Saturday, May 25, 2013

Highway 61 Meets Route 66

OK, not literally. Be patient, we'll get there.

Our first stop was, of course, lunch; in beautiful downtown San Juan Bautista, the town that time forgot. Aside from the mission -- which actually charges admission, not surprised, but thank you, No, the Church already has more money than God ever dreamed of -- San Juan Bautista mainly consists of The Alameda, or Third Street, depending on which name you prefer. Antique shops line the streets, and charming little restaurants, most of which have lovely flower-bedecked patios where you can enjoy your pitcher of margaritas in the dappled shade. Which we did. With a rotary luncheon to our left and a bar mitzvah to our right. We might be allowed to have the blues.

After lunch, we continued down the hypnotic Highway 25 to The Pinnacles National Park. The place was deserted when we arrived, but by nightfall it was full. The noisiest neighbors we had, though, were the local sapsuckers, whose cheery "whack-up! whack-up! whack-up!" kept our slumbers light.

But, after that bucolic interlude, it was time for something different. In keeping with our vow to avoid interstates, we stuck to small back highways, curving through the yellow-brown hills of central California. Cows, apparently, like the blues. We had Howlin' Wolf on the stereo when we pulled over for a quick lunch next to a paddock. They all stood up, meandered over, and cocked their heads at the music. I guess cows have a right to have the blues, we all know where they're heading.

(And I must insert here that, having seen the newest Star Trek: Into Darkness, I can with all certainty say that, if you lose command of the Enterprise, even if you are James Tiberius Kirk, you can have the blues. JJ Abrams at least got that right; listen carefully.)

Missionaries. Vaqueros. Mormons. Gold! ?. And there, in a nutshell, is the history of San Bernardino, where we are staying overnight in the 1949 icon, The Wigwam Motel (, where every room is a wigwam. I know, it's a bit of a detour on our way to San Diego (San Diego? On the way to New Orleans? Be patient, all will be revealed), but sleeping in a wigwam is worth every mile. This motel was built to house travelers on The Mother Road, Route 66, and I often sigh for the days when such kitschy architecture was in vogue, where every place had its different personality, where you never knew *quite* what to expect. In a world of Days Inns and Marriotts and everything the same, this place is awesome, clean and comfortable, with a welcoming staff. All I can say is, come here and stay while you can. It's another piece of Americana that is all too few and far between.

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