Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Day 52 -- So what happened to Route 66?

The plan today was to drive straight through to Laguna Hills for a visit with my brother and his family. I decided to continue driving on Route 66 until I hit the California state line and then switch to I-40. Route 66 would take me through some small towns and up over a mountain pass. It didn't work out that way.

I followed Route 66 through Kingman and through what appeared to be some sort of industrial area. Suddenly I found myself passing under I-40 and then in front of the car was a sign for Route 66 with arrows pointing right and left. Strange. I would have thought I should go straight. I took the left turn to go west and found myself on the I-40 on-ramp. I really think I should have gone straight, but the arrows said "Take your pick: right or left." I never saw another sign for Route 66 until I got to the point where I would have joined the interstate at the state line. No wonder the old road died. Weird directional signs routed people away from it. Conspiracy?

The gas prices in California are out of this world. From $2.75 a gallon at the last place I saw in Arizona, I ended up at a bump-in-the-interstate place that was charging $3.55. I only got two gallons and then got a fill-up in Victorville at $3.02.

After driving for 3 hours I took at break at a rest area and finished off the salad I'd had for dinner. (Interestingly, many budget motel rooms I've been in lately have refrigerators and microwaves.) I saw some ravens flying around and wondered whether they would raid the trash for any lettuce I didn't eat. Or maybe some of the cheese. Yes. I know they are meat eaters, but if you're hungry you might eat what you can get.

No sooner had I deposited the plastic bag and styrofoam clam-shell take-out container in the trash than a raven came over and started digging around. He was taking bites of something -- maybe the leftover cheese -- but mostly was pecking holes in the styrofoam and trying to pull out the plastic bag using his beak and foot. He finally dumped the now-empty styrofoam container on the ground and tackled the next layer of trash: leftovers from a fast-food joint. That's what he was really after. Ravens and crows recognize food wrappers. Unfortunately for the raven there was nothing but crumbled up paper wrappers, which he tossed to the ground.

When people walked past, the raven would fly away until the coast was clear. One woman came and set some little cinnamon rolls of the edge of the trash receptacle. The raven ignored them. Apparently he was only interested in meat. When I went over to pick up the trash he'd flung about, I noticed that the lettuce from my salad was in the receptacle. He'd just dumped it out.

After Barstow I began to see smoke in the sky. As I travelled further west, the smoke got thicker. At a few places the ground was obviously charred, and at one point I passed through an area that was burned on both sides of the highway. The winds seem to have died down, so maybe the fires will soon be under control. Here in Laguna Hills it looks like a thunderstorm is imminent, but it's the smoke. They'd love to get a heavy rain.

Not sure what's in the works for the next few days. Maybe I'll have time to organize the photos I've taken.

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