A Very Slow Drive

Licence plates in hotel reception

Licence plates in hotel reception

To Santa Monica Pier today, a trip of just 78 miles according to my pre-trip calculations and it’ll take three hours according to the app. An average speed of 26 mph in downtown LA? I’ll be lucky. I think four hours, at least. When talking to the receptionist last night, he also said four.

I’m now in Greater Los Angeles and most traces of Rt 66’s roadside history are long gone. As I drive I see one or two signs here and there. However the urban nature of the road makes it difficult to stop to take many photos. The road itself is also modern, being in the city. There are no original sections like in the earlier states. And of course there is urban and commercial sprawl everywhere.

When I reach Sunset Boulevard I’m surprised by how squalid it is, with massage parlours next to liquor stores, and row upon row of desperate businesses trying to eke out a living. I stop for lunch in a McDonalds on the Blvd in the absence of any shops or supermarkets selling food. I have a Sausage McMuffin with egg and a carton of milk. The young Asian girl serving me at 2 pm raises her eyebrows at my drink request which, given the low level of clientele in this dump, is saying something.

Route 66, Rancho Cucamonga, LA #1Route 66, Rancho Cucamonga, LA #2Route 66, Glendora, LA #1Motel in Glendora, LARoute 66, Glendora, LA #2Drive-in sign, Azusa, LARoute 66, Irwindale, LA

Off Sunset, and it’s onto Santa Monica Boulevard for the last leg down to the Pacific Ocean. It’s not quite as squalid as Sunset – but not far off – and someone has put up Rt 66 signs on the lamp posts. Frankly, I can’t see the residents in this shithole caring much. I think someone should just nuke this street and start again. The traffic is terrible as well, I’m just crawling along.

The oasis of Beverly Hills, through which Rt 66 passes, comes as a welcome relief. It is a reminder that if an LA suburb wants to be clean and decent, then it can be. Just on the other side of Beverly Hills, the Santa Monica city limits come into view. The squalid normality is restored though but at least the traffic finally speeds up to a normal pace for a city. As I near the end point, there really hasn’t been much of interest to see road-side on the drive today. It’s generally just been a long and slow slog through LA.

Old gas station, Monrovia #1Old gas station, Monrovia #2Aztec Hotel, Monrovia, LA #1Route 66, Santa Monica Boulevard, LARoute 66 sign on Santa Monica Boulevard, LARoute 66, Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, LABeverly Gardens Park on Route 66, Beverly Hills, LA

I have been to Santa Monica before, but never stayed here. I stayed in Hollywood in LA many, many years ago for a short visit after a business trip to San Diego. But I don’t remember anything of it though. Although I must have gone on the Pier I’d have thought. I also stopped here for a while on the Pacific Coast Highway road trip in 2015, just to walk on the beach.

Santa Monica Pier

But now I’m here for the night. And the End Of The Trail. I’m struck that Santa Monica near the sea front seems cool and trendy. The squalid surroundings further inland have gone thankfully. The app, in its last moments of use for me, sends me on another weird loop before I finally end up driving onto the Santa Monica Pier, and parking up on it. This of course is not where Rt 66 ever officially ended when it was part of the US Highway System. Past alignments of Rt 66 officially stopped at two other points: the first one in LA and then a later one in Santa Monica. The app completely ignores this very pertinent and real fact. More nil points. Although to be fair, the Santa Monica Pier has, I believe, been unofficially adopted as the start / finish of Historic Route 66 these days.

Santa Monica Pier #1Santa Monica Pier #2Santa Monica Pier #3Santa Monica Pier #4Santa Monica Pier #1Santa Monica Pier #6Santa Monica Beach #1Santa Monica Beach #1

I do the tourist bit of walking the Pier and photograph the End Of The Trail sign. My Route 66 journey is now officially at its end. It’s a bit of an anti-climax somehow. Back into the car, I drive off the Pier onto Ocean Avenue again and a couple of blocks down to the Ocean View Hotel, right on the seafront. I’ve splashed out on a seriously expensive ocean view room at the front of the hotel to celebrate completing Route 66. 🙂

The End of the Trail #1The End of the Trail #2The End of the Trail #3Ocean Avenue, Santa MonicaOcean View HotelView from hotel room #1View from hotel room #2View from hotel room #3

There’s no breakfast here, and not even a bar. So after quickly putting my bags in my room I head out to have a walk around to find some breakfast at a local store. Back at the hotel, the room is very nice indeed. I should hope so for the price! There is a balcony but I decide to go down to the beach for tonight’s sunset. It’s at 6.35 pm tonight so 15 minutes beforehand, I walk down. I bought some cold beer earlier, and I take one down in a brown paper bag and sit on a wall sipping away like some old hobo as the sun descends in the sky. It was a great sunset as well.

Sunset on Santa Monica Beach #1Sunset on Santa Monica Beach #2Sunset on Santa Monica Beach #3Sunset on Santa Monica Beach #4Sunset on Santa Monica Beach #5Sunset on Santa Monica Beach #6

Live Music At Last

On my grocery expedition earlier I had walked past a bar advertising live music: “Rock’n’Roll covers at 10 pm” it said. I’d earmarked a bar for dinner, Stout, Burgers and Beers, and decided to stick with that. When I arrive later there is of course the usual far-too-long list of craft beers. The burger though, a Goombah, was excellent. On being asked by the server what it was like, I said: “Ever seen Pulp Fiction? This is one tasty burger!” And it was superb. I also found a beer I liked as well.

The Cardiac Arrest at The Craftsman Bar and Kitchen

The Cardiac Arrest

But it’s time for music. So I exit and walk around the corner to The Craftsman Bar and Kitchen on Broadway to watch The Cardiac Arrest play. They are a 3 piece rock band, doing covers as per the ad earlier. But they play a lot of songs I don’t know, but most of the audience do, as I see everyone singing along. Among the tunes I do recognise are Tom Petty’s American Girl, Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire and The Beatles’ Come Together. Watch The Cardiac Arrest play The Beatles’ Come Together and White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army on YouTube.

They are good but my lack of exposure to recent rock music is laid somewhat bare, and lessens my enjoyment of them a little. Not their fault. It’s also getting late so I return to the hotel. I’m back in my room just before midnight.

Today was a bit of a slog on the road, as I expected it to be. It did take 4 hours, an average of 20 mph. How does anyone in LA get any business done with such awful traffic? There was very little 66-ness about the drive today either, just a few signs here and there, and mostly urban sprawl.

Goodbye, Route 66.

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