Much time has passed since we last brought you a Bowl-O-Rama feature; the reason being that we had visited so many beautiful, old, local alleys that it seemed we'd begun to exhaust our natural resources. With just split seconds left before the wacky tacky fracking for bowling alleys began, we remembered a rich deposit of Bowl-O-Rama that was just waiting for our greedy exploitation at Wagon Wheel Bowling (est. 1953) in Oxnard, CA.
|Alright, alright, the facade of Wagon Wheel Bowling is about as unprepossessing as |
it gets, but do you really doubt our abilities to bring you the best in Bowl-O-Rama?
That multi-colored thumbprint glass alone was worth a little look-see.
A landmark of a certain stretch on the 101 Freeway (of which I made mental note on countless childhood road trips), my backseat view of Wagon Wheel Bowling always elicited scenes of trail-weary pioneers so thankful to have reached the land of plenty that the only fitting expression of gratitude for their salvation was thirty-two gleaming lanes and tricolor shoes in every size! However, it was never my fate to explore the realities of this minivan daydream. In an axiom-shattering example of the early bird failing to get the worm, we always passed the Wagon Wheel long before the lights were switched on; by the time it was open for business we were already begrudgingly giving hugs to relatives in the northern reaches of the state.
|One of the greatest things about Wagon Wheel Bowling is that it's the lone|
survivor of Wagon Wheel Junction (a complex of offices, a restaurant, a motel,
and the eponymous bowling alley). Fortunately the incredible, neon-stagecoach
sign for the demolished restaurant and motel still stands; in an era of rampant
"bulldozery," we hope that it continues to take pride of place along the freeway
or at least finds a good home!
|Well, we made good on our promise.|
How's that for form and follow-through??!!
While there were absolutely no bonneted pioneer women tending to cast-iron cauldrons over a campfire, nor wagon trains, nor trail masters, Wagon Wheel Bowling provided all the comforts and charms that a mid-century bowling alley ought to offer.
|We were thrilled to find an intact western motif (one of our favorites) and original fixtures - interior|
shed roofs, old championship rosters, shingle signs, and of course, wagon wheel light fixtures.
|The bar/billiard room/banquet hall came complete with vintage furnishings, a quaint brick-and-flagstone|
fireplace and the queen of all pinball machines, Elvira! Erika schooled us on how not to win at pinball...
|Like any bowling alley worth its salt, Wagon Wheel Bowling is home to a coffee shop;|
the current occupant is Doña Rosa's Mexican Food. We had just eaten but that didn't
stop Ben & Erika from getting cozy in one of the original, naugahyde booths. Wouldn't
it be a dream to have a space like this to make into a wacky tacky diner?
The Wagon Wheel holds a special place in our hearts because one of Tiny & Mary's signature tunes (an original) is titled "Wagon Wheel." I can't say with absolute certainty but, having the sign stamped in my subconscious after so many road trip sightings, it is safe to say Wagon Wheel Bowling may have very well been the inspiration for the song.
"Wagon Wheel" - Tiny & Mary
(Filmed by our pal James)
Just like that old wagon wheel, we'll keep rolling along looking for the next Bowl-O-Rama. Do you know of any beautiful bowling alleys that we simply must visit? Have you ever been to Wagon Wheel Bowling? Did you ever eat at the restaurant or stay a night in the motel? Our high score at Wagon Wheel Bowling was just exploring its history but we want to know, what was your record bowling score?
2801 Wagon Wheel Rd