Painting ©2018 John Clark III
Made it. The end of my tour along Route 66, starting June 13 in downtown Chicago and finishing today in Santa Monica, California.
A total distance of 2,400-plus miles, driving through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, all the way to the beautiful Pacific Ocean. An amazing journey that I am so glad I made. When Route 66 hit the Los Angeles area, I kept hearing Jerry Jeff Walker singing, "If I can just get off of this L.A. freeway without gettin' killed or caught ..."
I grew up in Houston, Texas, and the traffic there is unbelievable, but gawd-almighty. There's a bunch of people out here, and they drive like freakin' maniacs.
The beach at Santa Monica was incredible. I'm used to the Texas beaches at Galveston, Port Aransas and South Padre Island, but this place is ... well, breathtaking. In Galveston, the beach is a few yards wide, but here? At least a few hundred yards of smooth, light brown sand between Ocean Avenue and the waters of the Pacific.
That's looking from the walkway along Ocean Avenue towards the famous Santa Monica Pier. I went there to find Dan Rice, who has traveled Route 66 more than two dozen times, and operates a souvenir kiosk on the pier, but unfortunately, he was not there when I arrived. I left one of my cards and hopefully Dan will contact me. I'd love to hear some of his stories.
I had to park about a mile from the pier and walk over there, so it was a little disappointing to strike out on what was to be my last interview opportunity of the trip, but as I walked back to my car along Ocean Avenue, through the beautiful parkway filled with hundreds of people enjoying what has to be one of the most beautiful spots in the country, I spotted a group of five men in bicycle riding gear, adorned with various Route 66 patches on their shirtsleeves. They were milling about, taking pictures of each other.
I walked on by, but after about 100 yards, my journalist/writer/author instincts kicked in and made me turn around. I walked up and introduced myself, told them I had just finished driving Route 66, and from their outfits, I assumed they had ridden Route 66. One gentleman had an Arizona patch on his sleeve, so I figured they had ridden from Arizona to California, an amazing accomplishment in itself.
But, no. These five men, all in their late 60s, all from Switzerland, rode bicycles more than 2,400 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica. They started on May 5 and arrived today.
I was amazed. They asked me to take pictures of them all together with all their individual cameras and tablets and such, and then they told me their stories. I took a photo, of course, with my own camera, and recorded our conversations, so there will be more later on that.
Riding a bicycle from Chicago to Los Angeles?
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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