We’ve done it!
We arrived at sunny Los Angeles, California and found the end of Route 66 sign in Santa Monica and had the mandatory photos taken with it to show the end of our journey. A sense of sadness, huge sense of achievement and wonderful satisfaction of an ambition that had been completed all at the same time. Route 66 has been completed with our total mileage being around 3200 miles or so with about ten fuel stops during the course of the trip. However the official miles of the Mother Road is a total of 2451 miles. The reason for the extra miles is that my wonderful wife Lynn, wanted to stop off at each and every shopping mall that we came across, it’s nothing to do with the extra detours that I wanted to do of course, no way. Yes, I appreciated that we needed supplies along the way, but as for the other shopping stuff such as clothes and shoes, I’m not so sure about. The suitcases are full to bursting point and the credit card has had a good battering. But hey, it has all been worth it. Here we both are at the end of the (mother) road, literally.
We had a spot of lunch at Ruby’s Diner before we spent some time on the beach to relax and take it all in.
While in California the other thing that has to be done is see the Hollywood sign on Mt. Lee. In 1923 the Hollywood Sign is built as a huge, illuminated advertisement for the upscale real estate development, Hollywoodland. The Sign costs $21,000 and includes thirteen 50-foot high letters constructed of 3′ X 9′ panels and painted white. Using mule teams and tractors, the panels are hauled up Mt. Lee and secured to frames constructed of pipes, wires, and telephone poles. Four thousand 20-watt light bulbs are mounted on the letters and spaced 8″ apart. In late 1923 the Sign is turned on and the result is dazzling. The developers expect the Sign to last about a year. In 1949 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce enters into a contract with the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Parks and Recreation to repair and rebuild the Sign and remove the “land” so that it would spell “Hollywood.” The cost is estimated at $4,000. The light bulbs are long gone and the City stipulates that any new illumination would be at the expense of the Chamber. The Chamber gives the Sign a complete makeover. Over the next 30 years the Sign would require constant repairs, and sometimes the celebrities would help. In 1978 after the Gloria Swanson makeover five years previously, termites have infested the wood and an “O” has tumbled down the mountain. Arsonists set fire to the bottom of an “L.” The City decides the Sign would have to be completely rebuilt at a cost of $250,000, ten times the cost of the original. Hugh Hefner steps in and throws a lavish fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion to raise funds for the rebuilding costs. To raise the additional funds needed to restore the Sign, celebrities and community leaders sponsor individual letters at $27,500 a piece. Alice Cooper sponsored an “O” in honour of Groucho Marx. Other letters are sponsored by Andy Williams and Gene Autry, among others. In August 1978 the old Sign is demolished and for the first time in more than 50 years, “Angelenos” are without the Sign for three months. Workers pour 194 tons of concrete to anchor the Sign, and helicopters drop a massive new steel frame in place. Placing on the corrugated baked enamel letters was the final step. In November 1978 the new Sign, four stories high, 450-feet long and weighing 480,000 lbs., is unveiled on Hollywood’s 75th Anniversary celebration in November 1978 live to a television audience of 60 million. Each letter is 45 ft tall and between 31 and 39 ft wide, the sign sits just over 1,500 feet up the side of Mt. Lee.
On our way looking for a good vantage point to see the Hollywood sign we found a Ford Galaxy tucked away.
That’s it, our monumental journey is over and we are soon to be travelling back to the UK. The memories will stay with us forever of all the fantastic places we have visited and seen, not forgetting all the wonderful people we have met along the way. We have had an amazing time yet again here in the wonderful USA, we can be very proud to say that we have genuinely travelled across America and seen some of the worlds most iconic sites. It only leaves me to say a couple of things to all the people who have followed our journey on Route 66 and left us kind messages.