Day 20, Barstow to Hollywood. The life less ordinary and Grauman’s Theatre.
31/8 I woke up in Barstow.
We crashed in Holiday Inn Express in Barstow, located near the railroad tracks (I take it the land wasn’t too expensive), so the morning was filled with moaning how noisy it was and that Leah and Shane could not sleep. I have no idea what they are on about. I can sleep through the earthquake at JFK airport, whilst they do a parade of Boeings 737 and shoot AK-47′s at the same time.
Barstow is the only place we’ve been to twice (first time 6 days ago), as after the de-tour to Vegas and Yosemite, we wanted to get back to where we left off, without cheating on 66 and taking the shortcut straight to LA.
I have read in one of the roadie books, that out in the dessert somewhere outside Hollywood, there is a Burlesque hall of fame museum, and since we have mostly seen route 66 museums so far, that sounded like a refreshing change.
The guide we are following was written in 2011, but for some reason I think that dude who wrote it has never done 66, and all the info in the book is copied from Wiki, as upon arrival it turned out the Exotic World is no longer open. The empty building were missing windows, the doors were wide open as there was nothing to steal. Walking around the “premises” you could imagine how it all looked like 5 years ago (apparently that’s when they moved the museum to Vegas, due to pressure from the locals, as we found out after googling the place). The empty pool and Jacuzzi at the back, nice, big bathroom, huge fireplace, loads of rooms (I suspect it used to be a brothel before it became the retirement home for burlesque dancers and strippers).. Outside, half buried in the sand was an old limo with “Exotic World” written on the side, but the most memorable part of the establishment must have been the cross, dumped in the sand just outside of the entry gate. Obviously neighbours or even the owners though this is a place God should never visit and didn’t intend on looking at from the skies above.
Even though it was empty, it seemed strangely relaxing… It felt like everyone left in a rush, and the aura of the place was still in the air. Leah found pieces of an old chandelier near the pool, and took it as treasure.
From there we headed to Oro Grande, as we read that there is a guy there who collects bottles and turns them into outdoor displays.
As we got there, there he was, Elmer Long himself, picking up his mail from across the road. He noticed we stopped to see his creations, and welcomed us warmly.
Elmer is an entrepreneur, a marvel and the most unique, happiest dude alive. He does what he loves all day long and calls it work (Mon-Fri he does the art installation out of empty soda bottles) , even though the “work” brings next to no money), and at the weekend he drives up to his hut in the mountains and spends a couple of days fishing. He enjoys every day, got his kids through the university and owes nothing to noone.
He is very polite and knowledgable, just the type of character you are hoping to me whilst travelling down 66.
The Tree Bottle Ranch in Helendale started with Elmer’s dad, Elmer Sr and his bottle collection. After his death, Elmer did not want to get rid of them, even though there were people willing to pay for them. So he kept them. One day he decided to make a bottle tree by welding “branches” onto an iron rod. And then he made another and another until a forest of bottles grew in his front yard in Mojave County. He doesn’t sell his pieces, even though there were many who wanted to purchase them. Every day he adds something to his ever-growing collection.
Leah seemed to enjoy herself bouncing around various pieces of “arty trash”, from sculls of dead animals to old street signs and of course countless bottles. I think Elmer appreciated her enthusiasm, as he gave her a present: amethyst the size of a hand. She felt chuffed as she loves sparkly stones, and run quickly to the car to come back promptly with the bits of chandelier she found earlier near the pool of the Burlesque museum. I love when she does those little things. Random acts of kindness. I couldn’t deal with a nasty child for a month, and fortunately you cannot say that about her.
Victorville was next on the list. Even though we have seen a few of the Route 66 museums, we decided to pull up at this one too, as apparently people running this establishment were the best informed team on 66. The entry was free, there was a fair share of memorabilia on display, but nothing jaw dropping, so we refuelled the tank at the petrol station next door and headed off for San Bernardino.
On the way we dropped by the Summit Inn at Cajon Junction, which is one of the old ones on 66, not looking to bothered about the money and the passing trade, just happily rolling with it. There were a few locals inside, which is always a good sign when it comes to places. My reasoning for stopping there was an ostrich burger, which unfortunately was not available due to lack of ostrich. Boo.
I settled for buffalo burger instead.
Following on the burger theme of the day (or a month, one could say), the first stop in San Bernardino, up on arrival, was the site of the first even McDonald’s. You cannot get a burger there nowadays, just a kitsch, little museum.
The only other thing worth seeing, according to our guide book, was a figure of chicken boy on a roof of a chicken joint on the way to Santa Monica, so we got the hint there is probably not that much left here out of the original route 66, so we headed to Hollywood.
On the way we drove past Pasadena, which for some reason resonated in my head as something rather fun and full of interesting things to see, yet there were not many actual sites mentioned in the book, besides the Huntington Botanical Gardens, but unfortunately they were shut, so we decided to come back the next day.
We checked into the Holiday Inn next to the Hollywood walk of fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, surrounded with famous footprints of the stars, and that’s what we made our evening entertainment.
The weather was cooler than anywhere else we’ve been this month, but still amazing. The breeze from the ocean makes all the difference. The stroll was awesome, this place is great. Great weather, proximity to water, easy on the eye $$$ landscaping..
After driving all day, we were starving, so the automatic food of choice was fajitas from Hard Rock, except Hard rock in Hollywood thinks they are Michelin Star restaurant, not glorified fast food, so after finding a free table, we were promptly asked to leave as we didn’t make a reservation. There was suppose to be a sign at the entrance saying that, but even after a thorough examination, neither me nor Shane could find it. WTF?!
I do not deal with rejection too well, especially some retarded waiting staff telling me: “At Hard Rock we only give tables after prior reservation” with a tone which could be used by someone trying to get a job in a kindergarden for kids with special needs.
Hooters it is. Despite slightly rubbish food choices, the service at Hooters is mostly awesome, always smiling and happy to please. I hate pretentious table staff more than I hate crap chicken wings (as mentioned numerous times in previews posts..), so to trick my taste buds into thinking they are in Nobu in Vegas, I got a few vodka cocktails down. And everything suddenly got more fun.
After a drama and some more tears, we got Leah to get out of her comfort zone and wear a Hooters top we got for her, and take a pic with two Hooters girls. She doesn’t seem to be too comfortable with the brand new set of balls we are trying to attach to her, but longterm she will need them, to deal with life outside of daddies wallet. Life comes it different shapes and sizes, and to make hers as easy and painless as possible, she needs to be able to accommodate different scenarios and be more adaptive, whether it’s jumping into freezing water, speaking clearly without mumbling, sorting her shit herself instead of making it someone else’s problem, or wearing Hooters t-shirt. It’s like pushing a donkey through a key hole, but she is doing ok and I am happy with her progress.
After some fun in Hooters , we carried on with the stroll, starting down at the stars for a change. There are over 2500 stars covering both sides of the street, but the most important is the part just outside of Grauman’s Theatre, where the biggest stars have left their foot prints. Literally. It must have felt great being recognised chosen to join Marilyn Monroe, Jack Nicholson and others at the entrance to the most famous Theatre in the heart of Hollywood.
We headed back to the Hotel crashed like a bunch of puppies on Nitol.
Ok, I am lying. We never do that.
Leah watches Disney Channels till 3am, Shane writes his blog and I am distracting both of them, whilst half watching Disney, and half writing.
That would be most of the nights. Feel free to judge me.