Casey Takes Route 66, Day 1: Goodbye LA, Hello Vegas

I’m already behind with posting, but it’s okay! It means I’ve had experiences that have made me forget about my laptop and just enjoy the moment. I had already anticipated that my first day of travel, though not the longest, would be the hardest, because it was the day I would officially leave LA behind. But I had lots of fun things in store to distract me! So, let’s start for the beginning:

As to be expected, the morning of my departure was frenzied. That’s what you get when you order the extra large margarita from Cabo Cantina for your last night. I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to swiffer my room one last time and making sure I didn’t forget my laptop charger. Then, all of a sudden, my room was empty, my car was packed and the only thing left to do was leave.

After picking up some much needed Dunkin’ Donuts, I drove down to Santa Monica Pier. Fun Fact: The official end to Historic Route 66 is the pier, right in front of the Bubba Gump Shrimp. It felt appropriate that I start my journey with a picture with the sign, graciously taken by an older couple who informed me that Route 66 was once a show. Who knew?

Walking up the ramp to the pier and back to my car, it weighed heavy that this was really it. My car was packed. My apartment keys were turned in. LA was no longer home. Maybe it would have been a little less sentimental, easier to process, if I had been more transient during my years in LA. But I lived in the same room in the same apartment, went to the same grocery store and CVS and boxing studio and library, for two years. And all of a sudden, I wouldn’t be. Those institutions would continue as I simply disappeared into the countless faces that came and went over the years. Weird to think about.

But I tried not to dwell. So, I put on Augustana’s “Boston” and Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill” back to back and rode Santa Monica Blvd. all the way into Hollywood, one last scenic drive of the city before merging onto the highway and heading east.

My major Route 66 stop of the day was Bottle Tree Ranch. I don’t know what I watree1s expecting when I arrived. Maybe a kindly attendant who explained the Ranch’s origins? But that was not the case. The best way to describe Bottle Tree Ranch is if someone made an experimental art exhibit, then dropped it in the middle of nowhere California for people to happen upon. But that didn’t make it any less cool. Each tree was different, with its own unique arrangement of bottles. Some looked like cacti; some stood tall with all green bottles. Just the kind of American weirdness I was looking for on my trip.

Then, it was back in the car to drive, drive, drive. That’s one thing LA had accustomed me for: driving. I turned on Spotify and enjoyed the drive… so much so that I didn’t even realize when I left California. I came up over a hill and was confronted by two massive casinos, one with a large roller coaster looping around it. Having driven through miles of nothing but flat dirt, the sight was jarring and it took me a minute to realize what exactly I had driven upon.

It wasn’t until I was driving between the two when I realized that they were exit 1. I had officially left California. You would think after two tumultuous years in LA, leaving the state would have more pomp and circumstance, but life works in funny ways sometimes.

My first day of travel ended with something I’ve been craving since I decided to head back home: quality family time. And I found my first taste of it in Las Vegas with my Uncle Larry and Aunt Georgie. I hadn’t been to Vegas since I was eleven, and it had been more than a couple years since I’ve seen my aunt and uncle. So, it was nice to show up at the end of an emotional first day to a familiar house and two loving family members and a home-cooked meal to die for (including a Snickers dessert I am still thinking about — Aunt Georgie is a Pinterest queen!).

As I settled in with them to watch football highlights (and get play-by-play updates of the Mayweather-McGregor fight), I felt relaxed and cozy and at home.  As I outlined my trip for my aunt and uncle, I realized how quickly this whole trip would fly by, and that soon, I really would be home. I couldn’t wait.


Until Next Time,
Casey Brown | Gal about Town


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