Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Day 21 - And so we've come to the end of the road...

Today was a little surreal.  We've been planning this trip for a year and living it for nearly 3 weeks now.  So to drive the last little bit from Hollywood to Santa Monica on route 66 and reach the literal end of the road was incredibly bittersweet.  There was elation that we've not only made it but that all our hard work in planning the trip largely paid off.  There was also sadness because we don't want it to end.  As we drove the last few miles we discussed how we might change things if we had the trip to do over again and how feasible it might be just to turn the car around and head back to Chicago.  Our "what we would do if doing this again" plan will probably form a post-trip blog post because we want to share our thoughts on that with people from the future. Our plans for driving straight back to Chicago got pretty quickly shelved on the basis that people might complain not least our bank managers. Spoilsports.

Strangely the official western end of R66 is a block or two away from the ocean on an unsatisfying street and there is nothing to mark it.  So we drove that route and then made for Santa Monica pier where the spiritual end of the road is and where it is marked. Clearly. About 3 times in fact :P
The End of the Trail... *sob*
... oh... actually this one is the end (this one does match the "begin" sign we photographed ourselves with in Chicago)
Or maybe THIS is the end.  Well it's bound to be one of these 3 so we captured them all for posterity and safety's sake.
Very much like our start in Chicago, we ended on a pier.  Technically we visited Navy Pier the day before we set off but it did feel like a full circle moment, if you'll excuse the pun, to go on a Ferris Wheel at the Santa Monica Pier.
Another Ferris Wheel - another sunburn... Look how blue that water is! The Pacific is gorgeous.
Windswept and interesting in Santa Monica.
The Pacific Ocean is beautiful - there really is no other word for it.  We had planned only to spend an hour or so taking pics and marking the end of Route 66 before picking up the Pacific Coast Highway north towards our final stop on this trip - San Francisco.

That was our plan but it sort of didn't work out that way.  Because the Pacific is a siren that demands you stare at it's beauty.  And Santa Monica pier has frozen custard and an old fashioned games arcade.
We had no idea Route 66 was called the Custard Trail until we got to the end.   But we can say this - the best Frozen Custard on Route 66 is Ted Drewes in St Louis - NO CONTEST.
We had huge fun playing childhood favourites at the arcade. Rachael won the driving game (shocker!) but I kicked butt at the pirate zombie shoot'em'up game and we won enough tickets for a cheesy Santa Monica pier fridge magnet.
Our final stop in Santa Monica was the Will Rogers memorial.  Route 66 is also named the Will Rogers highway and so it seemed fitting we pay our respects having spent the last 2 weeks on the chaps road.

Will Rogers Memorial
We left Santa Monica at an inappropriately late hour of the day given our long drive up the coast to San Luis Obispo where we are stopped for the night.  Naturally we hit traffic (boo) and the sun began to set (hiss) so we abandoned the PCH in part for the interstate because it's faster and you can't see the ocean in the dark anyway. Apparently much of the good stuff to see is on the run from SLO to San Francisco we've been told so we are looking forward to that tomorrow.
Sunset from El Capitan State Beach
Tonight we are very comfortably ensconced in the lovely Peach Tree Inn. Tomorrow we drive through Morro Bay and Monterey and then on to San Francisco for the last few days of our trip. Looking forward to all the things we want to do there, but we can't quite believe it's nearly over.

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