“It winds from Chicago to LA,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on route sixty-six.”…says the song.
And we got our kicks going on Route 66 but started going from Vegas by Chloride, passing through Kingman, AZ and crossing the mountains on numerous switchbacks to the mule ridden town of Oatman, AZ. The town is preserved almost like a film decor, with mules roaming the street like the cows in India, cars and motorbikes gently avoiding them.
The Oatman Hotel is the classical western movie hotel, unchanged by times, the only one left out of the many that were aligning the town’s main street in its heyday of the gold rush era. Instead of horses, its front parking is filled by Harley Davidson ridden by bearded guys with the hair held by bandanas, all proud of their shiny metal horses.
Oatman Hotel’s inside restaurant is completely covered in many layers of dollar bills, all written on with dedications from the people who visited. Dollar bills hangs from the ceiling, from each and every pole, doors, windows and if you want to add yours you just have to stick it on top of the others many bills. Quite an interesting perspective of a town that once was covered in the gold dust from the surrounding mines.
From Oatman, the road goes through Needles, CA where some signs of the old Route 66 hotels are still standing and follows Interstate 40. But to our surprise, when the road takes a southern detour off the Interstate to Cadiz and Chambless and further to Amboy, it was blocked being declared impassable. We rode many times this stretch of the road and took pictures and shot video around the Chambless graffiti covered old gas station and of the Amboy’s Roy Dinner famous sign. So reluctantly we took the I-40 and tried repeatedly to get back on Route 66 but all accesses were blocked till we got in Ludlow, where its old motel is still standing and a sign was stating that the road is impassable 36 miles toward Arizona.
But from Ludlow we were able to continue to LA on Route 66 getting our kicks through California windy stretch of the road, to Dagget, by Peggy Sue’s 50s dinner driving all the way toward Victorville and stopping at Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch where we had the chance to chat and even record a conversation with Elmer who was just hanging out while his wife came home after doing some shopping. He told us that he started to collect bottles when he was six year old and kept hanging them creating this fabulously interesting exhibit. The trees are made of metal poles with welded metal rods to hold the bottles and their tops are decorated with various found object. Beside all, a rail road crossing sign, many gas stations pumps and an old Jeep add to its eeriness.