Route 66 travelogue #12
Las Vegas to L.A
Or “Peggy Sue got grumpy!”
After a sterling breakfast (borderline 10s all round) we bid Vegas farewell and hit the road for California.
The first half of the Journey saw me in the back seat writing up travelogues and editing photos. I had been having some issues as I’d taken over 3000 shots and they were filling up my MacBook so I had to keep finding things to delete, then cull the images I didn’t need to free up space. At one point the back seat of the car looked like my office. Macbook, iPad, iPhone and human working in perfect harmony.
At approximately five past pie, Mick clocked some signs for a place called “Peggy Sue’s diner” which sounded perfect. Then we saw a sign which said “you’ve just missed Peggy Sue’s diner!” and a short amount of navigating and creative interpretations of the US highway code later, we pulled up in the car park.
The diner entrance is shaped like a big Wurlitzer jukebox complete with a rainbow of colours arching over the door. Mike and Mick ventured in first as I was still trying to clear my SD card so I could take more pictures and when I finally opened the door and ventured in I realised I was going to need every last one of them. Imagine someone took every bit of Americana memorabilia in the world and shoehorned it all into a diner… That’s basically what Peggy Sue’s is.
It’s cheesy, tacky … it’s perfect!
The entrance to the diner is guarded by an Elvis fortune telling machine which was unfortunately out of order. The diner itself has a few booths and the obligatory row of stools, perched upon which I’d found the boys, and they had found the pie, and the milk shakes!
Upon asking the waitress (pink and white striped pinny, perfect!) what kind of pie they had, I was met with a long list of fantastic sounding pie flavours. One stood out for me though, cherry, I’d been craving cherry pie ever since the midpoint cafe had run out of it so cherry it was, and a strawberry shake. The pies and the milk shakes got an all round 10! The shakes were huge and they left the shiny metal mixing cup with nearly another whole shake in it. We’d probably need a nap before we went anywhere after this feast!
The staff were grumpy, more specifically there was one waitress who I heard referred to as “a bitch!” And I’d go along with that, she brought the vibe of the diner down a notch but nothing could keep your spirits down for long in that place.
After the epic shakes and pie we got to having a wander around the place and it was a labyrinth of rooms. Turning the corner I was met with a smallish dining room with a fireplace, the mantle was full of bit and bobs of memorabilia, Betty Boops and such while the hearth was guarded by statues of Jake & Elwood blues on either side. Turning another corner I was in a large dining room with a jukebox in the corner next to which was a larger than life sized Marylin Monroe statue (mid updraft skirt malfunction) and a roller waitress.
Around yet another corner was a row of life sized Jake, Elwood and Elvis statues. This place just keeps on giving!
After a visit to the loo Mike informed me that i had to get some shots of the gents.
Now then, wandering around a US restroom with a chunky camera is a surefire quick and easy way to get shot, but, fortunately for me the chaps who were in there had a sense of humour. What Mike had been referring to was a graffiti drawing around the walls of the restroom depicting the Route 66 journey and considering it lives on a bog wall it was pretty good so i got some shots of it and didn’t get shot, job done!
I took so many photos of this place and I left a lot out, it was more like a museum of Americana. I loved it, and then, on the way out I saw a sign which I’ve never seen though I’ve heard the term countless times.
“5 and Dime”
This was another diner just off the entrance hall which just sold tat, but solid, high quality tat of the highest order! If you are any kind of geek, your taste would have been some how catered for Star Trek, Wizard of OZ, Betty Boop, Marylin Monroe, Star Wars, The Fonz, Mickie & Minnie, Yellow Submarines, the lot!) . About half way round my camera battery died but I got as many shots as I could.
I could have spent a fortune in this place but I ended up not buying anything just because there was too much to choose from. Complete tat overload!
Then Mick mentioned the dinosaur park!
They have an area around the back of the diner with outdoors eating, a Tarzan climbing a tree via a Vine and half a dozen life sized dinosaur models dotted around the place.
I wondered about how this place had come into being and wish I could have been a fly on the wall when someone had obviously said “you know what this place really needs? Dinosaurs! Wait, here me out….”
It was magnificent and just not what you would expect at all, only in America!
Suitably fed and watered we saddled up. I was driving the last leg into L.A and it was going to turn out to be a bit of a slog. After 2000 miles on the road we hadn’t seen anything you’d call traffic, even in the small town scurry after the crazy deluge in Colorado the traffic kept moving steadily but on the outskirts of L.A the sky turned smoggy and the highway turned into a car park!
The next hours drive was manic, driving in LA rush hour is an intense experience. Cars in the US can overtake on either side which can be disorientating when your negotiating lane changes and navigating at the same time. Some of the interstates have 5 or 6 lanes and you’ll often find yourself being 2 or 3 lanes away from where you need to be. Although this gets easier it’s tricky at first. The roads since Chicago have ascended in difficulty like a console driving game. Gone are the single track sandy back roads of Missouri, in their place we have 5 lanes of blacktop and everyone’s in a hurry.
After an hour of swerving, honking madness, the traffic started chilling out as the sat nav brought us ever closer to the hotel.
With a mile to go we pulled onto Colorado drive and headed for the coast.
Our hotel, The Wyndham appeared on our left and entrance to the Santa Monica pier was just past it.
We’d made it!
Santa Monica Pier is the official finish line for Route 66 so we had officially arrived.
As sad as i was that our adventure had reached its destination i was also buzzing because we still had a couple of days in L.A to enjoy before heading back to blighty.
So with the golden setting sun silhouetting the palm trees on the beach we began the final chapter of our adventure across America.
J W “City of Angels” Doyle