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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    South Central Orange County

    Default Loop trip from So Cal to Prescott, AZ

    We're on our last leg of our loop trip from Orange County (near Disneyland in Southern California) to Prescott, AZ and back. Right now I'm staying at a $17-per-night-one-day-Internet-special hotel in Henderson, NV (just outside Las Vegas), and tomorrow I'll be home. Gas is so much less expensive in Arizona ($3.49 per gallon in Quartzsite and $3.34 in Prescott) and southern Nevada (around $3.49 in Las Vegas) that fuel will be relatively cheap this time.

    The impetus of this trip was to drive on roads and see places I've never seen before that are within a day's drive of my house. This time the main stops were Prescott, AZ (the former territorial capitol) and Hoover Dam.

    After I get back I'll post photos and commentary.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    South Central Orange County

    Default The gritty details

    My first post will be dry information only as I transcribe notes from my travel log.

    Day 1:
    07:40 Left OC and headed east via CA-91, CA-60 and I-10 (Mile 0, 68 degrees)
    09:00 Arrived at Cabazon dinosaurs for breakfast at Burger King (Mile 98.0, 85 degrees)
    09:34 Left Cabazon via I-10
    11:35 Arrived in Quarzsite, AZ for refueling and lunch at Love's Travel Stop (Mile 249.3, 103 degrees)
    12:16 Left Quartzsite for Wickenburg via I-10 and US-60
    13:39 Arrived at Safeway in Wickenburg (mile 338.3, 100 degrees)
    13:53 Left Wickenburg for Prescott via US-93 and AZ-89
    15:18 Arrived at hotel in Prescott (mile 375.5)

    Day 2:
    08:58 Left hotel for downtown Prescott tour (82 degrees)
    09:30 Arrived downtown (mile 382, 85 degrees); toured museum and had picnic lunch by the court house
    11:59 Departed Prescott for Jerome via AZ-89a; hit construction delays going through mountains
    13:20 Arrived in Jerome (mile 416, 90 degrees)
    14:12 Left Jerome for Tuzigoot National Monument via AZ-89a and local streets
    14:27 Arrived at Tuzigoot (mile 424, 93 degrees)
    15:15 Headed back to Prescott via AZ-89a, AZ-260, I-17, AZ-169 and AZ-69
    16:30 Arrived back in Prescott (mile 480, 87 degrees)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Sounds like temperatures are about "normal" all around. Don't you just love those Internet special hotel deals? What was the place like? Enquiring minds want to know! Thanks.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    South Central Orange County


    Day 3:
    09:07 Left Prescott on AZ-89 to I-40 West.
    10:24 Stopped at the Snow Cap in Seligman to imbibe some Route 66 nostalgia (mile 570, 85 degrees)
    10:55 Departed
    11:54 Stopped for lunch in Kingman (mile 633, 96 degrees)
    12:40 Left for Hoover Dam on US-93
    13:52 Arrived at Hoover Dam (mile 705, 106 degrees)
    14:58 Continued on US-93/I-515 north to Henderson
    15:19 Arrived at Fiest Henderson Hotel (mile 726, 109 degrees)

    Day 4:
    09:55 Left our hotel via US-93/I-515 north(93 degrees)
    10:04 to 10:08 Stopped for gas
    10:16 Arrived at the Ethel M Chocolate Factory in Henderson (mile 732, 95 degrees)
    11:09 Took surface streets to I-215 West to I-15 South
    13:31 Stopped for lunch at the original Del Taco in Barstow and brief stop at the train station(mile 884, 99 degrees)
    14:21 Left Barstow station and followed old Route 66 west to my relative's house
    14:38 Stopped by for a chat with my relative (mile 891, 100 degrees)
    16:48 Left Lenwood, stopped briefly at the McDonalds for ice cream and fruit smoothies, and followed I-15 south
    18:35 Arrived home (mile 996, 73 degrees)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    South Central Orange County

    Default Trip notes

    Day 1:
    When we head east on I-10 in the morning we usually stop at the Cabazon dinosaurs for a bite to eat. This time we stopped at the Burger King (last time it was the Wheel Inn where Pee Wee's Big Adventure was shot). The flies give it a rustic charm in a strange way.
    We stopped for gas at the Love's Travel Stop in Quartzsite. Not only do they usually have the best gas prices, but they also have a Subway sandwich shop inside. It gives us a chance to eat a meal with some vegetables and no greasy fried food (we get enough of that elsewhere). There wasn't time on this trip to stop by the Hi Jolly Monument (dang). Unfortunately we missed the older part of Wickenburg and simply stopped at a Vons supermarket to buy ice cream. Much of the scenery along the way reminded me of the California desert. It wasn't until we gained elevation on AZ-89 nearer to Prescott did we see a big change. The chapparal near Yarnell looked like the area around my home in Orange County (oak trees, grass and brush). As we came to the south side of Prescott we drove through ponderosa pines and enjoyed the greenery.

    We stayed at the Prescott Resort and Conference Center for 2 nights. Usually I travel on the cheap, but to keep my wife happy I picked comfortable lodgings (and to keep the kids happy I chose one with a nice pool). Classical music wafted through the corridors and open spaces in the resort, and it made a most relaxing atmosphere. After reading through and for recommendations on places to eat that evening, we couldn't find a clear winner. We went to a local shopping center and were surprised to find it about half vacant. We ate at the Applebee's as it was convenient, and to my surprise my wife and kids said they liked it so much they wanted to come back the following night. I even got to watch baseball during dinner (two thumbs up).

    We'd never been to Prescott, and I was interested to see what the former territorial capitol was like. I read that Lt. Beale led his camel corps through there from Texas on his way to California. That piqued my interest to find out more. We stopped by the Sharlot Hall Museum to learn more about Prescott's history, and a treasure hunt program for the kids kept them interested. To keep our travel budget down we bought fried chicken and drinks at the Albertsons supermarket and ate a picnic lunch on the court house lawn. It felt humid all day, and by the time we finished lunch it began raining lightly. I noticed there were many college-age kids and panhandlers around the downtown area as well as many retirees around town.

    We took AZ-89a up through the mountains to get to the old mining town of Jerome. The highway was being resurfaced, and we had to wait about 10 minutes for a pilot car to take us through. Jerome is a tourist destination with art galleries, wine tasting, a museum or two, and cafes to attract tourists. I enjoyed the late 19th-century architecture, and my kids enjoyed the fudge we bought.

    Old Route 66 has intrigued me since I drove it out to Flagstaff from Los Angeles when I worked for an advertising agency back in 1991. Back then we stopped by the Snow Cap hamburger stand in Seligman and received the comic antics of its owner, Juan Delgadillo. Juan has since died, but his son continues the tradition. As we pulled into the parking lot we saw bus loads of tourists (mostly French) wandering around the area taking photos. We munched on onion rings and shared a shake as we soaked in the ambience and diesel exhaust of the bus parked near us. Little did I suspect that my 6 years of French classes in junior and senior high would pay off when we stopped for lunch in Kingman. A youngish couple (early 30s?) stopped their rented Harley there to use the phone, and the woman asked me if I spoke French. Usually when foreigners ask me if I speak their language, they ask in broken English. This time I faced a couple who spoke no English whatsoever. While my French grammar has gone to pieces, at least I was able to help them use the pay phone to call France. I found it funny that the young woman claimed to prefer Spanish to English, yet she couldn't understand the Mexican Spanish on her calling card or the voice prompts on the phone.

    My wife and kids didn't relish the idea of stepping out of the car's air conditioning into the 100+ degree heat, but I'd been looking forward to seeing Hoover Dam for a long time. Traffic advisory signs warned us of high winds around Hoover Dam, and we felt the effect as soon as we exited the car. It was like standing in front of an enormous hair dryer as the hot air assaulted us at high speed. The best view of the dam itself was from the US-93 bridge, but my fellow travelers didn't like the idea of parking and walking across the bridge in the inense heat. Parking in the parking structure near the dam cost $7, and the visitor center had an $8 entrance fee. As cheap tourists in a hurry, we couldn't see paying over $30 for a quick stop at the visitor center in addition to parking. We took a number of photos, stretched some pennies on the machine in the gift shop, and piled back in the car.

    I kept my expectations low for our stay at the Fiest Henderson Hotel and Casino. The special $17.64 per night special (not including the $11.64 resort fee) for a room with double queen beds seemed too good to be true. It was certainly a bargain. The entrance to the lobby took us through the casino, so we were greated with lots of cigarette smoke. It's Vegas-- what did we expect? The room was of average size and looked like what one would expect from a $50 to $80 per night motel. The pool wasn't heated, but artificial heating wasn't really necessary in the 109 degree heat. After signing up for an "Amigo Card" the dinner buffet only cost $7.99 each. Believe it or not, hushpuppies, chicken gumbo, and other southern favorites were in the "International" section. The food was fair to middling, and the best item by far was the BBQ beef brisket. Again, tempering one's expectations to match the low cost kept the experience enjoyable. As we headed home on our last day we decided to stop by the Ethel M Chocolate Factory in Henderson. The factory is fairly small, but our kids enjoyed watching the chocolate being made and packaged. They especially liked the fairly expensive chocolates in gift shop.

    Barstow is another stop on old Route 66 and has its own charm. Main Street (old Route 66) was under construction, so half of the lanes were closed. After hearing about it for years, we finally stopped at the original Del Taco. The founding family still owns and operates this location. While it doesn't have the 49-cent taco specials of the other locations, the portions are larger. My wife and kids didn't want to spend much more time in the heat, so we stopped only briefly at Barstow station so I could take photos of the old buildings.

    All in all it was a fairly relaxed trip. My wife appreciated the fact that I didn't drive long stretches like I usually do and go from location to location each day.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Hoover Dam Visitor Center

    On your next trip, it really is worth every penny of the visitor center fee and parking fee. It's a very good exhibit, and the center across the street (part of the entrance fee) has some of the best photo spots for the bridge. The hard-hat tour is a must for your kids the next time. SERIOUSLY, don't miss it. And with your love of history, I guarantee you'll be captivated.

    If you don't have time for the tour, there's no reason to pay for parking.... Just drive across the dam and park at one of the free lots on the Arizona side. It's really not a far walk and walking across the dam is not-to-be missed experience.

    AND you missed one of the best sections of Route 66 in the area.... The next time you've got to drive Sitgreaves Pass and visit Oatman. Your kids will love the four-footed traffic cops and the fudge is good there too. The road is a delight to drive.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    South Central Orange County


    I agree with you about Oatman, but my wife wasn't so enthusiastic about the extra time it took when we went there back in '07. My daughters liked the burros wandering through the town, too.

    Here's a link to my photo album:
    Orange County to Prescott loop trip

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