Friday, July 11, 2008

Western Arizona on Route 66 and Into California

Our Last Stop at the Grand Canyon

Breaking camp we made our last farewells to the Grand Canyon as we drove out of the park to Williams, AZ and Route 66. In Williams we had a hearty breakfast of biscuits and gravy and pancakes at Old Smokey’s Restaurant and Pancake House.

After breakfast our next stop was Seligman, AZ, the birthplace of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona and home of association founder Angel Delgadillo. Instead of watching his town crumble away like others bypassed by the interstate, he brought attention to the plight of Route 66.

Angel Delgadillo’s former barbershop is now the Route 66 Visitor Center & Gift Shop and Angel still greets everyone at the door. The shop is a Mecca for Route 66 enthusiasts from all over the world and the spirit of the Mother Road can be found in Angel's eyes as he tells the history of Route 66. He was really taken by Joe and Ned and took them to see the barbershop chair that his father bought eighty years ago. It was a wonderful moment meeting him.

We then walked a block down the road to the Snow Cap Drive-In. Angel’s brother Juan started this food spot in 1946. His family now runs the store and continues the tradition of making it the "funniest food spot on Route 66." They like to play jokes and tricks on the customers. We were taken in by the false doorknob on the door. When Joe asked for a small ice cream cone he received the very bottom of a cone with a dollop of ice cream. If you ask for mustard or ketchup you get a squirt. In case you’re wondering the ice cream is worth the stop.

Seligman is also the eastern gateway to a golden stretch of about 140 uninterrupted miles of pristine Route 66. Finishing up at the Snow Cap we pointed the car west.

The Route 66 Visitor Center & Gift Shop

Ned and Joe are Treated to Seat in Angel Delgadillo's Barber Chair

Ned and Mary at the Snow Cap Drive-In

Joe Tries to Give the Bunny Ears

Mary at the Snow Cap

We made a brief stop at Grand Canyon Caverns to see the dinosaurs out front but did not go on the cave tour. We had fun reading the Burma Shave signs along the road. We also stopped at the Hackberry General Store. It is a mix of gift shop and unintentional museum including rusty old cars, vintage gas pumps and a bright red ’56 Corvette. If you ever stop check out the men’s room.

Soon we were in Kingman, AZ where another quick stop was made to see a majestic Santa Fe steam locomotive #3759 in Locomotive Park. The boys had great time playing on the locomotive and caboose.

After Kingman the road heads into the drainage of the Sacramento Wash and is pretty much a straight line to the Black Mountains. The first sign of life is Cool Springs a 1926 store and camp that until recently was nothing more than rubble. In 2004 Ned Leuchtner restored the place using old photos.

Just passed Cool Springs the road gets really hairy. It twists and turns with hairpin turns all the way to the top of Sitgreaves Pass. Along the way we stopped to climb the 30 rock steps to Shaffer's Fish Bowl Springs, a man-made basin that collects water from a seep. It is also a great spot to photograph the road below.

On the way down we saw the remains of a couple of cars that didn't make the turns. Before we knew it we were in Oatman, AZ and in the middle of a shootout. Oatman is a town that is still in the wild west. It has wooden sidewalks and wild burros that wander about town, even in the stores.

After Oatman it wasn't long until we crossed the border into California. It was pretty late and we wanted to get as close to Los Angeles as we could so after driving a bit of Route 66 through the Mojave Desert we hopped on the interstate to Bartstow, CA.

We ate dinner at the Bun Boy restaurant. It was opened in 1926 on Route 66. When we walked in we were the only customers. The service was great and the food was good. When we left some other travellers were headed in but it was strange. We checked into a motel for the night with plans to head out early the following morning.

A Dinosaur in Front of Grand Canyon Caverns

Ned and Joe Show Off Their New Ride

They Didn't Take Heed of the Signs

Ned and Joe With New Friends by the #3759 at Locomotive Park in Kingman

Cool Springs

The Road Up Sitgreaves Pass

A Car That Didn't Make It

A Bank Robber's End in Oatman, AZ

A Wild Burro of Oatman

Joe and Ned Walk Into the Sunset

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ to Barstow, CA, 426 miles 8 hrs 52 min

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