Any Americana history buff would tell you the San Bernardino area is a pure gold mine of Route 66 memories, both past and present. It is so cool to see surviving signs of life amongst otherwise renovated or economically devastated parts of these towns. I snagged a fantastic tip from a fellow traveler at the Wig Wam Motel about a Route 66 app called Road Trip 66 that maps where you are and shows every vintage old school sign and business along your route. I happily accepted the challenge and decided I would attempt to track down every location I could until it was time to head back home for the night. Not exactly prime real estate out there, so I planned to be long gone by dark. This is not a simple child’s game, but an exciting scavenger hunt that requires a keen eye and nimble driving skills.
A slew of vintage signs and old school businesses are scattered throughout the now busy roads, mixed in with the newer lackluster bunch, but I loved imagining how it looked back 30, 40, 50, even 60 years ago. Back when you could actually “cruise” Route 66 instead of having to dart in and out of heavy, stop and go traffic to catch a glimpse and a snapshot of these timeless treasures. Below is Part One of highlights from my trip back in time.
I had a blast pulling in to the parking lots of cozy roadside inns such as the Sand and Sage Motel, which appears to be in great shape and working order. Oh how I would love to see that sign at night!
The Mitla Cafe is a down home, family-owned Mexican diner that opened in 1937… so fabulously old school and still very much alive and kicking.
The California Theatre, a true Spanish colonial beauty, erected in 1928 and the location of Will Rogers last performance.
Dating back approximately 100 years is Carl’s Liquor Store and The Deli. The sign is almost completely covered by thick ivy and must look incredible when lit up at night. Inside you are surrounded my proof of this gem’s age. Old school freezers and coolers, original wooden floors, I loved it! The Deli is around other side of the building with a walk up window to order from and made to order sandwiches that are out of this world! You can sit under the ivy covered overhang and eat your sammie, have a beer and watch the traffic wiz by.
As a bonus, directly across the street is a vintage gas station that is actually under reconstruction to return it to its original splendor. Long live the original inhabitants of America’s Mother Road! Stay tuned for more!!