This is part three of my Route 66 story. As a reminder, back in 2014, Hubby and I travelled a significant portion of Route 66 with great friends of ours, who, for the purpose of this trip, I’m calling ‘Ken and Barbie’. We are picking up at Day Seven.
Day 7 Route 66: We had a vexing start to the day, scrapping over the free hotel breakfast with some hungry touring pensioners. Carnage! We bolted our food and hit the road, heading North on US89. Just a few miles out we stopped at sunset crater to find there was no viewpoint. A quick squizz at the poster board sufficed and back we went on 89. At Cameron we decided to check out the Trading Post and a historic 1911 suspension bridge. One cowboy hat later and we turned East towards Grand Canyon National Park on HWY64. Finally the big crack unleashed all its glory. The boys particularly enjoyed inspecting it (deeply at times).
There were phenomenal scenes at the Grand Canyon viewing points (once you wrestled a Chinese tourist out of the way). Of note was the Desert View Watchtower, a 1932 stone tower (built by a woman back in the day, would you believe it) which offered an elevated view of this Wonder of the World. My take on the Canyon is that’s it’s not as red as you see in most professional photos. They are most likely taken at sunset. In fact there were beautiful greens and sand hues and it’s the colour nuances that get you. It’s breath taking. After a few vantage point stops we hit the road. At this point I’m slightly panicking with the amount of miles we had to still cover. It was around about this point we hit 2,400 miles total. This is significant as that is the equivalent to driving the entire length of R66. Pretty cool. Or “awesome” as my fellow US travellers might say.
Next stop was Seligman which presented the truly delightful Delgadillos Snow Cap. This is a 66 legend with burgers, dogs and malts galore. How serendipitous not to have eaten lunch already! It’s quirky too with a very unusual order hatch plastered with business cards and retro’ed up to the max. A few more snaps and on the road again.
We stopped at Kingman, mostly for snaps as the sun was close to its bedtime. We took the R66 scenic loop during a beautiful sunset, (making sure we had a full tank first). This was harsh terrain. We made Oatman at dusk vowing to come back tomorrow, but stopping for a beer and a yarn with the locals in Judy’s Bar. They told tales of a haunted and disused airstrip which like suckers we had to find on our way to the hotel. It was pitch black and felt like a horror movie. You know the score. Men get out of the car, women stay, men don’t come back. Barbie and I did some night sky mapping as the Milky Way was out and stars prolific. Big crack and Uranus today – wow! Barbie was game to see if the local’s ghostly claims were true by exploring more but we out voted her. Our beds were calling at Lake Havasu City. At 10pm it was a shocking 98F at our destination (that’s 37 in English money). Night y’all!
Day 8 Route 66: Of course we had to see the London Bridge before we left Lake Havasu. You will be familiar with the story of the crazy American property developer who bought all 10,246 stone blocks for a cool $7 million in the seventies thinking he had bought Tower Bridge. That’s actually not true – he did know what he was buying. It’s actually a beautiful bridge and sits well in its palm resort surroundings. This was just a quick stop followed by the obligatory Harley Davidson visit for the local t-shirt.
We liked Oatman to such a degree that we doubled back on ourselves to visit the town by daylight. Yes of course we revisited the “airfield” to see the terrain in the light but there were no ghosts out in a 98F heat. Our Wild West adventure started with a gun fight after witnessing a bank robber commit grand theft. But don’t worry, the new Sheriff in town took him down with a blank! The true stars of this town are the hay high Burros (donkeys) who wander freely, demanding from the tourists a hay pellet or five. Our charms fell short with these asses, a case of unrequited love. Oatman is similar to Jerome in entertainment value although it rocked a more unrefined cowboy vibe (in a good way). We stopped for lunch in the Oatman Hotel, the drinking hole infamous for two reasons. Firstly, it’s the place Clark Gable and some chick took their honeymoon (preserving the bedroom in a slightly odd way). Secondly the bar is covered (and I mean covered) with dollar bills, each penned with a name or something witty. We thought the owner was a genius when we found out the estimated value was $100k. However the truth is far more interesting in that it was an old mining tradition to stick the dollar bills to the walls. Mining being the dangerous job it is, the miner would go to the bar and put his bill on the wall with his name on it as the paper was liable to burn. It’s a pretty cool tradition just to get a cold beer. We can identify with that. We stuck our bills up then hit the road.
We had a fairly long stretch of old R66 to get through with a few photo opportunities on the way. Again it was tricky to follow 66 with road closures and some confusing turns. We thought we got clever with one cut through only to find ourselves in a close to deserted town cut off by road closures either ends. A U-turn was required and we hit the I-40, powering on through to the wigwam motel, our bed for the evening. Staying in a 1950s wigwam is a kitsch dream albeit like staying for the night in a storage heater. It was palm tree heaven, a little paradise resort in the middle of the ghetto. We only live once! I like to think this is the Native Indians last little joke on us! Last day on R66 tomorrow. Night y’all!
Day 9 Route 66: This. Is. It. The final stretch. We left WigWam no longer ‘Tee Pee Curious’ and headed due West on R66. This was probably the most straightforward part of the mother road. We managed to grab a bite (or two) at a retro Denny’s en route (it looked a bit like a gigantic square air stream) and after the pancake start was dismantled we made our way into LA. It was the most urban part of the “Will Rogers Highway” and a bit of Hollywood glamour had replaced our somewhat battered old Americana experience.
LA traffic kept us tardy for our date with the end of the route. However our confidence following “the Main Street of America” was bolstered when we got ourselves a convoy with two 1930s gangster cars. I’m not embellishing here. These cars had been parked at the wigwam motel, so we felt sure they were headed in our direction for the same reason. Fast forward three hours and we found ourselves at the end of Santa Monica Boulevard. Parking up we took some quick snaps at the end point and located a fitting spot to mark the end of our bucket list trip with a glass of fizz (go figure!).
Well that’s it people. Nine days, seven states, three thousand miles, a wonder of the world, three ghost towns, several cans of spray paint and two retro motels later and we got there. So many fond memories made with our great adventure buddies. How lucky are we?!? Night y’all!