After a light breakfast {cough} at Mr D’z Route 66 Diner in Kingman, Arizona we set off towards Las Vegas.

Due to the heat, I’d earlier developed heat rashes on my arms and chest and found it better when it was really hot to wear long sleeved T-shirts and to pull the buff up to cover my face – very SWAT-ish! More of this tomorrow…

First stop was Oatman, where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard honeymooned. Wild mules, “burros”, roam the streets asking to be fed by visitors and the whole town has a real Wild West feel to it. Then on to Las Vegas, stopping for lunch in “the middle of F-ing nowhere” as my check-in on Facebook suggested; also known as Searchlight, Nevada.

Reaching Las Vegas, we headed to our stop for the night, the New York, New York which, included its own rollercoaster. Not just a hotel, but a resort with shops and themed restaurants throughout the main reception area.

American Excess.

Las Vegas I found to be incredibly tacky – like Blackpool but without the charm – and I can see why it’s popular for stag weekends and themed weddings. What was very sad was the number of people still playing the slot machines at 1am…

Dinner was at the impressive Harley Davidson Café: you really have to admire the branding/lifestyle efforts at Harley Davidson – you don’t just buy a motorbike, you buy a lifestyle.

Off to bed and the promise of a lie-in due to the expected heat of the Mojave Desert and a suggestion we might simply hit the Interstate to Barstow.

Burros in Oatman Nevada Wrapped Up A Light Breakfast Understated... Hanging Harleys Oatman, AZ

The day started off with a second visit to the Grand Canyon and a different viewpoint. The fact that you could – as I did – scramble down to the edge of the Canyon itself and look over the edge of a precariously balanced boulder added to the sense of wonder at the whole shebang. Photos followed!

Off we went towards Kingman, stopping off for a leisurely lunch in Williams before hitting the road via Hackberry and Seligman where I was introduced to Angel Delgadillo, the “Angel of Route 66″ at his barber’s shop. Angel is a famous character and one of the leading lights in trying to have Route 66 recognised as a national historic byway and tourist attraction to try to reinvigorate local businesses that effectively died when the twons en route were bypassed.

Then on to Kingman and a fab little bar and restaurant where we were served by a really friendly waitress who looked like Sandra Bullock!

Arizona Hackberry 2500hrs Renovation So Far Elvis Lives! Lunchtime Route66-RHM-2577 With Angel Delgadillo Hackberry Hackberry "Back a bit more..." The Road Goes On Forever

The day started pretty badly: the Wigwam Motel doesn’t have a restaurant so it had been suggested we go to Joe & Aggie’s Café for breakfast instead as that was a real treat. Sadly, they were shut that Sunday morning, so I had to settle for a coffee and doughnut at the nearby Safeway!

Anyway, our destination was the Grand Canyon so off we went, stopping by in Winslow, Arizona to go and stand on a corner – as per the Eagles’ song “Take It Easy” – and Bellemont where there is a Harley Davidson dealership which features its own cafe where visitors cook their own burgers and sit around the pool tables. Out the back, there’s a garage specialising in doing up old muscle cars with some cracking cars for sale. What an excellent idea!

Then on to the Grand Canyon itself. Which was a bit of a disappointment from the vantage point we visited. I’m not sure what it was but I was underwhelmed by it. Maybe the visit planned for the next morning might be better?

Electra Glide at Joe & Aggie's The Corner at Winslow, Arizona The Grand Canyon Chevelle For Sale Grand Canyon Harley Davidson Crouchin' on a Corner

 

More thunderstorms were forecast for the day, but we somehow managed to avoid them and spent the day basking in sunlight and heat as we travelled out of New Mexico via Madrid, used in the film “Wild Hogs”, and Albuquerque.

Into Arizona and a bit of a treat: the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona as sunset started to fall. Very impressive it was too.

As sunset fell, we got into Holbrook where we were staying at the Wigwam Motel, which was interesting!

Chevy Bel Air in Madrid, NM Past Albuquerque New Mexico Sky Reflected Glory Sunset Over Arizona Leaving Santa Fe

 

Our first stop of the day was the world-famous Cadillac Ranch which – if you don’t already know – is a patch of a field with a load of buried Cadillacs with their rear ends sticking out of the ground!

Visitors come along and are allowed to add graffiti to the cars; every so often the owner has them repainted to provide a blank canvas. Impressive as I thought it would be.

Then we stopped at the Midpoint Café in Adrian, Texas: halfway along Route 66. An impromptu performance by a group of musicians saw us on our way towards New Mexico, with the Blue Swallow Motel and then onto Santa Fe where we had stopped before a thunderstorm and torrential rain found us sheltering in (expensive) shops and a Starbucks.

Cadillac Ranch Let Us Spray Halfway There Closed End of the Road Objects... Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico Trucked Cadillac Ranch

Leaving Oklahoma City a short while after a much bigger group of Norwegians and Swedes, we headed off towards Amarillo (as we knew the way…), stopping by the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum.

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum

Then a stop for lunch at a Chinese buffet restaurant, eating with some of my new friends, Angelo and Manuel with Davide and Loredana and a great fortune cookie message:

Fortune Cookie

Fortune Cookie

Arriving in Amarillo, we were collected by Cadillac limousines with bullhorns mounted on the bonnets – no worries with Health & Safety here, it seems – to be taken to the Big Texan Steak Ranch and its 72oz steak challenge (which I declined to take). Good steaks though, and possibly the biggest carrot cake I’ve ever seen!

Big Texan Steak Ranch

Big Texan Steak Ranch

Leaving Missouri, we headed through the SE corner of Kansas, stopping in one of the bypassed towns, Galena, for some photos.

Then into Oklahoma with its “heat advisories” given it was 115°F/46°C. This was to be a common occurrence for the rest of the trip, with temperatures above 100°F every day, hitting 115°F throughout Oklahoma, Arizona and the Mojave Desert in California.

Along the way, we met a biker from Toronto called Giles, who was semi-permanently on the road these days.

Sadly, our hotel for the night had a problem in the kitchen that even with its chef(s) who’d walked out and cover from other staff failed miserably: after a late 2 hour wait for food, it was awful so we didn’t pay and went to our rooms hungry and tired.

Bypassed Angelo, Giles, Manuel and Davide

Leaving Springfield, we headed off towards Missouri and the Mississippi stopping for photos at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.

On from there, we headed through St. Louis which was hot. Very hot. So hot that after a number of stops and starts, the Electra Glide got a bit tired and emotional and the engine management system decided to take a lie down and refuse to let the bike work. After a while, it decided to come back up, though the idle speed was too high, but at least I could continue my journey.

We stopped for lunch at the Meramec Caves, rumoured to have been the James Gang’s hideout. I’m not surprised they were caught, given they weren’t exactly camouflaged (see photo).

We also stopped at the Elbow Inn, Devil’s Elbow, which is a fabulous biker bar with hundreds of bras hanging from the ceiling!

Finally we reached Springfield, Missouri after a long 360 mile day in the saddle.

Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Gateway Arch, St. Louis Devil's Elbow Route 66, Missouri Elbow Inn Meramec Caves

…and it’s not the one I chose.

Having had the Road King Classic as my first choice, I was a little disappointed when we turned up at Woodstock Harley Davidson after an hour’s bus ride to collect the bikes to be told that as they were out of Road Kings I’d have to ride one of their fleet of Electra Glide Ultra Limited bikes instead.

Woodstock Harley Davidson, Illinois

I consoled myself by thinking about being able to hook up my iPod – bought specially for the trip – to its sound system but was horrified when I saw the colour: “root beer”, aka ‘horrendous metallic brown’.

Harley Davidson FLHTK Electra Glide Ultra Limited

A ride back into central Chicago with traffic jams on a hot day revealed that it started to pink when hot…