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VOL. 131 | NO. 220 | Thursday, November 3, 2016


Lance Wiedower

All Roads End in Hollywood


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Blame it on Disney Pixar. When our son was younger he was obsessed with the “Cars” movie.

So when planning what originally was supposed to be a Route 66 road trip, who couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stay in a concrete wigwam that closely resembles the Cozy Cone Motel from the movie?

The first accommodation booked was the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, located on the eastern outskirts of the Los Angeles area along Route 66.

Even when a Route 66 road trip became a western road trip, we kept the reservation.

After a long day driving through the heat of Death Valley National Park we pulled up into the darkness of San Bernardino and our quirky little motel. Want to know how quirky? Just imagine sleeping in an oversized wigwam that sits in a semicircle of other wigwams. There was just enough room for two beds, a TV and a dimly lit bathroom.

This overnight was our one true Route 66 experience that brought a close to the nearly 3,500-mile drive from Memphis to California. That night at the Wigwam Motel marked the beginning of the end of this trip.

The next day we made our way west toward our final destination, Santa Monica. If I couldn’t drive the Mother Road across the U.S., I would at least drive it into Pasadena and Los Angeles. But while the highway we drove had at one time been the original Route 66, the charm was long gone, replaced by fast-food chains and industrial beauty. So we got on the freeway and motored west.

One year after spending a week in Southern California these final four days were an afterthought, really, so as we found ourselves stuck on Interstate 10 in Downtown Los Angeles with no plan, we decided to head north to Burbank and do something that doesn’t fit my travel style in the least – we toured Universal Studios.

The tour isn’t cheap. But I won’t lie and say it wasn’t interesting checking out all the Harry Potter and Batman collections while seeing the Central Perk set from “Friends,” not to mention a few shows taping on property as we drove around the various back lots.

After seeing the amber waves of grain in Kansas, the massive Rocky Mountain peaks in Colorado, Utah’s arches, Arizona’s majestic monuments and Nevada’s bright lights, finding myself in Los Angeles’ miserable traffic on our way to Anaheim that evening was a major letdown.

But we did see a walk-off win by the Angels over the Boston Red Sox that night, followed by nearly 14 exhausting hours at Disneyland the next day. The rest of the trip, honestly, was a blur. I think there was a Dodgers game, and maybe a visit to the beach. I know there was some great sushi consumed.

We might’ve only traveled a few miles of Route 66, but we found our way to its conclusion at the Santa Monica Pier before turning the rental car in and boarding the flight for home. This trip wasn’t about Los Angeles, but it still played a role.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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