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City will redevelop its Route 66 December 28, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Gas stations, Highways.
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The Route 66 town of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., will redevelop its portion of the Mother Road, including building a new bridge, that will carry a Route 66 theme, reported the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

As part of a Foothill Boulevard widening project, the bridge near Baker Avenue will be torn down and replaced with a new one. The project will be one of several City Hall ventures in 2010. [...]

The $15 million project will spruce up Foothill Boulevard on the western part of the city. The street will be widened to six lanes, sidewalks will be constructed and the old bridge will be replaced. Route 66 themes will be incorporated in the design. [...]

Traffic will be rerouted during the removal of the bridge, which is expected to take no more than two days, said Lam. Currently the city is relocating utility lines. The bridge is scheduled to come down by next fall.

I don’t know of anything historic that might be standing in the way of the redevelopment. The city council a few months ago took great pains to make sure an abandoned but notable gas station from the 1920s was declared a city landmark, but that’s all of which I’m recently aware.

Meditations with music December 27, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Music.
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Here’s a remarkable story in the Los Angeles Times about the Church of Beethoven, which is less than a block off an old alignment of Route 66 in Albuquerque and has its beginnings on the Mother Road.

The whole thing is worth reading, but this excerpt captures the place’s purpose well enough:

It’s not really a church, of course, but it’s not quite a standard concert series either. Its intent, Wurman said, is part entertainment, part spiritual awakening.

Wurman, 51, was a cellist with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra when, two years ago, he played a church gig that inspired him. It wasn’t the theology he liked — Wurman isn’t religious. It was the ecstasy of the music, and the warmth of the parishioners enjoying it together.

He had an idea: “How about a church that has music as its principal element, rather than as an afterthought?”

He recruited other musicians from the symphony, and together, in an abandoned gas station off old Route 66, they began playing concerts each Sunday.

More and more people started coming (“I just leave here feeling really soul-satisfied,” explained one regular, Veronica Reed, 68, who said it was a treat to see symphony members perform up close), and after a couple of years, the concert series outgrew the space.

The story reminds me of the old quotation: “God gave us music that we might pray without words.” And Beethoven reportedly said: “I despise a world which does not feel that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.”

The Church of Beethoven meets at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday at 1715 Fifth St. in Albuquerque, just a short walk from the Fourth Street alignment of Route 66.

The sad part is that founder Felix Wurman died on Saturday, just a few hours after the Times’ article was published. However, Wurman’s colleagues have made it clear they will continue the tradition that he started.

A pie-in-the-sky place December 27, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, People, Restaurants.
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Longtime roadie Dave Hoekstra of the Chicago Sun-Times takes a closer look at the restored and historic Palms Grill Cafe on old Route 66 in Atlanta, Ill.

Apparently the restaurant, in addition to its old-time atmosphere, is making a name for itself because of its pies. And an Albanian immigrant named Lumi Bektoshi, who is working in the restaurant’s kitchen, deserves a lot of the credit.

And here is where my favorite travel story of the year begins: Lumi’s pies became the grill’s most popular item. So Thomas thought it would be fun to enter Lumi’s pies in a competition at this year’s Illinois State Fair.

Lumi had never heard of a state fair. She only started baking pies in April. Even so, Lumi wound up winning a first-place blue ribbon for her peach pie, a first-place blue ribbon for her apple pie and a third-place ribbon for her black raspberry. [...]

The Palms Grill reopened in April. Since then, Lumi has mastered apple, pecan, cherry, rhubarb, black raspberry, blueberry, gooseberry, pumpkin and sour cream raisin pies. [...]

Lumi’s favorite is her peach pie. Black raspberry and peach are the best sellers ($2.95 for an ample slice).

It sounds as though the Palms may be getting a reputation that will eventually match other highly regarded Route 66 pie palaces, such as the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas, and A Slice of Pie in Rolla, Mo.

Merry Christmas, everyone December 25, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Television.
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A Christmas video December 24, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events.
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I was surfing around for a Yuletide-themed video that takes place on Route 66, and here’s a good one.

It’s a video by reader and occasional contributor Ace Jackalope. It’s of City Hall in Joplin, Mo., with its Christmas displays.

Ace writes:

This is all the cooler because the building used to be Newman’s department store. In fact, the displays were designed by Fred Lemley, former marketing manager of Newman’s.

Also, City Hall is on Route 66 – 602 S Main St, on the SW corner of 6th and Main streets.

The display reminds me of the elaborate displays once seen at Marshall Fields in Chicago. Or, better yet, Higbee’s from a certain popular Christmas movie.

A tribute to Bob December 23, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Publications.
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Of all of the obituaries I’ve read since Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire died last week, this one by the Guadalupe County Communicator in Santa Rosa, N.M., is the best.

Those who know anything about the Communicator wouldn’t be surprised by the story’s excellence. But if you aren’t familiar with the newspaper, go here.

More scenes from the Mojave December 23, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Road trips, Towns.
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Claudia Heller continues her ongoing series about Route 66 through California’s Mojave Desert.

The latest edition focuses on a few tiny burgs in the middle of the desert, including this one little stop I’d forgotten about:

Traveling west from Fenner on Route 66 the next stop is Essex. Once a bustling town, it historically offered tourists a choice of cafes, markets and all-important garages with on-duty mechanics. Despite these amenities, the town was best known as a place where you could get a free drink. So scarce was water in the desert, the restaurants charged for drinking and radiator water. To the rescue was the Auto Club of Southern California which established a free drinking fountain built to resemble an old-fashioned wishing well. Sitting just yards off the highway, the fountain remains intact today, albeit a bit cockeyed and out of order! You can view it and take photos today while traversing in an air conditioned modern automobile.

Of course, another place built its fortune on the idea of free ice water to travelers. That wasn’t in the middle of the Mojave, though.

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