Coming across the Mojave desert on Historic Route 66 it can be a HOT mutha in the summertime! This was August and it wasn’t hot yet this early in the day, only about 94. We rolled across the California border and into the quaint town of Needles about mid-morning. When I was a kid, and my dad had to hang a canvas waterbag over the radiator to cool it driving through the desert on the family vacation to Arizona one summer. Cars had no air conditioning so we rolled all the windows down, but that only sent a hellish turbulence of dusty heavy hot air through the car. Every time I saw signs of life ahead on the road, a gas station & general store, I’d beg Dad to stop so we could get an ice cold coke out of the big red coke machine at the gas station. Coke never tasted so good. From that trip, my remembrance of Needles is as the only place, other than Death Valley, to stay fully away from in the Summertime. Quaint it ain’t.
The only reason I even ran across the Red Dog Saloon was because we were hungry. Otherwise, Interstate 40 runs right past Needles and you never see the town anymore. If you ever are driving I-40, exit and take some of the “Business Loops” that go through towns like Winslow, Kingman, Needles, Barstow.. and don’t forget Winona. You’ll always see the brown sign indicating that the business loops are “Historical Route 66.” Then get set to be treated to one old relic after another. Businesses which thrived in the heyday of Route 66, THE road from Chicago to LA, and are now found mostly in some advanced level of decay ever since I-40 came along.