Driving westward, into the future, from starting in Burlington, VT in late December 2009, and ending in Berkeley, CA about 10 days later.


13 Jan 10

Route 66

A little more on our Day 9 travels from Mary.

Route 66 (in Arizona, at least) has mostly been replaced by I-40 and exists today almost as a frontage road for the interstate. Many of the businesses that used to rely on cross country travelers have survived clustered around the freeway exits. Williams, where we ate dinner on Day 8 and stayed overnight, has made its center a little tourist town for travelers like us who pass through en route to the Grand Canyon. The loop of Rte 66 that we took from Seligman to Kingsman arcs up away from I-40 and toward the western rim of the Grand Canyon and the Hualuapi Indian Reservation.

Route 66 was a little longer than the section of I-40 we bypassed (about 10 miles) but according to our GPS it only added about 15 minutes to our trip. The speed limit is 55-65 mph for most of this leg of the historic highway and the towns passed through are pretty tiny. There were no traffic delays and we barely even had to slow down for town centers. It was quiet scenic, in the nothing-to-see way we’d become accustomed to since leaving San Antonio. Unlike a lot of that time, however, there were real signs of life - houses, schools, a woman getting her mail. By Kingman there were full factories and other depressing signs of industrialization. (Kingman was kind of awful, really.) There were a lot of signs of abandonment as well - foundations burned to the groud, boarded windows, former restaurants.

For me, the highlight of this road was seeing the legendary Burma Shave ads her grandfather used to tell her about. We passed at least four sets (and had time to read at least one posted for eastbound traffic), mostly near Seligman, and we’ll post the poems later.

Doing a spell check right now (Hualuapi is right, it just doesn’t look right), I came across some beautiful pictures taken by motorcycle of the section of Route 66 we took. My pictures just can’t compare, so I’m not posting them just yet. When I finally get caught up with Flickr (which may be soon, co-workers are suggesting my team all do short vacation presentations) I’ll point out Route 66.

Arizona Burma Shave Route 66 day 9

9 Jan 10

My Last 5 Tweets

  • Hello from… well, I don’t know how many feet up because an idiot tried to bomb *Detroit* of all places. But hello from Virgin flight 358.
  • (Sure, I can’t get wireless at Andrew & Ethan’s in Berkeley, but on my flight home, voila.)
  • Not sure if ability to tweet make turbulence better or worse
  • Also, pilot says “It is currently zero degrees in Boston, but they promise to have some degrees there when we land.” #awesome
And I’m done. But seriously, this would be pretty awesome if I weren’t counting on getting some sleep in the next five hours. See you on the other side. - Mary, from her flight to Boston (yes, mid-air.)

California Massachusetts Virgin America in the air

Day 9 (01.06.10)

After a chilly night in a poorly heated motel room, We started our morning by running across the street to the American Flyer Coffee Co. where Kristen had her first real cappuccino since leaving New Jersey. After clearing the ice (!) from the windshield, we took a shortcut on I-40 over to Historic Route 66 which we took from Ash Fork to Kingman.

From Kingman, an industrious but ultimately depressing diesel-gray town, we took US 93 north through Arizona toward Neveda. Kristen describes this section of highway as “there used to be mining here.” We passed two or three historical markers which seem to be Arizona’s gravestone for ghost towns. We headed toward mountains in a typical Western straight line (an odd concept to us New Englanders) and wound our way through the hills and curves. When we came to a sign for Willow Beach it seemed like a nice time for a break so we drove down a valley and were treated to a view of Black Canyon and the perfectly clear waters of the post-Grand Canyon, post-Hoover Dam Colorado River.

After that, it was back up the road and river to US 93 and the Hoover Dam! I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a damned fine dam. We ate lunch overlooking Lake Mead and admired the bridge being built to relieve the increased Las Vegas-Phoenix traffic on the bridge, the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

After a brief souvenir stop, it was time for Vegas, baby! Smog-covered, trafficky, touristy Vegas. We parked for free at the Bellagio and took in the fountain show.

From there we walked down The Strip to the MGM Grand where we ate dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s Bar and Grill (we had hoped for ‘wichcraft, but it closed 10 minutes before we arrived, curses). We had a chance to enjoy the full neon of Las Vegas as we headed back to the car and then out of town so we could arrive at Death Valley Junction (or as Garmina knows it, Highway 190 & Highway 127) and our hotel by our 9 PM check-in.

no, let me sum up Arizona Nevada California no Route 66

The Thing?

I’d like to take a moment to re-mention The Thing?, which we visited on Day 7 in eastern Arizona. The Thing? is extremely anti-climatic, but worth the dollar of admission for this argument, if nothing else:

This antique car was believed to have been used by Adolph Hitler. The THING is, it can’t be proved.
You know who drove cars? HITLER. Aaaand roadside attractions fail Godwin’s Law.

Arizona Hitler The Thing?

7 Jan 10


IN BERKELEY. That means we made it! Internet evades us right now, but we wanted to let you know we were in safely. More updates tomorrow.

California we did it woohoo!

*looks up* Oh hey, hi BART!

California on the road

Gah, fog. Must be in the Bay Area.

California on the road

On to 580 at Tracy! Very exciting to be close to our final destination! About an hour to go.

California on the road

Passing through the Sierra Nevadas. Mountains straight up on both sides of us.

California on the road

Out of the shadow of Death Valley and back in the land of cell coverage.

California on the road

6 Jan 10

Requisite Bellagio shot. What should we do in our 2 hrs in Vegas?

Nevada on the road

My gods, the smog over Vegas is disgusting Coming from the east in low afternoon light, the city has an ugly brown haze over it.

Nevada on the road

Crossed the Hoover Dam into Pacific Time. On to Vegas baby!

Arizona Nevada on the road

Day 8 (01.05.2010)

We stayed the night at Kristen’s grandparents in Mesa and enjoyed some quality time with them (and their cats). In fact, we had a stowaway in the morning who had to be shooed away before Mary took him home to Boston.

Well, Boston via the Grand Canyon, of course. What’s a trip across the country without seeing the Grand Canyon?! So we headed north out of Phoenix, jumping off I-17 (where we bought the most expensive gas of the trip - over $3/gal!) to drive through Sedona. Our atlas said it was a “scenic drive”, but we had no idea. I-17 outside of Phoenix began with rolling desert hills studded with Saguaro cacti, became steeper hills covered in brush as far as the eye could see, turned into a plateau, and took us down into a valley.

Then we turned on to NM 179 and… wow.

Turns out that Coconino National Forest contains an area called Red Rocks Country. Sedona is in the heart of these rock formations. It was amazing. We then wound our way back uphill on roads with 15 MPH curves (it made me think of the Kanc!) and out to Flagstaff.

From Flagstaff we drove north through more National Forest (Coconino and Kaibab) and the Navejo Indian Reservation, which was beautiful but man, did the US Government give them some barren land. After passing Little Colorado Canyon, an impressive crevasse, we arrived at Grand Canyon National Park.

no, let me sum up Arizona National Park

We’re cruisin’ Route 66. Just passed BurmaShave signs!

Arizona on the road