Day 14- Kansas City to Omaha

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.com

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.com

BACK ON THE ROAD!!! It doesn’t happen often, but some days the world just seems to know what you need. Today was one of those days for me, where I found nothing but hugs, smiles, beautiful country scenery, and happiness.  After a MAJOR pit stop in Missouri to visit family (nothing better!), Colby and I are back on the road. It was SO hard to leave my parents — as we all get older every day, each visit is more precious. Being unemployed is not all fun, but it was a real luxury to get to spend time with my family without running around buying/wrapping Christmas presents, with the return-trip clock running the whole time. But no matter how long you’re home, it’s always hard to leave.

265 miles. Gas was $3.42/gallon.

First stop today was exactly what I needed. I spotted a crusty old billboard (you know how I love those!) for Hunt Orchard from I-29, and I headed straight for the exit. Just outside of Amazonia, Missouri, the orchard/market was nearly empty when I pulled up. But a lovely young woman named Samantha ran out of the store to greet me and Colby (OK, mostly Colby). When she saw my camera she wanted a picture of her and her mom…and then her and her dad…and then her and her friend. She was adorable and gave me a much-needed hug when we finally left. You really do meet the nicest people when you travel with a dog.

Hunt Grandview Orchard, 14615 St. Rt. K, I-29 exit 60, Amazonia, Missouri, 816-475-3441

Then while I was photographing an old church, a man and his dogs on a golf cart rode by, cheerfully waving. When he saw my car license he yelled out “I wish they all could be California girls!” (a nod to the  Beach Boys song, for you youngsters). More positive affirmations in the town of Rock Port, Missouri, where local pre-schoolers and their teachers were creating “happy” art on the sidewalk…

Day 3- Flagstaff to Winslow

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.com

Only 80 miles today. Gas was $3.39/gallon.

Flagstaff is cool!!! I expected to like the historic part, but I had no idea there’s a vibrant art scene in Flagstaff. It’s kind of the last place I thought I’d find street art, which I love, but there’s some cool stuff there if you wander the alleys (which I do) (sorry, Mom).

Lots of cool architecture and old signs…

FOR MORE ARIZONA PHOTOS CLICK HERE

Day 2- Kingman to Flagstaff via the Really Grand Canyon

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.com

285 miles, $4.09/gallon gas, and lovely weather — scattered thundershowers, which were a welcome respite after the heat of the Mojave Desert. 80’s and even 70’s as the elevation increased.

Hardest task of the day: Finding ice for my cooler. I had to go to 3 places! Independence Day weekend is apparently a very popular ice holiday. Well, it is the desert.

After a leisurely morning online yesterday, I scampered to catch up and get to the Grand Canyon by mid-afternoon.  I did a quick drive-through Ash Fork, Arizona, one of the Route 66 towns that time has not been kind to. Touted now as the Flagstone Capitol of the World, there’s a few abandoned Route 66 relics still scattered around, and a lot of very friendly people. Everyone waved when they saw me taking photos from the car (that’s not always the gesture I get when I point my camera). At a local community area, kids were having a blast on a slip-and-slide — I remember how much fun we had on those as a kid (and how much my dad hated them because they killed the grass!). One notable Route 66 exception: The DeSoto on top of a now-closed beauty salon.

I got to Williams around noon and will have to go back there sometime. It’s an adorable town and suitable tribute to Route 66. And cute cowboys…

The drive up Highway 64 to the Grand Canyon is beautiful and easy.  Stopped briefly at the unfortunately-now-defunct Canyon Trading Post, which billed itself as the First Authentic Trading Post, established 1889. This is exactly the kind of kitsch I would have loved to see in its heyday. Love the giant kachinas…

Sunset at the Grand Canyon is something every American should experience in their lifetime. I got to the Grand Canyon about 3:00, more or less as planned, but didn’t count on waiting in line for almost an hour (one-mile back-up) to get into the park. Even the prepaid/pass line wasn’t moving any faster, although that’s what I would recommend for any of the National Parks (the $80/year for all parks pass is a great bargain; the Grand Canyon is $25/vehicle, which is also a bargain; passes at any park or their website).

Like all the other lemmings, I headed to the Visitor Center and Mather Point. I had the circle the parking lots for about 15 mins. to find a spot. Colby LOVED the Grand Canyon! If you want to make new friends fast, travel with a friendly, beautiful dog. I overheard dozens of comments about how gorgeous he is (he is a pretty boy!), and one guy saying “I wish I had a dog to take to cool places”. Mostly, people not traveling with their dogs were missing them, and just needed a friendly pet, which Colby happily obliged. He even met his first real Aussie (reminder: Colby is a purebred Australian Shepherd…and a rescue…you can adopt purebreds)!!! And he met a female Elk, who really couldn’t be bothered.

He behaved so well in such a large group of people (imagine Disneyland, but spread out more), but I must admit it’s a little more difficult to get great photographs when one arm is leashed to a 60-pound beast. It’s a lot of work to travel by yourself with a large dog, but it’s a compromise that I happily make — I meet so many nice people when I travel with my dogs, including an adorable middle-aged biker guy from Jackson, Texas, who was missing his overweight Daschsund.

Overheard at the Grand Canyon:  Kids yelling at their parents in sheer joy.  “This is SO cool!”  “I see the river!” and best of all, a nine-ish-year-old boy as he was getting in the car, “I’ll never forget the Grand Canyon!” And I doubt his parents will ever forget that statement.

We managed to miss thundershowers for most of the day (it’s monsoon season in northern Arizona) (not kidding – that’s a real thing), but got caught as we were entering the park. Afternoon showers are normal this time of year, and they were completely bearable, and provided those lovely clouds that photographers love. And the lightning and thunder were far enough away to be impressive and dramatic, but not dangerous. But best of all, after enduring a few showers, we were rewarded with a stunning sunset.

I stayed as long as there was an orange glow, then hit the road to Flagstaff, where we hit the kind of thunderstorms you see on the nightly news. You know that iconic view of a two-lane highway through a desert-scape with a lightning bolt in the distance? (I think it’s also a movie production company logo; I should know which one, but that part of my brain is in hybernation). Well, I actually saw that! Drove through a brief downpour that would worry any other California gal, but I grew up in Missouri so didn’t even blink.

Arrived at the Travelodge on Route 66 – great location. It’s clean and nice, but was pricier than I wanted, but Flagstaff was completely booked this weekend and I didn’t make rez until last week, when I was sure of my departure date. $134/night, including the $10 dog fee. TRAVEL TIP — I almost always call the hotel directly to make reservations – they often can accommodate you even when online sites say there is no availability. When I called they quoted a rate of $135, plus $10 pet fee, but I mentioned that I saw it for $110 on Booking.com and the woman immediately said that she could match any online price.

Mixed reviews here. Unfortunately, they had no record of my request for a first-floor room, because of the dog. I was so tired that I would have been OK with the second floor, but the stairs to the second floor were those industrial metal stairs that they use at ski resorts, which have razor-sharp surfaces that would have shredded a dog’s paws. And they advertise themselves as Pet Friendly, but there is not a single patch of grass here, or a dog area. I would call them barely Dog Tolerant. But the woman at the front desk was very nice and, after telling me there were no first-floor rooms available, managed to find one for me. And the room was very nice. Not that I care, but the pool was not available (not even any water in it), and the pool area was being used to store mattresses (!). Oh, and they forget to tell me when I booked that they are directly across the street from the railroad, with trains coming through all night (fortunately, the A/C was so loud that it basically drowned out the trains). I was so tired, I didn’t really care.

 

FOR MORE ARIZONA PHOTOS CLICK HERE

Everybody Loves A Road Trip

I’m using Roadtrippers, too. It’s a great hybrid of trip reviews and maps, despite a few hurdles. There’s a little learning curve (hint: add stuff not on the map to your bucket list, then add to your trip), but it’s fairly easy to get started. It includes LOTS of fun, quirky roadside attractions. I just wish it had calendar/date functionality so it could generate a complete itinerary.

–obsessive hobbyist

Travel Between The Pages

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Well, almost everybody loves a road trip, in fact in the U.S. at least 80% of travel and tourism is by motor vehicle. A newly launched website/app called Roadtrippers is designed to help travelers plan road trips while eschewing generic chains and mundane attractions. Like a hybrid between Yelp and Mapquest, Roadtrippers combines mapping, travel guides, and gps functionality into a single simple and intuitive interface that syncs across web and mobile platforms. It offers a wide selection of places to stay, food choices and cultural attractions for vehicle-based travelers. Plan a route, explore sightseeing options, flag pit stops, find entertainment and custom itineraries. And, it’s all free.

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Obsessive Travel Research (it’s a thing)… Route 66

I suffer from OTR, Obsessive Travel Research (OK, it’s not really a thing – but it should be). I like to think of myself as a spontaneous gal. But I also don’t want to miss anything, and I don’t want to end up sleeping in my car, so I tend to over-research. SO…if you’re getting ready to check out Route 66, you’ll benefit from my obsession. Here’s what I’ve been checking out…

OLD-SCHOOL BOOKS —

  • EZ66 Guide for Travelers, by Jerry McClanahan, noted Route 66 author, artist, and historian — If you can buy only one guide to Route 66, this is the one.  Recently updated (3rd edition, 2013), it meticulously documents Route 66, step by step. If you’re traveling West to East, you have to get used to reading from the bottom of the page up, but it’s worth the effort.  http://mcjerry66.com/
  • Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide (16th edition, 2013) — Also published by the National Historic Route 66 Federation, this is a great companion book to McClanahan’s guide.  Both volumes are spiral bound and small enough to keep on the center console in the car while you’re cruising.   Buy on Amazon
  • Route 66 Sightings, by Jerry McClanahan (are you starting to see a trend here?), Jim Ross, and Shellee Graham.  This coffee-table photography is gorgeous and captivating. These 3 friends have been traveling the Mother Road for decades, and they have amazing shots of Route 66 stuff that often no longer exists.  Each shot is documented with a bit of history and a great personal story. I bought my edition from the gift shop at the Wigwam Motel (http://wigwammotel.com), but the best resource is the Ghost Town Press site:  http://www.66maps.com/home.html .
  • Roadside America, by photographer John Margolies —  A gorgeous coffee-table book from Taschen, one of my favorite publishers.  But I buy all of their books on Amazon — cheaper, and if you have Amazon Prime, free 2-day shipping.  And everyone should have Amazon Prime — $79/year for Amazon Prime Video + free 2-day shipping on most items.      Buy on Amazon
  • Off the Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More Than 1,000 Scenic and Interesting Places Still Uncrowded and Inviting — A Reader’s Digest Publication (yes, they’re still publishing stuff!).  The book is almost as long as the title.   Buy on Amazon
  • The Most Scenic Drives in America — Another Readers Digest Publication.  Great maps, info, photos.  Buy on Amazon
  • National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways, 4th Edition: The 300 Best Drives in the U.S.   Buy on Amazon
  • On the Road: America’s Legendary Highways, by Andrew Montgomery — Great photos, organized by scenic drives across the U.S.   Buy on Amazon
  • Legendary Route 66: A Journey Through Time Along America’s Mother Road, by Michael Karl Witzel & Gyvel Young-Witzel — I bought my copy from Angel Delgadillo, the modern Route 66 gladiator who led the resurrection of Route 66, at his gift shop in Seligman, AZ.  If you ever get a chance, visit the shop!   Buy on Amazon
  • National Geographic Guide to State Parks of the United States, 4th Edition — Buy on Amazon
  • National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States, 7th Edition — Buy on Amazon
  • Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA Pet Book, 14th Edition — Buy on Amazon
  • BEST FREE BOOKS — State Travel Guides and maps from your local AAA office are free if you have a AAA membership.  And you should never go on a roadtrip without a AAA card!

APPS (iPhone) —

Free apps, paid apps, crappy apps…I love apps!  Here’s a few good ones —

  • Road Trip 66 (Propaganda3) — This is the best app I’ve found that is specific to Route 66.  It’s an interactive map of the route with nearly all Route 66 attractions noted.  You can flag places that you want to see, to narrow down the field. There’s varying amounts of info available on each place, often including phone numbers and websites (for hotels and restaurants). It integrates with Google Maps, but not as well as I’d like — you have to leave the app to go to the Google Maps app, but it’s really a minor inconvenience.  Most of the data seems up-to-date, although we found a few signs that are now missing on a recent day trip. But you can notify the app makers of changes, so hopefully that will help keep it up-to-date.
  • TripAdvisor — The best all-round travel app around.
  • Hipmunk — “We compare all the top travel sites so you don’t have to.”  Great place to search for hotels. Generally returns results for the hotel chains, vs. the mom-and-pops.
  • Google Maps — Of course.  And the iPhone Maps (in spite of all the problems) has great turn-by-turn directions.
  • Hotel Tonight — Last-minute deals.
  • Roadtrippers — This one is fun. It combines travel reviews with Google Maps. There are some quirks, and I wish there was calendar integration, but it’s fun and useful.

WEBSITES —

OK, why re-invent the wheel?  Jerry McClanahan has already gathered a huge list of Route 66 resources — http://mcjerry66.com/links.php

I’ll share more resources as I use them along the route — have to go pack now!!!

Ice Cold Drinks…

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.comPhoto by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.com

I’m sure to need some of those when I take off next week on my Route 66 SUMMER cruise! This photo is from a trip last year to Amboy, California, home of the iconic (isn’t everything on Route 66 iconic??) Roy’s Cafe & Motel. (& Gas).

MORE PHOTOS HERE — http://obsessivehobbyist.smugmug.com/Travel/Route-66-California/29595252_5D2kPc

“Sleep in a Teepee”

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The famous Wigwam Motel on Route 66 in Rialto, California, which asks the universal question, “Have you slept in a teepee lately?”

It’s exactly what I’m hoping to do when I take off for my West to East Route 66 pilgrimage next week!  Join the Journey by following me here — I’ll post daily photos and all the adventures Colby the Wonder Dog and I run into in my Lil Red Prius.

Rialto, California, http://wigwammotel.com/ 

Each of the Wigwam Motels (only 2 of the original 7 remain) is independently owned, and this one in Rialto is immaculately maintained and pristine.  The grounds are beautiful, with some interesting historic displays — signs, old cars.  The teepees are necessarily small, but surprisingly not claustrophobic.  Anyway, you’ll want to throw open your door and join the community of other teepee travellers for the evening. When we were visiting, it was almost sunset when we arrived and there were kids on skateboards out in the parking lot and running around the grounds, just like a cul-de-sac!  The small motel lobby/gift shop has fun Route 66 memorabilia and books for sale.  It was completely charming.