DAY 2 – LA to Needles

I’m awake at about 7.30am and Pádraig follows at 8.30.  The idea of staying awake to adjust to the time zone seems to have worked.  We are both on California time already.  No real feeling of jetlag.

Meet Suaimhneas

Meet Suaimhneas

Car hire

We get organised and leave to get the car at 10.30am.  While I had already filled in all the details online for the self service kiosk in Alamo, when I get to the Kiosk it tells me that I have to go to the manned service desk.  According to the guy at the desk, it doesn’t recognise foreign driving licences.  Strange for an international airport car hire kiosk. The kiosk asks where you are from and has a drop down list for you to choose from.  Anyway, there was no queue at the desk and we were out looking at cars in minutes.

I booked an SUV through USCarhire having got advice on TripAdvisor.  It quotes an all inclusive price with a number of levels depending on how many drivers you want and what type of insurance you want.  I got the 2nd of 4 I think. It had one extra driver free and all have free different location drop-off.  You get to pick a car from the lot of the standard that you have booked.  So we had a choice of standard SUV’s.  We both eyed the red Dodge Journey.  Pádraig suggested that one of us sit in the car while the other checked out the rest. I sat in and Pádraig had a look at the other 5 or 6 options.  Two of the options were for open back cars. To my mind they are pick-up trucks not cars.  Another option was a smaller size jeep.  So, we stuck with the first impressions.

We will be driving “Suaimhneas” Pronounced “Suvness”(Irish for Comfort) – SUV/Suaimhneas, get it??  One thing I like is it has loads of hidden storage compartments.

1st journey – LA to Needles, California.

Considering we will be moving so much, being able to just leave some of the stuff in the car is necessary, so having the secret storage is great.  It also has no less than 4 charging slots and a USB charging slot.  Great for keeping the phones and computers charged.

So, I take the first drive so that Pádraig can navigate. Navigation is not my forte.  We drive a couple of blocks to the AT&T store to sort out a SIM.  Then it’s back to the hotel to pack up and hit the road.

We left LA from the Sheraton Gateway at around 12.20.  We had been trying to decide whether to go via Joshua Tree National Park or via Route 66.  We decided on Route 66 so that if we got bored or tired of it we could just get back on the main Freeway and drive direct.  Google maps says this takes about 4hours 15.  So off we went out of LA. We got on the Freeway quickly and easily thanks to Pádraig’s navigation and the new US SIM card allowing us to GPS the route.

We planned to get out of LA before eating.  But then we had to find somewhere to get off the Freeway.  We watched out for a place called the Summit Inn which seemed to have good reviews.  With the mountain views we were seeing on the highway, we reckoned having a Summit view might be nice, but it wasn’t to be. We went past what looked like a small diner but didn’t look like it would have a Summit.  We kept going thinking that maybe it was just a billboard for the Summit Inn but it wasn’t, so we missed it.  We got to the next town and found a choice of fast food outlets. We picked Denny’s .  Pádraig had a burger and chips.  I had…….. Rashers, 2 eggs, some kind of grated potato mix, salad………and now it gets weird…..blueberry pancakes with fresh strawberries, jam and cream. It came with maple syrup (presumably for the pancake, not the rasher and eggs).  When we were finished our meal, we were asked if we would like desert!  “No, thanks, I just had some”.

Bottles everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Bottles everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Back on Route 66, we make a stop at Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch Oro Grande.  We had a great chat with Elmer. You would think that he is a bit eccentric considering the ranch, which is mainly a collection of old bottles used to make bottle trees as well as old junk but he is actually very normal. He tells us all about his accident last April, which has left him in a wheelchair for at least 4 months.

He told a funny story about his wife getting angry at him for trying to get into the kitchen (which has a large step down). The 2nd time he did it she “slugged” him across the face.  He got such a shock he didn’t know what to do. – But as he said, he knew what not to do – Don’t go in the kitchen!!!

By the way, when I say the place is full of old junk, I really believe he could make money out of some of it – old sewing machines, and old saxophone etc., but that doesn’t seem to be what he is about.  He just enjoys collecting it and making it look nice in his yard. Everyone to their own!

We went into Daggett – very boring, Calico Ghost town closes at 4pm. We reached it at 4.30 so didn’t get to see it.  We had a pitstop near Goffs and saw the sunset over the Mojave Desert.

Sunset over the Mojave Desert

Sunset over the Mojave Desert

We arrived in Needles around 8.30pm, but spend another 25 minutes going on and off the highway looking for our hotel.

Arrived at “America’s Best Value Inn”, Needles at 9pm.  Same time as most places close!  We ask for a recommendation for food. We have to travel back onto the highway to get to Juicy’s Restaurant.

Steak Salad, hits the spot.  Pádraig has a pork steak. Pork was a bit too spicy.  Service was great.  Waiter asks all about Ireland because he has a friend from Ireland (unusually, there is no claim of ancestry).  We finish up early and head for bed.

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