Friday, July 29, 2016

Travels on the Mother Road, Route 66 - Part 3, the Mohave Desert

Dear readers, this is Part 3 of our trip on the Mother Road. Head east from Barstow, California, and you really get into desert terrain. I was there in April, and the weather was gorgeous - brilliant clear sky and daytime temperature of about 25° C or 75° F. Just fantastic. But summer can often have midday temperatures above 110° F, so be warned.
Daggett is about 10 miles east of Barstow on the National Trails Highway. Although it is just off of I-40, the town has a sleepy feeling of time forgotten. The Desert Market was there to serve Route 66 travelers decades ago. The 1890 building still serves as a convenience store.
Some of the local gents were imbibing early morning. They were thrilled to talk about Route 66 and tell me about sights to check out.
The Stone Hotel was in business at the beginning of the 20th century, during the borax boom. It is an example of the type of accommodations that were available a century ago for travelers crossing the desert. Borax is an evaporate (mined from nearby dry lakes) that has many industrial uses in detergents, cosmetics, and enamel glazes. According to the Route 66 Adventure Handbook, John Muir frequented the Stone.
This is the odd house with a ski chalet roof. It opened in 1926 as a visitors' center and gasoline station, the same year 66 was formally designated.
Head east out of Daggett, and you are really in the desert. The National Trails Highway follows close to I-40, then swings south away from 40 at Ludlow. There is not much 66 memorabilia until you reach Amboy.
Roy's Motel & Cafe is an iconic piece of 1950s Route 66 architecture, and the sign is famous.
The lobby has been preserved right out of the 1950s, complete with an entertainment center. The Adventure Handbook said new owners were planning to revive the site, but I did not see any guests. I was hoping to take some film photographs with my big Fuji GW690II camera, but the shutter locked up right in the porch at Roy's. So, no film this trip.
It does not get much stranger than this. A couple miles east of Amboy, in dry dusty desert, I saw two gorgeous marble dragons. It looks like a subdivision had been laid out, and possibly the dragons (lions?) were intended to guard the entrance. A gated community in the desert? With no water? And the residents would commute to???

I took a diversion to Palm Springs before driving to Amboy. Palm Springs is pretty funky; the people are friendly, the setting spectacular, and the restaurants excellent. And if you are really rich, there is some amazing high-end property you could buy (a number of Russian billionaires have homes here). Not too far south of Palm Springs is the Salton Sea, which is worth a visit if you want to see what environmental degradation on a grand scale looks like. Please click the links to see Bombay BeachBombay Beach in black and white, and Salton City (non-city).

We will continue east on Route 66 in the next installment. Please stay tuned.


  1. Your posts are absolutely fascinating. How do you decide where to go next? Do you determine in advance how long to spend in a certain area, or do you just play it by ear?

    1. Thank you for the kind comments. For an upcoming trip, I plan on a theme. So in this example, the theme was Route 66 heading eastward as far as Albuquerque. But once underway, I usually check out the sights, see what is happening, and stop whenever I see something interesting to photograph. But, I don't have infinite time, so occasionally I have to skip parts of a route or rush through.

  2. Probably most of us on the outside think you have the ideal life. At least I do! If you find yourself with an extra couple of hours when you get to Albuquerque, Madrid is definitely worth a side trip.