves up a large slice of Americana that many of us probably got first hand on many long road trips to parts unknown. You don't have to have driven part of the Mother Road to appreciate what this was like, but if you have, you can look at many of the exhibits and think to yourself, "Oh man, do I remember that." I remember the many different kinds of gas stations that were out there. The one that I always looked for was the Sinclair Dino Gasoline. After we'd left the museum, we spotted an old Mohawk gas station, boarded up now, but still able to evoke strong memories of the road. Most of these old station signs were represented in some form at the museum, but most today are gone except in places like this or in our memories, to be replaced by the giant gas companies that consolidated everything in the early 70s.

I saw a gas sign that was selling gas for 31 cents per gallon. I can remember one time my dad taking us to get gas in the car. Sometime that day, the price had gone up from 27 cents per gallon to 31 cents per gallon. Whoever had reset the pump had reset the 7 to a 1, but had neglected to change the 2 to a 3, so we were buying gas at 21 cents per gallon. I thought my dad was going to have a kitten. He filled up the car, raced home and got the other car and every available gas can we had in the garage at the time and went back and filled all of those up at the gas station that evening. What a bargain.

There was an interesting trailer on display in the museum as you walked in the front door. It was a very small, about 10 foot long trailer, big enough for a double bed inside. On the back was a kitchen that opened up complete with two burner stove. It would be perfect for a young couple working their way across the country, camping in spots along the way. It brought back memories of some of our camping trips, especially the 1968 trip where we literally drove almost the entire length of Route 66 getting back to Indiana for my grandmother's funeral. After the sadness, we spent the better part of 6 week enjoying family and slowly making our way back home on a more northerly route. Even though it started our poorly, it ranks right up there with one of my fondest memories of camping with my family.

Knowing that my dad liked to travel through the desert at night, we started at 7 in the evening, getting to Needles, CA at midnight to gas up. The temp was 100 degrees. Three hours later we were in Flagstaff, AZ looking for another fillup or perhaps a potty break. We were cocooned inside our air conditioned station wagen and here comes the gas attendant wearing a heavy coat and mittens? Something wasn't quite right here. When we emerged from the car, we understood immediately because the outside temperature in Flagstaff at 3 in the morning in the middle of July was 39 degrees.

We later made it to Amarillo, TX and had dinner there on this same trip. The wind was howling and it looked like thunderstorms were in the offing. I can remember another gas attendant stating that it looked like possible tornado weather. I've never seen my dad get so frightened, nor move so quickly to get everyone done with dinner so we could get back on the road to get ahead of the storm. We never did get rained upon, but that was another side of my dad I had never seen before.

After touring through the museum and taking several pictures of some very interesting things, we stopped by the gift shop. I bought an obligatory Route 66 t-shirt, plus a postcard that I will be sending to another geocacher. Later in the day, we made our way home by way of the Interstate 15. Just north of where the 15 divides into itself and the 215 you can see the old Mother Road down in the canyon and watch it as it parallels the Interstate, getting closer and closer. At the junction of the two interstates, right at Devore, CA, they overrun the Mother Road and obliterate it entirely. Just south of there, it comes back into being once again. Fortunately for me, I see reminders of the old Route 66 all the time because I only live three blocks from the road as it makes its way through my town.

By clicking on the link above, you can get the coordiates that will take you directly to the museum. For those of you who aren't geocachers, you can get to the museum here:

California Route 66 Museum
16825 D. St
Victorville, CA 92392-2151
Telephone (760) 951-0436

It's well worth the visit. Oh, and that first picture at the top? It's a needlepoint design.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocache:
Route 66 - The California Route 66 Museum - by Parsa

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Steve Natoli said...

Remarkable how quickly that era passed into history, isn't it? It seems to have effectively lasted about 30 years at most.

Anonymous said...

The Route 66 Museum has been a destination on the top of my list for years now! It's as Americana as Elvis!

By the way, I had to go back and edit my log on Quasimodo because my husband reminded me that I forgot to mention that the general location that your cache was hidden was the location that we had hoped to be married at! Later we opted for the Sumter Opera House to avoid rain fears, but it's absolutely beautiful there and it's changed quite a bit over the last 7 years!