Day 30 – April 30, 2003 – Wednesday
Route 66 I Love You
We had a great time on Route 66 today!
When we left the Best Western Motel in Needles bright and early, it was blue sky and 66 degrees. Gas was $2.50 – that’s a lot more than we pay in Atlanta, but a little less than in Quemado.
We took a few photos in Needles before we hit the highway.
The Mojave Desert is not as we had it pictured. Rather than sand like the Sahara, the terrain isn’t that much different than the outskirts of Lubbock, Texas where we attended college.
While the border towns with Mexico have many Border Patrol stations, California has more fruit and vegetable stations.
We passed over the Colorado River into the state of Arizona. Our attention was immediately drawn to mountains with jagged tops. It was these peaks that gave Needles its name.
Our first stop was Lake Havasu City, Arizona. We planned this detour off Route 66 so we could see London Bridge. It’s hard to believe, but it’s there! Developer, Robert P. McCulloch, paid $2.4 million to buy the bridge, and it then cost $4.5 million to move it and install it at Lake Havasu City. The grand opening was October 10, 1971. It is a wild and crazy idea that worked; Lake Havasu City has become a tourist destination as a result.
The lake is a pretty blue man-made lake, and the bridge is at the far end of town. The bridge is very impressive, but it was surprising and disappointing to see many cheap-looking gift shops and the like right there at the bridge.
We spent a little time in the Lake Havasu Visitor Center with Kathie and Oran. Oran said an article was in today’s paper indicating that Arizona is seeking money to fully restore Route 66 throughout the state. Best of luck, Arizona! Route 66 is such an important part of US history that we would sure like to see the federal government devote the money to restoring it from California to Illinois.
The drive off Route 66 (and the Interstate) down to Lake Havasu City and back is a pretty one with nice mountains along the way.
As we entered Yucca, Arizona (Exit 25 near the Alamo Road exit off I-40), we saw one of the more unusual sights that we’ve come across. It was a giant ball mounted atop big poles; it appears to be someone’s home. There are a series of smaller balls with smiley faces that border the property, a space ship, a carousel horse, and more.
I wanted to swing by the Ford Motor Company Arizona Proving Ground in Yucca. I was hoping they might let us take a spin around their track. When we pulled up out front, there were big locked gates, a red light, and signs advising that photography is not permitted. So, we snapped a photo of the sign and rolled on.
As we left the Interstate to get back on Route 66 headed for Oatman, we saw one acre lots advertised for $3,995. Something made us guess you can probably buy them for even less. The area reminded Boz of the “Vacation” movie where Chevy Chase and his family go out to visit Randy Quaid’s family way out in the desert. This is a remote area with a lot of places called “Wash,” which we believe is an area where water flows after the rare flood. The Route 66 road was very nice – not the horrible road we were driving for the last 75 miles in California.
The drive from Yucca to Oatman was very interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Boz’s knuckles were white, and her palms were really sweaty; she didn’t enjoy riding on the cliff side of a treacherous road with no guard rails. The terrain was very interesting – very diverse. The road has been described as the most difficult and dangerous part of Route 66, and it was the most exciting drive I’ve ever had. There is absolutely no way that our photos will provide even the slightest feel for what we saw and felt as there just wasn’t any way to photograph it.
Oatman promotes that it has wild burros that wander through town, so we appreciated the burro crossing sign we saw along the way. It was sobering to see several wrecked cars on the sides of cliffs as well as a sign that warned bikers about the treacherous turns.
When we pulled over to take a few shots, John Winkle appeared out of nowhere. He was out picking up trash on the road. John is originally from Washington state, and he sells T-shirts in Oatman. In my mind’s eye, I saw Oatman as an old, dusty mining town with no commercialization whatsoever, so this T-shirt business was surprising to me. John said: “Oatman is an original old town — a town that everybody wants to rule, but no one can.” Oatman has a woman who has self-appointed herself as mayor. Same thing goes for someone who says he’s the sheriff.
We were a little disappointed when we reached Oatman and found it to be nothing more than a tourist attraction. The old buildings are there, but every one of them is a tourist-oriented business of some type. There were wild burros outside of town, but the burros in town all had names, and we saw pens where they live. It was kind of like seeing the real police station in Carrabelle, Florida where they claim to have the world’s smallest police station – a phone booth out by the highway. Oatman was essentially a smaller Tombstone in that the buildings were for the most part authentic old buildings, but every square inch was tourist-oriented. The drive to and from Oatman and the fabulous scenery made Oatman a most enjoyable outing, however.
Olive Oatman Restaurant & Saloon (www.oatmangold.com/olive) was our choice for lunch. We both tried something new and enjoyed Navajo Tacos. Tom Woodard was the live entertainment in this small cafe. Tom’s poster out front said “I am the Band.” Tom had a guitar and a microphone with what looked like a DJ console. When he sang his first song, we heard an orchestra! It seems Tom was using karaoke CD’s as his accompaniment. We believe he was doing the singing. He tuned his guitar between songs, but we couldn’t really tell if he was actually playing. The music was enjoyable; we just couldn’t quite figure out where it was all coming from. No one was clapping, so we made sure to make a deposit in the tip jar and compliment him as we left.
Other than mining, Oatman’s claim to fame is that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard came there on their honeymoon. We couldn’t see the room, but we took a photo of the stairs leading to the room in the Oatman Hotel.
It was 80 degrees in Oatman, but the temperature dropped as we continued to drive east.
We hit the 8,000 mile mark just outside Kingman, Arizona at 2:30 pm. 8,000 miles in 30 days. We are still amazed that we have seen no rain – just a little drizzle (perhaps 10 minutes in total) on two different occasions in sunny Florida.
We stopped at Mr. D’z Diner in Kingman. The milk shake wasn’t very good, but we met five folks from Germany – Bianca, Uvert, Brigitta, Braun, and Petra. Bianca and Uvert invited us to their wedding in Las Vegas on Friday. We would have really enjoyed a detour to attend a Vegas wedding, but we had just made the decision to extend this portion of the trip by two days, so we couldn’t add yet another. We wished them the best.
The Powerhouse Visitor’s Center in Kingman was supposed to have a good Route 66 Museum, but all we saw were two small display cases with a few promotional items and a big gift shop. Several towns down the road, we were advised that we didn’t see the museum. Boz and I didn’t see any signs, and the men working in there never even spoke to us. It might have been the beads. We did enjoy a chance encounter with Jeff Mayer in the parking lot. Jeff is one of the original Route 66 Roadologists and a founder of the Illinois Route 66 Association. He and many others were converging on the area for an annual Route 66 Fun Run to Oatman.
Kingman is the hometown of the late character actor, Andy Devine. We really enjoyed his roles when we were children. There is an Andy Devine Museum, and Route 66 is named after him through Kingman.
It was great to see so many old motels still old and still in business in Kingman. The Route 66 road is extremely nice so far in Arizona – a real relief after the terrible road in the Mojave Desert in California.
We did a real double-take as we reached the town of Hackberry and saw a gas station and general store that looked like it had been frozen since the 50’s. The “Old Route 66 Visitor Center & General Store” provides a fantastic visual experience – best Route 66 displays so far without question. We met owner John Pritchard; he bought it six years ago. We bought a Route 66 CD, and it is a welcome addition to the drive.
We passed through Valentine, Arizona — an Indian town.
Pie was on the agenda for Truxton. We scheduled a stop at the Frontier Motel and Restaurant, but it was locked up tight with a For Sale sign out front. Call 520-718-1920 if you’d like to buy the place.
Arizona has a lot of Indian reservations, and we passed through the Hualapai Indian Reservation. In Peach Springs, we stopped to take photos of a great old service station building.
Just outside of Peach Springs is the entrance to Grand Canyon Caverns. As I noted from Carlsbad Caverns, both Boz and I are claustrophobic, so caverns we do not tour.
Seligman was next, and we really liked it there. Seligman has a very active Route 66 Historical Association, and I was fortunate to meet and interview the man responsible, Angel Delgadillo. Angel is really well known throughout the Route 66 community. While at Angel’s gift shop, I also met his wife Vilma and two visitors, Lorrie Fleming and Bob Walker from Canada. Lorrie is the founder of the Canadian Route 66 Association.
Angel was born on Route 66 – 76 years ago. His father had a pool hall / barber shop. Angel still has the barber chair his father bought for $140 shortly before Angel was born on April 10, 1926. His father went broke when the route of Route 66 was moved. Angel went to barber college and began cutting hair on May 22, 1950. He moved into his current location on Route 66 in 1972. I wish we had reached Seligman earlier in the day, as I would have loved to get a Route 66 haircut from Angel.
Angel’s brother runs the Snow Cap Drive-In – a wacky drive-in restaurant with all kinds of Route 66 décor and other wild and crazy stuff.
On September 22, 1978, Interstate 40 came near Seligman, and most of the Route 66 traffic moved to the Interstate. Angel’s father had gone bust because of a highway change, and Angel was determined that he would not let it happen to him. So, he called a group of people together to form the Arizona Route 66 Association. As a result, Route 66 is alive in Arizona, and many businesses continue to prosper in spite of the Interstate.
The Candlewood Hotel in Anaheim let us down a few days ago when we drove out of our way to stay there to do the wash and then was out of detergent. So, we either found a Laundromat tonight, or we’d be wearing dirty clothes tomorrow. When we spotted one in Seligman, we shifted into wash and dry mode. We met Nancy at the Laundromat behind the Seligman Grocery. We also met Zachary and his dog Hilo; they live right next to the Laundromat.
When we saw a sign that indicated the altitude was 5,700 feet, we were surprised. We didn’t realize this part of Arizona is so high, but I guess that’s why they call it the “High Desert.” When we reached Williams at 8 pm and noted the temperature was a chilly 46 degrees, we could feel the altitude at work. Amber got us all checked into the Fairfield Inn. We decided we wanted to have a full day for the Grand Canyon, so we extended our stay by a night. We’re splitting another long day next week, so that will be a total of four days added to the schedule so far.
The lesson for the day is the impact a committed person can have. Robert McCulloch was committed to put Lake Havasu City on the map, and he succeeded big-time by buying and moving the London Bridge. And Angel Delgadillo kept Seligman and a number of other towns in Arizona from falling off the map with his commitment to survive and help other businesses survive when the Interstate came and took the cars away. We can all make a difference if we make a commitment to something and then work hard to make it happen.
35888 a little before 9:00. We stopped for gas about 8:45 and we’re now leaving Needles. It’s 66 degrees. We took a picture of the Needles, CA wagon. There’s a layer of white clouds in the sky. We took a picture of the 66 Motel.
Gas in Needles was $2.50 a gallon so that’s close to what it was in Quemado. Needles is one of the only stops for a lot miles along the highway. Certainly, the last stop for about 50 or 60 miles headed west.
I guess this area is the Mohave Desert. I always the pictured the Mohave Desert like the desert you see in movies in other countries where it’s just sand. But the desert here just looks like the landscape in Lubbock, TX where I went to high school and college and where Bozzie Jane went to college. It’s just ugly dirt, a little rock on top, and a little scrubby bushes every few feet.
While the border of the country of Mexico has border patrol everywhere, California has fruit and vegetable inspection stations where they try to keep stuff from messing up their fruits and vegetables.
We just passed over the Colorado River and into Arizona.
35903 9:25 as we enter Arizona.
I’m seeing some very interesting mountains off to our right which would be the south. There are real jagged tops with dark color.
The sharp rocked spires of the mountain off to the south are the needles that the town was named after.
We’re taking exit 9 off of 40 going south on 95 to Lake Ava Sioux City and the London Bridge. 35912 9:36am
There are a lot of very interesting rock formations on the drive from Tuppock to Lake Ava Sioux City.
City limits of Lake Ava Sioux City, AZ 35923 9:48
They’ve conveniently located the bridge to where you have to drive all the way through Lake Ava Sioux City in order to get there. The water is a pretty blue and it’s a man made lake.
We met Kathie and Oron at the visitor’s center at Lake Ava Sioux City and the London Bridge. 10:32am 35932 It’s a very impressive deal. It’s the real stuff. A lot of tacky little shops near it. The temperature is up to 91 according to the car. The temp is down to 76, I guess the car just heats up in the sun.
We took a picture of some of the Rocky Mountain areas outside of Lake Ava Sioux including the one we call Neanderthal Foot Mt.
Oron said there was a story in today’s city newspaper that Arizona is seeking funding to restore all of Route 66 in the state.
35964 11:07am I see a sign that says 200 miles to Grand Canyon National Park. It would be much more helpful if we had mileages from one place to another. We found in many cases that the mileages we’ve gotten off maps just isn’t that accurate. When we publish our information, we will have what the mileages were for us.
35967 11:11 and on the horizon was a giant ball. It’s kind of golf ball dimpled all on the outside, then there’s a series of balls with smiley faces on them. Along the road, there’s a spaceship up at one end, a carport with some old cars and it looks like somebody lives in the ball. It’s really bizarre. It’s at the Alamo Road exit—exit 25. There’s a rocking carousel horse on a pole out in the field. It’s got tables and chairs on a little walkway kind of as a patio.
Yucka 35969 11:13 we see a sign for Ford Motor Company and Proving Ground Rd.
We’re at the Proving Ground and there’s a sign that says cameras are prohibited. There are big gates with a lock and a light. It says all visitors must register at security building 1 mile ahead but I don’t know how you would get in.
That unbelievably funky house would just be on the outskirts of Yucka.
The Ford Motor Proving Ground would be just right outside Yucka as well.
There are interesting attractive mountains along this area that are set well back from the road. It’s 35988 11:35am and we’re getting off of I 40 at exit 44 for Oatman which regains Route 66. Bozzie’s so excited, we’re going to have to take a break for her to control herself.
22 miles over to Oatman on Route 66
It’s pretty barren between the highway and Oatman but we saw some estate. There are houses out there. We started wondering what acreage costs and saw a sign saying for $3995 you can get an entire acre.
(Barbara) Driving up to Oatman, reminds me of Chevy Chase’s vacation where they go to Las Vegas and take a detour to see his cousin Randy Quaid—the family where they have money buried in the yard and have rattlesnakes to play with. This looks just like that.
We’ve gone across a number of washes today. We took a picture of a historic Route 66 sign outside of Oatman right near a trailer in the middle of the field.
We took a picture of the Cool Springs Building on the side of a cliff. The road has been really nice up to this point. It’s little bumpier here, but they’ve got it patched with tar. It’s 9 miles of steep grades and sharp turns and no guard rails.
It’s very unusual terrain here. It’s really interesting. There’s a lot of variety.
We’re 8 miles to Oatman. Bozzie doesn’t like it here, because it’s scary—the no guard rails part.
I took several pictures of an area called Ed’s Camp 8 miles out of Oatman.
I’d say we’re in the town of Ed’s Camp.
We pulled over for a picture and there are a couple of folks out. One guy is standing on a rock taking some pictures, and some ladies standing on the side of the road. Very unfriendly.
We took two great pictures at Sitgreaves Pass: elevation 3550.
We met John Winkle, he’s a local who moved here from Washington, just outside the Gold Road Mine. John says that Oatman is a special place; it’s an original old town. He said it’s a town that everybody wants to rule but nobody can. There’s a lady who self-appointed herself as mayor, somebody who self-appointed themselves as sheriff, but there is not sheriff and there is no mayor.
Oatman 36012 12:43pm It’s about 70 degrees.
Oatman is one big gigantic tourist attraction. I don’t know how all these tourist got here, but it’s swarming with them. It is completely and totally commercialized.
We’re having lunch at the Olive Oatman Restaurant and Saloon where you have a choice of Navajo Tacos, Burro Breath Burgers, and assorted other things that generally had normal sounding names.
The Story of Olive Oatman, who this place is named after, is at www.oatmangold.com/olive.
We’re listening to Tom Woodard. His poster says I am the band; Oatman, AZ. The music, including the guitar playing, all comes from recorded music. It’s not clear whether he actually sings or not.
Barbara noted he does tune his guitar between each song. Now with this song, it almost looks like he’s playing a little bit but we’re not sure.
The birds are cute and they really are just walking around. It doesn’t seem quite as objectionable as Tombstone but it is just as commercialized if not more.
Lunch was $15.87 plus $2.13 tip and $1 for the guitarist.
We both had Navajo Tacos which were really good. They consisted of Navajo fry bread which is a big old piece of bread covered with chili beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese. It was very tasty.
We’re taking pictures of red, white, and blue chairs in front of Wood Billy’s Heartful Gadgets and Doohickeys.
36012 1:46pm and 80 degrees as we leave downtown Oatman.
Bozzie got a show of some of wild burros as we headed out of town. We have to remember to take the picture of the burro crossing sign in about 8 miles. We don’t see one in this direction.
Oatman was very interesting. Boz said that in the old days, you wouldn’t come here unless you were coming. In the current days, you wouldn’t come here unless you were coming. This is Route 66, though, which goes right through it.
There is absolutely no way you could describe the drive on Route 66 to anybody and have them believe you. There’s no way the pictures will do it justice because you can’t capture these hairpin turns and sharp cliffs and dropoffs along with the variety of the scenery.
Bozzie feels a little better going back because we’re on the inside of the mountain. It feels safer.
We are at the exit off of I 40 returning from Oatman at 2:32 pm 72 degrees and we’ve just hit exactly the 8000 mile mark since the odyssey began. We’re having fun; today’s a great day. And my wife is the most beautiful alive.
We’re in Kingman 36041 2:38; it’s a railroad center.
We met 5 people from Germany on the way to the wedding of two of them in Las Vegas.
We stopped at Mr. Dee’s for a milkshake, nothing special. At least it was clean.
We went to the Power House Visitor’s Center which supposedly has a Route 66 Museum which appeared to consist of two glass cases with a couple of promotional items in it. It would’ve been considered a bust, but as we left we met Jeff Meyer, the original Route 66 roadologist. He’s been doing it since 1984. We got his card, had a nice chat, and we’ll sure call on him to be a resource for the book after we finish.
Kingman is the hometown of Andy Divine. There’s supposedly an Andy Divine Museum here; we won’t be seeing it but he seemed like a really nice man.
Route 66, through this area, is called Andy Divine Avenue.
There’s a lot of old motels in Kingman still with the old signs and still in business.
I had a butter finger milkshake at Mr. Dee’s but it wasn’t any good.
Yet another train and more ice cream for Boz. We’re going to have to buy the Bluebell Factory.
On the east side of Kingman, Route 66 is a very nice 4 lane divided highway.
We’re in Viya Vista 36060 3:38pm
While the old Porsche’s been a few places the Porsche shouldn’t go, this trip wouldn’t nearly have been as much fun if it wasn’t in a convertible. That’s a quote from Bozzie Jane Gray Windsor.
We were at the Hackberry General Store with an amazing setup of antiques and Route 66 stuff. We met the owner who bought it 6 years ago.
We’ve got our Route 66 CD; we’d have probably enjoyed day 1 if we’d had this.
Valentine 36075 4:10pm 68 degrees
We took a picture of a bus shelter in Valentine.
Treckston 36086 4:22pm and the Frontier Motel’s coming up.
The Frontier Motel and Restaurant in Treckston is closed but it’s for sale.
We just entered the Hualapai 36087 4:26pm
Beach Springs 36094 4:32pm
We took a picture of a great looking service station in the middle of Peach Springs 36107 4:49pm 61 degrees. We’re at the entrance to Grand Canyon Caverns but due to the 400 foot elevator descent into the center of the earth we chose not to take our closterphobic bodies there. We’ve never seen a place where you could drive down into the canyon.
We’re in Seligman 36192 5:11pm
We took pictures of the Roadkill Café and the “historic Route 66” motel
“So, you’re the town barber and you’ve cut hair since…?”
“…May 22, 1950 on Old Railroad Avenue. I opened up my Dazzle Barber Shop, he went broke during the depression, he was a sales cut barber. Back in them days you didn’t have to go to barber college. The chair that I’m using, he bought April 10, 1926 for $194. The invoice is right here. I will not tell you anything I cannot substantiate.”
“$194. That was a lot of money in 1926.”
“It was a lot of money. He went broke during the Depression, he closed the doors to his old pool hall barber shop building that he built in 1923. He went broke because the highway was moved from in front of his place to the present location in 1933. He locked it up, I graduated from the American Pacific Barber College in Pasadena, CA…, and I came back and opened his old business on May 22, 1950. I moved into this building in 1972. I saw the Grapes of Wrath, I saw the Dustbowl days. I was standing right here when we were bypassed by I 40, September 22, 1978. This town suffered about 70% of the economy. This town was dead for 10 years. At Chamber of Commerce meetings, I talked how I felt we could get the economy back but no one listened to me. To make a long story short, I finally called a meeting with my own nickel and called about 34 people to come to Saligman. 15 people showed up to the meeting at 1:00 at the Copper Cart February 18, 1987. About half a dozen of the 15 there we jailed and we formed the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. So Saligman is known for being the birthplace of the rebirth of the resurrection of Route 66. We know it goes from Chicago to California. The United States decertified it in 1985. They had a big celebration in Williams because it was the last town to get bypassed by I 40. I didn’t go to it because I was very angry and upset and hurting. But…Bobby Troop was there, the man who wrote ‘Get Your Kicks on Route 66’ song. February 18, 1987 was the day that Route 66 got its rebirth right here.”
“And there’s still a lot of people like us who are interested in it, so there are still a good number of people who come through just because it’s Route 66?”
“I have been interviewed over 250 times by the news media—national and international. I’ve been interviewed by the Germans ZDF, the beautiful Zabina Zower, Deter Simmer, ZDF, Vox, Vila, VDF, CDF,RTL… They come from all over the United States and all over the world. They’re looking for America of yesterday.”
“I’m sure you’ve had a million interesting things that have happened just about Route 66, but if you could pick one story to tell that means a lot to you or is unique or different or exciting, what would you tell?”
“Did you see when we get together like right now? It happens daily by the tens, twenties, thirties. I relive it constantly. This is what I love—people that are smiling from ear to ear because of a dream that I had back 20 some years ago. This is what’s so important to me. How old do you think I am?”
“Well you told me you are 76 but you don’t look a day over 50.”
“These people keep me so young. I’m so happy.”
TO another person:
“Can I get your name?”
“Yes, my name’s Lori Fleming”
…started the Route 66 Association in Canada 7 years ago inspired by Angel.
Well we got our clothes washed right behind Seligman Grocery at the Laundry Mat 36134 6:52 62 degrees. We’re leaving Seligman, one of our favorite towns where I met Angel.
Everybody we met in Seligman was very nice. We met Amanda at the Seligman Arizona Chevron aka All American Food: Americas Mainstreet 66 Giftshop.
Yet another train
Another train, another ice cream
You’d think we were in the desert but we’re at 5700 feet just a little ways outside of Seligman 36150 7:31 51 degrees.
Ashfork 36164 7:45pm and we’re over a mile high which is unbelievable. You just have no sense that you’re a mile high because everything must be a mile high.
We took a picture of the Oasis Lounge in Ashfork.
Williams 36181 8:02pm and 46 degrees
We met Amber at the Fairfield Inn. She said that breakfast would be served at 12.