Homer's Travels: Route 66 & California - Arizona & California

Monday, December 26, 2011

Route 66 & California - Arizona & California

We left New Mexico and headed west into Arizona.  The route alternated between frontage roads and the freeway and passed through small desert towns.

In Holbrook, AZ the route passes the Wigwam Motel with its concrete Tepee cabins.  When I think of Route 66, it is places like this that I think about.  Each cabin had an old car parked next to it to add one more vintage detail.

The Wigwam Hotel in Holbrook, AZ.
This is what I think of when I think Route 66.
Next stop along the route for us was the Jackrabbit Trading Post.  The gift shop appeared to be closed but the real attraction in my mind was the giant jackrabbit out front.  The Wife and I took turns getting our picture taken riding the rabbit (my picture is up on Facebook).

Lunch time was approaching and fortunately for us we were getting close to Winslow, AZ.  We drove downtown and parked near the town's main attraction: a statue "standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona".  For those who don't recognize the quote listen to this.  Awesome song.  Across the street from the little park, statue, and mural is a gift shop.  Eagles music is playing both outside and inside of the store with "Take It Easy" playing every now and then.  We walked through the store and scored some cool t-shirts, magnets, and a Route 66 sign that now adorns our den/computer room.

"Standing on a corner in Winslow, Az.
Note the "Girl in a flat bed Ford" in the background.
After asking the store clerk for restaurant recommendations we walked a block or so down the road to a small sports bar.  It was closed (we forgot to take the time change into account) but we decided to wait for it to open.  It was worth it as the food was great.  The Wife had a burrito that was a little famous in the area.  It was made by a Chinese lady in the kitchen and the Wife agreed it was a tasty burrito.

Next stop was Meteor Crater just down the road from Winslow.  This was my second time here having visited it in 1995.  Up to this point the weather had cooperated but as we approached the crater the skies got wicked dark (the picture doesn't do it justice) and all around ugly.  It started to rain when we got out of the car and headed into the visitor's center.   The visitor's center was much bigger than when I was here last.  As it rained outside we checked out the gift shop, watched the historical movie, and listened to the ranger stories (normally held outside but inside a theater today).  We came out of the ranger session in time to see the rain stop so we went outside and took pictures.  The hiking trail around part of the crater was no longer open and had apparently been closed for quite a while.

Meteor Crater Panorama
Farther west, past Flagstaff, Williams, and several small towns, the route finally leaves I-40 and heads out into the desert.  After a couple days of desolation and freeway driving, this part of Route 66 was very welcome.  The scenery was still desert but to me it was beautiful.  We passed Burma-Shave signs.  We stopped at an old trailer park to take pictures of a giant Tiki head reminiscent of the Easter Island heads (Easter Island is on our short list of places to visit someday).

Tiki (Easter Island) head near an old trailer park.
Farther west the road hits the Black Mountains where the route became a twisting mountain road (I like this kind of road but the Wife ... not so much).  The guide book talked about Shaffer's Fish Bowl Springs which sounded like a picture taking opportunity.  Unfortunately we must have passed it by without seeing it.  I'm a little disappointed with this as the area was very picturesque.

Black Mountain desert scenery.
The drive through the Black Mountains was one of my favorite stretches of the route.  Eventually you start driving through mining areas and small towns that service the area mines like Oatman, AZ where you can see wild burros wandering the streets (we saw one).

Hazy Black Mountains.
The road eventually reaches the Colorado River and Goose Lake where soon afterward you rejoin I-40 heading west.  We stopped in Needles, CA for the night.  We ate at Juicy's Famous River Cafe which was next door to our motel.  A place with an awesome name and awesome food.  This was followed by Dairy Queen.  Yum.

To me, this day turned out to be one of the better days along Route 66.  A good drive, interesting things to see, and good food.  The route was almost over - just one more day.  We were both tired of being in the car but we were holding up pretty well I think.  Tomorrow, the end of the route in Santa Monica, CA ... and one of the worse driving days of this vacation (Damn Los Angeles!).

These pictures and more have been posted in my 2011-07 Route 66 Roadtrip Google Photos album.

Approximate distance driven this leg: 428 miles.

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