The only place to visit today was the bottle tree ranch. I came to know about this place when seeing An Idiot Abroad, a British TV show made by Ricky G and Stephen M with Karl P. They are absolutely funny guys. They are the sort of guys who exhibit typical British sense of humor which I admire a lot. The bottle tree ranch was definitely in my wish list when I sat down a week ago, planning 66.
I had my breakfast in a nearby cafe. The ranch is couple of hours drive away, so I started driving again, on the road, on the highway. I entered California soon and the first thing on the road was Mojave county and Death valley. Funny thing about Death valley that I was watching an episode of Roadies, the Indian version of The Amazing Race and similar. There are bunch of people, doing tasks, vote outs, politics, bad mouth, friendships and betrayal. To keep the episodes interesting, there are some crazy people thrown in of course. And in this season, there was this one dumb girl. I don't remember the name, I think Divya or something but important thing is that she was dumb stupid girl. In this particular season, the roadies, as the people were liked to be called, were visiting USA and stopping at major cities, doing tasks and moving along. And in this episode they were doing a task and the setup was in Death Valley. This is what the girl said in the episode...
"This morning we received a scroll in which we were asked to get dressed and head to Death Valley for our next task. We were all clueless about the task and then the location, Death Valley! I didn't know what to expect but I was a bit scared. Will we be dead in Death Valley?"
And that is forever itched in my head. She butchered Death valley for me. This place is never going to intimidate me in my life because every time I'd hear the word Death valley, this would remind me of this stupid comment and I'd laugh. Yeah of course having a task setup in Death valley must be a ploy to kill the contestants, because the name of the place says it all. Idiots!
I kept thinking of this scene every time I saw a sign board saying Death valley, take this exit, Welcome to Death valley national park, Mojave County, the place of Death valley, driest place in the world.....funniest comment in my head.
One can clearly see the difference between California and other states. As soon as you enter, its valleys all around. One hill after another. One time you are pushing up a hill, another time you are sliding down a downhill. Remarkably different. Some stretches were so steep, there were sign boards saying to turn off car a/c to avoid engine over heating. I need not worry because I rarely used it in my trip. Slide open the windows a bit, and its natural a/c. I must say that I did use the a/c between 1-4pm, thats when its the hottest. But the morning drive was bit cooler. Good thing that my car came off the hill drive fine. I was already assured of my tires, wise thing that I replaced all, but everything else went ok.
I arrived at the tree ranch. There were 2-3 people knocking around taking pictures, but otherwise it was a quiet place. I like places like this. It brings peace of mind. Serene. But here were interesting things to see. First of all, there are all sorts of garbage bottles in there, plastic or glass. And I think as a mark of leaving their impressions, some people bring in there own bottles, and stick them up on the hangars, instead of throwing them in a bin. I don't know if it can be called an art. I mean, it is some form of it. But its just a buildup of waste. Apart from the bottles, there were some old typewriter, wind speed indicators, campus, nails, maps, broken furniture. There was a shady cabin but nobody was in there. I don't expect the owner of the place living here, let alone someone else. You don't have a pleasant backyard to look into if you live here, right.
Gotta move on now. Few more hours of driving and I'll be in Santa Monica. As I approached the nearby bigger cities, there was heavy traffic. I was used to two lane highways with scant vehicles ahead and behind, for past 5 days, but now suddenly there is 5-6 lane highway with hundreds of cars around. The flow was still good, I wasn't going below 50mph anytime, but there were lots of vehicles. Welcome to California.
Bright sunny days, packed highways, hot and humid, polluted air, expensive gas and lots of beaches. California here I come. Soon I was in Santa Monica pier. It was monday after noon, yet there was a decent crowd. I couldn't find a parking spot nearby so had to park a little further. I walked to the pier and found the Route66 sign board. This is it. I've made it. There was a crowd and people were piling up to take their pictures. And most of them didn't even deserve to take the picture with the 66 sign because they didn't do the drive, did they? I, most of them all, deserved it. They should've made way for me. They should've taken my picture. I waited for couple of minutes and found a free window. I handed the phone a nearby spectator and he obliged to take my picture. Job well done! 66 is done and off my list.
Now that I'm on the other side, I reminisced my train of thoughts before I started on the road. I'm although very safe driver, but I do not trust others. There are many assholes out there. This being a 2400 miles trip spanning over a week, I was very worried that I'll be in a road accident. Thankfully, except for the burned out tire, everything else was fine. Also the tire incident happened outside the highways which was a blessing.
I thought to keep an email ready to be sent to Ritesh, my Chicago friend, in case there is an emergency, and the email would contain my family member's contact number and addresses along with username/passwords of my various accounts. I trust him that he would do the right thing because if I were in his place, I'd have done the same. I was hugely relieved that I will not be needing this email now, at least till my next such big adventure. I was very pleased with the trip, personally and I look at it as an achievement. Something that I'll cherish for a long time. Very few people fortunate enough get to do 66 and now I belong to that club. The trip was over about time when I was getting frustrated. It had been a week already and that too, alone.