Route 66 Day 27: Eureka!

With our driving through the desert complete, we headed off to make our way further into California. There was a palpable difference in many ways to our travels today.

We had lots of company. The small towns we passed through were more populated, and suddenly there were many more cars on the road with seemingly endless number of places needing to be gotten to in record breaking time. 

Despite the increased traffic, there were still sites to be seen that can only be seen on Route 66. I love these hotel signs, and for those of you who know me, you’ll know why!

There was a lot more industry today: cement plants, intermodal sites, more semi trucks, lots more, and gone was the more masterful, respectful driving attitude of these large behemoths. We continued to see trains filled with sea containers, traveling like colonies of ants across the landscape.

During our travels, we have been using a Route 66 guide book and a travel app. Both highlight interesting places to stop. One we had read about, but weren’t really sure turned out to be a eureka kind of discovery- like finding a gem where you didn’t expect to find one. The gem we found on our travels today: Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch. Elmer Long was a self made artisan. He passed away unexpectedly in June of 2019, and the ranch was closed for some time. Much gratitude to his family for reopening the ranch. 

This is not just a ranch filled with bottles, they are pieces of art, that when you study them for a bit, you begin to see Elmer’s thought process for combining the eclectic items in the way he did. 

As I walked through the ranch, towards the back, I found Elmer’s workshop. I imagine this is just how he left it, mid project. I love how his desk and chair are arranged so he was looking out over the ranch of all the pieces he created, and a perfect view to watch his visitors experience his art. 

I wish he had been there to see the look on our faces. I liken it to the faces of kids the first time they see something A-MAZ-ING, and don’t have the words to describe how they feel, but look absolutely delighted! That was us!

We spent a good amount of time relishing Elmer’s art, and then it was time to move on. Looking back at our travels today, Elmer’s Bottle Ranch was a eureka moment in our journey. I wish we had gotten to meet you in person, Elmer, but we feel like we know you a bit from sharing your art.

We travelled on, and the quiet of the old Route 66 quickly melted away into the busy-ness of the city. We also noticed the haze worsened the further into California we drove, to the point where we could not see the mountains that we knew were close on the horizon. We could not only smell the smoke, after a bit we could taste it too. 

We travelled what seemed like quite a way, and finally reached our motel for the night. Yes, that is a Wig Wam. Yes, we decided we needed to do another Route 66 historic motel, and this is one of 2 Wig Wam Motels left along Route 66. These were built in 1949.

This was our Wig Wam for the night. We met some of our Wig Wam neighbors, some who were also traveling Route 66. 

Sleeping in a Wig Wam is also a great night shot with he lights on. 

Eureka type of discoveries are rare, yet we find ourselves rich and relishing them on this trip. These experiences- the things that take you back in time to when things were simpler, calmer, and make us reflect on our priorities in life. 

Carl Honore says it well:

Your best ideas, those eureka moments that turn the world upside down, seldom come when you’re juggling emails, rushing to meet the 5 P.M. deadline or straining to make your voice heard in a high-stress meeting. They come when you’re walking the dog, soaking in the bath or swinging in a hammock.

Or walking through a bottle ranch, or sleeping under the stars in a wig wam. Eureka!

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