With one more city to go our Rise and Shine at the University of Las Vegas was a brief one, to get us out of the intense heat. Unfortunately there isn’t a quick method for several hundred MINIs to leave Las Vegas, so we weren’t on the Interstate until 10 AM. The route took us to a section of old Route 66 and we decided to take it, even though we were tired and it would add an hour to the drive.
When we first exited to go to Route 66 in Oatman, Arizona there was a nice sign commemorating the significance of the road. Once considered “Amerca’s Main Street,” Route 66 was the main thoroughfare for traveling businessmen, buses and tourists who traveled from Chicago to LA. On this first stretch it was a bit depressing to see the condition of the road and the desolate land around it, with dilapidated mobile homes and abandoned cars. It looked a bit like a scene from a Mad Max movie. The road was very bumpy which made for slow-going and at one point I almost decided to turn back.
As we inched toward the mountains, however, the scenery improved and the roads were better, so forged ahead. I could see on the GPS that we were heading to a twisty mountain road, and as we began the climb the excitement was building. I had the Garmin Virb XE running and knew then I would not regret my choice. As we continued to climb the views became more stunning and eventually we caught up to some other MINIs, which made the video even better. The road was narrow, and with the Beehive in tow the drive was a challenge even at a slow speed. This made me start thinking about people using this road as the main route to California from the East. Buses and trucks? Wow, it must have taken a week or more to cross the country this way and then there’s the heat! Incredible to think of it.
A sign warned of mule crossings for the next few miles and at the end of the mountain run there was a small tourist town with mules wandering about and people feeding them. Lots of MINIs had stopped there so we decided to keep moving, eventually working our way back to I-40 before taking U.S. 95 into Palm Springs. Now we were really in the desert, with nothing but scorched, barren land as far as you could see. This is one of the few places on the entire trip that we lost cell service for an extended length of time, and that made me cautious. With the outside temperature around 116 degrees, I cut the air-conditioning back and was monitoring the engine temperature the whole way.
Motoring on U.S. 95 was fun, with long stretches of roller-coaster hills that could make you leave your seat if you were going fast enough. Despite being such a barren stretch of road it was well-patrolled, and we encountered several law enforcement officers who were holding motorers to the posted 65 MPH speed limit.
And at the end of the road we were in Palm Springs, a striking town literally built at the foot of a beautiful mountain range. The outside temperature was approaching 120 degrees at this point and when we arrived at our RV Park I opened the MINI door and it felt like opening a door to an oven. The air was so hazy, probably from the intense heat, that you could barely see the mountains. I know at other times of the year the temperature is probably a lot nicer and therefore Palm Springs would be a wonderful place to be. But Palm Springs in July? A great place for camels but not for me.
We set up and hooked up and hustled over to the final night event at the Palm Springs Air Museum, which houses a wonderful collection of WWII and Vietnam era aircraft. The event was sponsored by MINI of Ontario (Ontario, California) and they spared no expense, with a wonderful spread of food, drinks and desserts for our final party. And then it was time for some final awards and announcements…
We made it! We motored 4,397 miles with stops in 14 states in 15 days and raised money for Feeding America to provide for more than 1 million meals along the way. And I was called to the stage for being one of the top-10 fund-raisers of the event, with more than $1,600 raised thanks to all your contributions. I was proud to stand up there with several of my friends who also placed in the top 10, including Pedro Tomas, David Lata and Dallas Wisehaupt. The team award went to Team MINIons, lead by my friend Bruce Nelson, and that team included many of my close MINI friends. So when someone asks me what I did for the last two weeks I can tell them I motored across the country with a bunch of my MINI friends and raised money for charity. How cool is that?
We left the party a little early to get some rest, knowing that we had a big day ahead of us. Tomorrow we would head to the Thermal Club for our final event, with some racing and many goodbyes before starting the long road home.