10/16/14 - Big Dam and North

 In the tunnel in the rock near the power plant

In the tunnel in the rock near the power plant

We started today at Hover Dam with the quick powerhouse tour.  It was pretty interesting!  There were lots of kids taking the tour and Joe and I were imagining ourselves showing Hazel and Aria these amazing things when they get a little older.

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After the tour we got back on the road as soon as we could and headed to Las Vegas.  There we had lunch at the In and Out Burger warehouse store. and talked to a number of people about our trip and JDRF.  Then took the long way out of town by way of the Las Vegas Strip and pointed the Millennium Bird north toward Lake Tahoe.  Since there were a couple of hours of  desert landscape to drive through. We decided to head west and cross Death Valley.   With the help of Google maps and a AAA map that we picked up along the way, we found the route with the better road. In hind site, we should have checked the elevations of the three passes and chosen another route that is lower.  We went from 3,500' feet to  4,300 and then down to -245 feet elevation as we drove, then up to 5,000 feet to about 1,000 and finally back to 4,100 feet.  We did all this in about 45 miles in a 50 year old vehicle that has been having trouble with over heating and running at elevation, but the Milinimuem Bird did great!  The temp was in the acceptable range, however the cruise overloaded and quit when the car was trying to hold  60mph up a 5.5% grade at 4,500 feet . This was not a big problem for us, though. 

 Stove Pipe Wells, Death Valley.

Stove Pipe Wells, Death Valley.

When it started getting dark we were running with the bright lights on.   We saw burros, small fox's,  jack rabbits, and kangaroo rats on the road.  We didn't want to mow any of them down, hence the brights.  After about 30 minutes the lights started to blink off and on, and off and on again. Joe asked if I was getting bored and doing that with the switch,  I was wondering if we had packed the extra replacement light switch when I remembered about the circuit breakers on the electrical system.  I dimmed the lights, the low beams came on and we continued with no further shenanigans. We were glad we were on a straight stretch when it happened, so no animals were hurt in the writing of this blog. 

At the end of the day, we finished up in Lone Pine. Tomorrow we head toward Napa Valley, CA for some wine and a slower day.

10/15/14 - Gone a Month

 Mail box holder  down the street from Bob and Debs, house this belongs to is on the golf course.

Mail box holder  down the street from Bob and Debs, house this belongs to is on the golf course.

We had dinner with Bob and Deb last night at a nice brew pub and then we all headed home to hit the sack.  Deb was on a quick turn-a-round.  She came home from one trip at 4 in the afternoon and then had to leave at 6:00 the next morning.  Bob had a job site where he needed to be early this morning so he left about 5:30 AM. The retired guys managed to get up and out about 9AM.  We didn't want to hit the morning traffic in LA. Our plan today was to head back to Henderson, NV,  It seems that the manufacturer of our fancy radio (that isn't working right) has moved from its Chino location to Henderson.  We found this out after leaving Laughlin yesterday.  Laughlln is about an easy 60 miles from Henderson!  When we got to LA we called  them to get directions to there plant and that's when we head about their move.  The good thing is that since we are going back, I was able to get tickets to tour Hoover Dam. It took us 3 hours to get from Bob's house to Victorville, CA  where we stayed the night before.  we had lunch at the same Cafe' 154 where we dined the last two days. This was a first for us! We had three meals on three days at the same café with only 300 odd miles in between.

After we ate, we fueled up and headed for Hendersen.  It is a very boring drive, straight through sage brush with nothing else interesting to see until we got to Nevada. Then, at least, there was a casino at every exit.  There was one interesting thing that we saw.  The Ivanpah Solar Plant is about 5 miles from Nevada border and the first casino.

 it was 2 in the afternoon and it was to bright for my camera to focus  see there web site for pics

it was 2 in the afternoon and it was to bright for my camera to focus  see there web site for pics

The towers were to bright to look at for long, even with dark glasses. We wanted to stop by the information booth but had to be at Retro by 4:30 PM. As it turned out, we made it by 4:00 but the tech guy said we should bring it back in the morning and he would test it then. I explained to him that over the past 9 months I had had it out of the dash 6 times trying different things that he had suggested.  Everything worked fine until about 4 days into our trip. Eventually, around 4:30 we pulled it out and he took test.  At 4:45 he returned with a new radio and brought back my modified components that allowed it to fit in the Thunderbird. 

By 6:00 PM we had it all put back together.  Now we just have to re-set all of the pre-sets again.

We headed for a local casino recommended by the staff at Retro Sound  and had some dinner and a beer.  Then it was off to bed.  Tomorrow: Hoover Dam!  Then we'll go north back into California on our way to gold  country... then on to wine country...and then the redwoods.  We think so, anyway, but who knows what tomorrow will really bring?

 4:45

4:45

 6 pm   done    practice makes project go faster

6 pm   done    practice makes project go faster

10/14/14 - Last Miles of Route 66

We started today where we ended yesterday, in the small restaurant next to our motel. It had just opened a few days before and the motel manager told us that it was good. We agree with him.   Both dinner and breakfast were great!  Our food was tasty and well presented.  This is a new establishment so they are still working out portion size and procedures, but the food was good and the staff were friendly.

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We headed out to cross the mountains and entered the Los Angeles Basin.  Our first road was Foothills Boulevard.  We followed it to Rialto and the iconic concrete teepees. We switched to Colorado Boulevard and looked for a shiny red super stocked dodge, but did not see any.  I did see my first Fiskas Karma; a very nice looking car.  We traveled by the Santa Anita Race track and it seemed much bigger then I thought it was.  As we continued on into Beverley Hills the number of Teslas, Porsches and Aston Martins increase to the point that they weren't rare sightings. At one point we were going from light to light with a group of 3 Teslas, 2 Porsches, 1 Aston Martin, 2 Prius, and a our 66 T-Bird. LA traffic lives up to its reputation.  It took us about 3 hours to go 45 miles on LA  main streets.  These are 4 and 6 lane boulevards.  I won't complain about  Portland traffic again! 

We finally crossed over the bridge and parked on the Santa Monica Pier; the end point of Route 66. After presenting documentation to prove that we had driven the entire length of Route 66, and donating $10.00 each to the National Historic Route 66 Federation we received our certificates and had our picture taken.

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We celebrated with lunch at Bubba Gump's, walked the Pier and talked to a couple from Australia that had also finished Route 66 the day before.  They were driving up the coast to San Francisco and then flying home.  We explained the joke we had heard putting tourists into two groups; about the newly wed and almost dead.  The  man agreed that people travel when they get older and so does he.  He has lost three friends in the last year that were fine the year before.  He said he is "not putting off any trips, because you never know when you could go."  I'm guessing he didn't mean go to Disneyland.

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When we got back to the Route 66 end point a group from England asked if we were driving  the Thunderbird.   They said they have a son with Type One diabetes and they also collect donations for JDRF in England, at car shows and cruise in's.  I went got the T-Bird and parked it in the road so we could get their picture in front of it.

After taking pictures with everyone's cameras, we said our goodbyes and set our GPS for San Diego and headed south toward Bob and Deb's.

10/13/14 - London Bridge

We stayed in Laughlin, NV last night.  I started the morning in the car with the freedom pop so I could get a stronger internet connection.  The motel internet was $10 dollars with no guarantee on speed.  The down load speed was better then some of the hotels where we have stayed. Thanks for letting me borrow the pop, Evan.

 We stayed in the tower next to the casino

We stayed in the tower next to the casino

We went into our hotel café, the Loading Dock  for a breakfast buffet.  We waited in line for our made-to-order omelets and went through the buffet for yogurt, fruit, sweet rolls, bacon and sausage.  As we were finishing up I heard a plate brake behind me, and noticed the bus person that was clearing the table next to us was on the phone.  I thought it was funny that she would have to call for clean up for a broken plate.  About that time Joe said, "man down," and I turned around to see there was a senior citizen, who had been in line at the buffet, on the ground.  The man's family was all around him.  He was breathing and talking to them.  The security staff showed up with an AED and oxygen.  He  looked OK, but they were keeping him down until the EMTs arrived. Most people left the line and took there seats except for one other senior who pushed her way through the group around the fallen man to get to the bacon and sausage then took her plate to a table to eat.  Maybe she had a bus to catch.  That was a unusual way for all of us to start the morning.

 London Bridge

London Bridge

We headed out.  I was unable to get tickets for the Hoover Dam Tour at a time that would fit our impromptu schedule, so Hoover Dam was out and so was Las Vegas.  We decided to see The London Bridge at Lake Havasu.  We were able to drive over the bridge and then parked at the visitor center and walked around taking pictures.  It is an impressive bridge.  I was trying to figure out how they assembled it piece by piece over water. We went to the visitor center and thru there museum, and they showed how they did it. they built it on dry land then dug the waterway after it was finished, I think that is cheating, but way easier then I though.

We were getting gas after our bridge stop and a fellow stopped by and wanted to know if we were in town for the car show, a four day affair starting Thursday, he was driving a red and white 56 Chevy with a very healthy drive train. He admired the T-bird, we talked cars and he then continued on his way as we did. We thought about doing the show but have lots still to do on our trip, may be next year. we drove back to Route 66 and continued on our journey.

 Trains averaged 110 cars

Trains averaged 110 cars

Route 66 in this area is more then just the little side trips thru the center of towns that border on the freeway some of the time we were 10 miles away, other times we were the frontage roads for the freeway. One thing that we did notice was the number of trains that were heading east, I started timing them and a new train came by about every 7 to 8 minutes, remembering my Jr High math I figured that they were about 15 minutes apart in actual time.  one of the times we were on on the freeway due to side roads that were closed due to the flooding from a couple of weeks ago and wash outs. we passed the group from Tacoma, they also had some older cars in there group, but they were not traveling the speed limit. we acknowledged each other as we passed,

We continued on thru Amboy, Ludlow, Newberry Springs, Barstow and decided to stay the night in Victorville. tomorrow we go over the hill into the LA Basin, stop by the mfg of our radio, which we are having trouble with, maybe by where In and Out Burger started, by the way in and out Burger is 66 years old also.

10/12/14 - Back Roads


We got up this morning at a reasonable time and started repacking so we could get everything into the car. We keep acquiring stuff and the trunk is getting full.  During this stop we picked up hats and boots that Priscilla and Joe left on a previous visit with Robbie and Gail.  While I was eating breakfast I looked up to see Parker staring in the window with his ball in front of him.  I'm sure he was thinking that I was very inconsiderate to be eating when he was available to play. 

 Parker waiting for me to finish breakfast .

Parker waiting for me to finish breakfast .

We left Robbie and Gail about noon but didn't go very far.  We stopped about 5 blocks away to see another car guy in the neighborhood in the subdivision (there are about 50),   He has a '57 Ford Fairlane and the '65 mustang that he is rebuilding. He liked the Thunderbird and gave us some tips for our trip on Route 66 today.  Our next stop was at Fry's; not the electronic store but an Arizona Fred Meyer.  They are both owned by Kroger. The Pharmacy looked up my records and filled a prescription that I needed on our adventure.

Today was the first day that we had ran into congestion on the back roads of Route 66.  There was a constant stream of motor homes, trailers and motorcycles at each or our stops.  One of the more interesting stops was Hackberry.  We reconnected with a couple from Tacoma, WA that we met in Springfield, Il.  They were driving a '53 Oldsmobile.  While we were in Hackberry, a group of motorcyclist stopped by with there back-up van hauling two additional Harleys on a trailer, just in case. 

After we passed Kingman, we took the Oatman highway to Oatman.  This stretch on Route 66 is a very twisty steep road.  There were no motor homes or trailers but the motorcycles loved it and zoomed past us.  The road was narrow and built for cars in the 30's.  it is hard to imagine them chugging up these hills and trying to slow down with mechanical brakes. In Oatman we started looking for the famous wild  burros.  They were not hard to find.  While stopped in traffic one came over to the car and stuck his head in Joe's window.   Luckily, we had bought carrots at Fry's while I was waiting for my prescription. The burros ate our 2 lbs of carrots and we continued to walk the streets as we left for Laughlin, NV. Tomorrow we will try to get tickets to tour Hoover Dam and see the London Bridge.  Then back to Route 66

10/11/14 - Prescott

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We started out the morning at a local 'hot rod' get together in a small shopping center and talked to people about their cars and the hot rod scene in Prescott.  Tim's wife, Mitsy, worked for the same company that Rob used to work for.  Tim and Mitsy live one block down the street from Rob and Gail.  Another gentleman that lives in this small community has a son who lives in Longview, Washington, and  Joe ran into someone that was stationed in Catloe, Vietnam, the same time he was there.  This is getting to be in a very small world!

We came back to Rob's and Gail's, had a bite to eat, and took a nap.  Then we were off to old town Prescott for the art festival at the Courthouse Square.  After looking at booths of wares (Saturday  market) we decided to venture into old town.  We were one block from Whiskey Row so, after viewing the art booths, we walked  that way.  We started at Bricks and Bones Bar.  They ahve great nachos with tuna on top.  Then we went on to the Bird Cage, and  The Palace Hotel.  These two buildings have amazing histories,   The Palace reopened in 1901 after a fire.  How they made it through prohibition we are not sure.  The Earp brothers, Doc Holiday, Big Nose Kate, and Wild Bill Hickok's photos are on the walls from when they visited there.  Junior Bonner, a Steve McQueen's movie, was filmed at The Palace.  There is a picture of Jim at Jersey Lilly's above The Palace.  She was known as Lilly Langtry and was a very well known actor of her day .  She was never considered a great actress but Judge Roy Bean, the Prince of Wales, and Oscar Wilde were fascinated by her.  Little Egypt, a traveling burlesque dancer, danced at The Palace in 1910.   

Oh, and by the way, Rob started a Sea Hawks conversation with someone next to him at Jersey Lilly's balcony and discovered her sister was a high school classmate of Rob's in Pullman, Washington.  (Again, a small world!)

We continued down Whiskey Row and came across a wedding party and were invited to the reception!    Saint Micheal's Hotel was our last stop at the end of Whiskey Row.

We headed back to the car and traveled to the Black Hole Beer Company for pumpkin beer tasting.  Our sampler was interesting but nothing outstanding like Portland's brewing company.

Rob and Gail prepared a BBQ chicken dinner and are planning our next great adventure.

10/10/14 - Calm Day

The Thunderbird had an appointment with the shop this morning to find an exhaust leak, They found a loose nut on the exhaust manifold.  While it was in the shop they made an adjustment to the carburetor and the Millennium Bird is now running fine, thanks to Tim at Advanced Auto Air in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Tim also invited us to a Saturday morning get together at a local mall with other local car guys.

 Tim at Advanced Auto Air with the Millennium Bird

Tim at Advanced Auto Air with the Millennium Bird

When we got the car back we took it to a car wash.  it had been rained on and was dirty, so it needed a shower.  Then we went to lunch at a Greek restaurant in downtown Prescott  I had a  Bratwurst (grilled not boiled) that was made on the premises and included sauerkraut with caraway seeds.  Joe and I shared Greek nachos with deep fried pita wedge chips and the usual Gryo toppings. We toured the downtown, looked at shops and checked out our destination for Saturday night.

 Our Saturday night destination

Our Saturday night destination

At Robbie's and Gail's house, where we are staying, we did some laundry, took a nap, had some dinner with our apple pie for desert.  it was worth the wait.  The Stanford/Washington State game was on TV so we watched it and then went off to bed. What a calm and easy day!  I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

 Warm pie with ice cream

Warm pie with ice cream

10/9/14 - Grand Canyon / Sedona

 Red and rounded, compared to jagged and gray in SD

Red and rounded, compared to jagged and gray in SD

 Funky little place not on the main drag, one block back

Funky little place not on the main drag, one block back

 Mountains from movie backgrounds

Mountains from movie backgrounds

 Relaxing with ice cream

Relaxing with ice cream

 Dancing couple being watched by jealous horse

Dancing couple being watched by jealous horse

We got an early start and went to breakfast at the same place we had dinner.  I was looking forward to lemon pie for breakfast.  But after their basic breakfast I was too full to have pie, so we purchased a whole pie and took it with us. The main street of Williams looked very plain without the Neon from last night. We loaded up our pie and headed for the Grand Canyon. The travel to the Park was uneventful.  Of course, this is a big tourist stop.  On the way to the restroom Joe saw that a couple of bus-loads of Japanese tourists was opening their doors and a crowd was about to surge toward the restrooms.  He hurried to be almost the first in line.

We walked around the canyon rim in the area where  we were parked  and took numerous photos.  The vistas are so big!  We both experimented with our panorama apps and I got mine to work (I think).  After we found our way around and visited the rest rooms, gift shop and museum, we became unofficial "ask me" volunteers helping other tourists find what they were looking for.  On our way back to the car after filling our phones with pictures,  a tourist asked if he could take a picture of him with the Millennium Bird.   It turns out he has a '51 Chevy in his garage in Japan. His English was lacking and his interpreter got stuck on some of the car terminology, but we got our questions answered and so did he.

We checked the pie.  It was still there looking good.  Then we headed back to the interstate, about an hour and a half away. After filling up the T-Bird we headed to Sedona the back way, through Oak Creek Canyon.  Route 66 has been recently repaved. The route reminded me of the Iron Road we took in South Dakota.  The major difference was the color and shape of the mountains.

We arrived in old town Sedona, found a place to park and headed for Sally's BBQ.  This place is not on the main drag,  You have to go down an alley one street back that is lined with tables and shops to place your order, Then you find a place to sit and eat. After a pulled chicken sandwich with secret BBQ sauce we started our tourist loop.

This part of Sedona reminded me of old town Monterey.  It has a great mix of shops with something for everyone.  One of the places we looked at had information on the movies that were made in Sedona and a list of the movie titles.  Most were made in the 40's 50's and 60's when Cowboys were silver screen kings. Who can forget  "Tall In The Saddle," that 1944 black and white classic with, John Wayne, Ella Raines, Gabby Hayes and Ward Bond?  John Wayne saves the beautiful young woman's ranch from the evil lawyer with the help o his trusty side kick and the horse woman that lives on the next ranch.

Our tour continued to a home made ice cream parlor.  We tried the Malted Vanilla. It was good but did not hold a candle to the Thomas Jefferson Original Recipe vanilla we tried at Mt Rushmore.  What could?!

We continued on into Prescott, AZ to meet Priscilla, Robbie, Gail and Steve, a family friend, for wine tasting. We purchased a couple of bottles and took them to La Bruzza's,  a small Italian restaurant.  They don't have a liquor license, so they loaned us a cork screw and we had wine with a great dinner. We were all so full the pie will have to wait until tomorrow.

10/8/14 - Painted Desert, Route 66

We started today with a small backtrack to the El Rancho Hotel.  We wanted to look at it in the daylight and check out the upstairs lobby area where they have signed pictures of the famous people who have stayed there. The lower lobby has unusual furnishings we wanted to see and we wanted to purchased a few souvenirs.  After taking a few more pictures we headed west on I-40 and made the first official Arizona stop at the Welcome to Arizona rest area.  There were maps there of attractions to see along the way and info on possible construction on the interstate. While we gathered information, it started to rain.

As soon as possible we were back on Route 66, Our first fun stop of the day was the Petrified Forest/Painted desert.  Our Geezer cards got us into the National Parks for free and we started the loop of observation points,.  The thumbnail pictures here don't do the colors justice.  This place in comparison makes the John Day Painted Hills area seem pale and small.  We saw evidence of  trees that look like wood in the Petrified Forest but they are rock hard.  They are  fascinating remnants of the forest. 

At the end of the Painted Desert area there is a monument to Route 66.  The Mother Road used to run through  this area.  This route seems to have been designed to give the traveler something to tell friends about. 

Back to the highway and then Route 66 once again.  It appeared from under I-40.  We got pictures of the famous concrete tee pees at the Roadside Motel and stopped by the Here It Is Curio Shop.  it is closed week days this time of year, so we  headed on to that town made famous by the Eagles Tune - Winslow, AZ.  Our  arrived followed a thunder storm.  Every thing was wet and there was about 4 inches of water was in the gutters.  Not many people were out.  We took a few pictures on the famous corner and then settled in at a local lunch spot to watch 'the corner and have some lunch, We should have taken more pictures because as it dried out the fair weather tourists came out of the shops and started to que up to take selfies, or have the next group waiting take there pictures. Our table next to the window looking out past the Minillium Bird gave us a great view and we watched the spectacle as we ate.  It is fun to watch peoples reaction to the Thunderbird and to the graphics, especially the trunk map. 

A couple came in with grand kids and sat next to us.  The fellow noticed our shirts and the Bird outside and explained that he owned the red flatbed Ford on the street.  He was  local and explained how the corner came to be. He also said that after they had gotten the corner up and going, the committee he was on had worked on getting someone to buy the abandoned train hotel.  That buyer had refurbished it and made it an attraction in itself. It was interesting listening to how a pop song and a reawakening of Route 66 nostalgia had saved Winslow and put it back on the map. We took our final pictures, had the group behind us take one of both of us, and then we were off.

Our next stop was the Meteor Crater, Big Hole in the Ground. We opted for the self guided tour and headed for the rim.  We took videos and tried to get our panorama apps to work because the size was not translating in our pictures, it is a big hole! We went through the museum, took pictures of ourselves at the bottom mock-up and proceeded on the road again..

As we have been traveling along Route 66 through many small towns and by closed attractions it makes us appreciate the ones that have been able to survive.

 unusual love seat and matching chairs

unusual love seat and matching chairs

 Its raining, welcome to Arizona.

Its raining, welcome to Arizona.

 Joe on the corner, but only a flatbed ford, no girl.

Joe on the corner, but only a flatbed ford, no girl.

 The bird, in the street, in water, with a scuffed white wall

The bird, in the street, in water, with a scuffed white wall

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10/7/14 - Two Miles High

Before anyone gets excited and wonders what we are up to, the reference in this post's title is to the elevation, not the Two Mile High Club.  After breakfast today, we went to the Albuquerque Sandia Tram and rode the first tram of the day up the mountain.  The landing platform elevation is 10,378'.  My first encounter with stairs convinced me to move a little slower.  There isn't much oxygen up there, and I was breathing hard when ascending the ramps or stairs.  The view was spectacular!  You can look off both sides of the mountain.  The back side is the ski area.  Our guide said that from this vantage point it is possible to see about 30% of New Mexico.  The Balloons taking off at the Fiesta looked like the heads of pins, very small.   We looked around, took lots of pictures and headed down the mountain on the next available tram car.

Then we set the GPS for Gallup, NM,  139 miles away but once we entered the west bound freeway we turned off our GPS, pulled out the guide book and went SOP. Trading the interstate for Route 66 as soon as we could, we enjoyed driving through many small towns.  At the Route 66 Casino we took the chance to visit the restroom, stop by gift shop, and look around. Joe lost a dollar gambling.  Neither of us are the high rollers that our outward appearance portrays. 

Route 66 winds around obstacles while the interstate goes straight through them.  In Grant at Blake's Lota Burger, store number "1," we stopped and had Lunch. The burger was great!  It tasted like it came from a backyard bar-b-q with all the fixin's on it.  We'll try Blake's Lota Burger if we come across one again when hungry. 

Continuing on to Gallup, we noticed stone buildings in various states of disrepair.  Some of the building corners were just piles of rock. This picture shows someone trying to restore one to use as a small shop or out building. 

In Gallup we checked into our room at Motel 6 and discussed the possibility of going to the Four Corners Monument.  Since we had the time, we headed out. The scenery on the way was many miles of varied and unique f flat land, scrub brush and grass interrupted by plateaus and large rock outcroppings.  The colors in the volcanic landscape are tan, red and black.  

It was 4:45 when the Millennium Bird arrived at 4 corners.  The park closes at 6:00 PM so we had time to find the spot where the last survey said the four corners of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona touch. The survey was done in 1909 (more on this later).  People were taking the required foot-hand or butt-in-all-four-states-at-one-time photos, so we waited our turn.  A couple of young women from Ireland managed it together by doing back bends. it hurt just to watch them!  Later, we talked to them and a gentleman from Salt Lake in the parking lot by our car.  The young ladies posed in the car for a picture to show there friends what a true American Classic looks like.  They were impressed with how roomy it is. 

The fellow from Salt lake was on his way home on his motorcycle and said he might be in Portland, OR this summer for work.    He has a classic Firebird in his garage at home, but  it is not running at the moment.  We told him about the Beaches Cruise In and gave our cards to them all so they can follow our adventures. 

Using my trusty cell phone, 6 satellites, and Google Earth, I was able to take this picture with 4 corners right between my feet.  It is about 8 feet from the X on the monument. I am surprised that they got it as close as they did in 1909! 

We got back to Gallup about 8:00 PM and stopped in at the El Rancho Hotel.  This is the place where Hollywood stars stayed in the '40s and '50s while they made movies in the area; John Wayne, Hop-A-Long Cassidy, Mr. Bogart, and others. We chose to sit in the bar because the dinning room was way too quite.  After ordering, three sisters at the next table asked where we got our shirts,  I was wearing our signature Two 66-ers shirt.  That resulted in a conversation about what we were doing and we gave them our cards, too.  These sisters were making a partial trip down Route 66  in a yellow '57 Chevy.  But they were doing there trip in period costumes;  poodle skirts, peddle pushers, neck scarfs and letterman sweaters. The oldest sister was about our age (66, of course).  While we were talking they were joined by a fellow (or chap) from England that they had met a few days before at the Mid Point Café. 

At the end of our day we had traveled 438 miles to go 139 miles westward.  not bad for a couple of old farts!

 Ski Area off the opposite side from the Tram

Ski Area off the opposite side from the Tram

 Roses blooming at bottom of tram

Roses blooming at bottom of tram

 The actual 4 Corners are between my feet

The actual 4 Corners are between my feet

 Gloria, Thelma, Steve from England , and Cynthia

Gloria, Thelma, Steve from England , and Cynthia

 Thelma said she took her chances with the police, Louise went over the canyon

Thelma said she took her chances with the police, Louise went over the canyon

10/6/14- Catch Up Day

While Priscilla and Dianna were here we went to the Balloon Fiesta, Santa Fe, ate at nice restaurants for dinner and generally had a good time, but we had to say goodbye to them today.   I took Dianna to the airport and turned in the rental car.  Today was a catch up day.  Robbie came with us to the airport, picked up his own rental car and then dropped me off at the local Charles Schwab office so I could do some paperwork related to Dianna's retirement arrangements.  Joe was doing laundry and having the Thunderbird serviced, so after Charles Schwab I tried the Albuquerque transit system to get back to the hotel.  It was an adventure!  I found the central transit station by the university.  When I logged into the route finder, put in my ending location I received 4 different routes each with 3 or 4 transfers and a two hour time frame to take me 10 miles. I looked at the transit map on the wall, figured a route, checked the schedule and queued up for my 1st bus. It arrived about 3 minutes later.  At my transfer point to the express bus I got off and there was my second bus was right behind it,  I was within a mile and a half of the hotel within 25 minutes!  My final bus was a commuter that started the afternoon schedule at 2:02.  It was 1:55, so I  sat in the shade and waited. At 1:15 I asked another bus driver about my bus. She said, "Oh that is connected to the train system. it won't leave the road runner stop until the train gets in or the next bus arrives at the station  it is usually here by 3:00."  I called Joe, who who happened to be about 3 blocks away finishing up at the quick lube.  He picked me up and we went back to do planning for our next weeks adventure.  

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10/5/14 - Albuquerque Car Shows

Hi again.  It's Dianna reporting on the Old Farts comings and goings today.  If you checked in on yesterday's blog entry, you know that Saturday was a busy day taking in the Balloon Fiesta  from early morning to late night.  This morning Jim and Joe got up at a civilized time, dressed in their Bucket List shirts and had a brisk breakfast before setting off in the T-Bird for the Balloon Fiesta car show.  The car, apparently rested and relaxed, purred into wakefulness and rolled off to take its place in the staging area to enter the Balloon Fiesta grounds as the balloons were packing up and leaving. 

Unfortunately, weather conditions today were not good for ballooning, so they inflated but didn't float away.  Ballooning is dependent on the wind speed and currents.  If these conditions aren't right it can be dangerous to fly balloons.  They sometimes get blown into their own fire jets and burn, or fall on power lines, and sometimes they find themselves pushed down and forced to land on freeways and backyards.  All  these are not safe for anyone.  We were glad we went yesterday when we could see the entire spectacle and no one took too big a risk.

The car show today was fun.  The T-Bird was placed in the middle of the field ... a prime spot.  The organizer's son has type one diabetes and wanted to showcase the car and the fundraiser.  Then about 11:00 AM Joe and Jim and others left the show to enter another show that was in the parking lot in a shopping area on Hwy. 528 sponsored by the Stumbling Steer Brewery and Gastropub.  Some of the same cars were registered in both shows and the T-Bird was registered, too.  You can see the Albuquerque car show pix here.  Joe and Jim talked to lots of people about cars, collected some donations for diabetes research, and got a little sun burned in the bright high altitude.  It seems to me that car shows are common ground where people of all kinds can come together around gleaming, tricked-out cars to talk, and learn, and joke, and appreciate these beauties and sometimes each other.  

Priscilla work up feeling like she was getting a cold so spent the early part of the day blowing her nose and reading magazines.  I intended to meet Joe and Jim at one of the car shows, but they moved around so fast and then they were back at the hotel before I could justify putting my shoes on.  So it was a quiet day for Priscilla and me until we all met up for dinner at Pappadeux, a restaurant in Albuquerque specializing in Cajun food.  There were oyster shooters for everyone and Joe asked the waiter for special ingredients to mix up his "What-the-heck-is-in-that?" sauce for them. There was gumbo with spicy sausage, shrimp, and other seafood goodies.  Jim had mussels and the menu had something for all.  Because it was our first visit to Pappadeux, we were offered free dessert!  Free!  We think we like this place. 

After a little timid low stakes gambling at the Sandia Casino where we had fun flushing our cash away, we made an early night of it.  Tomorrow I fly back to Oregon and Priscilla goes on with Gayle and Robbie to Prescott, AZ where Jim and Joe will eventually show up in about a week.  They will be doing laundry and getting repacked for departure on the next leg of their journey starting Tuesday.  All in all, Albuquerque was a blast!

10/4/14 - The Balloon Fiesta

Hi, it's Dianna again.  Wait until you hear what we did today!  This was the big day of the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.  We made plans to go as a group and be there for the Dawn Patrol that launches at about 6:00 AM.  That meant we would meet in the lobby of the hotel at 4:50 AM.  Joe and Priscilla were so excited they were there at 4:40.(Really!).  About a mile from the hotel we caught a yellow school bus shuttle to the Fiesta.  It was dark and a little chilly and the stars were still out.  The first thing we did was get in line for hot chocolate or coffee and a breakfast burrito (with or without Hatch chilies), of course!  I wasn't sure my stomach was ready for breakfast that early.  The chilies might not have been a good choice, but even without, the burrito was tasty. Other breakfast fare were pizza and hamburger burritos.  It was a carnival there in the dark with tents filled with balloon paraphernalia, jewelry, hats and scarves, art, whirly-gigs and glow sticks and more.  People were wearing crazy hats and blankets and many were carrying small sleepy children on their shoulders. 

We found a picnic table that we could share with a nice local family with kids and waited to see what happened next.  We waited.  It was chilly, as I said.  I walk way down the carnival aisle to see what I could see and accidentally found the area where the dawn patrol was beginning to inflate their balloons.  There was a crowd milling around them and I could get pretty close to see how they did it.  When they started the flames to send warm air into the balloons they lite up like huge light bulbs.  It was spectacular, and if I got close enough, I could even get warm, myself.  Back at the picnic table they were seeing these gigantic balloons rising slowly from the ground and blinking like Christmas lights.  Then we watched from each of our vantage points as each balloon ascended to cheers into the velvety black sky and floated among the stars.  I could no longer wonder if this early, early morning excursion was worth the lost sleep.  I would have been very sorry to miss this spectacle for a few hours more sleep.  It was an aesthetic pleasure that I will remember.

 I went back to the picnic table through the field of deflated balloons waiting their turn to rise.  By the time I arrived, the sun was coming up and balloons were starting to pop up and shine in the shafts of early light.  We all were taking pictures and videos as fast as we could.   The crowd was swirling around the balloons, looking up, and sometimes walking between half inflated balloons that made colorful silk tunnels.  There were about 575 balloons there this morning and for over 2 hours the air was full of these lovely floating conveyances.  They are fanciful, but they also carry 4-6 people in the wicker basket gondolas as they sail in the wind.  What a sight!  For more Balloon Fiesta pix click here.

So, guess what we did when we finally left the Fiesta.  That's right.  We took naps.  After we were once again rested and ready, we traveled to Rebecca's and Jeff's new house in SE Albuquerque.  They were so nice to invite this big bunch of visitors to have hamburgers, Margarettas and chocolate cake on their balcony.  I think the dogs, Milly and Fin, their 1 year old labs, were very excited to have company.  As a nod to "Breaking Bad" which was set in Albuquerque, we had meth doughnuts and each of us got a little bag of meth to take home with us.  It was blue crystallized sugar.  (Don't freak out.  It wasn't that kind of party.)

Tonight some of us will be going back to the Fiesta for the fireworks and After Glow when the balloons will be on the ground, but inflated and glowing.  You can see the best pix and videos in the Balloon Fiesta photo gallery. 

Tomorrow is the car show.  So far, the T-Bird is well and driving fine.  It is no longer threatening to fall into a vapor-locky swoon and may actually arrive at the car show in all its glory.  Remember, the judging of the Name Your Car contest will be Monday 10/6, so get your entry in soon!

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10/3/14 - Albuquerque and Santa Fe

Hello.  Today Priscilla and I, Dianna, are in charge of the blog entry.  We have looked forward to this trip ever since we made the reservations for the hotel on 10/13/13.  Jim and Joe looked glad to see us when we got off the plane yesterday and they have been telling us all about their exploits.  The odd thing is that they have spent so much time together in the car that they are starting to finish each other's sentences.  I fear we may be interrupting their routine, but they don't seem to mind.

This morning we had a little hotel breakfast, packed our bag with essentials and turned the rental car toward Santa Fe.  We took the rental car to give the T-Bird a much deserved rest and not tax it with the high altitude until tomorrow.  We are trying to keep it out of the shop and off the lift so it can get to the car show on Sunday.  I am wondering if the pressure of a car show gets it all upset and something falls off, so I, for one think we should just let it rest and be calm.

Old town Santa Fe, for those of you who haven't been there, is on the Santa Fe River, which is what we in Oregon call a "crick".  It has galleries, shops, government buildings and restaurants and two lovely old churches arranged around a plaza where there is music and interesting goods spread out on blankets for sale.  There were so many things to buy there that it was like drinking from a merchandise fire hose.  It could get overwhelming.  Joe looked at custom made hats and had his head measured precisely,  I checked out about 3,000 earrings, considering each one.  Jim bought 4 bottles of specialty balsamic vinegar and had them shipped home, and Priscilla found some cute things for Hazel and Aria.  We refreshed ourselves from time to time from the cafes.  The French creperie was my favorite. 

One interesting sight was the Loretto Chapel.  It features a spiral wooden staircases to the choir loft that was built without nails and was sturdy enough to support 8-10 singing nuns at a time.  Jim and I visited the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and learned a bit about her life.  There were several of her paintings on display there that had so much more depth and texture in person than they ever do in print.

We met some nice people who while we were ogling a 1963 Thunderbird parked on the street.  They asked about our Thunderbird connection.  It all ended with them getting our card and sharing our shock at having to rise way before dawn to experience the hot air balloon assent in the sunrise tomorrow.  Is it worth it...is it not.  I wonder if we will see them there tomorrow, that is if we can get our eyes open that early.

On the way back to Albuquerque we took Hwy 14, the Turquoise Trail, named because of the turquoise mined there.  AND we found ourselves close to the singing section of Route 66 and were able to video it.  Video to follow.

 

10/2/14 - Mid-point on Route 66

We left Amarillo, TX early because it is still a long way to go to get to Albuquerque, MN.  Our first stop was the Cadillac Ranch.  We missed the turn-off for Home Depot, so we arrived with no spray paint.  Luckily, previous visitors had left plenty of paint for us to play with.  We each chose a chassis and preceded to leave our marks over the marks of so many other artists who drove many, many miles to make their marks.  That's what happens there.  What an interesting art piece in process!

Our second stop was Adrian, TX which is the mid-point of Route 66.  We are 1,139 miles from Chicago and also 1,139 miles from LA.  We had breakfast at the Mid-Point Cafe and watched other tourists cueing up for their opportunity to take pictures at the half way point.  The cafe is right on the line marking the middle of Route 66.  We encountered Japanese tourists in a caravan and 8 Danish motorcyclists on Harleys.  Some wore well worn leathers and looked like experienced riders; others' leathers were brand new.  We talked to the owner of the cafe and he signed our book and took our picture with the Thunderbird in front of the mid-point sign.

On to New Mexico!  One of the things we noticed about this part of the country is that it is fairly flat.  Even though we are at 4,500 feet elevation, there aren't many mountains...or trees.  Our time frame was narrowing but we still had time to stop and wash the car. 

The T-Bird drives fine, but as soon as we slow down and the engine starts to heat up it runs rough, due to the ethanol in the modern fuel we are using.  It has a low boiling point.  Modern cars have electronic fuel injection which monitors temperature and keeps constant fuel pressure to the engine.  Our carburetor doesn't have that ability, and is open to varying pressures so the fuel sometimes boils out of the carburetor.  That gives us vapor lock.  BUT we managed to get to the airport by the time our wives' plane landed.

The hotel where we are staying is in Rio Rancho near the site of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival that we came to see along with friends and relatives.  Some of them live in the area and others flew in for the event and to celebrate the half way milestone on our trip. 

Robbie and Gayle, who live in Prescott, AZ recommended El Pinto for some authentic Mexican food.  It is well known and the food was great.  We passed the evening drinking Margaretas and sampling each other's meals.  Have you ever heard of a Mexican sundae?  It is coffee ice cream with Kahlua, chocolate, whipping cream and nuts with a cherry on top!

10/1/14 - Still on our way to Albuquerque

 Joplin Mo.

Joplin Mo.

 Kansas stop

Kansas stop

 Auto parts store in farm country

Auto parts store in farm country

We had breakfast at the Waffle House this morning.  What can I say? - inexpensive, filling, quick, and we were off to the  interstate for the first part of our journey today.

We soon switched to the back roads and onto Old Route 66 again. We stopped at a small store for directions, and to look for souvenirs from Kansas.  What was on display wasn't a lot  was different from shops in other states.  It was the usual stuff with Kansas on it instead of some other states. Kansas has the lowest number of road miles of Route 66  of any of the states unless you miss a sign and have to backtrack.

While we were on the back roads we stopped by an auto parts store in one of the small farming towns to look for a positive crank case ventilation  (PCV) valve gasket.  The one on the T-bird was leaking.(Not serious) This store carried heavy duty lubricant in 5 gallon pails.  That's not something that you find in the Auto Zone in Portland. OR, but they didn't have what we needed.  I ordered it from the Bird Nest in West Linn, OR and they are shipping it to us in Albuquerque.

We continued on and were in our third state by 10:00 am our time...whatever time that was...

I got a call from Roger. our truck driving friend.  He said his schedule had changed and he was going to be in Oklahoma City about 1:00 today and that his wife, Vickie was traveling with him.  We made some adjustments to our itinerary and met them for a chat  before we all continuing on.

I read the GPS wrong on the way out of the city and we accidentally headed for Dallas, but I realized my mistake when we were only 5 miles out of our way and it was still easy to get back on track.

We stopped by the largest Route 66 road sign that we have seen so far.  it was at the Route 66 Museum which, unfortunately, was closed.

We stopped to look at the Art Deco Service station that was the model for the service station in the movie Cars.  This is where the Italian forklifts worked, remember?

Our journey continued on  a combination of back roads and the interstate. The alignment was almost  the same in this area, The business routes taking us into the small towns which was the Old Route 66.

We arrived in Amarillo, our destination for today. We are now where we intended to be on our route by this time.  We made up the two days that we lost due to the transmission repair. Most of what we wanted to see, we did see, except the biggest Catsup Bottle (darn!), on this dash across 4 states.

Since we are in Texas we decided to eat Texas Style at The Big Texan Steak Ranch.  The only similarity between this and the Waffle House is that they were both filling. It was big, loud and a fun place to eat, at least once.

9/30/14 - Fast trip toward the Albuquerque Balloon Festival

 Thanks to Steve and his crew for the quick work.

Thanks to Steve and his crew for the quick work.

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 The Manager looking at the car his daughter lives in Tigard and just arrived for a visit

The Manager looking at the car his daughter lives in Tigard and just arrived for a visit

 This morning we decided to start our last day of waiting for the T-Bird in Springfield at a different breakfast spot.  We cruised the strip in our rental care and only found fast food. I Opened Urban Spoon and found a diner called the Sunrise Cafe just a mile away with an 86% approval rating! It sounded like our type of place. Joe liked it as soon as he saw the sign on the door that said, "If you are coming in pull your pants up. " It was a busy place.  We were there about 9 am and we thought it lived up to its reviews.

While we waited for the car Joe took a nap.  I went to a  McDonald's for the wifi, After having wifi almost everywhere in Portland it is difficult to get use to the fact that rual areas may not have it available.  Looking around, I could see that I was not the only one using wifi there.

The T-Bird is back with it's newly rebuilt transmission!  We got the car about 1:30, got it packed, gassed up and hit the freeway about 2:15 in the afternoon. The first stop was Don's frozen custard outside of St Louis.  The custard was good.  It was a lot like soft serve ice cream, the good kind. The first stop was going to be the worlds largest bottle of catsup but rush hour traffic in St Louis and a 6 lane 5 direction interchange convinced us that we should  keep going and get out of the craziness as soon as possible... another reason to come back and visit again.

The next stop Meramec Caverns, the hide out of Jessie James.  They were getting ready to close so we took pictures and proceeded on down the road.

Then we stopped at Cuba, MO.  The town has murals on many walls in downtown.

The last fun stop for the day was the largest rocking chair.  The designer of the chair was painting a mural on the side of the gift shop so we talked to him for a while. We also found out that the owner of the shop was a hard hat welder and Joe explained the diving helmets that were on display for the employs of the shop.

Then on to Joplin, MO.  We filled up with 93 premium for $3.23 regular is $2.99 at flying J.

9/29/14 Rabbit Ranch

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We headed south again today and stopped by the Rabbit Ranch.  This is an old service station that has memorabilia and old stuff with some dust on it.  We looked at the pictures, souvenirs, and the rabbits kept in cages.  The owner is the local notary so he was busy notarizing while we were there. He also has VW Rabbits set up in the ground like the Cadillac Ranch in Texas.

 

Our next stop was to visit  Debra's grandparents.   Deborah is the young woman we met at our hotel on day two.  Her grandpa Don has a big garage with a shop behind it and a very impressive man-cave in the basement filled with a lot of unusual stuff; a penny stamp machine, several old coke and Pepsi vending machines in working order, a functional bar, and a shuffle board table. He gave us a tour of his shop and showed us the vehicles he  presently owns; a '50 Studebaker wagon-2 door, a 350 Chevy with fuel injection , a '34 roadster with the same engine ,and  a '62 Corvette convertible that is all original with mechanical fuel injection.   It was so nice to talk with someone who knows so much about vintage cars and clearly appreciates them.

From there our next stop was Country Classic Cars.  It is 5 large warehouses full of cars of all types, including Fraizers, Packards, and the usual Ford, Chevy, Chrysler  models.  Some of them are priced very well but all are project cars. Nothing struck my fancy so back to Springfield and a Cozy Dog for lunch.

The Cozy Drive In is famous for corn dogs.  The original owner of  preferred a batter that would stick to a hot dog on a stick and cook quickly when deep fat fried.  Before this technique was perfected, corn dogs were baked for 15-20 minutes instead of 2 and a half minutes in the frier. They were pretty tasty! 

After lunch we visited Jefferson City, the capitol of Missouri, and toured the capitol building.  There is lots of marble everywhere in the building.  They are working to  remove paint to expose the old wallpaper under it, I don't think either one was attractive but they weren't finished either. The interior of the dome was beautiful!

 Capitol dome

Capitol dome

We finished up the day at D'arcis Pint, a recommendation from Debra's grandparents , I had a horseshoe with lots of cheese sauce.  I hope my cholesterol pills are still working. Maybe I should have requested a prescription for the industrial strength tabs before I left Portland.  Tomorrow we get the T-Bird back and then we will be making a quick trip to Albuquerque.

9/28/14 Backtrack to Pontiac

Today was a big day in Portland, OR.  The JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes happened this morning and it was a beautiful fall day for it.  Our Old Farts on Route 66 Team, that has been training and collecting donations for diabetes research, donned their team T-shits and walking shoes and joined the throng of walkers.  The event was fun, with a tasty breakfast, chats with super heroes, all kinds of photo ops, and unlimited free rides.  Thanks to Elisa, Andrea, Brian, Evan, Aria, Tyler, Hazel, and Dianna and all the well wishers and donors who made the event successful.

Here in Springfield we checked on some of the remaining cars downtown and then decided to head back to Pontiac to visit some places that were closed as we came through on Thursday.  Traveling north we were passed by hot rods that must have had broken speedometers.  We were doing a steady 5 mph over the limit, and they passed us like a Mercedes on the autobahn.  We caught up with and talked to a few at a rest stop and some in Pontiac. The fellow in the rest area had a '63 Ford  Galaxy with the same engine as the T-Bird. His car has had the same problem with fuel as the T-Bird.  We checked out his modifications and made notes.

In Pontiac we visited the RT 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame Museum, it was stuffed with memorabilia from the cities on the Route from the last 70 or so years.  See pix here.

Usually there is a vintage VW bus behind the gas pump but we heard that it was at the car show in Springfield. This museum is a three story building with very little room to maneuver.  I am not sure what it is like in the summer, or when the tourist bus stops by.  We adsorbed as much as we could and then wandered around town. The murals that adorn the town walls are very impressive.  There is even a side walk painting for everyone to walk around. We went into the Pontiac car museum where there is a vast library of Pontiac books and shop manuals available to study.  There are also training  videos and promotional films that have been preserved and are showing in a loop.  The Bonneville below had 3 twos for carbs and would get worse gas mileage then the T-Bird.  Dianna's family had a Bonneville.

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We pointed our little rental car back toward Springfield to have dinner at Cozy Dog.  It was the originator of the deep fried corn dog in 1946.  Our mouths were watering by the time we got there, but we found that it was closed on Sundays. It is open for breakfast so we will go in the morning. Thank goodness for smart phones with GPS!  We programed one of our phones to direct us to the Chili Bowel, our second choice,  it has been serving the chili for 60 years.  The originator's daughter owns the Chili Bowl now and still uses the original recipe.  BUT when we arrived it was closed on Sundays to. So back to the Cracker Barrel, a place with reasonable portions and a dozen sides as options. Our waitress talked us into a desert to share and it was a good thing we only got one, it was huge! After that, back to hotel to do laundry and plan for our dash to Albuquerque to meet our lovely wives.

9/27/14 - Rental car tour

We headed out this morning on Rt 66 toward St Louis, MO in our rental car, a striking black Malibu, very distinctive and just like every 4th or 5th car on the road. it was a little disappointing that no one gave us thumbs up as they passed us or stopped to talk to us at the service stations, however we are not hanging out in service stations as much with the rental car. Along Route 66 we found a brick road in Virden with a mural and a nice town center park with a round about.  We traveled  back roads with corn planted almost to the roads edge that makes it hard to pass oncoming corn pickers as they are changing fields.  The machines are quite wide. We stopped in Carlinville for lunch at a McDonald's, our first fast food meal of the trip.  I needed to use the internet connection there to try and find the missing blog and pictures and fix our technical problem with the blog.

We continued on the Old Chain of Rocks  Bridge on hwy. 3 the new/old Route 66 in this area.  We got out and walked from Illinois to Missouri and back to Illinois on the bridge.

We made in time for our appointment to ride the elevator to the top of the St Louis Gateway Arch.  It was touch and go.  There was road construction  everywhere and Joe got stopped by security because he looked suspicious, or maybe it was his titanium knee.  The elevator cars are about 4 ft by 4 ft by 4'6" and each holds 5 thin people on small plastic seats.  It was quite confined.  it reminded Joe of his housing unit 1000 ft down in the north sea. The top observation area was a mad house. Everyone trying to take selfies but not get in other peoples way.  There was a lot of noise and the acoustics are not that good.  We took our pictures looking  out both sides of the arch and then got in line to go down again.   In the visitor center there was a good exhibit on Lewis and Clark, and  numerous other groups that had used St Louis as a jumping off place to head toward the wild west.

We had to hunt around to find Route 66 again and followed it a little further.  it was getting late so I Urban-Spooned BBQ and a place popped up that was close by.  Bandana BBQ is a small place with outside seating.  The food was pretty good but nothing spectacular, Joe does better ribs, but then he practices a lot.  After dinner we headed back to Springfield. It took us an hour and 40 minutes to get back on the interstate and it took us 7 hours to get there on Route 66.  Tomorrow it's back to car show and back track to some places that were closed,..and also laundry,.. there's always that.