Travelling the Main Street of America
All along this section, watch for classic motels, garages and motor courts. Most are either derelict or put to other uses, but there are dozens of them attesting to old Route 66's commercial drawing power. Passing through Oro Grande, watch for another of my favourite bridges. This one crosses the Mojave River just before Victorville and there's a viable pull-off immediately after crossing it. The trucks to and from the local quarries are unforgiving, so keep a careful eye on your mirrors as you slow down to make this photo stop. Victorville makes a green and leafy overnight stop after your Mojave adventure. What's more, it has the Roy Rogers Museum, housed in a reconstruction of a wild-west cavalry fort. This is one of those places that you just have to visit, and that you end up enjoying much more than you expect.
You may look at the final section of Route 66 from Victorville to Santa Monica and be lulled into a false sense of security by the raw statistic that it's not much more than 100 miles. Don't be fooled. This is going to take you HOURS!
From Victorville you zoom up and over Cajon Pass, hardly noticing what for early travellers was a make-or-break grind. The Summit Inn on Mariposa Road was the site of many a celebratory drink as the car steamed away quietly in its parking spot cooling off after a successful climb. It's after San Bernardino that the fun starts. All the communities along Foothill and Santa Monica Boulevards have flowed into one another, creating a wasteland of shopping malls and fast-food joints that stretches for more than 50 miles, all the way to the Pacific. Such is the mind-numbing sameness of it that I inadvertently back-tracked for four miles at one stage without realising it. There are simply no reference points. Count the traffic lights and consider how much of your life you spend waiting at reds. Frightening. This bit may not be a barrel of laughs, but it sure is an experience!
If you're in good time and can afford to add two or three hours to your journey, it is possible to "do" some of the sights of the Los Angeles area on the way through to Santa Monica. You can, for example, turn right off Santa Monica Boulevard into Vine Street and head up to Hollywood Boulevard for the Walk of Fame and Mann's Chinese Theatre. Also viable is a run along Sunset Strip to the Hollywood sign, achieved by turning right at La Cienega, left onto Sunset Boulevard and continuing to Will Rogers Memorial Park. Frankly, I'll be surprised if many people feel inclined to do anything after their brains have been sucked out by the nothingness of 50 miles of suburbia.
It's a very good idea to take a toilet break before Pasadena, and carry drinks and a snack in the car to keep up flagging spirits. If only you could see the points of interest without swimming through this tide of commercial sludge. Cucamonga, for example, has a Route 66 Museum and Visitor Center just off Foothill Boulevard, and Pasadena has some splendid '20s and '30s architecture. You could, of course, spend weeks exploring the delights of Los Angeles, Beverley Hills and Hollywood, but that is not really the business of Route 66.