Happy Trails #8 – Thelma and Luke (Louise)

After retrieving my phone from the tough security people at the Stratosphere and suffering a bit of a come down, following a packed weekend at Vegas, we hit the road once again under our own steam. Cruising across the Nevada border line, we hit the Mojave Desert State Park. This is the kind of driving that would be envious of the most petrol-headed connoisseur. As soon as you turn off the freeway, the road opened amongst desert rolling hills. Like Thelma and Louise, we road-tripped through the state, just without Pitt and driving off a cliff.

The mother road, Route 66, is actually only partly in existence, where it fell under disuse following the introduction of the freeways after the war. Just like Disney’s ‘Cars’, towns which had originally built up commerce serving vast migrants moving to California in the gold rush, were abandoned as traffic ceased to pass through. Angel Delgadillo is known as the ‘Father of the Mother Road’ and has campaigned tirelessly to preserve what’s left of the historic route; his hometown Seligman, Arizona is the inspiration of the Cars film. Not only does his burger joint serve the best sweet potato fries in the state (to which I can personally vouch) but is also home to the original Lightening McQueen and Mater resting up in the yard.

The freeway isn’t the only human invention to kill off an entire town. Calico is a ghost town founded in the 1800s when silver was discovered. Now abandoned, the town’s been rebuilt with gingerbread architecture and facades of what tourists would expect in a western town. Considering that the gold and silver rush has really shaped the history of this state, it’s something that’s not really mentioned – missed a trick at Calico.

Finally we hit our motel at Palm Springs, the glamourous weekend pad of golden aged stars. Marilyn was discovered by her agent, Johny Hyde at the Palm Springs Racquet Club and Frank Sinatra once threw a glass in rage at Ava Gardner after an explosive fight and use to hoist a Jack Daniels flag at his Twin Palms Bachelor Pad to signal cocktail hour to his other showbiz pals, Hope, Martin and Davis Jr. All have been commemorated with their own drives. Today, the desert resort has tried to recapture some of that loungy feel with Art Deco inspired buildings and warm nights, where crooners serenade the good time-gals and gents strolling the pavements. After a morning soaking up the sun, channeling Sophie Loren, we headed to LA, our final stop.

 

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