Since we were in Winslow, Arizona, we just had to stop by the “corner” dedicated to the song by the Eagles, “Take it Easy”. Pictures taken we headed to the Twin Arrows Trading Post ruins, then on to Flagstaff to gas up.
From there we followed Historic Route 66 to Seligman, which lays claim to be where Route 66 originated. There are a few quirky roadside cafes in Seligman, so we stopped at one of the oldest, and funniest, Delgadillo’s Snowcap and ordered some Oink Burgers (bacon cheese burgers) with a shared order of fries, and a couple of milkshakes which would come back to haunt us later.
Leaving the eatery we drove to Oatman to see the wild burros that inhabit the area and beg for handouts in town. Getting to Oatman was a very long hair-raising ride on narrow roads alongside steep mountain grades through the Sitgreaves Pass. Oatman turned out to be a tiny town with an abundance of clapboard storefronts strictly for souvenir hunters. The road through the itty-bitty town was itty-bitty too, making passing through difficult, especially when there were burros in the streets as well as cars. Shortly after exiting the outskirts of Oatman that milkshake reminded me of why I don’t drink milkshakes anymore. Alan, bless him, found a side road to pull off on that allowed me to… let things pass.
An hour later we were at Havasu NWR, but the lake we’d visited a few years before was not as we remembered it, and the wildlife was in much lower numbers. Our next stop was our hotel. When I went in to check in I had to wait – they had just suffered a brief power outage and were trying to get things back online. I didn’t mind a bit and told the young lady who was trying to get things back in order, to take her time. Eventually I was checked in, and upgraded (possibly she was grateful I hadn’t complained) to a view of the London Bridge. Nice! After settling into the room we shopped for some groceries for dinner (salads, a sandwich for Alan, and frozen tortellini for me), then we drove over the London Bridge. We really know how to have fun.
Holiday Inn Express, Lake Havasu, London Bridge. 5.0 $156.41
Our first stop today was The Bottle Tree Ranch in California. After several false starts to get on the original Historic Route 66, we had to consign ourselves to Hwy 40 for most of the way. Eventually we found the route and the ranch. The ranch was much larger than we’d originally thought, so we had fun poking around and taking pictures.
The next stop was to get our iconic photo of California’s Route 66 sign, and a few other fun nuggets right next to it. Cross Eyed Cow Pizza, an old RV with a giant fork stuck in the top, and a highly decorated VW bus.
Next up was the location/museum (we didn’t go in) of the very first McDonald’s restaurant, which had a replica of Scooby-Doo’s Magic Mystery Machine sitting out back. After that we drove by Wigwam Motel where I snagged a quick drive-by picture. From Wigwam we headed to the famous Donut Man on 66 and picked up some indulgences for breakfast the next day.
We gassed up at Sam’s Club on the cheap and then found our hotel and checked in. After a little rest we headed to our final point on Route 66 – the Santa Monica Pier. We parked way out in the parking lot and hauled my camera gear to the opposite side where I set up camp to take sunset and blue hour photos of the pier. Afterward we strolled the pier itself and Alan got a picture of the Route 66 End of Road marker. Dinner was at The Albright (overpriced). As we headed to the parking lot Alan looked for the truck from our vantage point on the pier… and couldn’t see it. He tried to stay calm as we walked down the steps and across the lot. It was right where we left it, but the busses that had been sitting to the left of it when we parked had moved to in front of it while we were gone. They pulled a David Copperfield on us. LOL
Best Western, airport. (4.5) $117.15 + points.
After indulging in the Donut Man delicacies, we drove to fire station 127, i.e.: Station 51 of the TV show, “Emergency!”. I stepped out and took a picture for nostalgia’s sake. That firehouse will always have a place in my heart.
On we drove to Escondido and Lake Hodges where we hoped to see some grebes (maybe even rushing?) and a bunch more birds to add to our list. We traveled around the lake. We got out of the truck a few times and hiked down the slopes to the lake and caught sight of some grebes, both western and Clark’s, pelicans, and an assortment of smaller birds. In one instance we heard a loud rustling. Alan went to see what sort of bird it might be – it turned out to be coyote. On the eastern side of the lake were some trails, so we picked the 2.5 mile loop trail and set out on that one. It was a good hike and we saw several more birds. Exhausted, we went to the hotel and ordered in some pizza – a rare treat for our travels.
We “slept in” until 7:00 and headed back to Lake Hodges where we watched a few grebes rushing. The most exciting thing we witnessed was a feeding frenzy. This involved a large number of grebes, cormorants, pelicans, gulls, snowy egrets, and a great egret. Apparently a large school of fish were suddenly near the beach and all those birds were competing for their fill for breakfast. Nearby we saw a young black-crowned night heron sitting among the reeds.
Leaving that area we drove to Rancho Bernardo Community Park but it didn’t meet our expectations. On we went to Kit Carson Park. This park was great. Alan LOVED it, and said so quite often. We were able to capture pictures of quite a few new birds as well as better pictures of some we already have in our albums. Once again we hiked a 2.5 mile loop trail, stopping often to snap those pictures. After we left the park we stopped by a grocery store and picked up a couple of huge salads for lunch and dinner.
Hampton Inn, San Marcos. (4.3) $231.00 (2 nights)
Today we visited San Diego Bay NWR and hiked a mile, saw some long-billed curlew and other sandpipers, but didn’t see much else.
Next up was Tijuana River National Estuary. There were LOADS of hummingbirds. One displaying a strange behavior I’d never seen before. I later learned it was a way of cooling off. We also saw a pretty Cassin’s kingbird.
Our next stop of the day was at Cabrillo National Monument. There was a fantastic view of the bay, and of San Deigo. We also saw the lighthouse, a statue, and made a quick, but uneventful trip to the tidal pools area (the tide was in, so there was no going down to any pools).
Our last stop was at Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR. We got eaten up by mosquitoes after hiking about a mile. We did see some Gamble’s quail, snow geese, and a couple of unidentified raptors.
Brawley Inn, (3.8) $107.99
The first place we visited today was Salvation Mountain. This work of art is a tribute by one man to his love of God and his firm belief that “God is Love”.
Next we drove to Cibola NWR in Arizona. It borders the Colorado River with California. We drove over the state line several times. We walked the short desert tail behind the visitor center and looked for mud puppies in the little pond. Afterward we drove the auto tour. We saw snow geese on a pond, black and Says phoebes, kestrel, sandhill cranes, great tail grackles, northern shovelers, pintails, widgeons, pintails, and a northern harrier. We broke out our teleconverters and practiced with them too. The difference in lens reach was amazing. I’m still getting used to my new camera system though, and don’t feel I had anything worthwhile. Yet.
We had a PBJ lunch at a park in Yuma, drove to “The Center of the World” to ask permission to do some night photography (denied), then checked in to our hotel. For dinner we shopped at Fry’s grocery and picked up some salads to eat back in our suite. Since we would be staying in Tucson for 4 nights, I looked at AirB&B for a place. The nightly rates looked great – until I went to reserve a place and found the “service fee” and “cleaning fee”. WTF. Those fees along with the taxes, nearly doubled the cost. I suppose if you were to stay a much longer time that the fees would even out the cost, but for our shorter stay, we said no thanks and reserved a nice hotel suite for much less.
Best Western Hotel and Suites, Airport, Yuma. (5.0, comfortable, quiet, great shower) $147.
Today we headed to Tucson where we will went to Kennedy Park for a PBJ picnic. We saw a Gila woodpecker, a couple of cactus wrens, a curve-billed thrasher, and a pigeon while we ate. Down a the pond we saw shovelers.
Next we drove an hour down to Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia (AZ). We saw so much there that we agreed we would try to go back every day of our stay here! We checked in at the Hilton DoubleTree Suites for 4 nights, but the experience from the onset was so bad that we cancelled the other three nights and made a reservation at a Radisson Country Inn & Suites just down the road.
Hilton DoubleTree Suites (rated: 3 comfy bed, quiet, terrible at everything else) $157