John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Big Blue on Route 66 in Amboy, California

The Shoe Tree Near Amboy

Big Blue on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona

Big Blue in Sedona

Montezuma's Castle near Camp Verde


March 31

Saturday was our last full day at 660 Vallarta Circle and we spent it doing last minute chores and trying to avoid the painful chore of packing. Brenda and I started out with our last bike ride in Palm Springs through the City Loop and into an area of town we haven't seen much called Deepwell. It's an area of really nice homes and quiet streets.

We had our final pool time late in the afternoon where we began our discussions with agent Ann for next year. She showed us a 2 bedroom unit that was very nice; widescreen TVs and Broadband Internet for $2200 so we decided it was for us.

That evening I spoke to sister Linda and she told me that our cousin Rick Small was in hospital. He was out fishing by himself on the banks of the river near Chilliwack where another fisherman came along and found him unconscious on the trail. The paramedics called in the medivac helicopter and took Rick to the Royal Columbian Hospital. It was a real shock as we had run into Rick and his wife Wendy in Save-On Foods just before we left home, where we had a long, laughing discussion about the joys of retirement. We're pulling for a full and speedy recovery.

We finally put away the JO/JO game board with the boys leading 12 - 10.

April 1

We cleaned up Sunday morning and checked out by 10:00am. We travelled to Laughlin, Nevada via Amboy across the high desert highways. It means way less traffic and none of the stress of I10 maniacs. We also had our first extended travel on the original Route 66. This was really desert and we were looking for a nice spot to have a picnic; no such luck. There is not a rest stop, shady spot, grass or picnic table to be found between Palm Springs and Laughlin.

We arrived in Laughlin at around 1:30pm and had a nice little picnic on the grass above the Colorado River. Brenda and Heather had thoughtfully packed up our dinner leftovers from the night before and it tasted just like old Nordgren/Reeve family trip picnics, complete with heat, wind and seeds blowing off the shade tree we selected to sit under. We checked into the Ramada along with 60 other people in line and got into our $29 room about an hour later. I'm really learning to be patient, HONEST!

Laughlin, for anyone who's never been there, is a mini Las Vegas for the RV crowd. Many Canadians travel there, as it is substantially cheaper than Vegas. We threw our obligatory $20 into the slots and had a less than spectacular dinner. We did get to enjoy a neat little Blues band playing in a lounge, so we sat through a couple of sets and a couple of martinis. We saw many fogies dancing but the sweetest sight was a little (4 feet max) old (80+) woman dancing away to the music all by herself. For one song, a 6 foot-something drunk trucker type got up to dance with her but after that she told him to get lost. You go, girl!!!

April 2

We headed out of Laughlin in the morning on our way to Flagstaff via Kingman (remember the song?). From Kingman, you can either take I40 (4 lane freeway) or a 90-mile section of Route 66. We stopped into the visitor's centre in Kingman, which is a restored turn of the century concrete powerhouse. It features a lot of Route 66 memorabilia, including a museum, which we probably unwisely skipped. One of the friendly staff told us that if we could afford the extra 30 minutes it would cost us, take Route 66....so we did.

We left the visitors centre to enter 2-lane highway history. As we stopped at a traffic light, a middle aged woman pulled up beside us on a Harley. What followed I'll put in another entry as it will be quite graphic. There was an accident shortly after and the woman was killed. I'll leave it to you whether to read it or not.

We had lunch on the Hualapai (hwall-a-pie) Indian Reservation in Peach Springs, which is about half way along Route 66. We rejoined I40 an hour later and made the relatively short trip to Flagstaff. We had made our reservation at the Radisson Woodlands Hotel at a great rate ($88) through www.wotif.com, a site highly recommended by our friends Anita Werk and Colin Wood. Unfortunately, in cyberspace, Wotif and Radisson had failed to communicate and we got the, "Sorry, you're not in the computer." Fortunately, I had printed a copy of our confirmation and the accommodating desk clerk disappeared into an office "to clear this up".

While Brenda and I sat in the registration area, we heard them say to walk-up guests that they were very short of rooms and the remaining suites could be had for $149. The great news is, our desk clerk returned and told us that they would eat the screw-up and we would be up-graded to a suite at the $88 rate. We toured the town and had a quick bite to eat. We gladly fell into our "Sleep Number Bed" (just watch the commercials) and tried to get a good night's sleep with the traumatic visions of the accident and wishes of hope for cousin Rick running through our minds.

April 3

We were pretty sure this was going to be a tough day of memories because it was one year ago today that brother Don died. It's been on our minds a lot and the only thing that makes it a bit easier is that we are doing those things we hope he would want us to do and in a way he would have enjoyed. His spirit rides large with us everyday and we miss him tons.

This morning Brenda did a workout in the hotel gym while I worked on this update. I don't think I mentioned previously that Flagstaff is at 6,900 feet in elevation so a workout here is doubly hard. It is renowned as a high elevation athletic training centre; Brenda now qualifies as one.

We loaded up on maps, water and camera and headed south to Sedona. The trip was very scenic and as we broke out of the ponderosa pine of the Coconino National Forest, we were dazzled with the red rock scenery of Sedona. The twisting highway brought us down to Sedona at 4,500 feet and about 15F warmer. We stopped in the very commercial section of north Sedona, which kind of spoils the ambience of the environs with T-shirt and souvenir shops. However, we had a decent lunch with a wonderful view and moved on.

We travelled down towards Camp Verde to see Montezuma's Castle, a 1200's era cliff dwelling just off the fairway. It was an amazing sight and really well displayed with very informative signage and rangers on sight. It was worth the side trip for the feeling of awe it gives you.

We headed home and thought we would pick up some "Lean Cuisines" and eat in after a couple of days of restaurant food. I never thought frozen dinners would be a pleasant change...who knew?

I received an e-mail update from Linda and it was troubling news, as it appears Rick has not regained consciousness and they have moved him into hospice. Our thoughts remain with Wendy, their kids and the rest of the family.

While we enjoy our trip and everything that goes along with it, life and all it entails goes on around us; the good, the sad, and the memories. Tomorrow the plan is a circle tour up to the Grand Canyon.



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