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Old 11 May 20, 01:02 PM  
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An American Adventure - Route 66 Road Trip - April/May 2020

Pre-Trip Report - An American Adventure - A Route 66 Road Trip April/May 2020

Note: This trip has now been cancelled due to Coronavirus. The report below is written as it was intended, as a pre-trip report for a holiday which we very much intended to go on, with no mention of cancellations. There is a separate post HERE detailing how the cancellation came about and how we got on with refunds etc. We are hoping to reschedule this trip for later this year (unlikely) or for the same time next year (May 2021). Whenever we go, we will follow the same itinerary, with perhaps the small change of being able to add an extra day to the trip which we will use to break up Day 7 as it is extremely long. Even though the trip is on hold for now, we hope you still enjoy reading about our future plans.

Welcome to the pre-trip report for our upcoming Route 66 road trip - this is unlike anything we have ever done before so even the planning has been a bit of an adventure! A lot of people will say that driving Route 66 is on their bucket list, or that it’s always been their dream to drive it but for us it was all a bit of a surprise, triggered off by a random and unexpected conversation in a supermarket. So, here’s the story of how our Route 66 adventure came about:

One Saturday in May last year, we went up the travelator in our local Tesco and bumped into a couple that we know. We had known previously that they had been planning a Route 66 road trip but due to illness it had been cancelled. After chatting for a while, we asked if they were re-planning the trip and they said they had already been, the previous year. So of course we asked them all about it. They had loads of stories about their trip and thousands of photos and they had obviously had a blast. After well over an hour of getting in everyone’s way in Tesco as we listened to their tales of driving the route, we finally parted ways. As we walked away, Neil and I looked at each other and said “we have to do that”. And so, our very own Route 66 dream was born.

We had considered a few different holiday options for this year before deciding that Route 66 was the one we wanted to do the most. We had looked at an onsite/offsite split stay in Orlando, the Canadian Grand Prix, Washington DC/New York split stay or a cruise. Orlando is totally in our comfort zone so that would have been the easy option and was very tempting as I have always wanted to stay onsite. But in the end, we ranked the holidays in order of preference and R66 was number 1 for both of us. We are me, Lynda, the report writer and my husband Neil. Here we are in Orlando last year:



So what is Route 66?

Until we started researching for this trip, there was so much I didn’t know about Route 66 although of course I knew that it was an iconic road crossing America. The road runs from Chicago in Illinois to Santa Monica in California through America's midwest, covering a total of 8 states although we’ll be visiting a total of 10 states due to a couple of extra side trips we’re taking off of the Route.

The 8 states that Route 66 passes through are Illinois where it starts, then Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finally California where it ends. We are also adding on Utah for Monument Valley and Nevada for Las Vegas.

The Route itself is 2448 miles, and during the Great Depression in the 1930’s it was used by people travelling west to California looking for a better life for them and their families. Route 66 was officially decommissioned in 1985, after being bypassed bit by bit over the previous 30 years by the new Interstates. The I-40 runs alongside Route 66 for large parts and the route itself is now mainly used by tourists. Today, there are many ghost towns along the route, small towns which couldn’t survive after being bypassed. However, there are still many small businesses that have made it, and are still open today, mostly run by colourful characters keeping the road alive as a major tourist attraction. Okay, history lesson over - let’s get on with the planning!



Flights

Flights were the first thing we booked for this trip. We only looked at British Airways as we’re saving points (and points make prizes ). In our case the prizes are free flights, but not for this trip. We looked at a Fly Drive but the car hire element was expensive so after checking the prices of hotels in Chicago, we booked our flights along with a 2 night stay in Chicago as a package due to there being a reasonable saving on the hotel stay by doing that. We were able to get Premium Economy seats for the price we normally pay for economy so we were really pleased with that. This will be our first time flying in any class higher than economy, so we’re very excited about the flights. Flying in economy is always incredibly uncomfortable for Neil so I’m hoping that PE will provide a better flight experience for him particularly. We have PE both ways, so hoping for a more restful flight home than usual.

We fly from Aberdeen to London Heathrow on Thursday 30th April 2020, then on to Chicago O’Hare arriving just after 1pm. This should give us a couple of hours in the afternoon as well as the evening to see a bit of Chicago, but a lot will depend on how tired we are. After driving across the country for the next 2 weeks to California, we fly home on Thursday 14th May 2020 from Los Angeles to LHR, arriving on the morning of Friday 15th May and then we catch our final flight back to Aberdeen.

Car Hire

So this is a road trip, and of course we’ll need a car. We looked at several options for this, including a Fly Drive but this was working out expensive. I priced our normal “go to” car hire company, Alamo Brits, but again the price was ridiculous, around £1200. The problem with this kind of holiday is that there are fees for returning the car to a different state, inevitable in our case.

I finally tried Andy at Discount Florida Car Hire, having previously thought that he only organised hires in Florida and he came up trumps with a price we were happy with. We had originally priced up an Intermediate SUV for the whole trip, but Andy’s price was so good that we upgraded the first and longest leg of our trip to a Standard SUV and added the extra insurance too. Some of the roads we’ll be travelling on are rough and we thought it better safe than sorry to have the extra insurance. We collect the car from Chicago Midway Airport on Saturday 2nd May and drop it off in Las Vegas on Sunday 10th May. After a short stay in Las Vegas, we collect another car, an Intermediate SUV this time with just the standard insurance, on Tuesday 12th May before dropping it off at the end of our holiday in Los Angeles on Thursday 14th May. We’re also hiring a Sat Nav from Andy for the duration of the trip. He was about £500 cheaper than every other quote we got.

The Planning

Well, as I said the planning has been an adventure in its own right! There have been tears and tantrums a plenty - all on my part I must add! It’s been frustrating at times, trying to work out how far we can go in any one day without sacrificing time to see the sights and just enjoy being on the road. There have been 4 different versions of the plan, some just didn’t work out at all but we finally have a firm itinerary that we hope will work well for us. I used a mixture of Google Maps, the EZ66 Guide book (known as the bible of Route 66 - it’s a great planning tool) and various websites of other people’s R66 itineraries and plans. I had a thread here on The Dibb as well, where I got some great advice. I’ve spent more hours than I can count reading and researching and crossing out plans to change them, and eventually the plans evolved from scribbles in a notebook to much more organised spreadsheets.






Itinerary/Accommodation/Food

I figured that due to the nature of this trip, it’s better to include the accommodation and possible eateries in with the actual plans rather than a separate entry of their own. We have so many different hotels booked, that it would just be a list of places that mean little on their own so they’ll be included at the end of each day’s plans. There are lots of iconic “Mom and Pop” type motels along Route 66 and it would have been really cool to stay in some of them but if I’m honest, we do prefer modern hotel rooms and some of these little motels are very dated. I can certainly see the charm of them if that’s your thing, but it’s not for us. As it happened, most of these types of motels that we would have liked to stay at didn’t fit in with our overnight stays, with us passing through those towns during the day so we’ve mainly booked chain hotels with a couple of the more traditional ones thrown in to provide a bit of the flavour of Route 66.

So here it is, our itinerary so far:

Day 1 - Flights and Chicago

I covered flights previously in the report so I won’t repeat that, but once we arrive at O’Hare Airport we plan to get a taxi to our hotel, the Hilton Chicago. We had originally planned to get the famous Chicago “El” Train from the airport, but due to high rates of crime in Chicago we decided that we will stand out too much as tourists with our suitcases so decided that a taxi will be a better and safer option although a bit more expensive. Hopefully we’ll manage a shorter journey on the “El” at some point during our stay.

We’re hoping to reach the hotel around 3pm, dump our cases then head out into the city. Our hotel is in a good spot on South Michigan Avenue, across the road from Grant Park and just down the road from Millennium Park. Our plan for this afternoon was to take a stroll up to the Route 66 “Begin” sign and along the Riverwalk, stopping for an early dinner along the way. Neil wants to try a real Chicago town deep pan pizza, so we’ll likely seek out somewhere that serves those. If it isn’t too dark by then, we’ll stop by the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park on our way back to the hotel.

It will have been a long day for us by now, with our body clocks on well after midnight so we’ll try to get a good night’s sleep ready for our full day in Chicago tomorrow. Here are some of the sights we hope to see today:







Day 2 - Sights of Chicago

The plan for today is to see as much of Chicago as we possibly can in one day. We start with breakfast at Lou Mitchells, an iconic Route 66 eaterie famous for their breakfasts. After breakfast, we’ll get the Hop On Hop Off Bus around the city, stopping at the following attractions:
Willis Tower & Skydeck
Millennium Park (to see the Bean)
Navy Pier
360 Chicago (we’ll get off here to walk the Magnificent Mile)

It’ll be a whistlestop tour of these attractions, hoping to be clear by mid afternoon. We are big fans of the Chicago trilogy of TV shows - Fire, P.D., and Med so we want to visit the Fire Station and Police Station used in the shows. We can get a bus or the El train from our hotel to near the Fire Station, and the Police Station is just a 5 minute walk from there. We haven’t chosen anywhere for dinner yet, we’ll either just wing it and pop in somewhere we’re passing or do a bit more research before we go and book something.





Day 3 - Chicago IL to Litchfield IL

This is it - the day we hit the road! Route 66 actually starts on Adams Street in Chicago, so if we were purists we would start our drive there. However, we’re not, and we’ll have seen the Chicago parts of the Route that we’re interested in during our short time there. We don’t want to drive in the city so we’re hiring our car from Midway Airport, which is much smaller than O’Hare and closer to where we’ll join the road. We hit the Interstate first for a short time before joining Route 66 for our first roadside attraction and the start of our adventure.

Our first stop is at the old Joliet Prison, where Prison Break was filmed. If we had more time we would maybe take one of the tours they offer, but for us this will be a quick photo stop as we have a lot of ground to cover today. There are various “Giants” along the route, known as Muffler Men. These are large statues, previously used for advertising. Today, we see 2 of them, here’s one - the Gemini Giant in Wilmington.



We have quite a few photo stops today, one of the best being the Route 66 mural and museum at Pontiac. If we are making good time we might pop into this museum. There are many, many museums along the route, one or more in each town almost, and we just don’t have time to see them all. We’re also thinking that one museum is likely to be much like the rest so we’ve picked out a couple to stop at. Regardless of whether or not we go into this particular one, we’ll definitely be getting pics at the mural.



We’re hoping to arrive in Springfield IL by early afternoon as there is a lot to see here. This is where Abraham Lincoln lived with his family and there are lots of Lincoln attractions here, one being a tour of his home which we would like to do. Unfortunately you can’t buy tickets in advance, they are sold on a first come, first served basis each day so fingers crossed we make it in time to get tickets for one of the afternoon tours. Lincoln’s tomb is also here and there is a Presidential Library and Museum which we’ll visit if we have time. Springfield looks like a pretty little town so we might stay here for dinner before travelling to our final destination for the night.

We could have stayed in Springfield tonight, but we need to be in St. Louis early tomorrow morning so we wanted to be closer. For this reason, we have booked the Baymont by Wyndham in Litchfield which is halfway between Springfield and St. Louis. If we don’t have dinner in Springfield, we will eat at the Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, another famous Route 66 restaurant.

We will travel around 230 miles today.




Day 4 - Litchfield IL to Springfield MO

Today we cross the state line from Illinois into Missouri, the second state of our trip. We have an early start to make sure we get through the traffic in St. Louis (pronounced Lewis) and reach the Gateway Arch in time for our reservation there. The Gateway Arch is a large structure by the Mississippi River which has a tram (more like a lift I think) to the top for views over the city and the river. You can also catch riverboat rides from here, but we won’t have time for that.



Once we’re finished at the Gateway Arch, we’ll stop by the famous Ted Drewes Frozen Custard for a snack on our way out of St. Louis. Our next stop is possibly the Meramec Caverns, but this will be time dependent. These are a series of caves in the Ozarks, which were reportedly a Jesse James hideout back in the day. They offer various tours but also have a visitor centre so we will decide on the day whether we have time for a tour or just a browse around the visitor centre although I have allowed 2 hours for a stop here.



The rest of the day should just be quick photo stops along the road, although we hope to have a late lunch at Shelley’s Route 66 Cafe as we pass through a little town called Cuba MO. Shelley’s is a traditional American diner with a reputation for great food. We finish the day in Springfield (yes, it’s a different Springfield!) Missouri, having travelled around 250 miles today. There are various chain restaurants around our hotel so we’ll pick somewhere to eat when we arrive. Our hotel for the night is the Oasis Hotel, and there’s a handy Walmart just across the car park so we’ll likely pop in there for some supplies for the car.



Day 5 - Springfield MO to Oklahoma City OK

We have quite a long driving day, travelling around 326 miles through 3 states. There are quite a few stops as well, although most of them are photo stops only so shouldn’t take too much time. One of our first photo stops will be here, at the Route 66 mural in Joplin MO.



Soon after, we enter our second state of the day - Kansas. Route 66 only cuts the corner of Kansas for 13 miles but there is still plenty to see on this short stretch. In the tiny town of Galena, there is an attraction called “Cars on the Route”, where an old truck sits that is said to be the inspiration for Tow Mater in the Disney film Cars. Also, the quaint Rainbow Bridge which is another photo worthy stop just a little further along the road.



On leaving Kansas, we enter our third and final state for today, which is Oklahoma, our 4th state of the trip so far. We have a few interesting stops after this before reaching our home for the night in Oklahoma City. We will have a very quick stop at the Blue Whale of Catoosa. This was once part of a bigger park with more structures but the whale is the only one left now.



The next stop will be Tulsa OK, where we will stop by the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza. Cyrus Avery was known as the Father of Route 66, as he created the route and then pushed for the U.S.Highway 66 Association to promote the road and have it paved. The Centennial Plaza has the flags of all 8 states of the route as well as the Route 66 Skywalk and “East Meets West” bronze statue.



Before arriving in Oklahoma City, we pass through Chandler, the small town where the author of the EZ66 Guide lives. Jerry welcomes travellers passing through to his little store so time permitting we may pop in and have our guide signed.

Our final stop for the day is the Oklahoma City National Memorial. This was built to commemorate those who were affected when the Federal Building in the city was bombed in 1995. Part of the memorial is the “Field of Empty Chairs” which we would like to visit in the evening to see it lit up.



Our hotel for the night is the Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel which includes breakfast the next morning.

Day 6 - Oklahoma City OK to Amarillo TX

We’ll start the day with breakfast in the hotel, and possibly stop by the Memorial again if we didn’t see everything we wanted to last night, before hitting the road again. Our first stop will be in Clinton OK for a visit to their Route 66 Museum/Diner because it looks like a cool place to visit.



After a couple more photo stops we will enter the Lone Star State of Texas, our fifth state of the trip. We don’t have any major stops here until we reach our destination for the night, Amarillo. Here we will see the Big Texan Steak Ranch, a larger than life steakhouse and attraction in its own right. We’re not going to eat here, even though they do a 72oz steak challenge, but will stop by for a look around. We’re going to have dinner in a different steakhouse which is closer to our hotel, the Hoffbrau Steak and Grill House. Our hotel for the night is the Hampton Inn & Suites Amarillo West. We will have travelled around 260 miles today.



Day 7 - Amarillo TX to Gallup NM

This is a very long day, one which will see us driving almost 420 miles and is one of the most difficult days that we had to plan. The route splits in two during this journey, and we had originally planned to take the longer route known as the Santa Fe Loop so that we could visit Santa Fe, the oldest state capital in the US. It looks like such a cool place, with huge Spanish influence and we would really have liked to spend a couple of hours here. However, taking this route meant that we would need to spend the night in Albuquerque. The more we looked for hotels there, and the more we researched the place itself, the less we wanted to stay there. Albuquerque has a high crime rate and some really dodgy areas and trying to find somewhere safe to stay was totally stressing me out. We tried looking a bit further along the road, but the next suitable place to stay is Gallup which is a fair bit further, so in the end we decided to sacrifice Santa Fe so that we can get to Gallup by evening. To be honest, we were struggling to fit the rest of the route into the days we had left so something had to give and this was it. We always knew that we would never be able to fit every single thing into this plan that in an ideal world we would want to see and stop at. Two weeks was always going to be a bit short, with a minimum 3 weeks being the generally recommended amount of time for this trip. But 2 weeks is the amount of time we can have off work, so we just have to do the best we can with it. Bear in mind our side trips as well, and there were always going to be some long driving days. It was actually a relief in the end, to cut something out and get a bit further along the road than we had originally planned, and who knows, we might be back in this area again someday and manage a trip to Santa Fe then.

Anyway, if you managed to plough your way through that backstory, here’s today’s plan…

We will have a very early start today to make sure that we reach our destination in good time. After a quick photo stop at the Second Amendment Cowboy Muffler Man, our first stop of the day is the famous Cadillac Ranch on the way out of Amarillo.



Just a few miles down the road, we reach the halfway point of Route 66 in a little town called Adrian. We hope to have breakfast here at the Midpoint Cafe, and they are famous for their pie so we’ll take some of that with us for later. We plan to be there for opening at 8.30am and get a few pics before breakfast.



We soon leave Texas and enter our 6th state, New Mexico. After a couple of very short stops we will have lunch at Kix on 66 restaurant in Tucumcari.

The next attraction we come to is something really unusual, the Singing Road at Tijeras. Now, this only works travelling eastbound, and of course we are going west but there are turning points on the road so that travellers can turn around to drive it again. This is how it works - at a certain point on the road, there are rumble strips and if you drive over them at precisely 45mph you will hear the song America the Beautiful coming from the road. Or so they say… we shall see. It will be a really cool experiment anyway - I hope it works! If we had gone through Santa Fe we would have missed this altogether so it’s a bit of a consolation that we get to try this out instead.



As we approach Albuquerque we’ll hop onto the I-40 for a bit, partly to make up some time and partly so that we don’t have to drive through the city. A lot of Breaking Bad fans will want to stop and see the sights here but even though I watched the programme I just don’t want to stop here at all. We’ll rejoin Route 66 just the other side of Albuquerque.

Our next stop will be the Continental Divide. From this point, all rainfall to the west drains towards the Pacific Ocean and all rainfall to the east goes towards the Atlantic. This will have to be a very quick stop as time will be wearing on by now and we’ll be wanting to reach Gallup before dark falls.

Our hotel in Gallup is a real icon of Route 66 - the El Rancho. It looks straight from the Wild West and the rooms are a little rustic, but we’re really excited to stay here. Lots of famous people have stayed here including John Wayne and Ronald Reagan, and each room is named after a movie star. It’s a real bit of Route 66 history and will make a nice change from the chain hotels. We’ll either eat in the hotel, or find a restaurant nearby for dinner. Breakfast is included here along with our stay, all for the princely sum of £45! Our cheapest hotel so far.





Day 8 - Gallup NM to Flagstaff AZ

We’ll have a shorter driving day today, but lots to see so we’ll still be up and about quite early. A relaxing holiday this is not! Breakfast is included at the El Rancho, but we might skip that and eat at the Route 66 Railway Cafe in Gallup. There’s another Muffler Man to see, a Giant Cowboy before we leave New Mexico and enter the 7th state of our trip, Arizona.

Our first stop will be the Painted Desert Visitor Center in the Petrified Forest National Park. We will be driving through the park anyway to see the petrified wood there. Petrified wood is wood that has been naturally fossilized so that it looks more like stone - a very interesting phenomenon.



Next, we pass through Holbrook where there is the famous WigWam Motel, one of 2 of these on the route. We had originally planned to stay overnight here for the novelty, but the reviews aren’t great and as it turns out, we’ll be passing through during the day. It’s a cool idea though, and one that the Cozy Cone Motel in the film Cars is based on.



Next up is a quick browse at the iconic Jackrabbit Trading Post before stopping in Winslow, famous from a line in the Eagles song “Taking it Easy”. Lyric: “Well, I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, my lord in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me”. There’s also a nice 9/11 memorial here in Winslow with a girder from one of the towers.



Just out of Winslow, there’s a meteor crater which was created by an asteroid hitting the earth 50,000 years ago. It has a visitor center as well and I believe you can walk along the rim of the crater so it should be an interesting stop.

This will be our final stop today before reaching Flagstaff, where we stay in the Days Inn by Wyndham for the night.

Day 9 - Flagstaff AZ to Monument Valley UT

We are so excited for this day - it will be one of the highlights of our holiday and one we’ve really been looking forward to, especially Neil who has wanted to visit here since he was a little boy watching Wild West movies with his Dad. The day will start with breakfast either at the hotel or at the IHOP next door before a quick stop at Walmart to pick up some supplies before heading away from Route 66 for our first side trip of the holiday to Monument Valley. It should take us around 3 hours to get there, but we lose an hour due to the Navajo Reservation having its own time zone which is one hour ahead of the surrounding area. At some point on our journey on the US163 we will cross from Arizona into Utah, our 8th state. If we are making good time, we will stop at Forrest Gump Point to take in the view there before entering the park. This is where in the movie, Forrest decides to stop running.



Once we reach the entrance to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park there is an entrance fee of $20 to pay even though we are staying the night there. We had looked into taking a Navajo guided tour around the valley, but in the end we decided to do the self guided tour instead. We made this decision based on 2 factors: 1) that the latest tour we could get on left at 1pm and while we can roughly work out how long it will take to get from Flagstaff, we don’t know how long it will take to get to the tour point once we enter the reservation, and with losing the hour as we enter the reservation as well we didn’t want to end up being in a rush to get there, and 2) all of the sights we want to see at Monument Valley are on the self-guided tour. There are more rock formations on the guided tour but we are more than happy just to take our own time, see a few and enjoy a more relaxing day there.



We have booked a Premium View Cabin at the View Hotel on the reservation for our overnight stay. This is an expensive stay, but well worth it. We probably check in before embarking on our tour, which will take us well into the afternoon. Our cabin has a tiny kitchen area, so we’ll have some food before settling down on our balcony to watch the sunset over the valley. We just can’t wait for this - it will be amazing.




Day 10 - Monument Valley UT to Williams AZ

This should be another amazing day, with an early start to watch the sunrise over Monument Valley from our cabin balcony. Hopefully it’ll be a beautiful morning and our view will look something like this…



We’ll snack on some of our Walmart goodies from the day before as we get ready to leave for another of the USA’s incredible sights… the Grand Canyon. If we didn’t stop by Forrest Gump Point yesterday on our way in, then we’ll make a quick detour there on our way out this morning.

We travel across country for just over 3 hours to get to the Grand Canyon South Rim from Monument Valley, but we gain an hour back on leaving the Navajo Tribal Park so we should get there mid to late morning. I’ve started looking at the possible viewpoints we can visit here to make the most of our time but haven’t finalised a plan yet. We may just wing it but we will definitely use the buses to get around to maximise the amount we can see. It would be nice to walk a little too as we’ll have spent so much time sitting in the car, so we’ll make sure we have time for a little hike between a couple of the viewpoints that are closer to each other. We have the rest of the day here, because we are only an hour away from the quaint town of Williams where we will spend the night so we can stay until early evening if we need to.



Williams is a real Route 66 town, being the last place to be bypassed by the Interstate. It’s a real Grand Canyon town too, with the Grand Canyon Railway leaving from here. It looks like such a fun little place, we’re hoping to have a wander around here in the evening to see some of the sights. Dinner is pencilled in for the Pine Country Restaurant, a traditional, rustic kind of place which has great reviews and a fab menu to provide a bit of variety away from the copious amounts of burgers I suspect we’ll consume on this trip. They are also famous for their pies, freshly made each day - I counted 46 different flavours on their current menu!



We’re booked into the Best Western Plus Inn of Williams for the night, which includes breakfast.

Day 11 - Williams AZ to Las Vegas NV

After the last couple of days being a bit more relaxed, this will be a busy one with lots of sights to see before reaching our final destination for the day. As with most days, we’ll make an early start. We fully expect this to be a holiday of early nights and early mornings to try and see as much as we possibly can every day.

Our first stop will be in the town of Seligman AZ, where we will likely stop by Delgadillo’s Snow Cap for a snack. Angel Delgadillo, who owns the Snow Cap is dubbed the Guardian Angel of Route 66, as the main founder of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona which campaigned for Historic Route 66 signage along the road after it was decommissioned. He has championed the route for decades and fought to keep the road, it’s history and small businesses alive so this is a really iconic place to visit.

Next up will be the Hackberry Store for a quick browse at this long established shop along the route, followed by a stop in Kingman. Kingman looks like a really interesting place and I would have liked to spend a bit more time here but we’ll settle for a quick visit to the Locomotive Park to see the Santa Fe steam engine.



Moving on, we’ll drive the Sitgreaves Pass to Oatman. The Pass is an attraction in itself, a long, winding road through the Black Mountains and must be driven slowly. I think Neil will be taking the wheel on this one!



This takes us to Oatman, a real wild west town where they stage cowboy shoot-outs twice a day and wild burros (donkeys) wander the streets freely. It would be cool to end up here at the time of the cowboy shows but I think we’ll be too early.



Soon after this, we leave Arizona and enter our 9th State, California. Technically this should be our 10th and final state, but we enter it briefly on our way to Las Vegas then return to it later to complete our journey. We will stop by the Hoover Dam en route to Las Vegas, which will send us over the border into Nevada, the 10th state of our trip. We are aiming to be at the Hoover Dam for early afternoon, spend a couple of hours there and then drop the car at the airport in Las Vegas before getting a taxi to our hotel. We’ll have driven over 330 miles today to get here, including our detour to the Hoover Dam.

I am so excited to visit Las Vegas, Neil not so much. He didn’t want to visit here at all, and I very much did, so I offered him a choice. Either we visit for just over one day on this trip, or we take a later trip for 5 days solely in Vegas. Needless to say, he chose to add it onto this holiday, as our second and final side trip away from Route 66.

We are staying at the Palazzo at the Venetian here, and I am beyond excited. When we first talked about a short stay in Las Vegas I really wanted to stay at the Venetian but it seemed out of our price range. However, thanks to Tesco Clubcard and Hotels.com we ended up booking the Palazzo for only £28.66 for 2 nights. Yes, you read it right… £28 plus a $100 dollar resort fee to pay on arrival. Bargain! Just look at these rooms - this is the most basic one - all of the rooms are suites. The Venetian itself was the same price, but I preferred the look of the rooms at the Palazzo.




After dumping our bags and admiring the room, we’ll go for a wander and have some dinner. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from so we’ll pick according to what we fancy on the day. I’d like to see/do a couple of things this evening, maybe a gondola ride at our hotel and the Fountains of Bellagio doing their dance after dark.



Day 12 - Las Vegas

After what will hopefully be a wonderful night’s sleep in our luxurious room, we’ll be up and about fairly early to see the sights of Las Vegas today. The plan is simply to wander up the Strip, popping into the themed hotels for a look around, and stopping periodically for snacks and drinks. We hope to include the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, the Fall of Atlantis show at Caesars Palace, the Mirage Volcano and maybe a stroll along Fremont Street. We’ll probably walk more in this one day than on the whole rest of the trip before returning to our lovely hotel again for the night.



Day 13 - Las Vegas NV to San Bernardino CA

Back on the road today, we’ll pick up a new car at the airport, an Intermediate SUV this time. If we had to miss out the Hoover Dam due to time constraints on the way into Las Vegas a couple of days ago, we’ll do that today.

Then we’ll take the I-95 back into California, to the town of Needles where we left Route 66 two days ago, and rejoin it there so that we don’t miss any of it out. We don’t have many stops today so we might spend a little time in Needles if we don’t do the Hoover Dam. It’s meant to be one of the hottest places on the route, being in the Mojave Desert.

We might have a short stop at Roy’s Cafe in Amboy, just for photos as Roy's doesn't serve food anymore. Amboy is almost a ghost town now, but was a boom town in the heyday of Route 66. The only other stop of note today is Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, which is exactly what it says… a site full of trees made out of bottles! The original owner, Elmer sadly died last year but a relative has re-opened the attraction.



Our overnight stay for today will be in San Bernardino, on the edge of outer Los Angeles. We don’t have accommodation booked for here yet, but it’s looking likely to be the WigWam Motel. I’ve mentioned this type of hotel before, as there’s one in Holbrook, Arizona which didn’t fit in with our overnight plans, and we thought it was a bit run down anyway. This WigWam Motel in San Bernardino has better reviews and it seems a shame to miss out on the chance to sleep in such unusual accommodation. We’ll have travelled just over 300 miles today.




Day 14 - San Bernardino CA to Los Angeles CA

We will have to fight the early morning LA traffic today, to reach our first destination - the end of our Route 66 journey at Santa Monica Pier. This will be quite a moment, I think, to see the “End of the Trail” sign after all of our adventures. We will take some pictures here and have a wander down the pier and around the beach area.



Then it will be back in the car to get to our accommodation, as yet not booked. We really didn’t know where to stay here in Los Angeles, with Neil favouring near the airport. However, after a bit of research we realised that the area around the airport is dodgy to say the least, and Santa Monica was expensive so it was looking like nearer Hollywood would be the best option for us. I had a thread on here asking for advice, and I had narrowed it down to 2 hotels, both of which look nice and reasonably priced. The Safari Inn or The Tangerine, both in Burbank.

We hope to spend the afternoon seeing some of the Los Angeles sights… the Hollywood Sign, Walt’s Carousel, Walk of Fame, maybe Griffiths Observatory. Alternatively, we have considered a studio tour. I think Neil would like this, as he’s very into TV and films so it would be a good option but first we have to work out if it would be too much of a rush. Decisions, decisions, all of which have still to be made for this final full day of our trip.



Day 15 - Los Angeles CA then Flight Home

Our flight home isn’t until 3.30pm, but with tales of terrible LA traffic we will err on the side of caution and leave early for the airport. Originally we had thought that we might fit in a small attraction in the morning but after such a busy holiday it will be nice to get ready to a more relaxed timescale than normal, and have a leisurely breakfast or brunch before leaving.

We will drop the car at the airport before heading into the terminal for our first flight, Los Angeles to London Heathrow then connecting the next morning to Aberdeen and our drive home.

And so ends our wonderful Route 66 epic adventure. Thank you for reading if you got this far!

*All photos except the one of us are from Google*

Edited at 10:04 AM.
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Old 11 May 20, 01:03 PM  
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Cancellation of Route 66 trip

Cancellation of Route 66 Trip

When the Coronavirus pandemic hit the UK, we suspected that our Route 66 Road Trip would be cancelled, and of course it was. Here’s how our cancellation came about, and how we got on with getting it all sorted out.

On Sunday 15th March, 46 days before we were due to go on holiday Neil received an email from British Airways saying that due to Covid-19 they were cancelling our holiday and we would receive a full refund within 7 days. We were a little surprised, because at this point it had only been announced that holidays due to take place within 30 days would be cancelled. Of course we were extremely disappointed, but had almost resigned ourselves to the fact that it would happen anyway.

We had a day off work the next day, Monday 16th March, so when we got up in the morning we set about starting to cancel everything else that we had already booked for our holiday.

We started with Hotels.com, with the hotels that we had a cancellable rate on - so no problems with those, the money was back in our account the very same day. Other hotel brands that refunded straight away were Marriott and Hilton. True to their word, we had a full monetary refund from BA as well, although it took 8 days, not the 7 they had said but that wasn’t an issue at all.

We also contacted Andy at Discount Florida Car Hire, explaining the situation and again, he was brilliant, with a full refund processed within hours. The ones we thought we would have problems with were the Gateway Arch, and The View Hotel at Monument Valley. In the end they were both great. The Gateway Arch stated no refunds on their website and wouldn’t have been a big loss at under $30 anyway but we sent an email to see what would happen and had an almost instant reply, and a refund a few days later.

The View Hotel at Monument Valley was booked directly with the Navajo Indians who own and run the hotel and the terms stated that we would lose 20% of the amount paid if we cancelled. We understood and respected this and emailed them to cancel, asking only for 80% of what we had paid. We got a lovely email back from them saying that in the circumstances they had refunded the full amount.

We had to wait for the dates to roll around for our bookings with Hotels.com that were on non-refundable rates, as they were only dealing with bookings within 7 days of the date of stay. There was only one that we had a bit of a problem with, as Hotels.com couldn’t get through to the hotel but after a couple of webchats with them we got it sorted out and have now been refunded for every element of our cancelled trip.

As a side note - after a phone call to Tesco Clubcard, we also got all of our points returned for the hotels we had booked using our Clubcard points.

We spent the whole morning that Monday making phone calls and sending emails to start the cancellation process for everything. When we had finished, we decided to go out for lunch to try and cheer ourselves up a bit. I was upstairs getting changed when Neil came charging up the stairs shouting “you’re not going to believe this”. I was thinking what else could go wrong, when he told me that he had just received a second email from British Airways saying that we had been sent the cancellation email in error and our booking was still in place and the trip would go ahead!

Of course, it turns out that the original email was only meant to go to customers whose holidays were booked for the next 30 days. It was too late for us now, as we had already cancelled everything else, so we sent an email back to them explaining that as we had now cancelled all of the other parts of our holiday they should just cancel our flights and refund as promised. As noted above, they did just that with no problems as they obviously realised that they had messed up. It made no difference in the end, as of course we are still in lockdown now so the trip would have been cancelled anyway.

We realise that we have been so lucky with getting our money back, and will absolutely be booking with all of these companies again when we have new dates and are in a position to reschedule our trip.
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Old 16 May 20, 09:35 AM  
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What a fantastic trip you had planned. I'm a blubbering mess reading all about it. Such a shame that you weren't able to go ahead with it as planned. I'll come back and read the cancellation post later as I just can't face it right now.

Back to the amazing trip you had planned. Great that the premium economy seats were in your price range. Chicago looks like a fantastic city. The little hotels and diners along the way looked fabulous. The blow out hotel in Vegas, what a bargain on the Clubcard points . The sights along the way. If it were me I'd be wanting to take a photo every 5 minutes and so each leg of the journey would have taken much longer.

What a lucky encounter with your friends in Tesco, it's always so annoying when people are stopping for a chat and blocking an aisle a very fortuitous encounter.

I also really enjoyed the history lesson at the start. Ok, so I will read about the cancellation later, but just not now. For now I'm going to just say thank you for sharing your pre trip and all the details of your planning. I'll add your trip report to the list and hope to read all about it some time. Yes I know I'm living in a total dreamworld, but I'm going to keep everything crossed that you get the chance to enjoy your much looked forward to trip and to share your trip with us.

Right, must stop crying as I'm off to Tesco to shop for 4 houses
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Old 16 May 20, 04:56 PM  
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Originally Posted by Goldia View Post
What a fantastic trip you had planned. I'm a blubbering mess reading all about it. Such a shame that you weren't able to go ahead with it as planned. I'll come back and read the cancellation post later as I just can't face it right now.

Back to the amazing trip you had planned. Great that the premium economy seats were in your price range. Chicago looks like a fantastic city. The little hotels and diners along the way looked fabulous. The blow out hotel in Vegas, what a bargain on the Clubcard points . The sights along the way. If it were me I'd be wanting to take a photo every 5 minutes and so each leg of the journey would have taken much longer.

What a lucky encounter with your friends in Tesco, it's always so annoying when people are stopping for a chat and blocking an aisle a very fortuitous encounter.

I also really enjoyed the history lesson at the start. Ok, so I will read about the cancellation later, but just not now. For now I'm going to just say thank you for sharing your pre trip and all the details of your planning. I'll add your trip report to the list and hope to read all about it some time. Yes I know I'm living in a total dreamworld, but I'm going to keep everything crossed that you get the chance to enjoy your much looked forward to trip and to share your trip with us.

Right, must stop crying as I'm off to Tesco to shop for 4 houses
Aw, don't be upset for us Abby - we know we'll get there someday. I must admit I've had a few emotional moments myself over the last couple of weeks as we've been sort of living the holiday as it would have been happening by having little chats like "this is where we should be today" etc. However, now it's really over (we would have arrived home yesterday), I feel like I'm done with that and I can start to look forward to it all over again.

We were/are very much looking forward to Chicago... we just have a feeling that we'll love it there - so much to see. And all of the small places too, I can't wait to see all of the iconic little towns, shops and motels.

There will be loads of stops along the way so we're really not sure how long each day will take. There are so many things and places to see that I haven't included in the pre-trip so I'm sure that we will be stopping for photos pretty much every 5 minutes!

Goodness, shopping for 4 households on a Saturday during lockdown sounds like the stuff of nightmares - I hope it went well. We managed to nab a home delivery slot this week which was fab and meant I only had to pop to Tesco for my Mum's few bits and bobs this week so I was in and out quite quickly.

Take care Abby, and thank you for reading
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Old 16 May 20, 05:52 PM  
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Lynda, what an amazing trip you had planned. Gutted for you that you didn’t get to go. I really hope you get to do it next year and I will look forward to reading the report
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Old 17 May 20, 12:45 PM  
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Originally Posted by Cutiepie View Post
Lynda, what an amazing trip you had planned. Gutted for you that you didn’t get to go. I really hope you get to do it next year and I will look forward to reading the report
Thank you for reading Kelly. We're absolutely sure that it will be amazing and that we will get to do it soon. Can't wait to get it all booked up again.
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Old 17 May 20, 05:57 PM  
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Well as it turns out the cancellation post wasn't depressing at all I'm glad it was relatively easy to sort out and that you've had all your money back. I did chuckle that BA discovered they sent the original email notifying you of the cancelled flight in error. How awful that would have been if it had been a short lockdown, but as you say it's not important now.

I really do hope you get to go on your trip. As I was reading your plans it really made me think I'd love to try driving out in the states as the road trips that you Amanda and Alicia have taken do sound amazing to me. I'll just have to grow a pair and get over the idea of driving.

Tesco wasn't so bad in the end yesterday and I spent a good hour in the back garden with both mum and dad when I delivered their shopping, don't tell anyone so it wasn't all bad.
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Old 17 May 20, 07:13 PM  
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Wow what a trip that’s going to be although a lot of driving it’s my dream to do the same in a few years
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Old 17 May 20, 07:29 PM  
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What a fantastic post. I know your trip will become a reality one day. ❤️
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Old 17 May 20, 11:51 PM  
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Wow that sounds to be such a fabulous trip! So sad you couldn't go.
You WILL get to go on it one day, hopefully sooner rather than later. I love a good road trip and can't wait to read all about it!

Still have our fingers crossed for our trip...
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