All posts by kathrainbow

We got our kicks on Route 66

“If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
It winds from Chicago to LA,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
Now you go through Saint Looey
Joplin, Missouri,
And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo,
Gallup, New Mexico,
Flagstaff, Arizona.
Don’t forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino.”

And, this morning, we motored through San Bernardino to complete our last port of call from the song…except that wasn’t where the road ended!  We could have taken a photo of the sign but, no, it was a proper visit to the City Hall, the County Court and even the Sheriff’s Department Rehabilitation Center!!

Santa Monica Pier is the officially designated end of Route 66, so 5,080 miles after leaving Chicago we proudly posed underneath the sign which declared we had reached the end. We did it!!  We have been everywhere and then some. We have walked miles, as well, around all the places of interest we found along the way and have loved the diverse experiences throughout our journey.

Even today, we were having random conversations with a group of Hillary Clinton supporters and a couple of American ladies who had done part of the 66 but via the direct route, i.e. on the freeway. I met a guy, whilst queuing for iced coffee, who was convinced I was Australian.  He had made a long trip to the coast from south of Las Vegas!!  Whacky folk some of these Americans  spotted on the road today:

i feel so proud and pleased that we have completed this huge adventure but at the same time would love to go on and do more. Not this time. Thanks to both our families for encouraging our dream and thanks, particularly, to Carolyn for making sure we did everything we set out to do and never giving up… even if finding some of the places proved geographically challenging! I’ve said it before but it has been a truly awesome experience.

Carolyn’s Curios

So, for the last time (this trip!), I get to add some outtakes from our travelogue. Would it be about tonight when two staff at the hotel separately responded to my request, “Excuse me but could you tell me where the restaurant is, please?” by providing directions to… the Rest Rooms?!

Or, the discussion with the Hillary Clinton team on Santa Monica Pier where we agreed both on the distaste for Trump and the Brexit decision? Politics often divides but here it brought us together.

Maybe, the girl drummer of a family rock band playing “Twist and Shout” amongst others on the Pier. I mentioned to her that I had been playing drums to that music before her parents had been born! But, they were a good young band – a combination of White Stripes and Hanson, if you can imagine that.

Perhaps, that there were three separate and competing evangelical preaching groups on the Saturday afternoon in the sunshine at the seaside.

This journey has reached its natural geographical conclusion and, like Kath, I must say, again, my thanks to the family, especially Ann, for encouraging me to take up this opportunity and, of course, Kath, herself, for sharing the dream. We doubled the planned mileage; we added on every single day to the activities we had originally envisaged. We laughed consistently, marvelled frequently and enjoyed immensely.

A final couple of curios… why did they name this town as they did?!

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And, as I was driving on the five lane traffic jammed roads in Los Angeles after leaving the deserted, scrub surrounded, traffic-free, seemingly endlessly straight Route 66, it occurred to me that:

“The obese body of L.A. was sprawling across the canapé of the California landscape

with its concrete arteries clogged with car shaped cholesterol.”

And, we had fallen in love with the Original Historic Route 66. Its reputation is justified, its magic is real and its attraction, albeit being slowly submerged, is worth visiting and preserving. Catch it while you can. We did.

California dreaming 🎼🎤🎹

It was back on the road today and a brief goodbye to Las Vegas as we drove along the already crowded Strip. But we had a date – with California. We had three targets as we set off: 1. A lunch stop at the famous Peggy-Sue’s 50s Diner, 2. A drive into Barstow, in keeping with the Route 66 song and 3. A visit to the much talked about ‘bottle ranch’.

Peggy-Sue’s was slightly disappointing as it was a bit tacky with a large ‘souvenir shop’ for people to browse whilst waiting for a table. It wasn’t a patch on either the diner we went to in Kingman or the diner at the Mid-point of Route 66. However, the food was OK and the waitresses consistently delighted their customers. What more could you ask?  Well, perhaps a little less tat in the shop might be a start, but I did chuckle at the ladies’ loo.

I have to say that the ride down from Las Vegas through the mountains and the Mojave desert produced some wonderful scenery and some huge cacti, although Carolyn is still disappointed not to have seen one of the famous tall, two pronged prickly ones (famous in the movies), other than one outside a shop!  The desert really was sandy and offered high dunes which could have featured in Lawrence of Arabia.

We also went through a sort of Checkpoint Charlie when all vehicles could be subjected to search, courtesy of the Californian Agriculture Inspection.  No idea – but we must have looked innocent as we were waved through.

Barstow was one of those places you might look and leave. And so we did, but tomorrow we can finish the song…”Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino…….” with a drive through the last one on our way to Santa Monica.

As for the Bottle Farm, this is one crazy place with hundreds of bottles attached to iron poles making strange tree-like structures. It is a complete mystery as to how or why this became one man’s vision, but folks like us come from all over the world to stop along Route 66 near Barstow to make up their own minds.

What we did find, whilst looking for the bottles, were some great antique Route 66 curios and some derelict places which had been mentioned in all the guide books. Fascinating.

Our hotel tonight is slightly more downmarket than our ‘digs’ for the last two nights.  However, it is clean, comfortable and a fraction of The Bellagio even at the vastly discounted prices. Winner. So was the excellent steak at BJ’s.

So, journey’s end tomorrow and Santa Monica Pier here we come for our obligatory photograph under the ‘End of Route 66’ sign. Total miles for our journey will then be calculated. It’s a big impressive number!

Carolyn’s Curios

Before we leave Vegas (in the blog), a cursory cornucopia of curios to conjure with…

Why do casinos hire a girl to perform almost naked whilst mainly women play the slot machines?!
Why was I approached by two men at about 10.30am on the sidewalk (pavement) of the main street whilst they were dressed in very tight trousers, cuffs and a bow tie and nothing else calling me a young lady and offering me an exciting time?!
Why were two young women dressed, it seems, only in body paint mimicking superheroes hanging round a Starbucks sign?!

The first still seems obtuse to me; the second were advertising a show (I guess) and… no, I didn’t agree or accept!
The third, I was told, were ‘ladies of the night’ but it occurred to me that the body paint was likely to come off! #justsaying

So, we left Vegas and managed another serendipitous experience whilst we looked for the bottle tree ranch. Such a crazy, almost English eccentric, idea. But, fun!

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Our trip seems to have been like this plaque I found today. Keep moving.

The next three photos were from Peggy Sue’s Diner’s women’s toilets. Two to think about and take seriously, the third, apparently from the other toilet visitors, to titter inanely at. Hmm!

The residents of Barstow must have known we were coming so posted this picture. CTOQ!

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Iron bridges appear every so often Route 66 and this is one coming out of Barstow. Great shapes and shadows in the sun.

Two of my photos from Elmer Long’s Bottle Tree Ranch – what a great place. Quite mad, quite magical. Bottles everywhere but we added to the fun… Kath becoming… wait for it… a laughing stock and a panoramic photos I, also, liked.

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Finally, for today, we re-engaged with our road and it will be a mixed set of feelings when we, tomorrow, reach the end of the road… literally… at Santa Monica Pier looking out over the Pacific. The designated route should have taken us 2278 miles or 2448 miles depending on the alignment which is used. Route 66 was removed from formal designation in 1985 after being established in 1926. However, thanks to many enthusiasts, the former route has a new designation of ‘Historic Route 66’. There are interesting misuses of ‘Historic’ and ‘Historical’ but, hey, it’s American English!In many places it has been covered over by new roads – most notably the I40. In other places, it has become overgrown and, when we’ve been driving down it, it has petered out or we come to a dead end. However, we’ve driven along sections every day since Chicago except yesterday and, because of detours and our attempts at diligence of finding the real Route 66, we’ve driven, up to today, not 2278 nor even 2448 miles. When leaving L.A. this morning, we’d already driven 4721 miles!!! Further update tomorrow.

Luck be a lady 🎼🎹🎤

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It felt a ‘Vegas sort of a day’ as we set off under the hot sun and clear blue sky to explore a little.  In Vegas you have to accept the exploration of hotels involves lots of walking, i.e. the buildings themselves are enormous and, therefore, it is sensible to decide a mode of transportation from one point of interest to another. Granted you miss some of the sights along the way, and there are plenty of those (!), but you can cover greater distances. The cab was our choice – fairly inexpensive and a door to door service.

We started with breakfast along the way as we were walking to The Venetian (we hadn’t seen the light, or rather felt the pain at that point). This is probably my favourite hotel here and it seems to have improved even since my last visit. I just love the shops and restaurants underneath the artificial sky with the gondoliers singing to their passengers. OK, so it is fake and Carolyn and I worked out that the gondolas were electronically operated by foot pedals. Still a shot of expensive Las Vegas fun.  Maybe next time I will find the sort of excellent deal we got at The Bellagio.

The cab ride to our next port of call was very necessary as it was a very long walk to The Luxor. I had been in previously but had forgotten that it was a bit on the gloomy side. There are some Egyptian replicas around but the most fun you get is riding the elevators up the inside of the pyramid and feeling them go upwards and sideways at the same time.

As we were off to the theatre this evening, I had planned some relaxation for the afternoon in the form of swimming and a poolside snooze. I hadn’t reckoned that the strong winds would close the pool in this heat. But, sure enough, we could see the loungers blowing into the various pools and the elevators just would not go to that floor. Shame, but there are lots of nice things to see and do in the hotel which don’t involve losing your shirt (or your house) on the gaming tables.

Summoning more energy it was off to the theatre, all dressed up, to see ‘Rock of Ages’.  Great music, full blooded noise, enthusiastic cast and even more enthusiastic audience. Many knew the songs (every single vocal and some of the tune!!) and stood to mimic the dance routines. We had fabulous seats and Carolyn had found prices cheaper than the bucket shops. The drinks were a bit average (coolers rather than cocktails) but a great night.

This was the first day we not only failed to encounter our beloved Route 66 but we did no driving at all – the first time since leaving Chicago. Back on the road again tomorrow to find Barstow.

Carolyn’s Curios

A day in Las Vegas. Two kids from Preston… ‘hanging out’ on the Strip. We didn’t consider that even as a possibility those years ago. Well, we’re here and tomorrow, we leave on the last but one leg of our road trip on Route 66. Today has been unusual as this is the first day we haven’t been on Route 66 (we managed 600 yds before our long detour to Vegas yesterday). In fact, as Kath said, we haven’t driven at all. We walked and taxied to cover our travels which involved Paris (across the road), Rome (Caesars Palace), Venice (Venetian), Egypt (Luxor), Mexico (Margaritaville), Brazil (Rio), New York, New York etc.

Tonight’s treat was a showing of Rock of Ages. Perhaps it was that the music was from the 80s, but I didn’t engage with it as I have with “We will rock you’, ‘Beautiful’, ‘Let it be’, ‘Sunny afternoon’ and others. However, a raucous, fun-filled show which was well worth the discounted tickets. We followed it with snacks in the Rio casino. I took a copy of the quote on the back wall of the theatre which said, “The dreams you come in with may not be the dreams you leave with… but hey, they still rock!” Enough said?!

It is astonishing how big these hotels are and how fixated they are on gambling. Yesterday, we walked 12200 steps, 4 floors and 8.7km despite only arriving at 3.00. Today we walked 11500 steps, 13 floors and 7.8 km despite using three taxis!

The Bellagio isn’t the biggest hotel in the world nor even the biggest in Vegas but it is has a bigger population, albeit temporary, than Kirkham!

Impressions of Vegas? Big, bold, brash with pretentions of class. Most people here come to gamble but the sights are worth the trip. Despite the relative ‘luxury’ of the accommodation, I’ve found more places on the journey where I would prefer to return first.

So, tomorrow we drive to Victorville via Barstow. Barstow is the penultimate named town in the Bobby Troup song which has focussed our journey. Only San Bernadino to go before we arrive at our current journey’s end at Santa Monica pier. Needless to say, we’re hoping to echo Sheryl Crow and “… have some fun until the sun comes up on the Santa Monica Boulevard”.

Viva Las Vegas! 🎼🎹🎤

Today has been a day of extremes as we started in Kingman, a small, albeit very comfortable, Route 66 motel and have ended the day in 5 diamond luxury at The Bellagio in Las Vegas. Of course, I have to mention the visit to the Hoover Dam along the way.

Let’s start with our journey to the Dam through more of the Mohave Desert, but with rocks and mountains of granite rather than the sandstone we loved in Monument Valley.  There was an openness to the vista and wide sweeping valley floors, miles wide, before the land rose to another mountain range. Deep into the mountains at the edge of the state, we also knew that we would have to cross a magnificent bridge from Arizona into Nevada before turning back on ourselves to wind down a steep road back into Arizona to access the Visitors’ Centre and the huge dam across the Colorado River.

Any fans of thriller films will have seen heroes diving or abseiling from such structures but my heart was in my mouth at the mere idea as I tried to photograph the wall of the dam from top to bottom.

 

The engineering involved and the electricity generated, to say nothing of the spectacle created, are just jaw-dropping in terms of statistics and sheer beauty

We spent quite a bit of time walking across the top of the dam and around the terraces of the Visitors’ Centre before taking the odd comic photo and travelling the remaining 20 odd miles further into Nevada. A slight difference in scenery.

As Carolyn has never been to Las Vegas before, as I got an exceptional hotel deal, and as I hadn’t stayed here before…I thought I could justify a bit of luxury at this stage of our trip.  Just as an aside, if anyone thinks luxury comes with total ease and comfort, think again. I am shattered. Just walking through the hotel to get to the elevators, only to walk miles of corridor to find your room, is a workout in itself.  But the view!  The Bellagio fountains are dancing, the Hotel Paris and its Eiffel Tower are opposite and the neon lights of The Strip are burning vast wattage. It’s Blackpool on speed!!

After cocktails and a wander, a visit to Caesar’s Palace, which has grown beyond all recognition from the place I once knew – they even have a Gordon Ramsay pub and grill! – it’s time to retreat and enjoy the luxury.  So, with a cold beer in hand, that’s it for tonight.

Carolyn’s Curios

So, we’re in Las Vegas. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it is impressive. ‘Blackpool on speed’ is one description but it is bigger and grander by far. However, despite its best efforts, it still has an air of trying too hard at pretence, somehow.

Every hotel, it seems, has a Casino. Games of Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Poker… and myriads of different ‘Slots’ – the latter, predominantly populated by women – are everywhere. I almost laughed out loud when I walked into ‘our’ Casino and heard the first track of music being played… The Police’s “Can’t stand losing…”!!! Seemed appropriate.

As Kath mentioned, the journey over incorporated visiting the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. It wasn’t on our original schedule but we wanted to build it in. Well worth the slight detour and the time spent there. Getting there brought us into disrepute with our Sat. Nav…. again. The website said we couldn’t cross the dam from Arizona. Ok, so, as we were coming from Arizona and wanted to drive over the dam, we intended to drive from Arizona to Nevada over the new bridge. Then we would drive over the dam from Nevada to Arizona. Hmm. But,… we found, once there, we could drive back over the bridge from… Arizona to Nevada! As Hannibal Smith used to say in the ‘A’ Team, “It’s good when a plan comes together.

The dam is impressive! Very impressive! Needless to say, security is important and we had airport type scanner scrutiny. Guns and knives were banned!

As today was a detour, we only spent about 600 yards on our beloved Route 66. Tomorrow will be the first (and last!) day of the trip without us being on any part of the Mother Road. America’s Highway will have to wait until the next day. Tomorrow is Las Vegas and the Strip with Rock of Ages in the evening.

Every day is a winding road 🎼🎹🎤

We hadn’t seen any rain since St. Louis, and as people say it hardly ever rains in Arizona, we experienced a vague sense of disbelief to see the river washing across our hotel car park as we left for Kingman.

Kingman is one of the towns mentioned in the Route 66 song, but, before dropping down from the mountains into the Mohave Desert, we experienced Seligman. I have to say ‘experienced’ because it’s a delightfully whacky small town, full of Route 66 iconic structures dedicated to the travellers of the Mother Road.

Amazingly, it was full of French people (a coach load, I think) and I had a huge chuckle when one lady approached Carolyn, thinking she was a shop assistant, and engaged her with a rapid flow of questions in French.  Carolyn smiled, shrugged Gallic-like and the lady moved on, apparently satisfied. How does she do that?!

We found a ‘Roadkill Cafe’, although I am not sure who on earth would like to go and eat dead animals retrieved from the roadside. Certainly not us…  I was amazed at the menu though. It wasn’t real roadkill but an interesting marketing ploy

At lunchtime, you can try the “Tried-to-pass-me-bye on Rye” otherwise served as a Patty Melt in diners – or “Varmint Vittles” – a chicken wrap – or even a “No Luck Buck” – a French Dip sandwich.

When it comes to dinner there is the “Rack of Raccoon” – an 18-inch (46cm) rack of ribs – or “Long Gone Fawn” – a 6 ounce (170 gram) sirloin steak. Alternately, you can try “The Chicken that almost crossed the road” – fried chicken – or “Rigor Mortis Tortoise” – fried shrimp.

And there’s something for the kids, too. The children’s menu includes “Donald Forgot to Duck” – biscuits and gravy – or the delightfully named “Poached Bambi Burger” – which is a plain old hamburger.

Moving swiftly on!  We then found a sign claiming that Seligman was the birthplace of Historic Route 66 and subsequently found that the town, which was on the original route, convinced the State of Arizona to designate Route 66 an historic highway. It is part of the longest unbroken stretch of the remaining Old Route 66 most of which we drove today.

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As we drove across the mountains, the clouds began to lift and we passed through Hualapai Reservation at Peach Springs. I find it interesting that the signs still say ‘Indian Reservation’ whereas we now talk about Native Americans.

Kingman, too, has lots of Route 66 curios and we had lunch at Mr D’z Route 66 Diner. It was somewhere straight out of the movies with cheery girls and boys doing a great job of waiting on tables. The hot dogs were super and the chocolate sundae we shared was mouth-wateringly divine. Not exactly the healthiest meal but we did get bits of salad with the hot dogs!  And did I mention the thrice cooked fries?….Hmm.  I was quite amused by the toilet arrangements too. There were two screens – Elvis and Marilyn -behind which were ordinary ‘his and her’ toilet doors.

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On to our hotel for the night. How cool is this Ramada?

Off our route tomorrow and on to Las Vegas…

Carolyn’s Curios

Before we leave Arizona, let me explain their Time Zones. Arizona operates on Mountain Time Zone like New Mexico, Colorado, Utah etc. However, most of Arizona, unlike the other Mountain Time States, does not observe summer daylight saving time. You will note that I said, “most of…”. This is because in the part of the Navajo Nation which is in Arizona does! Therefore, even in the same State, our watches and electronic clocks, including the Sat. Nav., varied by an hour as we drove over artificial lines on a map. They say that time is relative but imagine you had a cousin down the road or even next door! Relatively difficult, eh?!

Mr D’z Diner was a fun experience but Kath didn’t mention the music. 1960s classics! Ranging from Sam the Sham, through Herman’s Hermits, Chuck Berry, The Tokens and, of course, Elvis. Singing along, albeit quietly, was the order of the day alongside the Harley Dog, Root Beer and fries.

We’re now heading into Nevada, where I’m hoping to see some big cacti as well as a big dam (Hoover) and then on to California.

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But, before I finish, please note the sign to the left of the silent movie heroine caught on the cattle catcher – which I’ve now researched and found it’s technically called a “Pilot”. You will note that I didn’t call it a cowcatcher for obvious reasons. (Although I get the final edit, we still have a way to go!!! CTMQ.)

On the road again… 🎼🎹🎤

Having gone to bed with the promise of a replacement car being delivered by 9 am, it was disappointing for Carolyn to get a call from Dollar at 8 am asking if we were still in need of “service”. No, we needed a car!!  The second call at 9 am was a little better, but it was going to take 3 hours to get one to us. Wait a minute, we were being offered something with a tiny boot space. Carolyn wasn’t having it and, what do you know, the next call offered something much bigger. In fact, we got a nice upgrade. It meant hanging around with nowhere to go in this small desert town but, undeterred, I made good use of the guest laundry facilities and we set off in our nice new car with suitcases full of clean clothes.

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It was good to be doing what we have done consistently well…disobeying the sat nav and wandering off the main highway in search of Old Route 66. One of the guide books had  mentioned an iconic road house where you cooked your own burgers, steaks, ribs, etc on a huge indoor BBQ, accompanied by as much salad as you could eat.  There was a choice of about 40 draught beers and a clientele of bikers and ranchers, all served by a petite, if indominatable, lady of a certain age wearing shorts and a pony tail.

Our determination to stick with the 66 for the rest of our journey caused a problem. We ran out of road. No indication, but a couple of miles along the way the potholes became plentiful, as did the grass growing on the road.  Round the bend we found the reason…a concrete barrier across the road. You could sense the glee from the electronic voice, “Turn around when possible”.

Carolyn’s Curios

So, the day after the night before. No-one was hurt, merely inconvenienced. We’d done everything we’d wanted to do (plus some more!) and we’re now back on schedule without missing a beat from our road trip.

Today has been a steadier day but we agreed it was important to keep to our plans where we could and maintain our momentum. We did.

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As we passed Camp Navajo, I couldn’t resist, on the sight of equipment being moved, to title the photos below as ‘Army training’! #sorry The flags are those of the U.S.A. and Arizona.

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It was also interesting seeing the old parked Santa Fe train with a modern diesel behind. Day ends back at Williams. Tomorrow Kingman, Arizona.

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“Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above. Don’t fence me in.” 🎼🎶🎤

One visit to the Grand Canyon can leave you wanting more, so thank you, Carolyn, for noticing that a very small detour to today’s destination allowed us a second visit to see parts we could not manage yesterday. It was another ‘champagne day’ in that it had clear skies and a positive sparkle. We loved doing a drive through and stopping at multiple viewing points along the rim. I was trying to ration my photographs after yesterday’s bonanza but gave up after thinking, “What’s a few more?”  Rather more than a few and it would appear I have infected Carolyn, too, who was getting very creative with her shots.

By lunch time, we knew we had to tear ourselves away and press on with the journey to Monument Valley. We dropped the luggage at our hotel on the way and headed straight off. (The wisdom of this will become apparent).

In the late afternoon sun, the huge monoliths lit up and who could fail to remember the old John Wayne films as he rode his horse through what is really the spiritual home of the Navajo people. Apparently, John Wayne called the hidden valley ‘God’s Treasure’. The park extends into both Arizona and Utah and we wandered the dusty trail marvelling at the natural monuments. The setting sun ignited the red sandstone and we were treated to nature at its best.

The people of the Navajo Nation continue to manage the park and, again, it is somewhere you could return to on many occasions and see/do something different things each time. Horse riding is very popular, judging by the number awaiting rental. Perhaps not, but on the other hand a horse would have been useful to us tonight. As we drove away from the valley, we heard a rhythmic click from the car. Upon investigation we had picked up a bolt in the tyre – not a nail, not a screw but a thumping great bolt. More bad news – no spare wheel. After consulting some of the local guys (who would have changed the wheel for us), we had to try to limp back to our hotel without removing it as doing so would open up the puncture. 12 miles from the hotel (and now totally dark and on an unlit road), the tyre let go. Bang – and we were down to the rim. We pulled off  to the side of the road (a dirt track hard shoulder) and discovered….not a phone signal between us!

What do a pair of women of a certain age do in such circumstances?  We flagged down a passing car which happened to contain a lovely young Spanish couple who are staying at the same hotel. They brought us back and Carolyn hit the phone to the car rental people. I marvelled at her performance, so convincing and profound that I was almost moved to tears myself!!  Anyway, all is being sorted, the car has been retrieved and another one will be delivered tomorrow.

The final straw…we are staying in a ‘dry hotel’ just when a drink was needed!!

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Carolyn’s Curios

A wonderful day only punctuated (or punctured!) late on with our unplanned adventure. An interesting and testing experience.

It must have been an odd sight for the lovely Spanish couple as they approached the uphill bend. We’d limped there to ensure the car was off the road itself – 65mph unlit road. No ‘phone signal. No sign of life for miles. Emergency flashers switched on and I stood on the edge of the carriageway trying to wave down a car. A car approached, … drove past. Another and another and another. Twelve miles from our hotel. Idea! So, using the flashlight on my iPhone, I shone it on myself as the next car came over the brow. I must have looked like something from Blair Witch of The Shining but, bless them, it worked. Back safely. The car hire company seem to have reacted well tonight – with prompting  – but I’m sure I will be in touch with them again.

I may catch with other curios tomorrow but, for tonight, a few photos only.

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