So we finally did it; as a 50th birthday present to my wife, we decided to ride Route 66 from Saint Louis to LA. We had talked about doing this ride for quite a few years, but after getting the Miata convertible and deciding that would be a fitting 50th birthday present for my wife the choice became obvious. Route 66 starts in Chicago and it ends in Santa Monica Pier, CA. Total distance is 2,448 miles (3,940 km), but we decided to start in Saint Louis as we are familiar with Chicago and its surroundings. We also bought a couple of books specific to navigating the route and finding the best spots to stop and explore.
Some facts on Route 66 – opened in 1926, it started in Chicago, Illinois and goes through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California (ending at the Santa Monica Pier). It became the primary road those escaping the Dust Bowl in route to farming jobs in California. It was used for one of the longest foot races in US history; the Bunion Derby from LA to New York City. First prize of $25,000 (equal to $340,000 in 2014) was awarded to Andy Hartley Payne, a Cherokee runner from Oklahoma. Much of the early highway, as with other highways, was gravel or dirt. Some sections were very dangerous and the name “Bloody 66” to identify it was common. During World War II, the route was fully paved and it became a popular route to move military equipment. In the 50’s vacationers traveled the road in increasing numbers that grew the economy in many of the tons along it way. In 1956 the start of its decline came about as the Interstate Highway Act was signed by Dwight Eisenhower. Route 66 was slowly replaced section by section by the new Interstate highways, by 1985 the route was totally bypassed.
Our Route 66 trip started on September 5th and we reached the Santa Monica Pier on September 17. After that we went to San Francisco, Napa Valley, Austin and New Orleans before returning home on September 29th. We logged a total of 7,000 miles in the Miata without a glitch. This post will only cover our Route 66 drive in a very abridged way; we saw so much and took so many pictures we will spare you too much detail. Enough, let’s get going with some pictures…
NOTE: I apologize for the length of his post; it is the longest I have ever posted. However, I hope you review it in its entirety to get the best and the curious of what we saw. While the number of pictures below is big, it only represent a very small number of the ones we took.
The gate to the West monument; the iconic Saint Louis Arch. The tallest monument in the Western Hemisphere and the tallest arch in the World. This thing is massive! It looked and felt like stainless steel, but some said it was titanium….hmmm….nah. Have verified that it was constructed by joining stainless steel triangles with smaller cross-sections as they reached the apex and then filled with concrete. Now, that is one strong and beautiful structure.
Having some fun with alternate views…
My wife took this one; I really like it.
We are eating a lot less meat these days, but while in Saint Louis we had to have some of our favorite BBQ. We think the BBQ in Saint Louis is one of the best as we really like real smoked BBQ. We split a sampler platter…wow was it big…what you see here is half of it. Yum!
After a day in Saint Louis we were ready to head west on Historic Route 66. Many parts of Route 66 are no longer in service, but with some patience and a not so easy to navigate Route 66 map we did ok.
I can only imagine how busy this route must have been during its heyday. Unfortunately, many of the businesses have closed and only a few remain. You do come across some strange ones now and then.
Almost out of Missouri so we had to stop at one more BBQ restaurant. The place was filled with very funny plaques and the waitresses wore different funny quotes on the back of their t-shirts. This one was funny and appropriate for the place.
We came across many really good murals in Missouri, Kansas and to some extent New Mexico. Some depicted store fronts like this one… it looked real, but it was just a solid wall.
Others murals paid homage to some of the young men in the town that were killed in WW II.
Hey, to get traffic many stores along Route 66 dream up things that are unique, will be noted in travel guides and will cause other to stop. This is one good example.
One after the other you see small stores to get your hard-earned money. This one was closed, but it looked really nice; probably a new addition – it just looked too good.
Then you come along diners that bring back memories of the 50’s. This one is open 24 hours and it looked fantastic. Unfortunately we ate not long after we bumped into it so we did not go in.
You may remember Joplin, Missouri. In 2011 Joplin was hit by an EF5 tornado where whole streets were wiped and about 150 people were killed. An EF5 tornado is as violent as you can get and this one was no exception. It was the most destructive tornado to hit the US since 1947 Glazier-Higgins- Woodward tornado. It also ranks as the costlier tornado in US history ($2.8 billion). The good news is that they have not had one since and this day was a beauty with no tornado potential at all.
Detail from previous picture – showing you the overall view of Route 66 from Chicago to LA and the various states it crosses.
Route 66 traverses many small town main streets. Many of these small towns thrived during the route’s heydays, but are now devoid of the traffic they once had. Many became ghost towns, some barely managed to survive, and some decline but were not taken out. As many in the US and around the world rediscover this venerable route and people like us tour it, some of the towns around its route are starting to slowly rebound. This image shows a portion of Joplin’s main street; we noticed that it was very clean, had nice flowers and trees, but still had plenty of empty stores. Looks like it is trying to come back, and we hope it does as we really enjoy thriving small towns. We find that these streets, when thriving, offer business variety not found in malls. We must not be alone on this as over the last decade there has been a move to revitalize main streets and they are indeed pulling business away from the now declining malls. Yes, the pendulum is swinging back.
As mentioned previously, many portions of the original route are no longer there, but the good thing is that most of it is. We were pleased to see good Route 66 signage. We only had a couple of issues where we had to back track to find a turn, but generally speaking, the route is well-marked. Regardless, if you decide to ride it we recommend you do some research in the internet, buy a book or two that provide you with highlights and must see spots. The route does split on several points into “Historic” and “pre-1930”. The “Historic” portions, completed in 1930, rerouted it to align it better with other roads and somewhat reduce travel time. We did some portions of the pre 1930; we found the roads were rough and not as well maintained as the “Historic”. Actually, after traveling on a portion of the pre-1930, it suddenly stopped, so we had to back track.
Soon after we crossed into Kansas we came across the town of Galena (established on 1877). The town was not in good shape overall, but had a couple of bright spots. The first, this nicely refurbished old gas station with the addition of some of the Disney’s movie characters. This is no longer a working gas station, but it is a visitor’s center and they sell many Route 66 themed items. By the way, notice the skies. We had great weather along the whole route; sunny, sometimes very hot, but overall perfect weather to keep the top down. Yeah!!!!
For those who are familiar with some of the Cars movie characters; here is Tow Mater (actually his real name is Sir Tow Mater). Nice job!
Galena’s main street has several blocks, but most are deserted with boarded up businesses. As we go by similar towns we always wonder how residents make a living, but somehow they seem to manage. On the way out we saw a very well done mural highlighting Galena’s place within Route 66. This and the gas station were the nicest spots in town. Route 66 only runs for 13 miles in Kansas so this was the highlight for this stretch.
Yep, we had to stop many times to check the guides and try to plan our next move. As we mentioned, thank God for the wonderful weather throughout the whole ride. Many times the only marking for the route were painted on the road itself, such as this image shows. We missed a few here and there as some had faded significantly…not too mention that sitting as low as you do in a Miata, it is not hard to miss such road signs.
By now you should have figured out that there is a trend on what you will see on Route 66. Old gas stations – we were told that in the route heydays cars only went about 70 miles per fill up – trading posts and general stores. If you are not into vintage/old stuff then Route 66 might not be for you.
The “World Famous” Waylans Ku Ku Hamburger joint in Miami, Oklahoma. We had to stop and have a bite. It was around lunch time so the place was packed. You ordered at the counter, got a number and they would deliver the food to your table. As we waited our turn an older looking lady was sitting in the table next to the cash register (small place remember). We could tell she was a regular as they addressed her by her first name. She smiled and I returned the smile; soon we were talking and while my wife ordered our food she told me her life story and showed me pictures of her family she had in a small flip album she kept in her purse. We had a great chat and wished us safe travels. I really like exchanges like that; imagine they are more common in small towns like this. By the way, she was 92 – wish I took a picture of her.
In the old days attention to detail and adding decorations to building were a lot more common than today. This is the main theater in town (Miami, OK); look at the beautiful detail on the facade of this building – I think it is amazing and sad we are tearing down many examples of such fine workmanship.
While in Miami, OK we stopped at the Vintage Iron motorcycle museum. What a great museum with many examples of old and new motorcycles, as well as a great collection of Evel Knievel memorabilia. Here we have a fine example of the a fine motorcycle by the Indian Motorcycle Company. If interested in more info on tis museum check their website at www.route66vintageiron.com
It is universally agreed that Mr. Knievel was a fearless (some would say crazy) individual. Maybe one of his quote years after he retired puts it best…””You can’t ask a guy like me why I performed. I really wanted to fly through the air. I was a daredevil, a performer. I loved the thrill, the money, the whole macho thing. All those things made me Evel Knievel. Sure, I was scared. You gotta be an ass not to be scared. But I beat the hell out of death.” Evel Knievel
I just do not get tired of seeing variations of old gas stations. Believe me, not posting all I have. If you look at details, you will see many differences amongst them.
Afton, Oklahoma, population as of 2010 was 1,049. We stopped at their Route 66 station and now museum. You really could not tell what was inside, and we were pleasantly surprised.
At the entrance they had distance markers for the whole route…we still had 1,680 miles to Santa Monica, CA. No problem!
Once we entered the classic car section of the store/museum we were surprised to see two large rooms filled with impeccable Packard’s and Studebakers.
Labelled as the tallest Totem Pole in the world…it was really not worth the extra miles, but we can say we were there. Apparently, this is a popular place for families to come on holidays for a day out. They do have several totem poles and a large picnic area.
Here she is! My very skilled navigator waiting for a snack and looking for accommodations for our next stop. We had roughly planned stopping points along the way, but since we took our time in some attractions and we also took some detours to see attractions miles away from Route 66 those point did not always work out. So, we waited until early afternoon each day and projected were we would be by 7PM or 8PM. We then reserved a hotel room in the selected town. For the most part we had good hotels; with one exception. Let me just saw that it was the worst hotel stay ever.
One of the highlights was the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Wow was it nice; highly recommended and plan to spend at least 2 good hours touring it. They had so many great items chronicling the real cowboy story that differ significantly from the one we get from Hollywood. However, they also had a huge section devoted to Western movies and TV shows.
Gunsmoke had to be there.
My wife would be really disappointed if Clint Eastwood was not represented. Glad he was or I would not be responsible for the damages to the museum.
The museum really covered so many aspects of the regular cowboy life. One whole room was dedicated to barbed wire; yes, barbed wire. Did you know that there are over 8,000 types of burn wire? Each has a different twist and prong configuration. What you see here is just one of the many draws showing 16 different types. There were four walls filled with draws; go figure.
There are 9 Route 66 museums along the whole route. We stopped at the one in Clinton, Oklahoma. Looked really nice so why not.
The museum is in really great condition and it has well laid out exhibits and old cars. You really feel that you have travelled back to the 50’s while inside. Liked the history and the old pictures of the route at different stages of its history. Well worth the stop and entrance fee.
Not sure if the VW bus was around during the route heyday, but it was good to se one of this buses again. I remember they were very popular in the late 60’s and 70’s. Wonder why VW has not brought these buses back? A day ago I read an interview with a VW executive and was asked if there were plans to bring the famed bus back; not a chance he said. Time will tell.
Self explanatory; we really like neon
While crossing Texas we saw this super iconic Route 66 landmark. The Conoco Art Deco Tower in Shamrock, TX. Our only disappointment was that it was sunny and we could not appreciate the neon that lines much of its profile. Construction was started in 1930 and finished in 1936. After Route 66 was bypassed it changed hands and many tenants modified it to fit their business. It eventually fell into disrepair and was finally shut down in the 90’s. A federal grant funded its full renovation to its original look. It looks brand new today.
There are literally hundreds of old signs all along the road. Most about businesses that do not exist anymore, but in this case the motel is still open. We liked to see these fine examples of 50’s signage. Nostalgic? Perhaps.
A surprising fact is that most of those riding Route 66 are from other countries. While we some many Chinese and some Brazilians, Europeans were the largest foreign group we came across. Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, UK, Italy, Scotland, New Zealand and Sweden. In fact, this picture shows one of a group of Swedish motorcycles we saw along the ride. We usually saw a group of 4 to 6 riders at the time. They were really enjoying themselves.
We stopped in Amarliio, TX ad stayed a couple of days visiting friends and making new ones (Nancy & Steve – thank you so much for your hospitality; hope we can host you in Greenville, SC soon). One of the definite highlights of our trip was Palo Duro Canyon. Wow, had no idea there was such a canyon in TX. Our friend Scott and my wife are seen here as we start our hike up to The Lighthouse formation. Again, a beautiful day, not too humid.
As we hike it was difficult to focus on much as the beauty of this canyons all around you. This piece of dead wood caught my eye as we approach The Lighthouse.
Ok, never heard of dung beetles before. Wow, talking about hard, dirty work! This little fellow was moving his dung ball up the incline you see in front of him. As he would approach the half way point the weight of the dung ball will overwhelm it and the ball would roll over it while the beetle held on the ball as it rolled back down. Did you know that a dung beetle can bury a dung ball 250 times heavier than itself? Now that is strength! So they eat dung, live in dung and play with dung…to each its own I guess. Strange creatures but someone has to deal with dung, right?
A panoramic view of Palo Duro Canyon with the Lighthouse on the left. Wow is this place beautiful. Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the US. It is not to the scale of the Grand Canyon, but I think it is just as beautiful. To think our friends are 20 minutes away from such an amazing natural wonder. Fantastic hiking trails everywhere.
Hiking up to the Lighthouse is a bit challenging, but the view is certainly worth it. Here we are with our good friend Scott – our guide of the day. Thank you so much Scott for the treat of hiking with you in such an amazing place.
One final view of the canyon as we return to our cars. The formations, colors and the many creatures we found along the hike was really something we will remember for a long, long time.
Here we are outside the home of our friends Scott and Dawn. They also had visitors from California and Massachusetts – we knew them all as at one time we all attended Church in the Pines in Wareham, MA. It was great to see them after many years. PS. if you live in Southern MA and are looking for a great church you must visit Church in the Pines. For more info visit www.churchinthepines.org
We restarted our ride and; surprise!…15 minutes after leaving the home of Scott and Dawn we go by Cadillac Ranch. I remember when the partially buried cars were in much better shape. Picture below show the Cadillacs as they looked soon after they were half buried.
Picture credit to JP Laffont.
The cars were originally installed in 1974 on a different location; just a few miles away in a hay-field owned by Stanley Marsh. Development threatened them so they were relocated align side Interstate 40 on land also owned by Stanley Marsh. As you can see, time and graffiti has altered their look. On accession however, they are repainted a solid color to provide a new canvas to visitors. They have also repainted them to commemorate special occasions such as flat black to commemorate the passing of Ant Farm artist Doug Michaels, restored to their original colors to shoot a commercial for the motel chain Hampton Inn.
Today they have wild colors and visitors are encouraged to paint whatever they like on them. It really seems that the cars are not being help together by the ever-growing paint coating on them. I would think rust is no longer a problem.
When we stopped at Cadillac ranch we saw about 20 to 30 Mustang convertibles parked alongside the road. We figured they were a large group of tourist and so it was. After we left Cadillac Ranch we stopped to refuel and saw a few of the Mustangs doing the same thing. Spoke to the gentleman in the picture – he told me that a group of Kiwis flew to Chicago and booked a Route 66 tour with “Kiwis on Tour” company. They all had Mustangs convertibles and drove Route 66 to LA. At this point they were on their way back to Chicago. For more info on the tour company they used check the website noted on the back of this car; must be a great business for them. They were having a grand time and their moods did not reflect the miles that have already put on; made us feel good of what was ahead of us.
Soon after crossing into New Mexico we stopped at Del’s Restaurant (Est. 1956) in the small town of Tucumcari. The food was really good, especially the soup! Directly across from us we had these two gents and a boy. The two gents were talking about a recent slaughtering and then turned to the boy and talked about roping cattle. The young man on the right had big spurs on his boots, they looked really cool. I imagine they have a ranch close by and Del’s is a popular lunch spot for them.
Tucumcari main street, as many of the other main street Route 66 went by, has several souvenir stores selling just about every Route 66 trinket imaginable. Of course my wife had to check it out. IMPORTANT – one of the benefits of traveling cross-country in a small convertible such a Miata is the lack of space everywhere. The cabin is very comfortable for two, but nothing more. The trunk? Ja, it is very small and to maximize it volumetric capacity we decided to forgo the use of suit cases and place our clothes right in it. After we were done packing what we thought we would need there was no much room left for anything at all…brilliant way to avoid buying stuff you like, but hardly need. Yeah!!!
The Blue Swallow Motel is by far the most recognizable landmark in Tucumcari. I have seen this motel in many publications before. It was great to see it personally; I am glad the skies were perfect for this shot. Wish we could have stayed overnight to be able to capture it with it neon lights on; but not to be.
Portion of the rooms at the back of the Blue Swallow Motel. Notice the neon light at the top; the whole building/units have neon borders. Nice!
We finally made it to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Great city for what we saw. We stayed overnight and had amazing Mexican food at El Pinto Restaurant – what a huge place (sits as many as 2,000 people and they have a wait staff of 88 at any given moment). Their salsa and sopapillas were simply superb! They make their own salsa, they use about 120 tons of chiles a year, and make 4,000 cases a day. Ok, but what about the church in this image? Ah, we are looking at the oldest church in Albuquerque. It was built in 1706 and has served the community without interruptions since then. It is located on the main square of the Old Town section of Albuquerque. A real beautiful old church that has been very well maintained for sure.
We took a trolley tour of Albuquerque and we came across a neighborhood that really looks a lot different that all others in Albuquerque. This particular house is the one featured in Breaking Bad; Jessie Pinkman lived here in the series. What makes this neighborhood different? Notice the green grass? Well, almost all other neighborhoods do not have grass due to the high cost of water. Lawns in other neighborhoods are nicely decorated with stones and green bushes I assume are drought resistant. This house is in one of the premier neighborhoods in Albuquerque and a very popular area for Hollywood movie. Main reason, they are can look like any place in the US. Many movies have been filmed here for that reason.
One more for Breaking Bad fans….do you remember this Motel? Used by uncle Hank to give Walter Jr. a lesson of where you can end up if you allow drugs into your life. Jessie also used it occasionally for nefarious activities.
Albuquerque is a very nice looking city. Much of its architecture borrows a great deal from Native Indian motifs. Here we have a beautiful detail of one building along the way illustrating the unique look I am talking about.
During the tour we went by this mess of a place. We were told that the city has no plans on tearing it down or revitalizing this old and run down building complex. Why? It is heavily used by Hollywood for movies of all kinds. One you may have seen is one of the Transformers movies. Due to its proximity to Hollywood, great weather, lower tax rates and tax breaks to related industry Albuquerque is one of the top movie/TV locations today.
If you visit Albuquerque you need to visit the Old Town area. Initially it looked to us like the area was a recreation of what the old city must have looked like. Only to find out that most, if not all, of the structures there are original. Refurbished here and there, but original. Old Town is full of stores, galleries and restaurants. We decided to stop at the High Noon restaurant for lunch. This image shows the front of the restaurant built around 1785. Legend has it that this building has been both a gambling parlor and a brothel. Additionally, many employees and customers have many stories about supernatural encounters.
Being a big fan of old building this one did not disappoint. The floor looked original tile (heavily worn, you could easily see high traffic areas). Te decor was really nice and the food amazing. Highly recommended.
While in Santa Fe – WOW is Santa Fe beautiful! My wife heard that there was a flea market near by. Guess what, we had to go…good thing we have no room in the Miata (wife did hint about shipping FedEx..:-( )
While wifey shopped around I wondered and found this gentleman practicing his art. We chatted for a while, told me how business has slowed lately, but the weather made up for it. Santa Fe is supposed to have the cleanest air in the US. With an elevation of 7,260 feet I can see why the air is so clean and also some may feel the altitude while walking uphill.
Yep, this artist is prolific. Being in a semi-Arid climate, good thing it rains very little or much of his work would get ruined.
Native Americans are a common sight in New Mexico. We came a cross a young girl wearing some native hair decorations. I think they look real nice. Yes, I asked if I could take pictures.
More on the local architecture; what a great change from what we are used to back East. By the way, we were told that hanging chile peppers is done for good luck.
One last image on Santa Fe buildings. It does not get more Santa Fe than this.
The famous Loreto Chapel stairs. Notice how there is no center post on this stairs. Architects marvel at how it was constructed since it defies know rules for such a structure. No nails were used by the unknown builder. Non native wood was used and there is no record of how the materials were delivered. In short, who and how such a structure can stand is a mystery even today. Many say it was a miraculous occurrence as a result of the nuns praying for a way to get up to the choir loft. Those who believe in the miracle say that St. Joseph was the builder. We might never know.
On our way to Arizona we saw so many amazing views; this is one fine example. We were surprised how quickly the topography would change. It seemed that as soon as you cross a state line, BAM!…you had a complete different looking landscape.
The Miata did excellent though out the ride. No issues at all.
Of course we had to wash the Miata a couple of times as the amount of bugs that decided to adorn its front became too much. Here we have a couple of large bugs taking a closer look of the grill.
While in Arizona we visited the Painted and Petrified Forest. Here we have some extremely old paintings left by native dwellers. They look prehistoric to me.
One more…see the bird (big bird perhaps) like creature? Does it have something in its beak? Is it a man? A frog ….
We were very happy with our Painted Forest visit. The colors and patterns all around you are unique. Wifey smiling to the camera.
It is very easy to just get out of your car, sit and contemplate the beautiful world God has created for us. I think way too often we do not see or realize the amazing world we have been gifted with.
A small sample os a petrified tree. The saddest thing was to find out that the area was once full of standing petrified trees. Not long ago people saw profit in cutting them down, sectioning them and selling them. The result is that most of what you see today is just a very wall remnants of what must have been truly an amazing sight.
With the gentle wind blowing by, perfect silence and time to enjoy the view.
The same view changes in so many way depending on the lighting at any given time of the day. We were really lucky to arrive kind of late to the Painted Forest. The sun had just started to go down and the colors of the landscape was further accentuated by the golden hue of the setting sun.
The view kept on getting better as time went by. We were treated to God’s amazing heavenly canvas and how it touched this earth with falling rain- way far in the horizon. I am not sure about you, but this kind of image just reinforced the hand of an omnipotent creator to me.
Last one as the light quickly faded and we were headed to Holbrook, AZ for the night.
While planning our Route 66 trip my wife often spoke about the Wigwam motel and how it would be great to see it. Well, we did the next best thing; we stayed in it.
The Wigwam Motel is a bit run down, but it has the feel of what things may have been many years past. There are many old cars all around the property that gives it that old look. Waiting to check in at this point.
Rear view from previous image.
Our room! Yes, it is a tepee shaped room. You must have seen this before as it is quite a famous landmark.
Suffice it to say that our experience in our tepee room was, lets say, representative of what sleeping in a real tepee must have been. Fine for one night, no more.
As mentioned before, there were many old cars around the Wigwam motel, but this one caught my eye. Do not remember seeing a Studebaker truck before; only cars.
During our ride we saw hundreds of trains. We were amazed as the length most had. Firstly, all had at least 2 engine cars upfront; this one has 4. Then the number of cars they pulled…wow. we decided to count in one instance and we stopped at 84 cars…there were probably around 100. Of course, the flat terrain helps a lot.
Eagle Fans -Take it Easy. Do you know where we are in this image? Yes, … “I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see It’s a girl, my Lord…” It is my girl! My wife is leaning on Glen Fry from the Eagles. Take it easy was written by Jackson Browne and some contributions by Glen Fry.
My lady right on the intersection of Second St & Kinsley Ave., Winslow, Arizona.
Riding such a long route you are bound to come by items that catch your attention, but stopping for each would make for a very long trip. This large carved totem pole caught our eye enough to take a quick snap from the car. We know we probably missed many things along the route, but we did our best to be alert at all moments.
Panoramic view of Meteor Crater in Arizona (also known as Barringer Crater). The crater is located 18 miles west of Winslow, AZ. The crater was formed about 50,000 years ago. Then the area was an open grassland with woodlands that more than likely has some wooly mammoths. The crater was over 10,000 years old when the first humans saw it. How is that for being old? The crater is about 3,900 ft. (1,200 m) in diameter and 570 ft (170m) deep. It is quite a sight when you stand on its rim.
The obligatory picture to document we were actually there…lol.
Williams, Arizona. We were really looking forward to seeing Williams, Arizona as we heard it was one of the best preserved towns along Route 66. Well, the town of Williams did not disappoint. It’s main street and adjacent ones are very well-preserved and they have a vivid 1950’s feel. Here we see the front of Cruiser Cafe on W. Railroad Ave (part of Route 66).
We had a great lunch inside and enjoyed the many 50 memorabilia all around it. Again, we saw many old gas pumps in great condition. They also have the biggest gift shop of 50’s and Route 66 items we have ever seen.
Maybe one of the main reasons this town is so well-preserved is that they were the last Route 66 town that was bypassed by an Interstate. Maybe, just maybe.
Wifey and Elvis posing in Williams, AZ.
Foreign tourist alert! This gentleman is visiting from the Netherlands; yes I heard him speak…he is Dutch. See that yellow bag he is carrying? Well, on many stores we visited the ones that bought the most times were by far Europeans. I believe the main reason for this is the prices. For many of us (US residents) they may be a bit over priced. However, most of the items are a bargain for Europeans as their prices and taxes are significantly higher than in the US. All the stores in Williams seem to be doing a very brisk business. Good for them.
Of course, lack of space to store any purchases did not stop my wife from looking for deals. This sign was a perfect hook to get her into this tourist trap.
Love this sign. We bought a similar one that reads…”Warning – Intruders will be shot, and survivors will be shot again”.
I think this is the last gas station I will be sharing…I think. Come on, admit it; great looking gas station. Do you remember going into a gas station and having an attendant fill your tank? Well, while in Missouri we stopped at an old gas station and the owner told us to stay in our car as his was a full service gas station. Wish we took a picture of it. Definitely a thing of the past. We had a good chat as he served us and wished us well as we departed.
Now these are very original support columns, yes?
A look down W, Railroad Ave from Cruisers Cafe. As you can see the strip is quite long and busy.
We decided to stay in Williams overnight as we were told they had the most neon on Route 66. We were treated to many good examples of this dying signage style. This is the Cruiser Cafe as seen from the corner on its right. They have live music each night and a big fire pit near the entrance.
Route 66 gifts, gifts and more gifts. It does get overwhelming at times, but each have at least a few things unique to the store.
Just a nice sign.
As you enter the Turquoise Tepee you are greeted by 4 mannequins depicting Native Americans playing poker. We had a good chat with the very conservative owner (has owned the store for 45 years) and he shared some of his views on what life was like in Williams in the 60’s and the changes he sees now. The store is filled with turquoise jewelry, but you also have a full range of original native art, clothing, Western wear and hats. If you stop in Williams, make sure you visit it.
Time to leave Williams, but before we do we must have some breakfast. Surprise! We bumped into some Uk visitors traveling portions of Route 66. I approached them and asked them if I could ask them a few questions about their experiences so far. They were very nice and invited me to sit down. We had a nice chat and exchanged emails as they like to see this posting. Trust they continued to enjoy their trip and got home safely. Cheers!
Before we left we had to retake a picture of my wife in front of a nice old car belonging to the “Addicted to Route 66” store. The morning sun was much better than the cloudy late afternoon of the previous evening.
On our way to California, but still in AZ…this image is for my sister Ana Maria; a big Betty Boop fan!
The even smaller than Williams town of Seligman, AZ. The strip is juts a couple of blocks, but packed with unique places.
Here we see two Chinese girls and an older gentleman waving back at me. Yes, I started to wave at them. I tell you, they come from all over the world to see Route 66. Isn’t time for you to tour Route 66?
The Rusty Bolt Blvd Store – a very different kind of Route 66 Store.
Yes, it has a long facade. Unique approach with the mannequins.
You see tourists in Convertibles (our preferred choice of course), cars, buses, vans, motorcycles and, as you see here…motor trikes. This one is driven by a German couple as you can clearly see their country’s flag on the right hand side of the trike. One thing is for sure, they packed a lot heavier than we did or could ever fit in te trunk of a Miata
Still in Seligman, AZ. Many tourists walking around and taking pictures…just like me.
Guess who we saw on our way out of Arizona? Our German tricycle riders. Humming along to LA while enjoying the open roads. This was a section of the pre 1930 Route 66 in AZ. As you can see not much around. There were some sections where there was nothing for miles and miles. You better gas up whenever you had the chance; we did as soon as we hit half full just in case.
Hackberry General Store in Hackberry, AZ. We had a choice of taking the Historic or the pre 1930 Route 66 route; we are glad we took the pre 1930 route or we would have missed this great old store.
A popular stop judging by the amount of people inside and out taking pictures and buying nostalgic souvenirs.
From my perspective, the best part was outside. The surrounding grounds had many old cars and items that had been in place and been weathered by times quick passing.
Old rusted car are one of my favorites as you may already know. This 1948 Ford pickup was waiting for me. Look at that beautiful rust!
Rear tail light from a 1959 Mercury Commuter wagon; a classic!!!
Here is the front – a beauty! – yes?
Not sure if authorities planted this wreck or it is a real one. The road can be treacherous and most of the turns do not have guard rails – I can see how this could happen.
While driving by the Mojave dessert we came by an old mining town called Oatman. More about the town in the sign.
My wife thought the burros we so cute…that is, until they came around her for a closer look..lol
Small donkeys are cute, sort of. This one had a sign on his forehead asking people not to touch or feed the young one. We go a bit close and the mother really got overly protective. She shoved us away from the young one quite easily.
Oatman has a jail with an empty coffin in case there was a body needing a quick burial. This is my wife’s impression on a dead person…I think the tongue out is overkill…pun intended.
Remember, Oatman was also crossed by Route 66. The town has seen a renaissance as a result of growing worldwide interest in Route 66 and explosive growth of the nearby gaming town of Laughing, Neveda which promotes visits to this town.
Really liked the peaks around Oatman; it must have been quite a bustling place when mining was at is peak.
The burros seem quite friendly and of good humor. I think they play the odds that if even a small percentage of tourist will give them something to eat they win. Here we see a pack virtually beg the driver of this SUV.
While in Oatman we had a snack at one of their bars. The place was completely wall papered with dollar bills. I mean, there was not free spot on any of the walls we saw (the place was not small either). Each bill had something written on it, so think this fact will prevent other from taking the bills. We figured there would have been around $12,000 dollars at least.
Attached to the bar we saw the Oatman Hotel. It must have been a lot nicer when Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon upstairs.
On our way out-of-town we had a well wisher come as close as possible to my wife while in the car. She freaked a bit, but all was well. He understood it was only a two-seater so he did not push for a ride.
On our way to LA. We stopped for a quick stretch. This is a back road that leads to route 2 and over the mountains into LA. Not much traffic at all. Going over the mountains was a blast in the Miata; tight turns is what the Miata is all about. Did I say another perfect day weather wise?
After driving 2,1457 miles we made it to the Santa Monica Pier in LA on September 17. We really had a great time and recommend this ride to all of our friends. I know that this type of experience is not for everyone, but if you ever thought about doing it; get going. You will not be disappointed.
This is the last picture of this portion of our trip. The end of the trail for Route 66 only. We still had plenty miles to go.
Thank you for visiting; we really enjoy sharing our experiences with you and hope that they motivate you to explore the world around you if you are not already doing it. Life is indeed short.