Kingman AZ and Route66
We wake up to the sunrise and decide to pack up and see if we can get a few more shots of the canyon before the crazies wake up. Much to our surprise E started right up...probably the first time this week we haven't had to push start.
Headed out to a few of the points for a couple more photos and then proceed south out of the park towards the freeway for the coast...we are eager for sand and sea!
The road quickly opens up to flat nothingness and the beautiful surroundings we've experienced the last few days fade into the rearview. Pull into a few towns looking for wifi, but without luck continue on toward Kingman, which looks huge compared to the other blips on the map.
We pull in about noon and head towards the historic section hoping to avoid a mcdonalds wifi experience at all cost. We hadn't planned on experiencing route66 in this trip, but this old stretch of Kingman is keeping history alive and is filled with nothing but old motels and mom n pops. A real throwback and the mood is set perfectly by the sweltering 101 heat bearing down on us like a lead blanket. We know we cant drive out of here in this heat, but would give anything to be somewhere else with cooler air, a breeze or even decent shade. We finally find the one spot in town with wireless, also a throwback old diner from the 50s. We hop online and try to figure out our next campground and solve a few other issues since we are down to few days before crossing the border.
In my search i stumble upon a well respected vw mechanic in town, also happens to be only a few blocks from us- but closes at noon on saturday which passed a while back. We also decide that we aren't going anywhere fast with the heat and realize that KOA is our only camping option for the night. Our last (and first) KOA experience wasn't great and kind of seemed like the camping equivalent of shopping at walmart...so jen starts looking for cheap hotels with a/c and swimming pools. Just to be clear, getting rooms wasn't exactly part of our trip plan, but when the motels on the side of the road are a few bucks more than the KOA and have the value-add of internet and soaking in the pool, the plan starts to evolve. Also, our brains might have been melting from the heat, and we had a gift certificate from our VAN friends burning a hole in our pocket. Thank you baja 500!
We leave the diner and after several sweaty attempts at pushing finally get E running. Pushing, it seems, is exponentially more difficult when the body of the bus is too hot to touch. We head back uphill to the motels but see someone walking around at the mechanic shop as we go by. Too good to pass up, we stop to ask a few questions about the starter and hopefully purchase a new fuel filter. The guy was willing to take a few minutes (despite having closed hours before) to talk with us about the issues, look at the engine and make some suggestions.
Lets set the stage appropriately...in the 4 years we have owned the bus, we have been to likely 10 of the best reviewed mechanincs in the northwest (and have gotten some great work done im sure), but here, hours after closing and in 101degrees of miserable heat this guy takes his own time to actually talk with us about the engine and what he thinks. He also starts pointing out problems that any knowledgeable VW mechanic or owner should recognize (but clearly we don't) and making suggestions that every other mechanic so far either missed or simply didn't take the time to tell us were issues. Score!
Sadly he is closed tomorrow, but we head to the motel knowing we have a tough decision to make between continuing toward the coast and sticking around for what seems like the best chance we have to solve some of our lingering mechanical issues.
The motel itself is a bit of an experience as well...El Travatore looked like one of the more intriguing spots in town...but wow. Words cant describe the full experience here, but we'll try anyway. We were lucky enough to get one of themed rooms, but despite jen's request couldn't get the Marilyn suite because it "isn't dog-friendly due to of all the memorabilia". We ended up in the Brando suite instead, which just for the record consisted of a single movie poster on the wall. The a/c struggled but did work, only one temperature of water (lukewarm, but still felt great compared to the heat of our room when we checked in), the walls are literally thinner than the front door and mirrors and other "amenities" are duct taped to the walls.
We also didn't find out until after paying that the pool is out of service...but we got a gift certificate for a chicken fried steak to make up for our trouble. At least we got out of the sun...and a cable movie out of the deal.
Good night Kingman.