Friday, February 26, 2010

End Route 66, Start Pacific Coast Highway

2743 - 3016 (13138 - 13411)

Today I finished one chapter of my adventure, reaching the terminus of Route 66. But I also opened a new one, my exploration of the Pacific Coast Highway.

As I was leaving Tujunga today, I spotted this sign. On investigation, the restaurant is long gone. I did chuckle at the thought of someone at the restaurant answering the phone, "Poo Ping, can you hold?"

Bono's Italian Restaurant and Orange Stand in Fontana, California are iconic mainstays of the original Route 66 (now looking frozen in time). I visited here when I came into LA on Wednesday. Apparently this part of the Mother Road was once lined with beautiful citrus groves, almost a mirage-like sight to weary travelers after crossing the Mohave desert. Stands like this Bono Orange dotted the area providing refreshing citrus drinks. People must surely have thought they'd reached paradise. Not exactly paradise any longer.

I crept down to Santa Monica on what remained of Route 66. Contrary to common belief, Route 66 never ran to the coast; it terminated onto what is today the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard in downtown LA. But that busy intersection stinks for taking symbolic photos.

Most consider the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard, a few blocks from the Santa Monica Pier, as the end. That is where you find this plaque dedicating Route 66 as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America.

But wait! In 2009, the Santa Monica Pier was officially named the Western Point of Historic Route 66. A sign was unveiled as the "spiritual" End of the Trail for Route 66.

Santa Monica Pier, by the way, is a great spot to people watch. I felt like I had been there before, as it has been featured as a location in so many films and TV shows.

Getting to the actual end of Route 66 really didn't really matter. "It’s a myth,” said the chairman of the Route 66 Preservation Foundation, “but it is a myth added to all the other myths of Route 66.” Well said. My experiences on the Mother Road were certainly memorable, mixing equal parts scmaltz, nostalgia, and whimsy. I cherish the experience.

I turned north on Ocean Boulevard and began my journey on another legendary route, up the California coast on Route 1 and Route 101, the Pacific Coast Highway. I found myself hugging the Pacific Ocean for the rest of the day.

Being in California, despite it being a raw, gray, and unsettled day, it only seemed natural that I see surfers...

...and, of course, palm trees. This is in Santa Barbara.

I finished the day in Lompoc (where I had a free night at the Embassy Suites). Buckets and buckets of rain.

Hopefully decent weather tomorrow; I am looking forward to Big Sur as I continue up the coast.

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