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  May 20th, 2004 - Cow Bop makes a slight detour in Mission Viejo...

I know you're thinking: that town isn't on Route 66! How perceptive, but of course, according to rule challenges we can stay with family and friends, and he we are at the familial Cozy Dog house, Dan's den. We decided to book our way across the desert and cross the finish line on the Santa Monica pier, tomorrow morning, exactly two weeks after our departure from Chicago…how dramatic. So here we are luxuriating at the Chez Cher Chien. PintoPammy is testing the spa waters, I of course am slaving away at the computer (not), Mikey is chillin by the tube and Cozy Dog is eating and drinking (what a surprise). What a day.

We all ambled down for an early lobby call, having slept sporadically because of all the party noise in downtown Flagstaff, the bars were rocking, and the Weatherford was not the most insulated place-however, its charm and hospitality exceeded any acoustical shortcomings, and the train whistles were a lovely lullaby. We wanted to catch most of the historic route and try and make San Bernadino before dinner. Well, we might have been a tad ambitious, I'll tell you this part of the route is spectacular. It is not as populated, but very scenic, and magical. It's rich history has more of a pioneering ambience to it, and its past is entwined with mining, prospecting, and hearty people who dealt with the harsh elements to carve out a life in this unforgiving environment.

The leg from Flagstaff to Kingman-and frankly, we have been measuring legs by the tune that we have all played throughout our many years of gigs-was mountainous and expansive. The winds whipped through the high desert plains, pushing clouds that danced and billowed as they traveled across the horizon. The railroad accompanied us throughout our day's adventure, as they had serenaded us throughout the night, a constant thread that grounded and underlined the meaning of transportation and its fundamental place in our culture and society and help instigate the lore of the open road. We stayed on the old route when possible and climbed a huge grade to highest point on the route where we could look back to the northeast and see the rim of the Grand Canyon (Sorry, the pictures didn't so it justice so we didn't include them on our pix page. My suggestion is that you come and see it for yourself).

Going through Kingman (Kingman-Barstow) we once again cut over to the old road. Here, more than any other place, the road harkened back to a distant time, actually, in many ways even predating the road it self. The first part flows through a parched landscape, dusty, flat lighting that is harsh on the eyes, unforgiving winds, and gullies that promised to become flash floods at the mere thought of rain. The vegetation is craggy, prickly and as parched as the ground it roots in. I can only imagine what people who fled the dust bowl thought when they got here. More than likely: 'We left drought for this? This is just as bad as what we left if not worse, and it looks as if it has been this way forever.' They probably thought that the stories of a fertile California were lies, as we were within fifty miles of the AZ-CA border. Then, at Cool Springs the road began to ascend up a rocky mountain, replete with what appeared to be wild donkeys. Trails led off to abandoned mines as the road snaked up and down steep cliffs, perilous drops awaited the careless drivers (there were metallic carcasses of road killed lying twisted in ravines, perched on rock outcroppings). This landscape had been a prosperous mining area in it s day only to give way to the ribbon to hope years later, the symbol of westward expansion. We pulled into Oatman, AZ, an old mining town preserved in the dry desert air. Burros roamed the streets and the feel as if we had gone back in time was once again upon us. We should have played there, a perfect Cow Bop spot, but we wanted to get on down the road, the Pacific Ocean seems to call and I have noticed all of us bordering on impatience. We passed through Needles, toasted to the CA state line and began our cross of the harshest desert we had seen to date.

We pulled into Victorville, a our bad timing was evident immediately. It's not easy to try and barter music for food or drinks when there is a line-dancing lesson in progress, and they did it to canned music to boot. Now, line dancing seems like the interstate highway to me, impersonal and isolating, I mean, what's wrong with touching your partner? Maybe creating some spontaneous variations in the moment? We hightailed out of there and had ideas of stopping and working San Bernadino, but the air began top take on that cool Pacific moisture, the LA basin pulled at us like a magnet and Cozy Dog suggested we head to the crib, after all, we had enough money to make it the rest of the way, the two-week moment seemed symbolic, and the warmth of a family dwelling had a nice ring to it.

So, here we are, to wake up tomorrow and cross the finish line, but like any moment, it is really a representation of a chain of moments a complete experience, like when you hear music, you are hearing all of the love, dedication and years of work that goes into it, yet in that moment it becomes something more than just a moment.

Quote of the day: "Why can't we keep the spotted ass and trade it for one of the ones in truck?" PintoPammy with her PintoBurro.

Click here to check out pictures from May 20th