Rest In Peace, Aunt Joan

            A dear friend and remarkable woman died this month and we felt the need to share her story, a small part of it, with all of you.

            Joan Reinke Robles, Aunt Joan, was a most amazing woman.  She died at age 90 in Tucson. The circle of her life intersected with ours in just one, significant point but that was enough to make her our friend forever.

            Joan was a fashion model, police officer, social worker, book seller, juvenile probation officer, and you might even be able to call her a Beatnik.  It was her role as a police officer that ended up bringing her into our lives. 

            In 1952, she became the second female officer hired for enforcement duties, for the city of Tucson, Arizona.  She partnered with the first female officer, Alice who would become my mother-in-law and they became known as “The Suede Slipper Cops.”  They patrolled the streets of Tucson in plain clothes because they never got around to getting uniforms.  None were available for women at that time anyway.  The department used them for duties they saw fit for women; juvenile delinquents, flashers, and sexual assaults.  At a reunion a few years ago, I heard plenty of stories of Joan and Alice on patrol (Joan playing the ukulele while Alice drove). 

Alice (left) Joan (right) in "uniform"

Alice (left) Joan (right) in “uniform”

            Joan left the department and moved to San Francisco, living in an apartment on Telegraph Hill with a view of the bay.  Her circle of friends included artists, musicians, and poets from the area in the Beatnik era.  She returned to Tucson, married George Robles (Uncle George), who was then a lieutenant on Tucson PD.  The two strong personalities were not to be married and they divorced, but stayed near each other and had some kind of contact almost every day. 

            Joan became a book collector, specializing in Southwest Americana.  Her home became an amazing museum of her life, with artifacts from her travels around the world and her many careers. 

            In 2013, Spider, Bubba, and I reunited Joan and Alice and brought them to Tucson PD where they were greeted by many of the current female officers who thanked them for paving the way.

Joan (seated), Alice (standing) and Tucson PD

Joan (seated), Alice (standing) and Tucson PD

            Joan was a true “class act” and she will be missed by all whose lives she touched.

 

California Here We Come! Finally!

The first part of Route 66, on the eastern end, runs through Chicago and the farmlands of the Midwest.  There are tiny towns that have survived the move of the highway because the farming community was so strong.  On the western end, there is plenty of dessert.  When the highway moved and sped up there was no reason for most of the communities to exist and they dried in the heat.  Now they are in the process of blowing away, so I would suggest a visit before they are gone.

We gassed up and headed out once more.  At this station we pumped a lot of dust.

No Gas

While there wasn’t much in the way of food, we did find something to eat at the next stop.  They will serve chicken any way you want as long as it is dead.

Ded Cluck

I wasn’t sure I was on the right road.  I thought I would ask for some help.  These people looked like they knew Route 66 but maybe, just maybe, they had been on this road a little too long.  Even longer than me.

Road Weary

I stopped to ask this guy for directions.  I complemented him on his suit and he replied, “Thank you, thank you very much.”

An Elvi

I wanted to head in the right direction, but he told me he has been wandering on this road for decades.  He was just waiting for his two friends, Marilyn, and James to come back so they could head out again.  He said he won’t let James drive because he wrecked his last car.

Bubba N Bubba

Passing through the city of Hackberry where the PDA was supposedly invented.  I had a feeling I was still on Route 66.  At least that’s what the signs suggested.  We fueled up on Coca Cola and continued.

Hackberry General

After some extensive desert driving, Rick said the cola was getting to him.  IT must have been too much caffeine because he stopped and took a short hike in the desert to spend some quiet time with a small bush.

Nature Boy

We wound our way up the road and into the foothills for our cross into California.

hellroad

            Yes, that is the road.  Those pale squiggly lines winding up and over.  Just ignore the lack of guardrails and the rusted out hulks of cars that went over and could not be recovered.

LeftTurnLeftTurnLeftTurn

We made it to the thriving metropolis of Oatman just in time for the afternoon commute.

This is a group of locals just hanging out.

Oatman Commute

Too many donkeys were hanging around eating anything they came upon.  Not a good situation for a little guy like me.  I thought I would hide out back here for a bit.

Hide Bubba, Hide

We had to get through traffic and keep pressing on.  California can’t be far, let’s head out and find the Golden State.

11-25 Donkey

We made it!  We were back in California and back into civilization…Needles, California.

City o Needles

 

Back on the fast pace, we thought we would celebrate by stopping for a quick bite at the Roadrunner Café.

Roadrunner

We just missed closing time… last century.  This was East Amboy.  The real life is in the main square of Amboy itself.

Boy o Amboy

After that, a whole lot more of the dry side of Route 66.

MT Station

MT Market

MT tank

MugWumps?

I’m not sure what a Mugwump is.

We made it as far as Barstow and thought we would stop for the night.  This place had the nickname “Hotel California”.  Something about their checkout policy.  A beautiful place with no one around.

Train Hotel

We checked in and went to our room.  We tried to go to our room.  Yes, it was room 316.

Missing room

Tomorrow, we head for Los Angles, and the end of our road in Santa Monica.  The California roads must be much better, they have all the new technology to make the driving easier and the right way clearer.

Which Line?

Does The Desert Ever End?

Bubba has been on this Route 66 thing for a long, long time.  He is getting near the end of the trip but can’t seem to find his way out of the desert.

I’m back out on the road and I’m going to make up some time by zooming through the next part of the trip.  I found the original road again and nothing is going to get in my way.

Unless, of course, the road runs out again.

Shutdown

I can stop and ask this guy.  He looks like he is related to one of the giants I saw earlier in the trip.

Little Giant

He gave me some good advice because we looked like twins.  His shirt is my skin color.

CIMG2814

He suggested a night in one of the local hotels before shoving off.

This one seems a little too posh.

Du Beau

This one looks a little better.

Du Monte

Ahhh!  Here is the place.  It has a great central location AND a good price.

Du Cheap

After a restful night next to the train tracks, I gassed up the car and hit the road.  Yes I am back on Route 66.

Old Gas Here

Long Road to Blogdom

There is no mistaking that fine, high quality cement roadway.

Back on the road, I came across this car.  It is a very rare, Datsun Roadster.

Red One

The Datsun Roadster is perhaps the finest two seat convertible of its day.  It is an unusual  day when you can see one of these cars.  You may be lucky enough, in your whole life, to see just one.

Two More

Four More

Datsun Nirvana

Well…, this has been a magical trip.

It is time to look for another room for the night.

This one comes with a bath.

Petticoat Malfunction Junction

This one looks too posh and pricey.

Hi Line Hi Life

Maybe I can find a cheaper room here.

Hotel Greybar

Maybe something without bars?

350 Hotel

Perfect!  Now I’ll check out the nightlife.

A Social Club.  That might be nice.  I saw many ladies going into the building.  I bet they are friendly.

Woo Woo

This guy in the band let me play drums with him and suggested a place around the corner.

Groucho?

As I arrived, a nice lady leaned out of the window and welcomed me.

Madam Happy

I had a feeling that maybe I shouldn’t go here.  Maybe there was a better way to go.

Maybe this wasn’t the right way to go at all.  I needed a sign from above.

Vegan Message

This is a scary sign to see on a one way street.

I decided to cross the bridge and hit the straight and narrow.

No Bridge Bridge

No Passing?

You can always find the straight and narrow highway on Route 66.

 

A Corner in Winslow Arizona

 

           We last left Bubba in the Painted Desert.  A car drove past with his long lost Millie biding him a fond farewell.  As we rejoin him, we find him back on the search along Route 66.

            I ran off to find Millie and came across this house.  Maybe she left a sign.  I looked around and found a footprint on a rock.

New Home

Big Foot

            Then I saw this disturbing picture.  Was that Millie being carried off by a large bird?

Millie Stork

            And what did all this mean?

Big Story

            I guess if I would have read my Painted Desert and Petrified Forest guide book I would have seen that there are quite a few petroglyphs in the area.  I though the Petrified Forest was a Humphrey Bogart film and petroglyph was a gas additive.  These things date back about a thousand years.  What other old things are around here. 

            WHOA!  Don’t get off the bus lady!

Bus to Hell

            No wonder the wood is petrified.  I’m pretty scared too.  Too late for the lady, she traded the bus ride for something else.

Bad Barney

Dyno Ride

 

            One of the requirements for a drive down route 66 is a suspension of belief or even reason.  Businesses will do anything to get the passer bys to stop and take a look.  Since the addition of freeways, they are even more desperate.

            Things were getting a little distorted.  Is this reality or is this a Twilight Zone episode.  It was time to stop for a rest.

WigWam

 

            I had a careful look around.  I got the impression that the people in these rooms had been there for a long time.  At least their cars had been there for a long time. 

No Check Out

 

            I felt I was in that old song.  You know the one about the hotel where you can check out but you can never leave?  What was the name of the group that sang that?  That was starting to bug me.  I just couldn’t remember.  I found this guy to ask.  We were just hanging on a corner when a girl drove by in a flat bed Ford.

In Da Corner

 

I was starting to feel lost.  I wasn’t even sure I was on Route 66 anymore.  Then I picked up a clue.

In Winslow Arizona

            Enough of this.  I couldn’t figure IT out.  I didn’t know what IT is.  I couldn’t even find IT.

Here It Is

 

            Yeah, well, maybe not.  It was more of that 66 weirdness.

Hoopty Hare

            Time to hit the road, but first I needed to check the map and maybe find a place to eat.

Big Map

          Just a minor problem with the road, but a clue that I may have trouble finding an open restaurant on this stretch.  I can see the freeway next to old 66 but driving 66 is the goal.    

End of the Road..for a bit

                                                                This place isn’t open.

Valentine Diner 

Its brother isn’t open either.

And another

                                            This place isn’t open.  Maybe that’s a good thing.

Lion Lunch

 

                                                               This town isn’t open.

 

Lion Town

 

                                                       Maybe if I follow the arrows…

Point the Way

                                                             Nope, not here either.      

Trading Post

                                        Ahhh! Here we go.  Something tells me this will do just fine.

Bubba's Joint

Back on Route 66

          Before Bubba took off for Havana, Columbia, and Tucson (only in Bubba’s world do they fit together) he was cruising on old Route 66 with us. He made it as far as Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was freaked out by a balloon race. He rejoins us now on the road, west of Albuquerque.
          After escaping the floating objects in the big city, we headed west on 66 until we needed a stop. In 1937, Roy E. Cline built a store at the intersection of Route 66 and U.S. 285. Being the only thing out here, it grew and grew to the 30,000 square foot behemoth it is today.

Clines Corners

            They have food, water, gas, and any kind of southwestern “thing” that you can imagine.  I was in urgent need of relief so I asked the guy at the door.

            “Hey, where is the restroom?”  He was very wooden in manner and pointed.  He offered me a cigar which I turned down after imbibing a little too much in Cuba.

Big Chief

            After we filled the cars tank and drained our own, we headed out again.  After a few miles, we got hungry and started looking for a good place to eat, or just a place to eat.  We came across this place that seemed to offer giant pollen samples or maybe a mutated desert virus.

Desert Virus

We decided on this fine eating establishment instead.  They served a Northwestern lumberjack version of desert Vietnamese food.

            The birds seemed to like it.

Axe Chef

            The fusion cuisine did not agree with my acrylic insides.  I now understood why someone would need a large, mobile muffler.

Muffler too big

            We arrived at our hotel but it was still early and I was a little skeptical about their truth in advertising.  The only trees I could see were under the sign.

Desert Mountain

          Back on the old, not too much used, portion of Route 66, the landscape took a turn for the bleak.   Not too much to see out here.

Nothing here

Still nothing

          The only animal we came across was this owl.  He looked like maybe he had been sitting there for quite a long time.

Owl-ish Rock

                      The signs did not present us with positive prospects.

Dead End

            We found some sign of human habitation.  What does a field of crosses mean? 

Field of Lost Dreams

          We passed through the thriving metropolis of Budville. 

Budville Dude

            It was getting dark as we headed off into the sunset.  Sounds great, looks great, but we were in the desert at night with nowhere to go but down the road.  It gets dark out here.

Desert Sunset

            We came across this fine hotel.  It had electric heat and cool.  That would be good enough.  We’d figure out where we were in the morning.

Southwest Motel

 

Tucson Arizona

Going East To Go West

            While sitting at the railroad station in Jamestown, waiting for a train that wasn’t coming, I thought I would see if there might be one I could borrow.  I found these two engines just sitting around waiting for someone to take them out for a spin.

            They looked a little too big for me, so I rounded up this instead.  I think I may be able to take on a few passengers and make a buck or two.

            I pulled it out of the barn but the people here make the tracks end in a big pit. 

            Time to exit the pit and git out of town.

            I like this old west thing so I thought I would look for someplace western for my escape.

I came across these four guys.  I didn’t have a gun but maybe the big knife would work.

            Off to the nearest airport and I found out that the Tombstone International Airport had to close.  Something about the name made people reluctant to fly there.  I booked a flight to Tucson instead.

This nice guy helped me find my gate.  Gate 13, sounds like it will be a lucky trip.

            When I arrived, this tall fellow was waving at me.  I “moseyed” on over and he introduced me to his friends.

                                                                              I met a cactus.

                                                                        I met a cactus.

                                                                       I met a cactus.

                                                                   I met a cactus…Ouch!

                                                                     I met a… SNAKE!!

            Rocks, sand, cactus, snakes, and scorpions.  I’m outta here!

            Bubba didn’t give Tucson much of a chance.  I’m sure there were some sights to see and maybe…someday…I can get him to return.  I think he will probably stay in the Southwest and rejoin his Route 66 journey.