“If it were a snake…”

November 1, 2013


I go down Route 66 (I-40) and sections of National Trails whenever I go “into town”–and pass the airport exit. My visit there was such a nice experience and has remained with me. Thought I’d post again…

“If it were a snake, it would have bitten you!” is one of my grandmother quotes I still remember with loving fondness. Along the same line, my husband and I have a modern day quip pertaining to finding stuff right in front of us. We call it, “refrigerator blindness.” You know, when you can’t see the mayonnaise on the shelf right in front of your eyes, or the keys you’ve looked over twice on the desk…

The Barstow-Daggett Airport has been boldly sitting under my nose since I moved to the desert, and I’ve driven by it on Route 66 and I-40 hundreds of times—but never taken the time to stop and look. Shame on me! Recently, hooray, with my two friends Janice Maloney[1] and Mary McGee[2], I enjoyed another “Route 66 day.” This time, right in my own backyard.

At Airport Entrance

First off, I didn’t realize how large the airport actually was—over a 1,000 acres. The airport’s history is interesting and goes back to 1933. Built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the army to modify A-20 “Havoc” light bombers. There’s great information on the internet and in Route 66 books by various authors, including details on current military (helicopter) and commercial activities. But what I like most of all about going to Route 66 points of interest is talking to the people!

So far, everywhere we’ve gone, and without exception, there’s been a palpable passion for The Mother Road, a generosity of spirit of owners/operators/greeters, all delivered with an underpinning of warmth easily shared with inquisitive strangers (like me and my friends!) We also went to the Barstow Route 66 museum the same day, and Debra (a prime example of the Mother Road spirit), as always was most welcoming!

Al and Ron

And at the Barstow-Daggett Airport, Al and Ron, Daggett Aviation Inc., couldn’t have been nicer and more generous with their time. I left in awe. The historical wall pictures and artifacts, the memorabilia, and the stories and pictures of helicopters, airplanes, and celebrity adventures—WOW! Thanks, Al and Ron, it was a great visit. If you find yourself cruising this piece of Route 66, The Barstow-Dagett Airport is a peek not only into the past, but a look at a valuable  piece of current day Mojave infrastructure.

And once again I’m reminded what amazing feats amazing people have done before us–and continue to do.

I wonder….

For my mystery-writing friends–on the airport property there is also a no longer operating community pool in the shadow of a huge, and also no longer used hanger. Law abiding as I am, I couldn’t take a picture of the hanger. Nonetheless, fictional mayhem involving that pool and hanger are a-brewing in my imagination…

“Rulers of the Pond”

Well, we didn’t run into any snakes, but there is a pond, and the pond “rulers”— large flocks of geese (several kinds), and ducks (again, many varieties) came to “greet” us.  For me, it’s the unexpected that makes exploring Route 66 so special!

[1] Owner/Operator of Mojave Gourd and Pepper Farm http://www.mojavefarm.com/

[2] One of the last two teachers at Amboy, CA school before it closed, and current owner of historic Whiting Bros Gas Station on Route 66.


Memories. And I think I need another Route 66 adventure soon!!


11 Responses to ““If it were a snake…””

  1. I have to comment on Jackie’s comment because she just described (very close) the pool at a friend’s house. They bought a house that hasn’t been inhabited in quite some time, and when they uncovered the pool we found all kinds of scary things, including a snake.

  2. mmgornell said

    Wonderful Jackie! The beginning of a wonderful novel? I think so…


  3. photojaq said

    There’s nothing more sinister than an empty, abandoned swimming pool, fenced, perhaps with newspaper, broken styrofoam cups, and tumbleweeds blown against it, and a small area at the lowest end with dark rancid rainwater staining the plaster. A slight gap in the chain-link gate, a bolt cutter-snapped chain hanging from one side, a tiny swatch of faded denim caught on a snag of wire, fluttering a bit in the fickle wind.

  4. mmgornell said

    Hi Debra! Hope to stop back by soon. Saw your post about new long sleeve T-shirts!

    Earl, you’d drive the Route 66 tour bus of course! What a hoot(so)!


  5. Madeline, I know I would love going on a Mother Road adventure with you. Maybe one of these days.

  6. Debra said

    Hi Madeline! Your support of Route 66 and the community is warming and infectious in a nice way. Thanks for coming by. We are an all volunteer non profit organization and welcome people to drop in anytime whether to visit, chat or help out.
    Route 66 Mother Road Museum
    Historic Harvey House
    681 N. First Ave.
    Barstow, CA 92311

  7. mmgornell said

    I know, Marja, you solve one mystery, and others appear. Yes, and the pool is very curious–though I think there was a population in the area at the time to use????


  8. I’m really curious about the pool and hangar. I’m curious to know if there’s some kind of story behind them. Very interesting post!

  9. mmgornell said

    Thanks, Patricia and Marilyn, for stopping by. Yes, many, many, years later, “wisdoms” from my grandmother come back to me–sometimes to confirm my life experiences, and sometimes to mock me! Wish I’d listened better (especially in my wild-20s! ha, ha). Yes, Marilyn, my understanding was special flights, and small cessna type planes. Al and Ron told us several stories about Hollywood celebrities stopping there on there way to Vegas in the “golden age” of Hollywood days. Yeah, wish I had more time for my 66 adventures!

  10. I’ve often wondered about that airport. Does anyone fly in or out? Looking forward to it being included in one of your mysteries.

  11. Your grandmother was right! Sometimes places, people and situations to write about are right in front of our noses. I love your Route 66 adventures and I hope to see another one soon!

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