“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware”-Martin Buber
If you want to see a giant hole in the desert floor, visit Meteor Crater. Located off I-40 at exit 233 and 6 miles south on the paved road, it is worth the stop. A meteorite, 50,000 years ago, formed a crater 550 feet deep, 2.4 miles in circumference and nearly one mile across on the inhabited earth. Estimations state that the meteor was 150 feet across and traveling 26,000 mph when it hit the rocky plains. The craters terrain resembled that of craters found on the moon’s surface due to impact and the reverse strata. NASA decided that Arizona area made for great training ground for Apollo astronauts. The results provided invaluable information during those missions. Robyn, who has worked at Meteor Crater for sixteen years says, “I still get excited” about the information she learns at the center. (www.meteorcrater.com)
So many things, so little time
In the song, Route 66, it says don’t forget Winona, and you will if your aren’t paying attention. Weather you’re traveling on I-40 or I-17, stretch your legs in Flagstaff. It’s a nice jumping off spot before the Grand Canyon or Sedona. The town offers sections of the famous highway to explore and many landmarks. Enjoy Flagstaff for what it has to offer, restaurants, shopping, biking or fishing.
The town of Williams is the last of the bypassed Route 66 towns. Grand Canyon Railway, 233 N Grand Canyon Blvd., offers excursions to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in 1950-styled passenger cars and vintage diesel locomotives. Round trip or one way, the ride is pleasant. Cowboys and gun fights (April-October) are a part of the Williams showdown. Once the smoke clears, take a spin at Twisters 50’s Soda Fountain, 417 East Route 66. Take a detour to 137 W. Railroad Ave. to the Red Garter Bed and Bakery, housed in a 1897 bordello. Don’t worry, there aren’t any working girls to bother you, but look up towards the windows to see someone checking you out.
Traveling to the end
One of my favorite stops past and present is Seligman. With the interstate development, Seligman began to shrivel up. Angel Delgadillo and fifteen others in surrounding communities decided to fight back and founded the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. During my first jaunt, I met Angel, the since retired barber. He was kind enough to show me a few of the many gifts that had been given to him over the years. Flags and license plates that hang from the ceiling, a billiard table loaded with photo albums, a pair of wooden shoes, a stuffed rooster and so much more. You felt as though you were traveling the globe in this former barbershop. The room that holds the lone barber chair, finds its walls covered with business cards from everywhere in the world. (Yes mine is there) The Route 66 Visitor Center has changed somewhat, the pool table is no longer there and the rooster has moved to the women’s restroom, but the traffic of visitors continues. Visible albums full not only of photos but letters that date from 1988 to the present. Angel visits the shop everyday but the surprise is when you may run into him. It doesn’t matter if he is there or not, the energy of the center continues with the help of his family. For those who like to have fun, ask for the Arizona Historic Route 66 Passport. You can have your book stamped at all the places listed and with at least seven stamps, you’re entitled to a special award.
I met with Kayla who is the granddaughter of the late Juan Delgadillo (Angel’s brother). Her father now runs the famous Snow Cap Drive-in, the crazy and wildly decorated food stop on the corner. Some of the examples of tricks played on customers were two door knobs on the main door or “squirting” catsup bottles. The fun continues even to this day. (www.route66giftshop.com)
Another great photo-op is the Hackberry General Store, 141 Hackberry Rd.. Now owned by John and Kerry Pritchard, the crazy, old rusty cars, vintage gas pumps and signs are a sample of what you will find. Stock up on gifts offered inside the store. Fill up on gas in Kingman, stay in one of the local motels, or stop at the Powerhouse Visitor Center and Route 66 Museum, 120 W. Andy Devine. Have your passbook stamped and check out the museum upstairs.
Move forward towards Cool Springs and Oatman. (More about these towns in another post) Finally, like the dreamers of gold and stardom, I finally reach California.