Route 66 Reloaded
This may be the 21st century, but the concept here is considerably older than Route 66.
[Caution for those of you pulling this post down via cellular data – lots of pictures here.]
Day 2 of my Route 66 tourlette – and no, that isn’t a misspelling of another word – netted more dead ends than expected, but I’d purposely built in a few, so the excess was more of an opportunity than a problem. First thing was to pull off I-40 at Exit 269, which took me past Jack Rabbit Trading Post, which is a lot less grandiose than your usual tourist trap. Built in 1948, it’s now more of a nameless convenience store and curio shop.
For the kids.
A building, like any other building…
Some kinda Chrysler product next to the Caddy, I think. There are plenty of such relics scattered throughout Arizona.
Heading toward Joseph City, where 66 becomes Main Street.
I noticed that wherever Route 66 is still in use as a connector of ranch or business to town, it’s kept in good shape. Where it isn’t used, it’s been left to return to nature. Each time a good section approaches a road that crosses over the Interstate, it suddenly bends away from it on fresher pavement, so as not to interfere with the “new” exits and entrance ramps. At times, when it crosses over to the other side, the true original path has of course been replaced by this jog.
Main Street in Joseph seems to have done only limited catering to tourists, not depending on them. Though tiny, it seems to have weathered 66’s decommissioning well. This one boarded-up building is nearly it for casualties.
Once past Joseph, the official guidance is to get back on I-40 and go. Naturally, I wanted to get tricky and stay on it after it crossed over the Interstate to run along the southern side, to see where it went. Still in admirable shape, a truly massive complex with smokestacks loomed off to one side. I had little idea of what it could be.
Power Plant X.
Once I was almost past it, I saw a rock outcropping to the left that was worth taking a photo of, and it was time to enter a new set of GPS coordinates anyway, so I pulled over. In my side mirror, I noticed a white pickup with roof lights pull out of the entry gate, drive toward me, and then instead of pulling up behind, it came up abreast of my passenger side, window down. A nice uniformed lady asked, “Whatcha doing here?” I mentioned retracing Route 66 and wanting to take a photo of the rocks on the other side of the road. “Sorry, this entire area is private property, and they do not allow photographing anything anywhere on the property. This entire area is off limits, so you shouldn’t stay here.” It’s the terrorist thing, I know. I’m the Street View minion of Google Maps. She didn’t want me to press on eastward, so I turned around and got back on I-40 the way I’d arrived.
Mmm, big rocks. Hey, big teepee!
I pulled into the Geronimo store, since it had many teepees distributed about, and The World’s Largest Petrified Wood.
The front of the store. I wasn’t going to go in, of course. But then I remembered my grandson with a birthday coming up in a few months, and this store was probably well-stocked with shiny objects. I got a couple of interesting things that you’re not going to find at Toys-R-Us, ever, and we’ll see how they go over. One is lethal and the other is hideously fascinating. Made to order for a 5-year-old boy, right? I was surprised to find prices were quite reasonable, even for very nice locally-made pottery and admirably-carved wood animals, also local and no two remotely alike. Dang! No place to put them and they don’t really fit right into the motif of any place but the West.
On to Holbrook, and what has to be a dead ice cream place caught my eye. Maybe it’s something else, but it has that look.
Right next to it is the shop of a guy who likes VW Beetles, and apparently loves to cut and weld.
A narrowed Bug in front, and a stretched bug behind it. This guy just can’t help himself! I was impressed.
Okay, it’s getting crazy now. I did not look closely, but it might be a modified tiny TT grafted onto the floor pan of a Beetle sedan. The front end is real Beetle, but the rest of it is painted onto the camper’s sides.
I wonder how many parents suffered permanent hearing loss as their kids screamed about stopping at this place that LET YOU SLEEP IN A REAL TEEPEE!
Even though these old cars are here for effect, there’s still plenty of parking room. i noted that the teepees are in fact smooth-finished concrete painted over, and that one “flap” houses a window air conditioner. Now I suspect that these might not be real teepees…
Chevy farm truck all but hides what I think is a Studebaker, with a GMC tow truck pulling up the rear – with a nearly modern light bar? And old Ford is at center rear.
A painted facsimile of a letter noting that as of 2002, the Wigwam Village is on the National Register of Historic Places. That’s good, ’cause those concrete teepees aren’t going anywhere. I must say, even today, this place is very well kept, and there’s a standard motel toward the rear.
Also in Holbrook is Joe and Aggie’s Cafe, a Route 66 survivor. The online reviews of this place range from glowing to spoiled brat. I expected what passes for a carefully-themed retro diner. What I got was a rather standard-issue cafe nearly unchanged from its initial opening. The decor is fake wood paneling, with some Native American and Mexican items on the walls. Family-run, it was friendly but rapid service, and my tuna salad on toast sandwich was just right. If you need to be thrilled or entertained, go somewhere else. It’s a cafe.
One humorous thing was that while I was circling a block in order to get to parking for the restaurant, the “female” GPS voice was still trying to get me there and announced calmly, “Turn left on Bucket of Blood Road, then turn right.” Whaaat?? Yep, there is one.
No big deal, it’s just a competent restaurant that’s been around forever, and they promote the hell out of it, with a guest log and free bumper stickers.
I’m not saying I agree with this of course, but, well…
Joe hisself showed me this poster. Apparently, William Shatner will be arriving in a couple of weeks to work on part of a documentary here, and Joe also says that director Tim Lasseter somehow found the restaurant and its owners to be an inspiration for the animated feature Cars. I suspect he just wanted to mooch free food.
Get this: I rolled in and spotted “Woodstock Harley Davidson” on a van and trailer chase vehicle for a bike tour. A group of riders were ambling out, and they had in fact started in Woodstock, Illinois, where I’d lived nearly a decade until I hit the road! The special oddity was that they were all Finns making their way to the west coast, where they would fly back to Europe. What are the odds? I can tell you, Europeans take vacations and travel very, very seriously compared to us.
The east side of Holbrook is cleaned off and built anew, mostly. They have their own Safeway and a range of business types, so that’s a ruler to measure by, I guess.
Exit 303 got me the “Painted Desert Indian Center”.
They too had a plethora of gigantic teepees, more visible from the Interstate.
The truck is in fact on Route 66 westbound.
Ahead of the truck is this, a spur of 66.
A short distance down that spur is a wooden bridge that is now next to I-40’s concrete version.
And it’s officially closed, although thick steel sheets are band-aided over some troubled areas. 66 does continue on once past this, in dirt.
when I say it’s a wooden bridge, I mean wood – main beams, cross beams. A few inches of pavement on top kept it protected for awhile.
Just down the way eastward is another tourist place that didn’t make it.
Same place, different angle. That’s an Edsel in the center. I’ll let you write your own caption.
The Petrified Forest National Park has Route 66 running right through it, since this was nearly the only highway to get to it. You’re looking westward at 66 leaving you, believe it or not. I suspect they tore it out, then put up a commemorative site when interest in the highway ramped up as a nostalgia thing.
The opposite direction doesn’t show much either, but I’ll show you what does…
The road in is one large “U” that crosses over route 66 twice, not once. This service road, authorized vehicles only, heads off east on the initial trip in, and stays parallel with I-40. Further, my GPS announced it as “66 Road”. The 66 memorial is several miles west, as the entry road crosses over it again. This goes until it curves off to a facility, and whatever goes on further is referred to as Pinta Road by Google maps.
Looking in the opposite direction, there’s a slightly raised run leading away, though it’s not as discernible as the westward crossing. Given that 66 was repurposed into a service road, I became more convinced that the Park Service turned the rest back into prairie to avoid idiots like me trying to track it in, since this is behind the entry gate.
This Park is not actually on my agenda this year, but I did pop into a few of the many viewing points for snaps.
I went to Petrified National Forest Park a couple-three years ago, and you can read posts about it here, here and here.
Swinging the camera right…
Another viewing point. These all look similar, but the variety is actually significant as you go to different areas.
I think it was Exit 330 that got me onto 66 as it ran on the north side of I-40. Great pavement heading toward Chambers!
Whoops! Then not so great pavement. Except for normal crack sealing, this is pretty untouched. You can see the left lane edge being seriously encroached by plants. Mixed feelings as I rode down this, and it’s still there and usable, but is going away.
Whoa! I-40 is to the right, and I couldn’t tell if 66 once crossed through a once-narrower cleft, or wound around to the left. There were two gated driveways here, with smoothed gravel driveways winding over hills and out of sight. Hideaways.
I had to backtrack, but at the moment I was less than a mile from my night’s stay, a side lot of a Mobil gas station at Exit 333. Last night’s stay in Winslow was within a hundred yards of very busy railroad tracks. This is nearly as close – I am following Route 66, after all. But the trains are fewer and shorter here.