Ready to ride on Route 66?

Ready to travel Route 66? An informational open house session of the California Historic Route 66 Association is set for Saturday, Feb. 2, in Needles’ El Garces. The public session continues from 1 to 3 p.m. and includes free guided tours of the historic Harvey House, which can be seen in the background. The photo is of Bob Jaussund’s 1954 Ford Sunliner convertible, the Needles Regional Museum’s entry in the 2018 lighted Christmas Parade. It’s displayed on Front Street, an original alignment of Route 66, in front of the museum. Note the Christmas lights on the El Garces, provided and installed by Cheryl Mangin and Richard Dotson on behalf of the museum.

NEEDLES — Ever consider a trip on the Mother Road? Like to learn more about Route 66, especially the portion that traverses Southern California via the Mojave Desert? An informational program is set for Saturday, Feb. 2, at the El Garces intermodal transportation facility in Needles. The historic Harvey House is one block off Broadway between G and F Streets.

Local organizer/promoter Jan Jernigan, Needles Downtown Business Alliance President, said the event begins with a meeting of California Historic Route 66 Association members at 9:30 a.m. PST. The public portion follows with informational kiosks set up and folks knowledgeable about traveling America’s most famous highway available to answer questions. Take free tours of El Garces with local guides between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.

Scott Piotrowski, CHR66A President, explained: “The intent of this event is to give people who want to learn more or plan a trip along Route 66 to have an opportunity to ask questions of people familiar with the road. We’re taking advantage of the location on the border to bring in some Arizona folks as well. It’s an opportunity to reach out to people who have traveled the road and are actively involved with the preservation of the road.

“To me, the El Garces Harvey House is a great way to tie Needles to the rest of the road via connection to others along the way such as La Posada (Winslow, Ariz.), Casa del Desierto (Barstow) and the Castaneda Hotel (Las Vegas, N.M.).

“Plus the El Garces is a way to tie the Needles portion to the rest of the road, the railroad and that entire corridor. To me it’s the corridor that matters, not just the highway itself. The hotels, the motels, the Santa Monica Pier. That wasn’t ever part of the road but it’s part of the corridor. It’s one of the landmarks the highway takes a person traveling the road to.

“Route 66 is an opportunity to explore the Southwest with a connective corridor; an opportunity to get off the interstate and experience a portion of America that is kind of untainted by ‘boxes:’ those corporate entities that have taken over so much of our very being,” Piotrowski continued. “You can get away from them by exploring the mom and pop locations like the Route 66 Motel and the Wagon Wheel Restaurant: local, independently owned businesses that are more in touch with what’s happening in the community.

“The main thing is about community and people. If you have any interest in the highway it’s a great opportunity to come tell your own story as well as listen. The story telling is what makes the trip the best: what others have seen and done, liked and didn’t like. It’s an opportunity to have a social event where we get to know each other and have a common interest; to bring everybody together instead of being torn apart.”

This will be the second time the California Historic Route 66 Association has convened in El Garces; the group’s well-received first visit was a couple of years ago. Said Jernigan: “We’ve got Route 66 here in Needles and I think it’s important we don’t give up on it. I’ve really tried to work with (the association); I think that’s why they’re coming back.”

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