What's wonderful about California is that original sections of 66 are still in place. I -40 isn't built on top of it. So outside of Needles we started chasing 66 through the Mojave. Luckily, my wife is a native Californian and wise in the ways of the Mojave, but we didn't need her expertise. But this section of 66 from Needles to San Bernardino was at one time frightening to travel. Cars had a hard time getting through the desert, and travelers too before A/C. Many travelers would travel through here by night, and it's not uncommon to see that suggested in old 66 guides. This is also the place where those canvas water bags that hung off the hood ornament use to be deployed. Luckily for newer cars this trip even in day time is no problem.
The road hits some legendary 66 desert towns, like Goffs and Essex, and makes it into Amboy. Amboy is a nothing place with a lot of surprises. The first surprise was the shoe tree, a tree with pairs of shoes hung by their laces, hundreds of them. Sadly on our last trip through the tree had been hit by lightening and collapsed into a wash, but I understand that a replacement may be found.
Amboy is home to Roy's an old 66 landmark with a blue and red sign that sticks out in contrast to the bright brown glare of the desert. Roy's was a mid-desert tourist colony long ago, that provided gas, food, and lodging (small cabins). But over the past few decades had changed owners and now is rarely open if it is at all. It was closed on this trip.
After Roy's you see a second surprise, a volcano. Yes a volcano in the middle of the desert. This is the extinct Amboy Crater, we didn't get too close on this trip but its a cool site, and a state park.
After Amboy we pushed through Ludlow, and on to Newberry Springs. East of Newberry Springs we ran across a brown bar called the Bagdad Cafe, this is the spot the movie of the same name was filmed. I will talk about it in a later post.
After Newberry Springs we where on to Dagget the home of a strange solar power plant that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. After that we go past Fort Irwin USMC logistics base and on to Barstow
Continued in part 2