“Embrace the detours” Kevin Charbonneau
I chase the daylight across the Arizona state line. The Tomahawk Indian Store, boasts it’s existence as the largest teepee, with mountain backdrops and plastic animals scattered across the cliffs. Be careful that they don’t pounce on you. I make a pit-stop to pick up post cards before moving on. Road signs proclaiming the states bicentennial, 1912- 2012 are posted along the way.
Petrified and Painted
When you detour to this approximately 134,000 acre area, the National Park Service calls the Petrified Forest a science park. Geologists, archeologists and biologists use the area for extensive research. Did you know that petrified wood is so hard that it can only be cut with a diamond tipped saw? Over 200 million years ago, trees succumbed to and were submerged in riverbanks rich in sediments containing volcanic ash rich in silica. During this process, the tree’s cell walls changed when the crystalized minerals turned the logs into stone. John Muir spent much of 1905 and the early part of 1906 in the Petrified Forest area identifying fossils. This is also the only National Park to protect a section of the Historical Route 66. A word of caution; if you would rather not spend a few nights in jail, I would advised you not to pick up any petrified wood in the park. These are not the type of memories you want your children to have. There are curio shops inside the park and nearby that sell petrified wood collected legally outside the park.
Within the Park, the Painted Desert Inn is a National Historical Landmark functioning as a museum and bookstore. The Inn was once called the Stone Tree house because so much petrified wood was used in its construction. Complete your visit by exploring the Painted Desert, an expanse of badlands hills, flat-topped mesas and buttes. The hues derive from the colorful layers of sediment based on varying mineral content and ancient environmental conditions. At the north end of the park, red, orange and pink colors are primarily present. On the south end you will find primarily blue, grey and lavender layers.
Move em’ out
It’s time to return to the road and head towards Holbrook. Have you ever slept in a wigwam? The Wigwam Motel, 811 West Hopi Drive, is just the place to try. On my first turn of Route 66, I faked being tired just so I could sleep in one. Fifteen wigwams, owned by the original family, present themselves larger on the inside than they seem. Cliston Lewis is the owner of the motel and the displayed vintage cars that are in front of the wigwams. Basic features, are all that’s needed for a good nights sleep. Most of the furniture, tables, bureaus, benches and mirrors for example, are part of the original furnishings. As a keepsake, I purchased a “little wigwam” for the memories.
As your travel continues, you’ll pass dinosaurs and fun and funky gift shops but my all time favorite is the Jackrabbit Trading Post, 3386 W. Highway 66, Joseph, AZ. The billboards were once a regular on the road to and from but have become less and less. When you finally see the “Here It Is” sign, you will feel as though you struck gold. My first visit, took place during off-season vacation time, led to a chance to visit with Cindy. A recent phone call provided updated information. Cindy’s grandfather, Glen Blansett took over the post from 1961-69. From there, her dad, Phil, and mom, managed the business from 1969-1994. Currently, Cindy Jaquez with her husband have continued the tradition since 1994. I’ve been informed that the Cherry Cider that I and so many others enjoyed has not been made since 2004. Manufacturing issues and obtaining the cherry product that is the key ingredient, were part of the problem. In my Lives on the Road book, Cindy signed and placed the famous Jackrabbit stamp in it. They still carry wonderful Route 66 and other souvenirs. Besides, where else can you have your picture taken on the back of a giant jack rabbit?
Seeking out the words to the song, “Take it Easy” the first hit single for the group, The Eagles, leads you to Winslow. The “Standing on the Corner” park made famous by the song, drew attention to the area. Have your picture taken next to the life-size bronze statue (I did) and then notice the two-story mural that depicts the story.
Ghosts Towns & Ruins
I’m one for exploring and I did during my first trip on Route 66 regarding Two Guns and Twin Arrows. The first, originally “Canyon Lodge,” when the National Trail Highway moved west. Later it became known as Two Guns when the trail was re-named Route 66. At one time tourists could gas up, have a cup of “Joe”and if needed, an overnight stay. A gift shop was available and later a zoo was added, hence a “Mountain Lion” sign that is seen on one of the ruins. They also housed bobcats and panthers. Approaching the old caged area gave me the shivers as I sensed the presence of lions walking around. It was also during this time that stripped gas pumps existed, destroyed roads could be viewed and other buildings were locked. I wouldn’t recommend walking around the area now.
Twin Arrows is another lost art form. The first time around, there was still something left of the old establishment. Now concrete barriers exists. Vandals, time and lack of care finds the building and arrows in despair and picked over like a turkey dinner. Next week the trail continues to Meteor Crater to the end of Arizona.
(A big thanks to Richard Ullmann, Chief of Interpretation, Petrified Forest NP and his staff)