After waiting for the Econolodge coffee machine to be refilled we headed out onto the road to the sounds 'Oh, We're going to Barbados' by Typically Tropical which summed up how we felt. We were heading to Santa Fe which although not on the last version of Route 66 had been for about 5 minutes in the late twenties.
Mer colleague and I had also heard a lot of Santa Fe from Westerns we thought but ultimately knew nothing about the place.
Ade was driving and an uneventful drive found us in the centre of the town car park, although we had to wait for 15 minutes for a space to become available. There were large numbers of tourists and we immediately felt that this was not going to be our cup of tea. We discovered a massive square of restaurants and kitsch shops that appeared relatively new but were supposedly old. It appeared to us that Santa Fe had been 'Disneyfied' with 'injuns' replacing Mickey characters.
Clicking away on our cameras I couldn't help but notice a black leather clad 'dude' with cowboy hat sauntering through the arcades and realised it was Lemmy from Motorhead. The band had experienced a rather surprising chart hit in the early eighties with 'Ace of Spades', one of this writers favourites. The Brickster and I bounded over and offered to by the wart faced one a '99' to which he agreed with the addition of some hundred and thousands. We discussed Santa Fe and he said that he too was unsure what it was famous for but would come up with some lyric about it as it sounded a cool name for his next album.
After identifying where the 'shoot' button was on my camera he took a photo of DCI Essex (ret) and I along with his contact details and wished us well on our way.
We had had enough of Santa Disney and headed back to the car park. Here we found our car with all of its windows down but doors locked, and yet surprisingly everything still in it. Apparently Chief Inspector Brick had decided to do an impromptu survey on the security of the car park by pressing some random buttons as he lent on the door to get out before locking the vehicle. He was satisfied with the results and I said that I would look forward to the PowerPoint presentation of the data captured.
Our eventual destination would be Santa Rosa but we had some mileage to do before getting there. Finding our way out of the town we headed on to the 'road with no features' as we decided to christen it, for it was a 100 miles of featureless landscape with only a mass of black cloud towards its end to break the monotony.
Pulling into Clines Corners to the sounds of 'Things can only get better' by D-Ream we discovered that this place on the map was just a massive service area as it was in the middle of bloody nowhere. We were hungry, thirsty and about to be rained upon so we headed into this eclectic place to be sated.
Having waited a ridiculously long time to be served stewed coffee and a cold burger we prepped ourselves for what would be our first wet drive onto Santa Rosa. My turn to take the wheel and we sploshed onto the 66 with wonderment as the most amazing fork lightning was treating us to a light show that we hadn't seen before.
After several hours we pulled into the car park of our motel, The American Inn, and checked in. Or rather we didn't, as it transpired that even though the 'new to the country from Asia' receptionist confirmed our booking initially it transpired that when wanting to confirm the rate with her as per my email from earlier in the day it was different in referring to my email I noted that I had driven into the car park of the wrong motel and that this was The American Inn and Suites. Oh well, we soon found the right one and quickly realised that the earlier storm had followed us as were found ourselves drenched just getting luggage from the car.
It was Friday night and on noticing a bar across the road we knew it would be a heavy night. After several beers we had already engaged several locals, explaining that Australia was very close to England and that was the reason why they thought that the English accent was so similar!
A few chaps with western headgear turned up at the bar and soon engaged with 'CHiPs' Brick and I, whereupon I asked why their headgear appeared to be of different sizes. Two had Stetsons apparently whilst the third had a 'Ten Gallon' on. Whilst I accepted that it was certainly bigger than the Stetson I suggested that this sort of hat would never be able to be sold in blighty, stating that it was actually 8.33 imperial gallons and that was a trades description issue in the mother country. I posited that this was the main reason that this style of hat had never taken off in the empire and that the bowler hat would be better suited to riding a horse as it would look better with a suit as well.
Surprisingly our new 8.33 gallon be-hatted friend wanted to take issue with this position stating that it was a 10 gallon hat whether I liked it or not. I said that if he could fit ten gallons of beer into his hat then I would then go onto eat it to which due to the lateness of the evening he declined.
It was at this moment that Mer colleague presented some liberated police headgear from the UK explaining that the hat could actually hold 11 gallons due to its Tardis like properties and that the BBC produced a science programme called Dr. Who which proved that even small police stations could hold vast office blocks within. Suitably abashed the three amigos headed out of the bar, which due to our level of alcohol intake had suddenly acquired saloon doors.
We retired very pissed. Santa Rosa, what a place.