Monday, July 29, 2013

Santa Monica - The End Of Route 66

Lil Dude Troll on the Santa Monica Beach
 After beginning an epic Route 66 road trip in Chicago, the Troll family and their traveling friend Eeyore made it to the end of the Mother Road in Santa Monica. A bucket list item has now been checked off and a life-time of good memories made.

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Monet Troll on the Santa Monica Beach
Earth Troll on the Santa Monica Beach

The Troll Family's good friend, Traveling Eeyore made
the whole trip with them.
At the end of the Santa Monica Pier - as far as you can go
without getting wet!

At the Mariasol Restaurant on the Santa Monica Pier

Lunch of yummy Mariasol Mexican food
Lil Dude Troll on the Santa Monica Pier

Across the freeway in the Santa Monica hills
overlooking the pier and beach

Play time is over Lil Dude. Time to head back home.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch

Can you find Lil Dude Troll?
 Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch at 24266 National Trails Highway (Route 66) in Oro Grande, California is a must stop for travelers of the Mother Road. When you arrive, you know immediately you have arrived at some place different, a special place built and assembled by some special person.
Pull off the road and park on the narrow dirt strip in front of the "ranch." Bottles and a lot of odd, old stuff is everywhere. But this is not like a normal junk yard; this is an interesting, weirdly artful junk yard - bottle trees everywhere you look; typewriters, cash registers, wrist watches, galvanized tubs all arranged with various colored bottles to form what I guess would be called modern art or perhaps interpretive art would be a better name for it. Not hundreds of bottles, thousands and thousands of bottles. It's weird and it's interesting and you will have a great time just wondering around the place.
Elmer has spent a lot, a whole lot of time putting his
bottle tree ranch together
Elmer Long is the artist behind the Bottle Ranch. He used to go with his dad out into the desert and collect the objects they found, including many, many bottles. After his father passed away, Elmer was left with all of these bottles and other objects with no idea what to do with them. He finally decided to craft a bottle tree and in the year 2000 when he was finished, he liked the way the light shown through the bottles and the melody the wind created as it flowed over them so much that he decided to make another one. He hasn't stopped yet and now there are more than 200 "trees."
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Lil Dude has plenty of time on his hands.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Mother Taco of Taco Bell

In 1940, two brothers, Mac and Dick McDonald, opened a small eatery called McDonalds Bar-B-Que in San Bernardino. In addition to bar-b-que, they sold hamburgers. Eight years later, they were selling more hamburgers than plates of bar-b-que so they decided to revamp their restaurant and feature hamburgers as the main menu item. Since they would no longer be serving bar-b-que, they renamed their business to simply McDonalds. In 1954, milk shake mixer salesman Ray Croc came calling and was mightily impressed with the efficiency of the system the McDonalds brothers had designed.  He bought the business a year later, began franchising it, and the McDonalds chain of fast food restaurants was born.

Lil Dude in front of the Mitla Cafe at
602 N. Mt. Vernon, San Bernardino
Glen Bell, Jr. was born in 1923 and honorably served as a Marine in World War II. After being discharged in 1946, he settled in San Bernardino and in 1948 opened a hot dog stand he named Bell's Drive-In. In 1950, he sold his hot dog stand and opened another stand selling hot dogs and hamburgers - Bell's Hot Dogs and Hamburgers. His new place of business was in the West Side barrio of San Bernardino directly across the street from The Mitla Cafe, a Mexican restaurant that had been in business since 1937. The main item the Mitla Cafe was and is still famous for are their hard-shell taco's. Bell fell in love with them. After eating the tacos, he would go back to his place where he tried to figure out how to make them the way they were made at the Mitla Cafe. Try as he might though, the right combination of herbs and spices eluded him. Finally, in desperation, he began asking the owners of Mitla to teach him their secret.
A short time later, Bell began selling tacos through a side window of his business. The tacos proved so popular that between 1954 and 1955, he opened 3 Taco Tias stands. He took on a business partner, sold the 3 Taco Tias stands and opened 4 El Tacos stands in Long Beach.
Not in the safest part of town, chains and bars protect
the premises at night after closing
By 1962, the chain of McDonalds was proving to be very popular and they were opening up all over the place.  With McDonalds' continued growth right there at his back door, Bell decided they were too much competition and sold his hamburger place. He then sold his share of the 4 El Tacos to his partner and focused exclusively on selling tacos with his new place - Taco Bell. He franchised his business in 1964 and eventually sold 868 Taco Bells to PepsiCo in 1978 for $125 million. Today, the company is based in Irvine, California and has almost 7,000 locations which sell more than 2 billion tacos each year.
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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

London Bridge

Lil Dude Troll on the London Bridge in
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
The London Bridge in Lake Havasu City is the 1831 London Bridge which spanned the Thames River. By 1967, the granite bridge was worn and no longer able to safely support the amount of traffic going across it. The city put it up for sale. About this same time over in America, the Federal Government gave some land and an abandoned military airstrip to the state of Arizona. Located smack dab in the middle of nowhere in a very hot and barren desert, not even the state was really interested in owning it. A lake had been constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1938, but it was not developed and was only used to store water for pumping into 2 aqueducts.  

Along came Robert P. McCulloch, owner and chairman of the very successful McCulloch Oil Company, who had an idea. With the promise of developing the area around the lake, the state gave him the property for free.

Mr. McCulloch financed the building of roads and houses to sell to the public, but Mr. Robert Plumer, McCulloch's real estate agent and lead salesperson for the venture, was finding it almost impossible to get prospective buyers to go out to the property, much less buy a home there. He heard about the London Bridge being up for sale and, hoping to entice more prospects, he asked McCulloch to buy it for the property as a tourist attraction. After second and third thoughts, McCulloch finally agreed and purchased the bridge which had been deconstructed and stored in numbered blocks. Shipping the bridge to the site in Arizona was going to be very expensive, but then Plumer heard of a cargo shipping company who was bringing a newly built ship from England to America. The new ship was sailing empty so Plumer made a deal with the company to pay for all the operating expenses of getting the ship to America if the ship would bring the bridge with it. The blocks of granite were delivered at less than half of what it would have cost without the arrangement.
From the top, except for the British flags, it looks pretty much
like a lot of other bridges in America
A new concrete bridge in the shape and size of the original London Bridge was constructed on land along the east shore of Lake Havasu. After completion, the granite blocks from the London Bridge were trimmed and used to clad the new bridge. The whole process took a little more than 3 years to finish. Once it was completed, a canal was dredged under the bridge and filled with water from the lake.
McCullouch financed a big promotional push with the theme "come see the famous London Bridge!" and housing sales began to take off. Against all odds, Lake Havasu City was a success. With the land being given to him for free and with limited costs for the bridge, it wasn't long before Mr. McCullouch had made back his investment and was making a very nice profit.
London Bridge is no longer falling down, falling down,
falling down...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Troll at 3,333.33 Feet

Located at 120 W. Beale Street, Kingman, AZ.
In Kingman, Arizona just a couple of blocks off Route 66 is the Powerhouse Visitor Center. The Powerhouse was placed in business in 1907 to generate electricity for the city. It served in that capacity until 1938 when the Hoover Dam was completed and started providing all the electricity the city needed. The building sat unused for a few years until a group of citizens rescued it and transformed it into a Visitor Center. It also houses several other organizations, including "The Historic Route 66 Museum." The Route 66 museum is interesting and worth a visit in itself, but another intriguing reason to stop is because of a marker located about 12 feet up on the wall just to the right of the entrance. That marker is exactly 3,333.33 feet above sea level.  There is nothing magical or mystical about being 3,333.33 feet above sea level. It's just something different, another roadside oddity.

Lil Dude Troll at 3,333.33 feet above sea level
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