Day 4: Sep. 13, 2005
Past Cool Springs (Again)



OK, so the first picture was taken last night where I ended the day. It's the bar in the Brunswick Hotel with my bottle of Fat Tire front and center. We don't get that at home. The next picture actually starts today and is of the hotel stairs with breakfast set up in front of them. A basic bagels & cereal affair but note the real mugs for coffee. Sure beats those dainty Styrofoam ones if you're not immediately driving away. I ate a bagel downstairs then took a mug of coffee upstairs to the balcony and worked on this site. I found everything I'd read about this place to be true; The many good things and the single bad thing. The bad thing is the noise from the trains. They pass by just across the street (Two tracks. No waiting.) and each blows its whistle for the crossing. Many trains pass by La Posada, too, but without the screaming. But it's endurable and I'd rather be awakened by a train whistle than the sound of a locomotive pushing its way through a minivan.

That's owner & manager Gerard Guedon in the fourth picture and he symbolizes all and is responsible for some of the many good things about the hotel. The place was built in 1909 with electric light and a telephone in each of the 50 rooms. In 1912, feuding owners split the hotel into two 25 room businesses; One with a bar and one with a restaurant. It was put back together in 1960 and later served a while as a bed & breakfast. Guedon took it over in 1999. Most of the original rooms have been combined into larger spaces so that they can have private baths but 12 (6 cowgirl & 6 cowboy) remain their original size with groups of three sharing a bath. All rooms are reasonably priced but these are a real bargain. Someone traveling solo and looking for a comfortable stop for the night can find it here for about thirty bucks. For the curious, here's a look inside the rooms. My own room is on top; A cowgirl room below.

I got some new views by driving down a older alignment of Sixty-Six toward McConnico. I had seen this road from the "current" route on the other side of the canyon but had never driven it. The road ends after about six miles and the last picture was taken on the return leg. It is of that same narrow curve shown in the second photo. Wouldn't you just love to see some guy in a Hummer encounter his buddy in a new Escalade here going the opposite way?

This is Cool Springs Camp. The place where my first trip down Sixty-Six sort of ended in 1999. I slid off the road here and, although I made it to Santa Monica in a rental and was able to drive my own car home a few days later, I missed Barstow and San Bernardino (and don't forget Oatman). Obviously the spot has some "special" meaning for me but it's also pretty special for the changes I have seen. In '99 it was just a couple of broken off stone pillars. In '03 there was a locked building here and signs of activity were very evident. Today there is a going business with expansion well underway. Owner Ned Leuchtner wasn't here today but chief builder and restorer Dennis DeChenne was. That's Dennis feeding Nedley the roadrunner. Nedley is a regular at the station and clearly has no fear of humans. Ned knows about the camp's mascot but has not yet seen it. Whether or not he knows the bird's name is uncertain.

Up the hill and through the pass. The last two pictures both show the same horseshoe curve a bit over two miles west of Sitgreaves Pass. In the first one, a motorcyclist can be seem heading down hill after rounding the curve. The last photo shows a bicyclist (Yes, the kind with pedals!) heading uphill approaching the curve. Since taking the picture I have heard that a London bobby is biking the road east from San Bernardino. I have yet to verify if that was who I saw.

ADDENDUM: I've since met Kevan Ward, the biking bobby, in San Bernardino and know that it was someone else I saw approaching Sitgreaves on the 13th. Kevan and two buddies were set to leave San Bernardino on the 17th. Kevan is planning on pedaling all the way with the other two providing support and riding along part of the time. The ride is to benefit the Starlight Children's Foundation.

Burros and gunfight in Oatman. Behind the bickering outlaws you can see examples of the range of vehicles used to reach this no horse (lots of burros) town. Another example is the VW Beetle coming into town past a young burro casually sunning itself in the middle of the street.

This is the El Garces, the former Harvey House in Needes. Signs say it is being restored but you can see it has a long way to go.

I knew of Goff's Schoolhouse and had firm plans to stop here. What I didn't know, and it's my own fault, is that there is much more than a schoolhouse here. The schoolhouse is the centerpiece, and it has been accurately restored, but loads of local history is on display in the area surrounding the building. A recommended stop.

Leaving Goff's I was struck by how tired I was. Partially, no doubt, the results of spending the last two nights beside some very active rails. It was also later than I wanted it to be so, when I encountered I-40, I went for the on ramp. But when I came to Kelbaker Road I reconsidered. I was curious to see what the new owners were doing at Amboy and I figured it couldn't make that much difference. I guess I could have saved the time because it appears that not a whole lot has actually changed here. There are five new seats by the road (four enclosed) but everything else looks about the same.

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