Painting ©2018 John Clark III
A picture paints a thousand words, so here you go ...
OK, not quite 'nuff. Obviously, it was a spectacular day along good ol' Route 66, as I headed through and out of Arizona, into California. Words to describe the scenery are hard to find. Breathtaking? More than once, as I rounded a corner on this narrow two-lane, twisting, turning stretch through the mountains, I said, "Oh, for heaven 's sakes," or something like that, and stopped the car to pull out the camera.
It was a little freaky at times, too, as you're driving around the curves, inches away from sheer unprotected drop-offs that would create a Hollywood-style crash and no-doubt fireball explosion. But good grief, the beauty was intense.
After a while, I crossed the border into the Golden State and wound up in Needles, California, a cool little town of about 5,000 on the western banks of the Colorado River at the edge of the Mojave Desert, near the borders of Arizona and Nevada. It was there I ran into Rich Gonzales, a world-class character drinking beer with his cousin Danny Medrano at the Red Dog Saloon on Broadway Street.
Gonzales, 64, was born and raised in Needles, and spent 37 years as a pipeline welder for Southern California Gas Company."My office was the Mojave Desert," he said.
Now retired, Gonzales, father of none, has been happily married for 38 years, and says Needles is the best place in the world to live.
"Needles don't have much to offer, except peace and quiet. I love it here. It's worth a million. The people here ... Needles is like 'Mayberry,' man. Everybody knows everybody; they all love each other. They call Needles 'California's East Coast' because of the river. It's beautiful."
He has traveled "quite a bit" but not all of Route 66, Gonzales said. It is a special place for him, and he enjoys sharing it with other people.
"Oh, yeah, the Mother Road. It means a lot to me. I went to Ireland last year, and I met this guy -- a rich dude. He told me how he was going to ship his vehicle to New York, and drive all along Route 66. I told him, 'I live on Route 66!' He said, 'What?'
"I said, 'If you come down here, I will show you the Route 66 that most people don't see, and haven't seen. There are small sections that not many people know about, that are still there. I know about them. So I'm waiting on him to come in October."
With that, I was headed on down the road, and right now, I'm about 80 miles, I think, from Los Angeles. I think I might have seen Robert Downey Jr. this afternoon on I-15. There was a new BMW with dark tinted windows going about 90 mph, cutting in and out of traffic, disappearing in the distance. The windows were too dark to see inside the car, but, hey, it might have been Downey headed home.
A few reviews of John's books
The 30-Day Optimism Solution:
“Part memoir, part informative text. You get both when reading 'Depression Blues' by John H. Clark III. Mr. Clark shares his struggles with depression in an honest and real way, and as the book progresses, so does his hope. Woven into the story as jumping off points are bits of information about depression and ways to "conquer" the sadness, loneliness, and despair that comes with it.
Mr. Clark becomes more than an author in this book; he becomes a friend who understands the pain of depression and provides light. I recommend this book to anyone looking for light or to anyone who knows someone with depression and wants to learn more.”
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