route66Sign.gif (1966 bytes)
route66Sign.gif (1961 bytes)Route 66 Trip '99        Alex, Baker, John, and Rachel
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   e-mail us on our trip!
Day 1 - Illinois
Day 2 - Missouri
Day 3 - Kansas/ Oklahoma
Day 4 - Oklahoma
Day 5 - Oklahoma/Texas/New Mexico
Day 6 - New Mexico
Day 7 - New Mexico/Arizona
Day 8 - Arizona/California
Day 9 - California
Day 10 - California
Day 11 - California
Day 12 - California
Day 13 - California / Nevada / Utah / Wyoming
Day 14 - Wyoming / Colorado
Day 15 - Colorado / Nebraska / Iowa / Illinois

Day 9  [7/29/99]
From: Needles, CA
To: Santa Monica, CA
Total Miles: 267 
Sites Seen: not much, THE OCEAN!, ...                                              
Today's Entry By: John Raskin

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Palm Springus geriatris, the elusive Desert Republican, strikes again.
We awoke relatively early in Needles, California, I with my morning sickness and Baker with his morning ugliness. We set out to find closure in our trek through the heart of America: a triumphant arrival to the west coast, greeting throngs of cheering Angelinos (Santa Monikers?) confused by our Illinois license plate and proud declaration of "California or Bucket." Instead, we found ourselves perplexed by Southern California, a rare combination of two forms of lifelessness: the desert and the suburbs.

Our first stop was the desert community of Amboy, referred to as a "desert community" because "ghost town" is a bit harsh (it does have an operational post office). Just west of town we passed the section of desert where people traditionally write their names, initials or short messages in the sand with rocks. We wrote "Shandel" just to the right of "Timoch," which is further proof that nobody who drives Route 66 speaks English.

route66Sign.gif (1961 bytes) We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs  began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive..." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats,all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going  about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?"

We stopped in Barstow for lunch and ate at "Gil’s for Fine Dining," a restaurant that occupies an awkward space with a high ceiling and a stage clumsily converted into, well, a former stage. Our waitress, when asked how she was, explained that she was "fat-legged and sassy, thank you," and she gave us sandwiches that were three parts mayonnaise to one part meat.

The next part of our day was incredibly stressful due to poor directions. Our book, which had earlier referred to an interstate entrance as an "exit," forgot to mention to get on the interstate in Victorville. So we followed the directions in the book and ended up circling around a parking lot until we decided just to head west and see what happened (the compass in the ceiling of the car has been our most useful instrument). We got on I-215 into San Bernadino and skipped ahead in our directions to where it said to get off at Devore Street and make a left. We did, and the road circled up into the hills, past some grazing livestock (llamas, we suspect), and back to where we started. So we figured maybe the book meant "right" when it said "left," a mistake it has made more than once, and we ended up at the entrance to a national park, possibly owned by Blockbuster Corporation. These things happen in California. The woman at the national park entrance, who was eager to get back to the phone where she was discussing her recent failure to meet a friend at the mall, explained that the book, when it said "left," had actually meant "straight."

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Well, you can see the "S"
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"Let's see 15% of $19.87...1.98 divided by two...carry the one...No wait!"
So we drove into San Bernadino, which is suburban, and we called Laurie Raskin, who we would be staying with that evening, to ask her what time she needed us for dinner. Laurie’s answer was "for God’s sake, get on the interstate!" So we did, and we followed L.A.’s freeway system toward Santa Monica, where we exited early to finish the last mile or two on Route 66. We blasted "Get Your Kicks On Route 66" from our CD player and reached the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Ocean Blvd. at 26,741 on the odometer—exactly 2,709 miles after we started in Chicago. We pulled into a 15-minute parking space and ran to the beach to touch the water and take photographic proof that we reached the Pacific without bucketing.

Fifteen minutes later, we were back on Ocean Boulevard and headed to Westwood, which is about 5 miles away (2 hours by freeway). We pulled up to the house at the same time as Laurie, who had with her, my sister Julie Raskin and her son Alec. The double arrival led to circuit overload for my friends as they were introduced to thousands of relatives at once and we had to keep introducing Baker to people because he was incapable of doing it himself. He listened to each person’s name and never realized that he needed to tell them his own. Alec skipped the introductions and dove directly for my stomach.

route66Sign.gif (1961 bytes) And so began the first period under the rule of Alec. At six years old and 62 pounds, Alec knows no timidity, shyness or social restraint, and is able to monopolize a conversation more effectively than a member of the Simmons family. He showed us his energy, his room, his SuperSoaker™, his energy, and his ability to do accents. Best of all, he referred to Baker as "Chef," which is more subtle mockery than we are capable of.

Laurie prepared me a second birthday dinner, which means my relatives are 2 for 2 so far. We had pasta, which Rachel had been craving since mid-Oklahoma, and a birthday cake that Alec picked out. The candle played a high-pitched, electronic "Happy Birthday to You," and Laurie wouldn’t let me blow out the candle until it went through its third and final cycle of the song. She then realized that Alec had been out of the room for the candle ceremony, so she re-lit the candle and it shrieked "happy birthday" three more times.

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We came for the fishing, but we stay for the boating 
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You know, we consider ourelves bi-coastal...if you consider Lake Michigan one of the coasts.
Once our ears recovered, we debated which movie to go to and ended up wandering around Westwood eating ice cream and listening to Baker complain about Los Angeles. He acknowledged that the weather was beautiful, Laurie and Rick’s house was gorgeous, and the food is good, but he can’t stand the city. Something about the woman in the ice cream shop and how she’s "typical."

We had Julie with us, so we went back to her room (and mom’s) in their hotel in Westwood (of course Julie and mom are in Westwood the same two days we are). We fell asleep to E.R. until my mother came back and freaked out because her goal had been to avoid us while we are here for fear of "ruining our trip." So she hugged us, gossiped to us and sent us on our way back to Laurie’s, where we did things very quietly to avoid waking Alec.

Alec was asleep, which gave us less of a relaxed feeling than one of being in the eye of the storm. There was an eerie calm, but we could hear trees being uprooted, houses flying by, witches bicycling, etc., and we knew that he would return.

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