This page last updated 2/23/08
Welcome to Pendemonium's 2008 LA Adventure Travelogue! We'll be departing for the Los Angeles Pen Show, Route 66 and points west on Sunday, February 10th. We hope you'll join us via cyberspace at the LA Pen Show as well as on our journey across the beautiful southwest.
Our westward destination is The 20th Annual Los Angeles Pen Show. Warning! We travel slowly and we travel a little off the beaten track.
Route 66 and the towns and tourist traps along the Mother Road are some of our favorite places to visit. We hunt for pens and other neat writing things along the way. We're hoping to stay clear of the white stuff on the trip, send a little hint to Mother Nature for us if you would, please! Most years we don't have an exact due date to return to Fort Madison, but this year we have to back on February 22, so we might be scurrying a little faster past some places than we usually do. We try to add updates to the this travelogue every day, but don't panic if a day or two goes by ... we haven't abandoned you, we're probably just hanging out in a favorite diner somewhere getting in our dose of tourist-mania.
We're sending postcards! If you'd like a real, live, handwritten postcard sent in the mail (not email!), we would love to oblige and help carry on the tradition of handwritten correspondence! Send us an email with your name and mailing address, then sit back and watch your mailbox!
Sunday mornings are quiet on the pen hunting front, so we motored away
through southern Iowa enjoying the scenery. Our route took us through
the Villages of Van Buren County, pretty little towns, one county
west of Fort Madison. The photo below, a quickie out the window was
morning feeding time for a group of llamas.
There's a wealth of antique malls and shops heading south toward I-35. The wonderful shop that turned up the new old stock 51s last year is gone! In it's place is a wind farm exhibit inside the Visitors Center. Nice, but not as nice as Parker 51s! We did manage to turn up some other writing type things today, fun stuff indeed. Frank is working on taxes tonight, but perhaps I can coerce a little photo of today's treasures in the AM. Below is the outside of an old antique shop in Missouri. These old cluttered places are my favorites, but we stop at the neat and tidy ones, too!
|Old Antique Shop in Missouri|
When we rolled into Emporia, Kansas this evening, our room wasn't
ready. Not to be deterred, and not having stopped for lunch today we
went off in search of dinner and drove around to see what was off the
main drag. We ended up back on the main drag for dinner, but found
Stonehenge in Emporia! I have no idea what this really is, Frank
While I was trying to find out what Stonehenge of Emporia really was I discovered that Emporia is the home of Veteran's Day. In 1953, Emporian Alvin J. King proposed that Armistice Day be changed to Veterans Day to recognize and honor all veterans from all wars and conflicts. Veterans Day was first organized and celebrated in Emporia in 1953. However, I still don't know about Stonehenge in Emporia!
We're still in the cold zone this morning, a tad warmer, but not warm enough for me! The Kansas Turnpike was covered with little icy pellets, our motto is slow and steady and we try to stay out of everyone's way on bad roads. This crazy truck pulling a flat bed zoomed by at a good clip, but I loved the old Woody on the back he was hauling. We seem to see the strangest things being towed down the roads, but no airplanes being towed like last time, at least not yet! Fortunately the icy roads only lasted about 40 miles, suddenly they were dry and we were out of the wet zone with temps climbing.
Our one and only antique shop foray was just west of Wichita and it was great! Shown below are a few of our treasures from 2 days on the road.
We're traveling Hwy 54 which is an old road, but in good condition. It takes about 100 miles off the trip toward LA and also takes us though some nice little western towns along the Union Pacific rail tracks. We are headed toward Greensburg, Kansas for a re-visit to a town we loved and have stopped in several times, just last year we took many photos in Greensburg and you might want to check out our LA 2007 trip photos, you'll see why we fell in love with Greensburg. You may recall that a monster tornado wiped out Greensburg last Spring. We saw photos on the news, but felt we needed to see for ourselves. The news didn't lie, Greensburg was totally devastated, we were shocked. I grew up in tornado alley, I've seen what they can do, but nothing even remotely close to this.
Frank took the photo below from Hwy 54 as we turned left onto Main Street - the downtown area was gone, if there hadn't been a sign, we would have had no idea this was downtown Greensburg, once filled with stately turn of the century brick businesses.
This is Main Street. The wonderful old drug store where we drank homemade vanilla coke and root beer last year was once in the area shown below. You only know that buildings once existed because you can see their basement outlines in the brick that remains.
This is the ONLY old building left standing in the downtown area and one of the few buildings left in the entire town
We got out bearings a little bit driving around the barren town when we found the Big Well attraction. There is a small memorial there now. I'm glad we went to see the Big Well last year.
Across the street and north a bit were the remains of the old church that housed Fran's Antiques. What a fun place to hunt pens, we always left here with treasures and a smile after talking to Fran.
On the north side of the highway, a makeshift hospital is in operation. Also along the highway, half of the grocery store remained standing and a gas station convenience store was up and running and pretty busy judging from the cars in the lot. It's my understanding that Greensburg is going to rebuild. What a challenge, I hope they can pull it off. It was a sad little drive around town, but it stirred good memories in both of us and certainly served as a reminder to never take anything for granted.
Our last stop of the day was in Liberal to visit the Mid America Air Museum. Several people had told us this was worth visiting and they were right! There are over 100 restored planes ranging from tiny little experimental aircraft to huge warplanes. Frank must have taken photos of all of them, he likes planes a lot! We could have stayed much longer, but there were still miles to put behind us as we headed toward the panhandle of Texas
We continue westbound this morning out of Dalhart, Texas past the huge cattle pens and expansive amounts of the high plains. The scenery starts changing dramatically to more red rocks and higher hills as we change to Mountain Standard Time and cross into New Mexico. I love going west and changing time zones, it's like getting a free hour and I never seem to have enough hours in the day!
We've seen more antelope on the road today, than on any trip we can remember through here. One group of 4 were boldly standing in the road. Antelope are fast. We did take pics, but they were a fleeting blur!
We leave Hwy 54 and catch the road we're really here for, Route 66 in Tucumcari. Tucumcari is looking pretty good, and Tee Pee Curios is open early, so we stop in to stock up on postcards to send to you and a short chat with the owner to see what's been going on.
We picked up the interstate again outside Tucumcari. There is snow on the mountain tops, but the sun is out and it's warming up nicely today. We dropped in on Santa Rosa, a really nice little town that seems to thrive. Lots of new motels and the east edge of town, the older motels and diners are looking good. The old downtown section is undergoing a lot of renovation aka road construction, so we would through the open streets and then headed out the west end of town. We always feel we must stop at Kline's Corner, it's been there since the 1930s and is one of those good old fashioned stops with gas, restaurant, oodles of souvenirs (more postcards!), leather, boots and you name it! I restrained and passed on their decadent fudge since I already blew the diet back in Emporia on white chocolate cheesecake and then again in Dalhart on enchiladas to die for!
Albuquerque continues to impress us with their attention to Route 66. We drove around the old town plaza and then cruised some of Central Avenue/Route 66. As always, lots of older buildings undergoing renovation, always good to see. We stopped off at the Western View Diner for a late lunch.
We're on Route 66 and away from the interstate for much of the rest of our drive into Gallup. There's a fair amount of local traffic on the road and school buses dropping off the kids that really do live out in the country! Towns are are far and few in between, many are already ghost towns and some I'm afraid to say will be soon. Last we read, the Budville Trading Post had been bought, it was up for sale last time we passed by a couple years ago. Hopefully it will reopen. It looked pretty good, a few more weeds than last time through, but obviously being tended to.
Since we're creatures of habit, we stopped at Continental Divide at 7200 elevation, just because we always do, it's a nice view and good place to get out and stretch. Also a good excuse to hit one of the gift shops here and mosey around.Gallup is a bustling town full of trains, tourism, pawn shops and a lot of western lore! We drove though town on both the older Route 66 alignment and the newer one (still 50 some years old!) dodging melting snow and dirty snowbanks from a storm about a week ago. Check out the old El Morro theatre photo below. Peter and Gordon appearing live on Valentine's Day. Cool! I remember Peter and Gordon, but hadn't thought about them in years. Another one of the groups trying for a comeback?
No antiques today. We saw a sign for a shop in Moriarty, but try as we might, we never could find it. And no time for the shops in Albuquerque today. We'll have to settle for our fun tourist trap stops which we enjoyed.
Blue skies, warm temps, open road - we couldn't ask for much more as we drove toward Arizona this morning!
Frank thought that the Roasted Corn King contraption being towed down the road was worthy of being added to our photo collection of strange towed things!
After driving by countless times, we decided today was the day to visit the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park east of Holbrook. It's very beautiful in a stark sort of way and today most of the formations were still covered with leftover snow glistening in the snow - pretty, but sort of eerie at the same time. We decided on a route from the east entrance that would take us to the west end near Holbrook, about a 30 mile jaunt. What we wanted to be sure to see was the spot where an original alignment of Route 66 passed through the park. It was well marked and easy to find, in fact the Park Service had added some special touches like the old car below, plus a great old Cadillac (I think!) fender and a nice sign explaining what Route 66 was! The old road bed is hard to see now, but it ran along the telephone poles.
Just a short footnote on the Painted Desert - We're glad we took time to visit, but in all honesty, with a just a few exceptions, there was not a lot there that we hadn't seen from the surrounding road area. Would we go back? Yes! Make it an annual stop? No!Holbrook is a vibrant Route 66 town and was looking good! Lots of petrified rock shops, old motels and cafes
Just past Joseph City, we pulled off to stop at The Jack Rabbit, one of the oldest surviving souvenir shops in Arizona. All was well here, a bit of winter construction going on to spruce things up. We chatted a few minutes with the owner, found a new Route 66 book and grabbed some more postcards.
Onward past Two Guns and Twin Arrows, silently eroding a little more each year, but still mostly standing and clearly visible from the road. The mountains in the distance around Flagstaff have lots of snow and that would be good for the ski resorts and this very dry area in general.
We pulled into Williams to find lunch, gaze at the wonderful old trains that are part of the Grand Canyon Railway and drive Route 66 through this cute downtown. Several months ago, when we were discussing what we wanted to try and do this year on our LA Adventure, the Grand Canyon rail trip to the Grand Canyon was at the top of the list, but it requires a two night stay and time was not on our side this trip, so maybe next year we'll get to ride the vintage train to the canyon rim. For those of you who like good food, but especially homemade pie, do stop by the Pine Country Restaurant in Williams, definitely worth the trip for a slice of pie - the hardest part is deciding which one! We went for a foot high whipped chocolate mousse concoction - delicious and then some!Time to feed the truck, so we pulled into Seligman for a gas stop at the general store here. Surprisingly, gas has stayed below the $3 mark thus far, although we know that won't last as we continue west! We decided there was enough daylight to take the old route through the mountains out of Seligman. They've (NM Route 66 Assn???) added several sets of repro Burma Shave signs along the road, fun to see and read. We passed through the tiny towns of Peach Springs, Truxton and Valentine to get to Hackberry, home of Hackberry's General Store. You may recall we did a special label Noodler's Ink for Hackberry's last year. This place is such a hoot, we love it! Took some time to chat with one of the owners, found another new Route 66 book and Frank took lots of photos, because there are just so many interesting and strange things to see here!
It was still daylight when we drove into Kingman. Time to run a few errands, drop off laundry with the world's best laundry lady and get 4 days of road grit washed off the truck.
Happy Valentine's Day to All!
We started Valentine's Day in Kingman, Arizona this morning. If you've peeked at our past travelogues, you'll see that we pass through and stay in Kingman often. It's a great Route 66 town and we enjoyed our stay last night just as much as our previous stays.
It was VERY windy last night, sand swooshing around everywhere. These winds were predicted to continue today, but we got lucky and our route was pretty much wind free - in spite of what all those new electronic traffic boards were telling us! Tonight, once in LA, we learned they were Santa Ana winds and swirling all around the area bringing in strange weather. We really did luck out and were in the right place at the right time on the road today!
We've driven through the Mojave Desert numerous times, today it was greener than we have ever seen it. Quite pleasant change. There were even some beautiful little yellow flowers in full bloom today! I like the desert, but I like the green better. It's always nice to pass through the desert and see the mountains.
Mid-day, we stopped in at the Summit Inn at the top of El Cajon pass for a bite of lunch. This is an old Route 66 icon, lots of character and good old-fashioned food and lots of it. About half my lunch came with me to LA. This stretch of the interstate is like a speedway, we cut off onto the old road and take a nice scenic drive for about 10 miles before returning because Route 66 gets a little complicated at this point and does lots of starts and stops and criss crossing back and forth across the interstate.
We arrived in Manhattan Beach earlier than usual, missed rush hour traffic and have a little time to relax tonight. The Los Angeles Pen Show starts tomorrow for us! Stay tuned for show reports!
Greetings from the Los Angeles Pen Show! For the next few days while we're at the show, our travel is pretty limited to the ballroom at the Manhattan Beach Marriott. And our sightseeing consists of drooling over the thousands and thousands of fountain pens being bought, sold and traded! We spent the majority of the day setting up our exhibit and catching up with pen friends from around the world. We weren't very good photographers! Sometimes we get so caught up in the thrill of the show, that we just flat old forget to pull out the camera and record some of the excitement of a large pen show like LA. We'll gather our wits and the camera about us on Saturday and get some photos to you fresh from the 20th Annual LA Pen Show!
It's day two of the LA Pen Show for us today. Some people have been here longer and many more continue to arrive, there's a good steady stream of pen people at the show today. Tomorrow, Sunday is typically the busiest day of the show and I have no reason to think this year should be any different. We stayed pretty busy today and in between selling and some buying and lots of pen talk, we fine tuned the exhibit. It's nice and neat and tidy right now!
The atmosphere at the Los Angeles Pen Show on Sundays is totally electrifying! You just have to be there to understand. I'm always amazed at the crowds of happy pen show people. This year was busier than any LA Show we've ever been to, the aisles were packed from the time the doors opened at 10AM until late in the afternoon with many people still milling around and shopping after the show officially closed at 5PM.
Thanks to all of you who stopped by to say hello and to those who made purchases from us at the show this weekend. We appreciate you coming by and we hope all of you enjoy the show as much as we did.
Frank and I took a few photos early on before the show started and as it began. We hope you'll enjoy Sunday at the LA Pen Show through these photos.
The LA Pen Show is over and it's time for us to start our trek eastward. It's a great day for travel in the 60s with just a hint of breeze and we really don't mind leaving the smoggy skies and heading for the open road.
We're heading toward the San Bernadino Mountains and the high desert just beyond. It's President's Day, traffic is light today. On the way in to LA we stopped in Victorville to gas us and do so again on our return trip - the price of gas in the desert is astronomical, plus gas stations are far and few in between. In spite of modern day conveniences like cell phones and Onstar, I think it is ingrained in us that you don't go through the Mojave without the essentials.We've been to Ludlow on Route 66 before, but never stopped at the Ludlow Cafe and the timing was right for a bit of lunch and time to stretch, too. After 3 days of moving around at the pen show, we're both feeling a little cramped on the first day out after a few hours in the car. The Ludlow Cafe has been here since the 1920s, it and a couple gas stations are the lone survivors of what was once a busy little mining and railroad town. The cafe is very busy today and that is good. The food isn't fancy, but it is delicious and I'm glad we stopped.
Just after crossing the Colorado River at the California-Arizona border we get off the interstate for the remainder of the day and pick up a very old back country stretch of Route 66 toward Oatman. This is one of our favorites parts of Route 66 and it's been a couple of years, so we're excited to visit quirky Oatman again. Oatman is an old mining town with that wild west look, complete with "not so" wild burros roaming the streets. I should add that this is still a mining town, with at least one operating gold mine. Route 66 through here is nicknamed the Gold Mine Road. We wandered the street shops for awhile and oohed and awwed over the cute baby burros. Took some time to visit Mr. Yellowhammer's jewelry shop where I always seem to find nice southwest jewelry, I like that he makes it right here. Decided on a lapis necklace and bracelet and we waited and chatted while he adjusted the size on the bracelet. Very talented man hidden away in Oatman!
We made one more stop in Oatman at the tiny post office to drop off some more postcards and then start down the mountain. Back in the 1930s, people were so terrified of this stretch of road, they would hire locals to drive them through. The road is a little wider now, though not much and it's all hairpin curves and switchbacks, if you hit 20-25mph, that is very fast. But there really isn't any need for fast since you don't want to miss the scenery or the fun of driving this road!You'll have to check back for photos of Route 66/The Goldmine Road out of Oatman toward Kingman. Frank took a little movie coming down the mountain. It didn't turn out too bad for a spur of the moment thing. But I need to get to a *real* computer and download it to youtube when we get home. Check back in about a week or so, and I'll put it on the News page when the movie is available. We're back in Kingman for the night, the laundry gets dropped off on the way toward our hotel and we were in search of Cabello's which we had been told was an excellent Italian restaurant. Cabello's is on Club drive, away from both I-40 and Route 66, but worth the drive into Kingman to have dinner at, excellent Italian in the desert!
Today was our longest mileage day for this trip, so we knew we had to limit our stops a little more than usual. As it turns out I seem to have picked up a couple germs in LA and being a good tourist wasn't high on the list today. Ugh. We did stop in Ash Grove to visit the beautiful bronze elk statues which was a good thing because in spite of all the road signs warning to watch for Elk across northern Arizona, we have yet to see one here!
We also stopped in Winslow long enough to visit Roadworks and "The Corner". If you've read any of our previous travelogues, you'll know that The Corner was in danger of being torn down. Thankfully, the city and other parties involved seem to have finally figured this all out now and The Corner will be better than ever with an extended park and improvements to the road, too. Hooray for Winslow!
We stopped by the visitor's center downtown and noticed that there was a new memorial in town made of iron from the World Trade Center. So we decied we should try to find this, which really wasn't too difficult, it's right on Route 66 at the east end of town. Very nice tribute by this small town.
Winslow was the high point of the day! We drove a lot. Stopped at the Navajo Travel Center outside Holbrook for a bite to eat and pretty much beelined it into Albuquerque for the night. Frank found a local pizzeria, Venizio's and we dined in the room tonight - the pizza by the way was superb! I got a lot of sleep and this morning as I write this I'm wondering if maybe it wasn't the germs, but just lack of sleep on the road that caught up with me because I feel quite fine at this point. Sometmes busy pen shows and the road can catch up with you!
There were beautiful blue skies over Albuquerque when we drove out of town this morning. As we continued through New Mexico, you could see a front moving in ahead of us, low cloud cover, almost like fog, but it wasn't fog and the temps dropped steadily through the day. Quite chilly in Liberal Kansas tonight as I write this. But not as chilly as it is back home!Today is our last chance to drive any parts of Route 66, so after a stop at Cline's corner for breakfast, we hit the Mother Road. I took the photos below about 20 miles west of Tucumcari. Route 66 is a local side road in many areas and this stretch was not clearly marked that it was Route 66 at all. Maintenance can be minimal, interstates get the big road money, byways do not fare as well.
This little stretch must have gotten a little appropriation of road funds, half of the road has been resurfaced, the other side must be waiting it's turn!
The road does come abruptly to a dead end at many points, but this time there was a one lane path through double tunnels under the interstate to pick up Route 66 on the other side. More like a big storm drain, but you could see where there were tire tracks, so it does still get at least a little use, probably by the local ranchers.
The range is encroaching on this stretch of road. But all in all, the surface was fine, far better than many parts we've traveled in the past. We were on this stretch 2 years ago, I'll have to go back and compare photos from the same area.
We drove the strip through Tucumcari, stopped to feed the truck at the far east edge of town and then turned back to catch our diagonal short cut back home. The end of Route 66 travels for us for this trip. We still have a long stretch of Route 66 to cover from Springfield IL to Chicago. Ironically this is the part closest to home, but seems to be the hardest part to make time for. Doesn't look like it will happen this summer either, our next chance, but one of these days we'll get to it.We're back on Hwy 54, like Route 66, I'm sure this was once a much busier road. It's still an official road though, lots of truck traffic and people like us who are headed north and looking to shave off a 100 miles or so off the trip. We took a little drive through downtown Dalhart off the highway this time. Nice old buildings, although you can see where the tin man must have came though back in the 60s. He came through Fort Madison, too and tried to update things!
The towns are far and few in between on this art of Hwy 54. We probably should have grabbed a bite to eat in Dalhart, but just didn't occur to us. Instead, we stopped in Stratford at what appeared to be the local gathering place - a combination of gas station, convenience store, deli and bakery with tables both inside and out. Too cold for outside eating today and a full house inside so we took our food to go. Great home baked cookies here!
We know that every small town takes great pride in their school teams and rightfully so, but sometimes they give them the darnedest names!
Home away from home tonight is Liberal, Kansas. We've stayed here before and it's a nice town. But we had never had enough time to drive beyond the highway so we went in search of the downtown area. Very nice!
Mother Nature was not being kind to Kansas today! Instead of the snow we were expecting from the forecast, it was a day of ice, freezing rain and sleet - I'll take the snow over this mix any day on the road. Tip of the hat to the Kansas Dept of Highways though, they were out in force trying to keep Hwy 54 clear, not an easy job today.Our first hundred miles or so were thankfully on dry roads. We revisited Greensburg to refuel and after being so shell shocked at the state of the town about a week ago, we took another look and realized just how busy the town was with rebuilding. All the basic services were in place, some of the homes on the east end of town that weren't damaged as badly had been repaired and there were new homes being built throughout the town. But, those stark trees .... they just send shivers down my spine!
With the weather taking a turn for the worse, it gave us an opportunity (or is than an excuse?!?) to slide into some antique malls. First stop was The Moose in Wichita where we had the mall to ourselves. No pens, but several other nice writing items. We trekked on toward Andover, again having the mall to ourselves and found a splendid inkwell here. Everyone we talk to is in agreement that winter just can't end soon enough this year!I think the photo below was taken in Pratt, the road looked pretty much the same everywhere! That's not snow, but a nice slippery combo of sleet over ice.
We made one more antique stop between Wichita and KC, and found several nice things here, plus a cool old 1930s art deco bathroom scale that we'll refurbish a bit and use at home. Aside from the pen stuff, we're also always on the lookout for other cool collectibles and things for the building - yes, we're hopeless in an antique shop!Between slow driving and antique stops, we've run out of daylight as we approach Kansas City. It's tail end of rush hour and traffic is fairly light, but it was a long trip through town in a downpour of freezing rain, I think the biggest challenge was just keeping the windshield clear enough to see. Slow going, but things did clear up about 30 miles north of town. Lack of visibility made it tough to take any decent photos, but the one below in downtown KC is at least viewable.
We were glad to find our hotel and stop for dinner if for no other reason to just get out of the car! Tomorrow will be our last day on the road.
Our original plan was for this last day on the road to be a fairly short one and in spite of Mother Nature's best efforts to foul that up yesterday, we still managed to stick to the plan!
The sun shone brightly as we started our day and crossed from Missouri into Iowa. The road crews must have worked very hard last night to remove the ice, sleet and snow. All main roads and highway were totally clear, side streets in towns less so, but that's to be expected. It hovered right around 20-22 degrees all day, so not brutal, but nothing was melting out there!Iowa's slogan on their welcome signs into the state is "Fields of Opportunity". Clever. True. Especially these days when ethanol is the thing and corn prices have skyrocketed. However, at this time of year, it's hard to associate the snow covered rolling countryside with economic prosperity!
Lamoni, Iowa is a quaint little town just on the Missouri-Iowa line. Lamoni is named after Chief Lamoni. We drove into town to check out the antique shops that used to be there. No sign of them any longer.
A quick stop in downtown Centerville and again, the antique mall that used to be there is no longer. This is unfortunately becoming more common in the small towns that are away from the interstates. Fort Madison is fortunate to have a number of antique malls and shops in town, in spite of our distance from the interstate (about 70 miles).So, it was onward to Bloomfield, home of W.A. Sheaffer and one of Iowa's most stunning courthouses. We stopped for lunch at a corner cafe that is in an old bank building. They've done a nice job of saving the original structure inside and out, right down to the old bank vault in one of the dining areas. Good homemade food, too. As I've mentioned before, southern Iowa along Highway 2 is Amish country. The Amish are a very integral part of the small communities in this area.
Today completed our journey from Fort Madison to Los Angeles and back again. As much as we love being on the road and visiting places we don't get to often, it is always good to be back home again, even if it is still cold!Our truck is unloaded, we'll work over the weekend on unpacking odds and ends pen show stuff that we brought back from LA along with our antique finds and the souvenirs we acquired along Route 66, too. Unpacking may just be the worst part of a long trip ... well, maybe it's the pile of laundry and the lack of the Kingman laundry lady!
Thanks for traveling along with us, we hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did.