Day 19 - Saturday 10th March 2018
Shortest route NOT the quickest route = interesting result
Up bright 'n early, Leon headed downstairs to get our ritual brekkie which we ate in our room 1734, while I started packing all the bags. A tad concerned that everything may not fit but with some heavy duty juggling I managed to close the zipper - just!
GPS sort of programmed but we were to find out later it was set for the shortest route NOT the quickest route. This would have significant consequences down the road...
Our first target was to drive to Roys in Amboy on Route 66. This is almost the last remaining vestige of what Route 66 was like yesteryear. The programmed course would take us through the Mojave Desert. Along the way we spotted a huge diesel train tender abandoned on a side rail. Adjacent to it was a derelict house, once somebodies pride and joy no doubt. I spent some time taking pics and I was pleased with results.
Back onto bitumen as we were several hundred meters on a dirt, side-track next to the train. The GPS advised we should cross over the rail line and do an immediate left turn to take us onto Cima. This was the shortest distance and almost our undoing.
Running parallel to the rail-line high above us, the dirt road soon gave way to undulations, massive trenches where flood waters washed away any semblance of a road. "This will get better soon" I said with optimism as the GPS does not lie, does it? 3 miles 5 miles, 10 miles and it was too narrow to do a 60 point u-turn so onward it was. At one point the track rose to rail-line level and our left wheels were in the ballast while the right wheel perilously close to the edge. Just as well we were not passed by a roaring 2 mile long train, so frequented in this part of the world. We would have been wiped out. Just as well we were upgraded to the SUV as any lesser vehicle would have been bogged in the loose sand and the bottom ripped out by the huge ruts and furrows.
We had a chance encounter with a long-legged coyote but stopping the car to grab the 200mm soon scared him / her off. Damn, would have made an awesome image in this environment. The big worry, no mobile reception, in the middle of nowhere and if we broke down they would have found a couple of dehydrated corpses who knows when...
The GPS was indicating we had travelled some 30 miles and were now a matter of a mile from the junction. Around a slight bend we were confronted with a massive wall of crushed rock some 3 - meters high with nowhere to go. It was a dead end! This rock wall was actually the cross road well above us but how to get up there? Getting out of the vehicle I was able to survey the area and determine that reversing some 50 meters would provide the opportunity to drive up the very steep embankment up to the rail-line. This was done without issue. Thanks again for the upgrade to the SUV. A sharp right and we were back on bitumen again. "Thanks GPS!", I said sarcastically
We were now a third of the way through the Mojave Desert and on track for Amboy. Hitting a T-junction we noticed the road was permanently closed to our left and we only had one option but to turn right. 100 meters down the road we knew we were on the right road - a huge Route 66 emblem was painted on the road.
Photos, T-Shirt and a replenish of water and nibbles and we head on up the 66. This route is now only driveable in sections criss-crossing over the new highway from left to right and back again. There are a number of derelict houses and old petrol stations along the way so frequent stops were made to photograph these.
The next stop is Peggy Sue's 50's Diner. This is a massive establishment with a huge eating area but absolutely full with bus-loads of older members of society having a day out at the diner. Too long to wait for greasy food we grabbed a quick milk-shake available in 24 different flavours. My choice was a combination pineapple - coconut and while I've not had a milk-shake in years this was pure magic done to perfection.
The game-plan was now to drive to LA and grab some Japanese food but all good plans soon became unstuck when a torrential downpour hit us and we had to slow from the 80-90 mph down to 50 and 60 mph. Soon the road in front was a sea of red brake lights and we found ourselves in a stop-start drive for ages, time ticking away and Japanese now looking highly unlikely. Stuck on the freeway with 50 miles to go and the "distance to empty" displaying 65 miles, this will be close.
On the smell of an oily rag left in the tank, we found a servo 2 miles from our Hertz drop off point - phew...
Car dropped off, shuttle to Virgin Australia and some concern as the loadings were very high and being on staff standby there was a possibility we would be dumped.
We would find out our fate during the boarding process, so in the mean time we headed to the Premier Lounge courtesy of my Black MasterCard and enjoyed the sushi, chicken wraps and nachos and of course a drink or three.
Waiting during the boarding process we were advised the good and not so good news. Yes we were on but one boarding pass was for Business and the other in Premium Economy.
I'm proud of Leon, he's a generous individual with a good moral compass. He gave up his pointy end seat, coincidentally 2G again, to ensure I had a great flight back home while he sat in less than ideal seating as a 6' 4" in Premium Economy.
So the final chapter of this adventure is all but complete with now only several hours before touch-down.
Iceland, Northern Lights, R8 racing around the track, .50 cal, Corvette, Death Valley and Vegas - this was a most wonderful and memorable experience shared with my son Leon.
That's all folks!!!
Watch this space for the next adventure...
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