We left Laughlin early the next morning and drove south until we met up once again with Route 66. First order of business–coffee. Not as many kiosks in parking lots as we find in Oregon, where it seems every other corner has one. Pickings were slim, but we finally got caffeine before either of us felt the effects of withdrawal.
Fortunately I had fruit and protein bars with me, because it was a long time until we had a real meal.
The first stop of real interest, route-wise (I had to say that because the entire ride was glorious–I never knew a desert could be so beautiful in its wild desolation), was a tiny town called Oatman. When I saw the sign, I told Paul to start looking out for burros, because they roamed the streets. A little info from the town’s signs themselves:
Well, crud–I was hoping this second picture would be clearer. OK–from the Route 66 Adventure Handbook: “…the town’s most celebrated inhabitants are its burros, descendants of the beasts of burden that were brought here in the gold-mining days.”
And as we came around a bend into the main part of town, there they were–walking shoulder-to-shoulder down the middle of the road, as if they owned the place. Come to think of it, they probably did.
We got up abreast of them and stopped, and I rolled down the window, hoping I wouldn’t spook them.
Quite the opposite–and one of the best experiences on the trip!
I got to pet their soft noses and scratch their faces for them, and they were so sweet. It was hard to believe they were feral. There are feed dispensers in various places in town, but it was far too early to see if we could find them. So–the joyfulness was over–on their part–in short order when they realized we weren’t going to feed them. I got the gimlet eye
and they were off to the next possible food source.
We drove up a ways, found a place to park, and took pictures of the town and some of the rusty old leftover machinery scattered here and there. Artfully. (There are a lot of tourist shops here–it’s not abandoned by any stretch of the imagination.)
Just outside of town was an old abandoned mine–we couldn’t get too close though.
The next bit of road is called Sitgreaves Pass, and it was a real challenge to drive back in the original days of Route 66. I can believe it–so many hairpin turns and such a steep grade! But what a reward as we neared the top!
As we approached the summit, we passed the Gold Road Mine
and were soon far above it. There was a turnout that looked photograph-worthy–and was it ever. It was obvious that we had hardly been the first ones to find it a good spot to stop. Many people had memorials erected, and Paul even found ashes in one place.
Once we looked around at the nearby stuff, we raised our eyes and…
…the view took my breath away.
A song by Fernando Ortega came to mind when I looked out over this vast and empty plain below us:
“A sky so wide, you can hear your heart turn quiet”*
There is something about this desolate beauty, this silence, that makes all other things so trivial. I have stood at the lip of Mt. Vesuvius and looked into its crater, and I have climbed to the highest point of the Colosseum in Rome and gazed into the immensity of that arena, and in neither place have I felt so close to the face of God than this spot.
A few people actually met their Maker up here, unfortunately. Remnants of the proof remain:
We met up with a couple of guys who lived in the area, and had a nice chat for a few minutes. One of them had actually lived pretty close to where Paul and I live now. Small world–yet again!
All too soon we had to tear ourselves away from this beauty and head off to the next sight.
Not that there is much to it anymore, but at one time there was a town called McConnico a ways further down the road. Just west of it can be found a restored building–Cool Springs Camp. It is now a tourist shop, all out there in the desert on its own.
The books had little to nothing on the history of this place, so I found something on the interwebs: http://www.route66coolspringsaz.com/
Of course we had to take jillions of pictures of it. I saw that there was someone living in an Airstream trailer right behind the building, which meant that the owner (and manager) was still there. Hard to get pictures without its TV satellite in the way.
We were also very glad of the facilities that were provided:
(Portapotties behind this false front)
OK–on to the next thing…
Which was…Kingman, Arizona:
This town takes the whole Route 66 thing to heart, at least on the main drag.
This was the only place where we stopped at a museum. I’m thinking they were all pretty much the same, save for whatever local spin a particular place would have on the Road.
We found this bit of info amusing. I don’t think the numbers would have been as interesting in metric:
And here we are–the Road Royalty:
Inside, we found a cool map reference, and a picture with a phrase I think I will use from time to time:
The park across from the museum had a train as its centerpiece, so of course we had to go and photograph the thing to death.
And across the street to the park’s right was a thing of beauty–especially since we hadn’t had a real breakfast and it was lunchtime plus:
It was not here when the Mother Road brought folks to and from wherever, but it sure has caught the feeling–from the outside of the building:
…to the memorabilia, the jukebox, the menus, and the furniture.
And it’s lunchtime!
Me, I insisted on a milkshake. Seemed disrespectful NOT to get one when I was in such a place as this.
After a bit more walking about, we drove toward the east end of town, where a more prominent Kingman sign welcomed westbound travelers. We also got a good look at the train station and the old Hotel Beale, which was an original on the route.
The next stop was Hackberry, which wasn’t a real town–or at least it isn’t now. What a place though! A Route 66/photography lover’s paradise.
I don’t know if these Burma-Shave-styled signs were authentic, but the Route did have them back in “the day”. There were actually some still on the side of the road in one place.
So–zombies like it in Hackberry.
Water will cost you extra, fella.
Lots of little places between here and Holbrook. The day was getting on, and we still had a lot to see. So off we went again.
Truxton, AZ, had a section of old Route 66 with a motel and several other buildings. The “EZ66 Guide” that we had along with us said that this motel and the other places were being restored. This was as of the book’s writing in 2015. I don’t think the idea panned out:
By the way, did I write that Paul and I were listening to audiobooks while we were on the road? It’s a really good way to pass the time, and to keep from getting on each other’s nerves. Our first selection was Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”–which probably wasn’t the best choice right before we went to Carlsbad Caverns, but was definitely enjoyable. Librivox is a wonderful resource for audiobooks–I highly recommend them.
A little further down the road, and we hit actual Burma-Shave signs:
Not too clear, I know–but I was driving and Paul was asleep.
Seligman was next…just a blip on the road, and one of those towns where it was hard to discern Route 66 relics from modern economic downturn. This is the home of the “RoadKill Cafe”–a place we did NOT look up. Well, at the time we didn’t know about it, but still–even I have my standards…
We didn’t spend any more time here than it took to get these pictures–just kept going.
Only thing of interest for some time was seeing a fire in the distance. As we got almost on top of it (still a long way to the right of us), an electronic road sign let travelers know that it had been a pre-planned fire. So I hope it all went the way they wanted it to. Still a little scary to see–especially since we didn’t know if we would be driving through it.
Twin Arrows was next–a place held together by memories and a lot of spray paint.
The books said that there wasn’t a place to pull off–at least for eastbound travelers. Well, where there’s a will (and an overpass), there’s a way.
This puts me in mind of “WALL-E”
This used to be a diner, gas station, and trading post. Now it is a canvas for grafitti artists, it seems.
This property is now owned by the Hopi nation, who also owns the casino across the highway (which we couldn’t even see). I didn’t think about it being private property–I just jollied on into the buildings. Not creepy at all…
Definitely an interesting place.
We missed a lot of towns along this way because we were in a high hurry to get to Meteor Crater. This part of the road is the segment we will be revisiting in October.
Speaking of Meteor Crater:
Quite a few stairs–I didn’t get all the way to the top this time.
Here’s a close-up of the center^.
Here’s a Wiki site to read more about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteor_Crater
And of course the area around it had its businesses, which have come and gone.
There’s an old observation tower off in the distance, nothing but ruins now:
Below is Meteor City, an abandoned trading post which will probably end up collapsing in on itself someday:
We spent a considerable amount of time at Meteor Crater, both inside the center and outside, and the day was getting older and dimmer. Off we went again.
Winslow, Arizona–such a fine sight to see. This is a town we’ll have to explore in more detail next time–we only had enough bandwidth for The Corner–made famous by The Eagles.
“Standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona//Such a fine sight to see//It’s a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford//Slowin’ down to take a look at me”
And this would be that corner, that Ford, and that guy on said corner. All fiction, but the townsfolk decided “what the hey” and financed this set-up.
Short visit, but so fun!
Joseph City was next, home of the Jackrabbit Trading Post (still in operation). We didn’t go in–just got the pics.
Yes, you’re allowed to sit on the big grey bunny rabbit. Not that we did.
I wish we had.
OK–next stop–Holbrook, Arizona–home of the Wigwam Motel, which is where we spent the night.
We had the wigwam on the end, which was enhanced by the blue Ford Falcon van and the green Nash Airflyte.
This is what the rest of the place looked like:
I love this!
Even the lobby of the motel was dressed to the nines.
Then it was off to get some dinner:
Then it was time for bed. Good night!
Tomorrow we head away from the Route to spend the night in Roswell–on our way to Carlsbad Caverns.
* My thanks to Sara Sanchez of Trinity Entertainment Group for the permission to use Fernando Ortega’s song lyrics in this blog.