Greetings from the Road – L.A. to Flagstaff


Bye bye Saturn…

Hello from the road! We had a late start getting out of L.A. and weren’t able to set out on our cross country drive until 7:00 p.m. Sunday evening.

Although our POD arrived on schedule, the crew we’d hired to pack it were a little late — try five hours late. Mercury retrograde notwithstanding, they did an awesome job of fitting all our stuff into what turned out to be very close quarters.

After padlocking the POD, we packed the car and merged onto the freeway that same evening. We  got as far as Barstow. An exhausting past two days had rapidly caught up with us. We needed to stop and sleep.

Barstow, located where the I-15 meets the I-40, is a glaringly hot and dusty place that’s overrun with fast food restaurants. A sort of gateway to the Mojave, it’s a depressing town you don’t want to visit (or eat in — years ago, I had a frightening gastronomical encounter on Main St. with liquified guacamole — so grossly unappetizing, I will never forget it).

The best thing about Barstow was our accommodations at the Holiday Inn Express.

The next morning, we merged onto the I-40 and headed for Kingman, a town equally as dismal, and located right over the AZ border. Was it hot! The dashboard thermometer climbed to 108 degrees as we passed through towns teetering on the brink of phantasmagoria, like Ludlow and Amboy, with their boarded up, bombed out, graffitied cafes and motels and dearth of humans.

We arrived in Kingman in time for a late lunch. Our destination was the Calico Restaurant. The veggie burger on the menu may not be the best in the world, but, at least, its edible. Desert cuisine is always a challenge for vegetarians, like us. You can eat just. so. many. grilled. cheese. sandwiches.


Meet Dee, our friendly waitress at the Calico Restaurant.

J.C. asked Dee if he could take her picture, because he’d had a dream the night before our trip, in which he was taking photos of all the people he met on our drive across country.

Of course, the photo-taking initiated a conversation. We discovered that Dee grew up on a ranch in Fresno, CA. As a kid, the only time she’d ever escaped from the ranch, she told us, was when her parents sent her to a Christian camp in Oklahoma.

Only until after she got married did she get to leave Fresno. When her kids were grown and her first marriage ended, she got married for a second time and moved to Alabama.

“My last husband had terrible arthritis and couldn’t stand the cold,” she said, which was why the two of them moved to Kingman. She started waitressing at the Calico not long after that.

In 2001, her husband died, and thirteen years later, she’s still in Kingman. She likes Kingman, she says, because it’s quiet.

Now, there’s an understatement.

Next stop: Flagstaff.


At 4:00 p.m., we arrived at the Hotel Monte Vista on San Francisco St. I wouldn’t say the hotel offers theme rooms, exactly, but each room is named after  a Hollywood movie star (mostly from old westerns) who’d supposedly stayed in that room.

During our stay this time, we were issued the Walter Brennan (Grandpa McCoy) room. Not that exciting. We’re fans of the Lee Marvin room because of the rugged pair of leather cowboy boots (with zippers, no less) that hang on the wall. It wasn’t available.

Transfixed by the majesty of the Grand Canyon during our first visit two years ago, we’ve returned to Flagstaff six times since. And every time, we’ve stayed at the Monte Vista and visited the Canyon.

We arrived on Monday a little after 4:00 p.m. We deposited our bags in the room, quickly got back in the car and then hightailed it up Rte. 89. We hoped to catch the sunset over the Grand Canyon on what could be our last visit for a long time to come.

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One Response to “Greetings from the Road – L.A. to Flagstaff”

  1. Roberta Says:

    It brought back such great memories seeing the lobby of the hotel. Isn’t great making new memories! We are in the back seat with you. Hey I see some fry bread!

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