ODYSSEY 2017 Journals (2)

Odyssey 2017 Historic Route 66 Journals

Want to read the journal entries from the beginning? Click here

Friday–November 24, 2017
Trail Day–121 Map 241
Trail Mile–19.3/2285.1
Location–Santa Monica Pier

image6 (28)

It’s early evening now. I’m sitting alone in Union Station, Los Angeles, a whirlwind of emotions, feelings, and thoughts racing through my head. What an incredible day, an absolutely incredible day. How do I start this final entry; how do I find closure for this amazing and charmed journey, Odyssey 2017 – Route 66! It’s simply not possible to cover everything, to even summarize all I wish to tell you. I’ll just start (and likely conclude) this last and final day–like all the  others.

First, though, please indulge me for a moment while I tell you a little about my sponsors–outfitters and gear manufacturers who’ve supplied me with the very best of the best. They’ve made my long journeys not only possible but enjoyable. If you would, please visit their sites, patronize them–and tell them Nimblewill sent you!

  • I’ve previously mentioned Travel Country Outdoors, one of my longest and most steadfast sponsor.
  • So, too, GVP Gear. Glen Van Peski started this fledgling pack-making cottage industry in his basement many years ago. It’s now developed and grown into one of the foremost lightweight gear manufacturers around, Gossamer Gear. Glen has provided me countless state-of-the-art packs from the very beginning.
  • Then there’s LEKI USA, makers of the finest trekking poles. They’ve kept me in hiking sticks for tens of thousands of miles.
  • Now for the critically important gear, socks and shoes. Long-distance hiking, for me, the sheer enjoyment of it would not be possible without the support of Bridgedale Socks and Oboz Shoes. When it comes to innovation, these folks are way ahead of the pack.
  • My recent treks have involve considerable desert hiking. To succeed under such harsh, unforgiving conditions, keeping a “cool head” is an absolute necessity. That’s where Headsweats comes in!

I managed to sleep well in this lovely room at Windham–provided by many generous Route 66 folks. Six hours was it though; I woke at four and could not go back to sleep.

Nathan and I, Gary and Stephanie, we’re to meet Markus at seven, at the spot where we ended our hike yesterday. As we depart the Windham, and looking toward the beach, we’re close enough that I’m able to get a picture of the pier archway. The sun has yet to rise, so it’s still brilliantly illuminated.

Gary calls Uber and in less than five minutes a fellow comes to drive us back up Santa Monica Boulevard. Ah, and what good timing as we’re all together–to be welcomed by another glorious California Central Valley morning. We get rolling as Markus once again gets his camera rolling.

image6 (26)Time flies as I enjoy the company of these dear friends. And before I know it, “There’s 5th.” image7 (20)exclaims Gary.”You’re almost there.” In moments I see the ocean, then the bronze Will Rogers Highway marker. I can no longer contain my emotions. As I break into tears my friends gather around, and others come to greet me and be by my side.

image3 (30)Just before eight-thirty I’m standing next the “Santa Monica 66 End of the Trail” sign on Santa Monica Pier. Here, but for the Grace of God, Odyssey 2017 comes to an end.

Ah, dear friends, from sea to shining sea–America, profoundly magnificent, divinely blessed. Yes! God Bless the USA

Thursday–November 23, 2017
Trail Day–120 Maps 239-241
Trail Mile–19.3/2275.5
Location–West Hollywood, then on toward Santa Monica Pier

image6 (20)Nathan’s friend, Shirley, said “no way” when she found out we planned to stealth camp somewhere around Hollywood on Santa Monica Boulevard. “You find a room; I’m paying for it.” Nathan was told. Ah, and was she right, and was that a blessing. The streets of East Hollywood and Hollywood, not what you’d consider to be the finest neighborhoods. Passing through, we found everything barricaded, both sides of the street–for miles. Six to eight foot high  wrought iron stockade fencing and padlocked gates, even the street-front stores, fortified like a prison compound. The side streets, narrow residential lots. Venture down one, even during daytime, probably not a good idea. Many street people. Every place suitable for ducking into and camping for the night, already taken by the local vagrants. Yes, a true blessing; thanks, Shirley!

And the Hollywood Hotel? It’s located just off Santa Monica Boulevard on Vermont Avenue, less than a mile from where we’d hoped to stealth camp. Nathan found it through a booking agency. I’m daily amazed at how this journey continues to be charmed!

image1 (30)image2 (24)We’re now just 14 miles from the Santa Monica Pier. This morning we plan to hike 11 of them, leaving three for tomorrow morning. You may recall, in my journal entry Monday, I mentioned we’d been invited to Thanksgiving dinner by Gary, Stephanie, and Katrina, folks (now dear friends) I met on Route 66 way back in Illinois. Ah, and those plans have worked out perfectly, as Nathan and I are to meet them at noon at the corner of Armacost and Santa Monica Boulevard. From there we’ll be taken the short distance to one of Hollywood’s most famous Route 66 icons, Barney’s Beanery (1920).

As we trek along this morning, we’re only three miles from the HOLLYWOOD sign located on Mt. Lee. Some very good photo opportunities; I line the sign up between a few street openings along.

image8 (5)This morning we pass through the (metro) cities of West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Century City, all considered part of the West Los Angeles sprawl. This area of “town” is much newer and a whole lot cleaner. Century City could just as well be named Tower City–for the towering glass-faced buildings reaching to the heavens. More remarkable pictures. Vastly different scenery than along your typical backcountry hike through the “green tunnel.”

Twelve straight up, our 11 miles completed, comes Gary, Stephanie, and Katrina to pick us up and take us to Thanksgiving dinner at Barney’s. And what a wonderful holiday meal; turkey with all the trimmings, topped off with pie a-la-mode!

Early afternoon now, Gary drives us to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I take pictures of the foot/hand prints of some of my favorite stars. You probably won’t recognize many of them–from a long time ago.

image3 (27)Late evening, Gary drives us to the Windham Hotel, which is less than a block from the Santa Monica Pier. Gary and Stephanie, and many “Roadie” friends of theirs have image4 (27)chipped in (a bunch) to put Nathan and me up here. A remarkable ending to a most memorable day.

Thanks Gary, Stephanie, and Katrina for the great Thanksgiving banquet! And thank you again, and your many “Roadie” friends for your kindness, for this room in the luxurious Windham Hotel. The thoughtful card you gave me at Barney’s is signed by: Penny Black, Amy Stoker, Delvin Harbour, Judy Walker, Hunter Bachrach, Giesla Hoelchar, Jeri Metterle, Roaming Buffalo Durkin, Blue Miller, Ken Youden, Brenda St. Clair, Ian Bowan, Nick Gerlich, Denny Gibson, Dora Meroney, Mike May, Joyce Cole, Cyndie Sands, Anita Shaw, Sarah Moore, and Gary, Stephanie, and Katrina Daggett.

To each of you, thank you for your kindness and generosity; thanks for being part of this charmed and fascinating journey!

Tomorrow morning, Nathan, Gary, Stephanie, Katrina, and Markus, will hike the remaining three miles with me to the Santa Monica Pier, the end of Route 66…

Wednesday–November 22, 2017
Trail Day–119 Maps 235-239
Trail Mile–14.8/2256.2
Location–Pasadena, then on toward West Hollywood

Our final night at the Motel 6 in Arcadia–another quiet, restful night.

Today will be the last of a series of three twenty-mile days. So, we’re up early and out the door just after six. It’ll be another long day of hammering the concrete and tarmac. Nathan has a hotspot on his right foot he’s been duct-taping, and my old feet are just tired from the constant, daily hammering.

Just across Colorado Boulevard (Route 66) Is the Santa Anita Racetrack. During WWII it was converted into a concentration camp, which housed over 20,000 Japanese Americans.

image1 (27)Our trek today will take us through East Pasadena, Pasadena, Highland Park, Chinatown, Los Angeles and into West Hollywood–entirely on sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

Before seven we’re at Top’s (1952), a hamburger place that also serves a mighty fine breakfast. Could have started this day without my windbreak, but for sure it comes off here. Going to be another hot one, but no complaints from me.

image1 (28)Like yesterday, one city just seems to flow right into the next, save for a couple–Highland Park and Chinatown. The first is a typical block after block of “seen it’s better day” sort of place, lots image2 (23)of abandoned and shuttered buildings. The second, Chinatown, an absolutely chaotic place, what with all the street vendors and people hurrying every which way.

image7 (15)Mid-afternoon, fortunate to have crossed all the streets safely, dodged the traffic, and otherwise made all the right turns, we arrive at the Hollywood Hotel, our destination for today…

Tuesday–November 21, 2017
Trail Day–118 Maps
Trail Mile–18.5/2241.4
Location–Azusa, then on toward Pasadena

image2 (97)The Motel 6 that Chris found for us worked just fine last night. It’s exactly twenty miles from where we ended our hike yesterday evening. And the reason the distance is important? Another sad time for me today, saying farewell to Chris. He must return home now to be with his family and get back to work. Thanks, Chris, for coming to be with us; thanks for your encouragement and support!

image1So, we no longer have the luxury of support–to be picked up and shuttled around. The Motel 6 Chris scouted out is directly on Route 66. So, this evening we’ll hike right back here, to spend another night, then hike right back out tomorrow!

image4 (94)Our trek yesterday had us passing through Upland, Rialto, and Rancho Cucamonga. Today, this old Mother Road will carry us through the Central Valley communities of Claremont, San Dimas, Azusa, Duarte, Monrovia, and Arcadia. It’ll be an entirely seamless trek, however, as we’ll not know when we’ve left one town to enter the next.

Route 66 era icons today, Azusa Foothill Drive-In Theater (1961) and the Van de Kamp’s Windmill (1967).

Tomorrow, Nathan and I will hike through Los Angeles on our last 20-mile day. We’ll finish on Santa Monica Boulevard just 16 miles east of the Santa Monica Pier. Been California Dreamin’ a long, long time folks, and it’s all over now but the shouting…

Monday–November 20, 2017
Trail Day–117 Maps 230-233
Trail Mile–16.1/2222.9
Location–Rancho Cucamonga, then on toward Azusa

Our final night at the Wigwam Motel. Another quiet, restful time. It was a real pleasure meeting you, Kumar. I wish you all the best in the future, wherever you may go, whatever you choose to do.

image7We’re all up early as Nathan and I need to get going this morning. We’ve worked out our plans for these final five days, and here they are:

From here at the Wigwam Motel it’s 76 miles to the Santaimage9 Monica Pier, give or take. We’re going to trek a twenty today, then two more twenties, tomorrow and Wednesday. That’ll leave around sixteen miles to finish this trek, Odyssey 2017. On Thursday morning we’ll knock out a ten–then to be picked up by Gary, Stephanie, and Katrina. We’ve been invited to Thanksgiving Dinner with them, and they’ll be putting us up Thursday night. Then Friday morning, Nathan and I will hike the six or so miles on down to the Santa Monica Pier, the end of Route 66.

Were out just before sunrise to another glorious day. Forecast for today (and on through Friday) is for clear to partly cloudy skies, highs in the high seventies/low eighties, variable winds, with zero chance of rain. Ha, not hard to figure out why over thirteen million people live in this valley where I’m now hiking!

A couple of famous 66-era icons along today, Bono’s Deli plus Bono’s Orange (1936), and the Richfield Cucamonga Service Station (1915).

We had sidewalks or bike lanes nearly the entire way today, and drivers were most courteous at the intersections (20 miles of them). By three-thirty this first of three-in-a-row twenty-milers is completed. Chris is waiting patiently for us then whisks us away to the Motel 6 in Arcadia…

Sunday–November 19, 2017
Trail Day–116 Maps 229-230
Trail Mile–11.6/2206.8
Location–San Bernadino, then on toward Rancho Cucamonga

Kumar, owner and inn keep at Wigwam Motel–a most gracious host. Folks have been coming and going along Route 66 for years, many staying at Kumar’s place, the Wigwam Motel. So, how is it possible our stay could be special? How could it be any different than that of near countless others? Ah, and that’s the secret to Kumar’s success, because our stay is different and special. Kumar has made sure of that. Thanks, Kumar, for your kindness to us; thanks for your friendship!

image7 (63)Chris will be hiking with me today. There’s no hurry getting going this morning, as we’ve less than 12 miles to go to reach San Bernadino. That’s where Route 66 turns west onto 7th/Foothills Boulevard, our destination for today–and where begins the seventy-five miles of stoplights that stretch to Santa Monica.

image1First thing, and heading back to Devore, we’re over to Tony’s for breakfast. Pretty typical fifties era place. Neat and clean, very busy, good food! A little before ten, breakfast completed, we’re finally on the road. Then, in noimage3 (95) more than half-an-hour, two vehicles slow then turn off behind us, folks honking and waving. I recognize them right away, Gary, Stephanie, and daughter, Katrina, from Albuquerque, dear friends made while trekking this old Mother Road. They’re friends with Kumar, definite Roadies, and will be staying at the Wigwam Motel tonight. We’ll be there again tonight, too.

image4 (93)With Chris hiking along today, the task of shuttling/support goes to Nathan. Not a bad job, though–driving the new Mercedes around that Chris rented in Las Vegas.

Evening now, back to our room at the Wigwam Motel, Gary and Stephanie invite us all out to dinner to the Mitla Cafe, a Historic Route 66 icon (now celebrating their 80th year). We share a grand time. More fine food, more great company…

Saturday–November 18, 2017
Trail Day–115 Maps 226-230
Trail Mile–14.6/2195.2
Location–Devore

image1 (24)Another very comfortable (and quiet) night at Big Bear. Nineteen degrees and a hard freeze up here last night. We’re just shy of 7,000 feet. Snow machines are running.

As we descend this morning, the temperature rises. In the San Bernadino Valley it’ll get up into the high seventies today.

image2 (19)It’s nine when we reach Cajon Summit. Here are the remains of Summit Inn, nothing now but a gravel parking lot–and the old Summit Inn sign. Sadly, the Historic Summit Inn burned to the ground last year.

Markus is waiting for us here, to continue filming for his documentary, which will be aired in Germany–in German. He’s rented a SUV to get down the rugged, dirt road descent to Cajon Junction.

It’s going to be another grand hiking day as Chris and Markus accompany me. Dropping off the Summit we’ll descend some 3,000 feet to the foothills of San Bernadino Valley. This hike today will take us along one of the most historic of all places along Historic Route 66. Cajon Pass separates the San Gabriel Mountains from the San Bernadino Mountains. This pass was the only pass through which the first wagon trains could reach Central Valley. Here, the Mojave Trail, the Mormon Trail, and the Old Spanish Trail converged. Through this pass into the Valley traveled Indians, explorers, trappers, and missionaries–and pioneers.

image4 (19)By noon we’ve descended to Wagon Train Road, McDonald’s, and I-15. Here stands a monument to commemorate those 1845 trails, the Salt Lake and Santa Fe. And here, for a short distance I again hike on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. I passed this same way during Odyssey 2008. Another melancholy moment for me. I remember Gordon, who supported me the entire way that year. He was waiting patiently for me (as always) here at the monument. Gordon passed away this past spring. I sorely miss you, dear friend.

Hiking on down Wagon Train Road (Route 66), a vehicle stops and a couple come to greet me, “Nimblewill!” It’s Jay and Laurie. They’re hikers from Apple Valley. Our paths crossed a long time ago–on the trail. Following my daily journal entries, and looking at my itinerary, they knew just where to find me. A wonderful surprise seeing you again, Jay and Laurie. Thanks for taking time to track me down today.

image1 (23)image6 (16)Evening now, and at the upper reaches of San Bernadino Valley, we bid farewell to Markus, and continue on to Foothills Boulevard–and a wonderful surprise. Chris has reserved one of the wigwams at the historic (grand Route 66 icon) Wigwam Motel. It’s owned and managed by Kumar, a “Roadie” for sure. He was born in the Foothills Motel right up the “road,” the oldest motel in San Bernadino (owned by his parents). He was born there because his mother couldn’t make it to the hospital! His father was an engineer who helped build Route 66. Kumar has toured the Mother Road off and on most of his life. A far away glint in his eye as he mulls moving on, from owning and managing the Wigwam, to…

Late evening now, we visit Randy and Gail, friends of Chris, who live nearby in the valley. Then we drive to LAX to pick up Nathan Wright, another dear friend from Flagg Mountain who’ll be hiking the entire valley with me, to the finish at Santa Monica Pier.

Another amazing day, folks, another memorable one…

Friday–November 17, 2017
Trail Day–114 Maps 224-226
Trail Mile–17.6/2180.6
Location–Summit Inn (ruins near Cajon Summit)

The Windham WorldMark (timeshare) at Big Bear Lake, where Chris secured a “room” for us (for two nights) is, without a doubt, the finest facility I’ve ever stayed in while on a hike. It’s not a suite, certainly not a motel room; it could be better described as a luxury two-bedroom apartment, complete with all the amenities, including a washer and dryer. A great stay, and we’ll be right back here again tonight.

I’d like to get my hike in early, hopefully by two, so we’re up and out well before first light. There’s a mom-n-pop on the way back to Mojave Heights. We’re in good shape time-wise, so we take time for breakfast. Egg and cheese omelette, plus sourdough toast and hash browns, and my tank’s topped off for this day.

image3 (16)The sun is just coming up when I reach downtown Victorville. The California Route 66 Museum is located here, but I’m way too early. They’ll be open today, so maybe later.

Markus will be with me again today, perhaps tomorrow too, as he continues getting footage for his documentary. He’s mastered the hands-free use of his Segway and is able to freely move here and there, all around me, positioning his camera for shots from every angle. We’re both having fun with this!

image7 (11)image4 (17)Late afternoon now, my trek completed for today, we head back to Victorville. We’re in luck this time, as the California Route 66 “Where the Trails Meet” Museum is open. Here we meet Susan, Museum Director, also docents Bill and Barbara. Bill has been volunteering here for over 16 years. I’m so glad we made the effort to return. It’s a remarkable facility, chock full of Route 66 information and memorability. “You have a Route 66 hat?” asks Sue. When I shake my head no, she quickly places one on my head! Sue, Barb, Bill, thanks for your kindness to us and for your service to Route 66 California.

image9 (3)It was dark when we climbed the mountain to Big Bear yesterday evening, so we were unable to enjoy the many views from the highway as it twisted and climbed the mountain. Getting up and out early has really paid off for us this afternoon. Ah, and what fond memories from the past for me, Odyssey 2008. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail passes Big Bear Lake. Yes, happy, joy-filled memories from that time…

Thursday–November 16, 2017
Trail Day–113 Maps
Trail Mile–23.5/2163.0
Location–Mojave Heights

Victor and Mary have taken perfect care of their Route 66 Motel. Though very old (the oldest motor court in Barstow), it’s been modernized and proved most comfortable.

image1My trek continues this morning from Johnston’s Corner. Chris has me here, pack shouldered and hiking by six. Markus is also here, his camera shouldered, to start right out with me on his Segway, filming the entire time. A short while later, on down the road, he’s got his drone hovering above, filming from an entirely different angle.

Today is the day for folks to stop, inquire about what I’m doing out here, then to encourage me. First it’s Terry. He wants to get to hiking, but right now he has to have his left foot amputated. Crushed it in a machinery accident. Second, Chris and Ryan. They work for BNSF. Chris had seen me a month ago clear back in New Mexico!

image2 (94)Just before noon I reach the Molly Brown Cafe. Time for lunch, so in we go. A fine meal–and conversation with Joseph, Ken, and Douglas at the next table over. They’d finished their lunch and were preparing to leave, but then stayed. We enjoy a good long chat. Douglas then pays for our lunch! As we prepare to go, the waitresses all come to me, encourage me and wish me well.

image9 (32)A mile on down the road I reach Bottle Ranch, a totally fascinating place, created and managed by an equally fascinating fellow–Elmer. Thousands of (mostly) wine bottles hung on metal pegs welded to tall steel posts stuck in the ground. We take the tour, then tarry–a thoroughly enjoyable time talking with Elmer. Markus keeps his camera rolling.

image3 (93)It’s quarter-to-five and turning dark by the time I cross the old box frame bridge to enter Mojave Heights. Heavy traffic most the entire day, narrow shoulders. Relieved to get this one behind me…

Wednesday–November 15, 2017
Trail Day–112 Maps 219-223
Trail Mile–21.4/2139.5
Location–Johnston’s Corner

As Rick returns me to the highway this morning, a quiet time, a time to reflect on these seemingly endless miles it’s taken to cross the Mojave–under the watchful eye and constant care provided by Rick. In just a few moments he’ll patiently wait as I get my pack shouldered and prepare for another day on this old highway, Route 66–then he’ll be gone. For, Rick must return home now, a very long distance. And so, it is that moment; I’m just no good at this, at saying good-bye. You’ve been so kind and helpful, Rick, at such a pivotal point in this journey; you’ve seen me safely across the Mojave Desert. Thank you! Be safe till we meet again, dear friend.

image1image2Just ahead, just west of Daggett, passage along Route 66 is interrupted by the Marine Corps Supply Depot. The old highway runs straight through, is gated, with MP Security both ends. Hey, but I’ve been granted permission to pass. For, Rick had spoken to folks here yesterday. He’d told them about my hike. So, reaching the gate, I’m greeted by Keith and Officer Jesus. I no more enter than I’m provided escort. It’s immediately evident the Marine personnel here are aware of my journey. They honk, wave, cheer me on, wish me well. I’m photographed, then interviewed by Keith. He stays with me from the moment I enter the east gate, till I exit the west gate. Thank you, dear Marines, you’ve given me great energy this morning. Yes, thank you!

image3It’s a short distance on to Barstow and the Route 66 Motel, one of the most well-known icons anywhere along the old road. Many Route 66-related places here, including the Harvey House (Barstow train depot) and Del Taco. I also find this little shop, Joyeria Jesenia–and Teresa Velasquez, who runs the place. She’s a seamstress–and has time to mend my pitiful wore out hiking shorts. I thought I could make them make it through to Santa Monica. However, I finally realize that if I don’t get all the wasted tatters stitched back together, I’ll soon be facing arrest for indecent exposure.

image6Arriving Route 66 Motel, I’m greeted by Mary. She and husband, Victor, have managed (cared for, nurtured, made Route 66 Motel what it is) for the past 35 years. It’s an absolutely one-of-a-kind place. Victor, Mary, thanks for your kindness and generosity to this tired old intrepid. More great energy from these new friends–in the form of contagious enthusiasm!

image2 (1)Early evening now, arriving here at Route 66 Motel from Los Angeles, Markus Hilgert. Markus had contacted me awhile back expressing interest in doing a short documentary about me and my Route 66 trek, and we spend a bit of preliminary time together.

Late, late evening, now arrives Chris Kent from Montgomery. He drove to Atlanta this morning, flew to Las Vegas this afternoon, then rented a car and drove to Barstow. Chris will be supporting me from here, up and over the San Bernadino Mountains, then down and into Central Valley. Another wonderful friend who’s spent much time on Flagg Mountain, here now to help and support me.

My-oh-my, what an emotion-filled, action-packed day this has been. Lucky me–am I not fortunate to have such great friends!

Tuesday–November 14, 2017
Trail Day–111 Maps 218-219
Trail Mile–21.3/2118.1
Location–Daggett

image1Another fine day coming on. Rick gets me back to the I-40 Rest Area, and I’m hiking well before six. These very image2 (91)cool mornings lead to warm, pleasant afternoons, not at all expected, but taken all the same, no questions asked.

The highlight of this day is visiting the Sidewinder (Bagdad) Cafe. I’ve heard a lot about it, read about it. Not a long hike to get here this morning, I arrive in time for breakfast. Greeting me are the owner, Andree, and Michael, her waiter for the past 19 years. A warm welcome from both. When Andree hears what my hike is about, breakfast is on Bagdad Cafe, for me and for Rick. Thanks, Andree!

image8 (44)At the table next, a couple from France, Christophe and Christine. Both speak English quite well. This is their second trip to America. On this one they’re headed for the Grand Canyon.

In 1987, a movie entitled “Bagdad Cafe” was filmed here, starring Jack Palance, among others. Click for a very nice tribute to the film–and to Bagdad Cafe.

In awhile I pass a grove, but a grove of what? Definitely drought resistant whatever they are. Find out later they’re pistachio trees.

Shortly after departing the cafe, the wind gets to cranking, 10, 15, then 20, gusting to 30–coming directly from the west. Makes for tough going on through to Daggett, my destination for today. Rick kept a close eye on me…

Monday–November 13, 2017
Trail Day–110 Maps 217-218
Trail Mile–22.4/2096.8
Location–I-40 Rest Area

image1 (1)My earliest start for this trek–5:30. A cool morning, windbreak on, hood up, hands in my pockets. Ah, but the day warms nicely by ten.

image2 (1)I’m back running side-by-side with BNSF and I-40 again–just when I thought I’d put them behind, they’re both right back. This morning it’s BNSF, then I-40, then me (Route 66), south to north in that order. Then I-40 swaps places with Route 66, then Route 66 crosses the BNSF, and finally, BNSF goes under I-40. So here we are, and here we remain, at least to the I-40 rest area, my destination for today.

More stark (seemingly) forbidden desert, the infamous Mojave. “You have had to yield to my ways. You do not intimidate me oh most powerful of Nature’s alluring ways. You with your impossibly long, infinite, straight path that recedes with every step, dancing joyfully on a mirage of brightness beyond the hazy blue. You do not control my thoughts.”

Dear friend, Rick, your presence, your help and support, which you’ve selflessly lavished upon me–these times are destined to become memorable, very special times…

Sunday–November 12, 2017
Trail Day–109 Maps 215-216
Trail Mile–20.3/2074.4
Location–Ludlow, then on toward I-40 Rest Area

image1 (99)We’ve recently made a habit of getting up between four and four-thirty, and with the shorter driving distance each morning, I’m getting started earlier. Today I’m trekking west well before six–from the tree with the circle of rocks, that’s Bagdad! Just a magical time of day–especially for photo ops.

image7 (59)Bridges out here along Route 66 must have been built from west to east. These were built in 1952, those east of here, 1953.

The orange tire directs you to the village of Siberia (ruins).

image10 (21)And on the eastern outskirts of Ludlow, the remains of an old business, and the associated sign.

Starting early gets me finished early. With a good bit of daylight remaining, with it being cool and overcast, a gentle breeze to my back, I decide to hike a ways in toward Barstow.

Evening, Rick takes me back to the Ludlow Motel where we’ve been staying…

Saturday–November 11, 2017
Trail Day–108 Maps 214-215
Trail Mile–22.7/2054.1
Location–Bagdad

image1 (15)Last evening at the Mojave Preserve Visitor Center we met a couple from Munich, Germany, Ludwig and Ida Lutz. Actually, their motor home first got our attention. Never saw one like it before, or the license plate that was on it. Made in Germany for folks in Germany, I guess. They had it shipped to Nova Scotia and from there, since May, have been touring the states, including Alaska. From California they’re headed southeast to Florida. A couple of vagabonds for sure. Both spoke fluent English–just a delightful couple to meet and talk with.

Another day to hit the road before sunrise. Rick has me back to Cadiz Summit at six. Beautiful photo ops as the sun comes up to cast its glow across the peaks.

I was told that the famous scene in which Forrest Gump stopped running and decided to go home was filmed near here, but I now know it wasn’t. It was shot in National Monument Park, Utah. I’ve a fascination with it as folks frequently tell me I’m like Forrest Gump. My reply is always, “Forrest was smart, he quit and went home–I’m still going.” Anyway, and for that reason, I was hoping to visit the place!

image5 (10)Just over the summit at Cadiz there’s a short section of intact early alignment roadbed, and I’m able to get a couple of good photos. Interesting how much of it has washed away over the years, and the rest of it is buried under the later alignment.

image1 (17)Coming off the summit there’s a very long straightaway section that drops to the desert floor, runs across, then climbs the far side–a good ten miles. Head down and hammer time.

image6 (10)Chambliss, Amboy, Bagdad (that’s how it’s spelled), all have pretty much become ghost towns. In Chambliss, the Road Runner’s Retreat and Cafe are sinking into the ground. In Amboy, Roy’s cafe no longer serves food, just snacks and pop, the motel long ago closed. And in Bagdad, nothing remains of Bagdad, just a wide place in the road–literally.

All-in-all, it’s been another grand hiking day–as I reach “The Heart of the Mojave.”

Friday–November 10, 2017
Trail Day–107 Maps 212-214
Trail Mile–17.9/2031.4
Location–Cadiz Summit

image1 (13)Up at 4:30 this morning. Want to have my pack shouldered and sticks clicking before sunrise. Not a long day today–18 miles, but the earlier I get trekking the earlier to finish.

image2 (12)And it’s another glorious day to be crossing the Mojave Desert, just perfect weather–highs in the high 70s and no wind. I’m nearing the halfway point in crossing the Mojave now. Will reach Ludlow tomorrow. Two more weeks and I’ll be at the Santa Monica Pier–to finish Route 66, 2,300 miles, 121 days.

I’m healthy and strong, of good spirit. I have prayed for strength and patience–the only way to succeed with this kind of endeavor. Your prayers and best wishes have been an enormous benefit, and have provided me confidence and good cheer–thanks!

The old highway is closed through this segment today–four bridges that cross the dry washes, and there are many, four are out, due to the rampaging floods caused by recent monsoons. I simply walk across or around them. Good bypass ways have been beat down in the gulches, so Rick is also able to pass.

I complete this day’s trek by one. Tomorrow, on the other side of Cadiz Summit, I’ll be on the “Forrest Gump” section of Route 66, where, in that wildly popular film, he turned around and went home.

image1 (14)This afternoon, before returning to Ludlow, Rick drove me to the Mojave Desert National Preserve Visitor Center in Kelso. My dear friend “Sipsey John” Randolph helped prepare the legal path, which successfully established the Preserve. So, I definitely wanted to come to this place.

Ha, should you per-chance hear a faint, far off whirring and clicking sound, that’s just Nimblewill making his way across the Mojave…

Thursday–November 9, 2017
Trail Day–106 Map 212
Trail Mile–17.1/2013.5
Location–Essex

Our first night in Ludlow, at the Ludlow Motel. Fine accommodations! I’ll be back here six more nights, shuttled to and from the National Trails Highway (Route 66), first by image2 (88)Rick, then by Chris Kent (another dear friend from my time at Flagg Mountain).

A long drive, some 70 miles back to Goffs, but Rick has me hiking toward Essex by seven, my destination for today.

Temperatures are in the low 60s to start, so I’ve my wind jacket on for the first time in a week. The sky is perfectly clear, no wind, and the desert warms up nicely (low 80s) by ten. My jacket comes off as I’m set to enjoy another perfect Odyssey 2017 hiking day.

It’s ten miles from Goffs to Fenner (Najha’s Desert Oasis, at I-40, Exit 107). I’m in well before eleven–time for lunch!

West of Desert Oasis, both Route 66 and the National Trails Highway are barricaded. But locals tell us the road is drivable. So Rick ignores them and goes around. I’ve a short hike now, seven miles on to Essex, to finish this day. A couple of photo ops at Essex, the old post office and an abandoned gas station/cafe.

image8 (42)image9 (29)Just as we’re preparing to leave, three cyclists ride up. It’s Jake, Timmy, and Annie from Florida. They picked up Route 66 in Missouri and are bound for Santa Monica. There are some bridges out west of here, which can be gotten past by going across the washes. They were aware of the barricades but didn’t know they could get through. Rick had checked them all out earlier today, so was able to reassure them–to their obvious relief. Good luck to you all, I’ll be coming along behind.

image1 (98)There’s a Dairy Queen across the interstate from Ludlow, and we’re right there for supper. Here we meet, then sit and have our meal with Allan, a trucker from Alabama. He and Rick have mutual friends. Interesting conversation. Allan has driven over four million miles during his career–incident free!

In our room now, I’m working my journal entry for today while Rick goes for ice cream. Ha, and I had fretted so over crossing the Mojave Desert…

Wednesday–November 8, 2017
Trail Day–105 Maps 211-212
Trail Mile–13.9/1996.4
Location–Goffs

Our final night in Needles. This morning we’re moving on, but not before we stop at one of Needles’ Route 66 icons, the Wagon Wheel Restaurant. They open at five-thirty and we’re right there–for a great breakfast only a good old mom-n-pop place could possibly offer up.

image4A short trip back to Arrowhead Junction where I ended my trek yesterday and Rick has me hiking toward Goss well before seven. I’ve had such good fortune with the weather. I’ve certainly chosen the right time to hit the Mojave, mild days, little wind, high temperatures in the low to mid 80s–sure could have been different, though. Yes, much good fortune!

I’m well into the Mojave now, the vegetation noticeably sparse, more rocks and sand, entirely barren peaks around, the sky, a vast, blue dome. Places such as this, the barren, forbidding expanse 360, used to be so terribly intimidating, but no more. My outlook now is one