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Google Maps Street View comes to the Grand Canyon January 31, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Maps, Photographs.
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Route 66 fans often use Street View on Google Maps to vicariously travel the Mother Road, as this demonstration video from 2010 shows:

Now, Street View has arrived at one of the most popular side trips for Route 66 travelers — Grand Canyon National Park.

According to Google’s official blog today, Google Maps now offers more than 75 miles of the Grand Canyon’s trails and roads in a 360-degree panoramic images.

Google didn’t use camera-equipped cars this time, but hikers with camera-equipped backpacks. It posted this demonstration video of its Grand Canyon efforts:

Google wrote:

This breathtaking imagery collection was made possible with the Trekker. Our team strapped on the Android-operated 40-pound backpacks carrying the 15-lens camera system and wound along the rocky terrain on foot, enduring temperature swings and a few muscle cramps along the way. Together, more than 9,500 panoramas of this masterpiece of nature are now available on Google Maps.

So no matter where you are, you don’t have to travel far or wait for warmer weather to explore Grand Canyon National Park. Check out some of our favorite views on our World Wonders site where you can find more information, facts and figures about the Grand Canyon, or in the updated Street View gallery, and happy (virtual) hiking!

It wouldn’t surprise me to see a few of Google’s hikers take on La Bajada Hill in New Mexico or some of the more-obscure alignments of Route 66 in future projects.

French restaurant opens in historic Los Angeles building January 31, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Restaurants.
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The Schaber’s Cafeteria building in 2010.

A French restaurant recently opened in the historic building that once housed Schaber’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles, near the original western terminus of Route 66, according to the Los Angeles Downtown News.

Schaber’s and its building opened at 618 S. Broadway in 1928, less than two years after the federal government officially commissioned U.S. 66. Schaber’s closed in that location in 1947. Now, the Mgaieth family is trying to bring vitality back to that site.

According to the newspaper:

In December, the family completed a $2 million renovation of the space that was heavily damaged in the 1992 riots, at which time its main occupants were not Schaber’s, but rather a Carl’s Jr. and a Foot Locker.

The space has been reborn as Les Noces Du Figaro, a 16,000-square-foot, two-level restaurant with a bakery, take-out counter, bar, deli and room for a future lounge and live music. [...]

Under the Bringing Back Broadway initiative, which 14th District City Councilman José Huizar launched five years ago, the street has seen a rapid acceleration of activity. New restaurants including Umamicatessen and Two Boots have opened. Destination businesses such as the Ace Hotel and Ross Dress for Less are under construction.

Still, Figaro stands out for the compelling design, the size of the investment and the French cuisine.

“From the visual appeal of the building’s historic architecture and the restaurant’s design to the incredible food, I was really impressed,” Huizar said in an emailed statement. “The Mgaieth family clearly love what they’re doing and have put their heart and soul into this restaurant.”

After many years in Paris, the Mgaieth family moved to the United States six years ago and successfully ran the Figaro Bistrot in L.A.

Business was slow when the newspaper visited the Broadway restaurant, but the family’s track record provides hope that the new eatery will eventually prosper.

An excellent primer on the history of Schaber’s Cafeteria can be read here.

(Hat tip to Scott Piotrowski)

Memories of the Coral Court and Tri-County Truck Stop January 30, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Motels, Restaurants.
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A YouTube account by the name of Hudson501 uploaded this video from 1991 of the Coral Court Motel in St. Louis and the Tri-County Truck Stop in Villa Ridge, Mo. — both of them Route 66 landmarks.

The art deco-inspired Coral Court met its demise with a wrecking ball in 1995, and the truck stop closed in 2006.

Company makes replica Route 66 gas pumps January 29, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations.
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Well, this video in my YouTube feed certainly got my attention.

Gas Pump Heaven, a company based in Omaha, Neb., posted this video today of its newest replica gasoline pumps:

Best of all, the pumps are made in America.

I didn’t see the pumps on the company’s website, but similar commemorative gas pumps it offers range in price between $600 and $1,200. If you drop them a line, they’d probably be happy to talk to you about them. Based on the video, the owner seems to be a roadie himself.

A profile of the folks behind Becky’s Barn January 29, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, People.
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Mark Rivera of WAND-TV in Decatur, Ill., has been posting some of his stories to YouTube. The latest is his whimsical profile of Becky and Rick Hargett of Becky’s Barn antique store, visitors center, and snack shop on an old brick alignment of Route 66 near Auburn, Ill.

I think this video was made last year. I haven’t found anything about a Route 66 festival in nearby Carlinville in 2013, although there was one last summer.

Becky’s Barn also is on Facebook, and the account is updated regularly.

Jim Hinckley stars in an upcoming travel video series January 28, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Road trips, Towns.
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Longtime readers will know of Jim Hinckley, an author based out of Kingman, Ariz., who wrote “The Route 66 Encyclopedia” and other related books.

This video popped up in my feed over the weekend. Apparently Hinckley is getting into video as well:

The video was uploaded by Norman Fisk of Diamond Valley Productions, which produced “Route 66 Arizona” and other DVDs. The description of the video says:

Diamond Valley Productions upcoming project with noted historian and author Jim Hinckley will start shooting soon. Stay Tuned. The first episode will cover Kingman, Arizona and Mohave county along Route 66. Check www.diamondvalleyproductions.com for updates.

I emailed Hinckley for more details. Here is his response, lightly edited:

Norm Fisk … and I were talking about various projects during the work on the Route 66 video, and over the past few months as he finalized a promotional video for Kingman. Several weeks ago he asked if a video series based on my adventures would be of interest. Even though I have honed a few onscreen skills with various television interviews, this was uncharted territory. Still, as a catalyst for my work is to promote and encourage travel it seemed a logical next step.

So, we initiated work on the first video last week with a drive to Oatman. As this was where I grew up, it allowed me to get a feel for the process in a setting that was familiar. As a bonus, it gave me an opportunity to share memories of Ed of Ed’s Camp, to show segments of the National Old Trails Highway in the Black Mountains, and other locations.

The theme for the first video in this series will be Kingman as an overlooked destination on Route 66. We are looking at a 30-minute format with the inclusion of places like Haulapai Mountain Park, ghost towns such as Cerbat, Hackberry, and Mineral Park, and sites in the historic district. Long term, we are looking at focusing on other segments of Route 66 and a few detours, such as the Johnson Canyon Railroad tunnel near Ash Fork, the Williamson Valley Road from Seligman, and the old road from Williams to Jerome that provides access to White Horse Lake.

It sounds like an exciting project for both Hinckley and the Mother Road in that part of Arizona.

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