I thoroughly enjoyed Roger D. McGrath’s account of the Southern California Norton Owners Club journey along Old Route 66 (Correspondence, September). He mentions that his home is near the Rock Store, which immediately brought up memories of my old stomping grounds. I grew up in the west end of the San Fernando Valley, in Woodland Hills, and put thousands of miles on all the back roads of the Santa Monica-Malibu mountains, on two wheels and four, from Topanga Canyon to Deckert Canyon, from Ventura Boulevard (U.S. 101) to the Pacific Coast Highway. Destinations included an occasional stop at the Rock Store, and Malibu Lake, Hidden Valley, and wherever the road went. I usually rode solo and roamed the hills from 1963 to 1968 on my old ’56 Matchless 500 single (once owned by Bud Ekins), then my new ’64 Ducati 250 Scrambler (knobbies and all). I moved away for a few years, then returned in 1976 and resumed roaming the mountains on my new ’83 (or ’84) Kawasaki 550 LTD with my homemade custom saddle. I also rode up the coast highway to Grants Pass, then back down the I-5 and over to Reno, then back to L.A. through Sacramento, and on several rides to Hollister, Frazier Park, the back way to Ojai, and the Carrizo Plain. I moved away from the Valley permanently in 1988 and sold my Kawa shortly thereafter.
I now reside just north of Kingman, Arizona, about 100 yards off Route 66 at milepost 71, and have been here ten years. I had an old ’87 Sporty for a couple of years, but never got around to riding it much, and sold it. No doubt I may have observed Roger and company pass by when they rode through last September. If (when) they return to the Kingman area, I recommend the Delmonico at Kingman Company Steakhouse (a mile and a half north of Route 66 on Stockton Hill Road) and the prime-rib dinner at the Hualapai Mountain Resort (12.5 miles south of Route 66 on Hualapai Mountain Road—same intersection as Stockton Hill Road). Lastly, our local beer-and-burger place, Mike’s Route 66 Outpost and Saloon, is popular with local and passing bikers as well.
Thank you again for another brilliant article by Roger McGrath. “Old Route 66” is a deep, touching, entertaining, and informative story about a Middle America that is not yet gone. Dr. McGrath’s Sins of Omission is always engaging and a pleasure to read. This longer piece is a shining example from a truly gifted historian and writer.
Here’s hoping that the author can share some more travel stories with us in the future. Bravo.