Just a dusty drive from Las Vegas to Flagstaff, Arizona... and beyond!
25.05.2012 - 26.05.2012 16 °C
Room 315, Hilton Garden Inn
Saturday, 26 May 2012. 4.40pm
This is the route planned and followed exactly:-
It seemed like it may be too far in one day but, because of all the varieties of landscape and points of interest, it turned out to be a doddle.
A long straight drive down to Needles, back in California. A very dusty and forgotten corner of California. But an ideal place for our first proper wayside American breakfast.
John had the corned beef hash and Bob ham 'n eggs. Multiple choices, of course, of how you want your eggs (over easy or "ciernos huevos" in Spanish we learned). Toast? Rye and white.
Then turning off the main highway on to the original routing for Route 66 through the gold mining town of Oatman. Route 66 was diverted to an easier route in the 30s. The gold ran out, and the town died. Why on earth the route through the difficult Black Mountains was chosen heaven only knows.
Oatman today is famous for the wild burros which wander the streets looking for carrots from the tourists who now pour up here. The burros were left here by the miners when they abandoned the town, but survived in the wild, as did the town, thanks to tourism. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their wedding night in the hotel, allegedly. The hotel has certainly seen better days.
Not being that partial to tourists nor to animals being fed by packs of kids, we soon skedaddled out o' there, back onto Route 66 as it winds through the Black Mts, past the reopened gold mine...
...and finally down to the dusty plain where lies the town of Kingman where we refuelled.
We then took the next loop of Route 66, North of the modern Interstate, through Hualapai indian reservation and their headquarters at Peach Springs. For once a tidy tribe, it seemed. With all due respect to American indians, they do tend to collect a lot of, let's call them, redundant items round their houses. Maybe the chief is a tidy man? Chief Nomuchlitter?
Back down to join the Interstate at Seligman, a mecca for Route 66 fans:-
A climb on the Interstate till we reached over 8,000ft and pine forests and a temperature of the low 60s and a bitter wind. From 107 to 62 in a couple of days! Brrrr. The heating was on and a fire lit in our hotel for 2 nights in Flagstaff.
Arthur had been going on about going back to a "Cracker Barrel". This is the first one since the Pacific Ocean and we last (and first) ate in one in Nashville, Tennessee. (Hands up who thinks of Doctor Cameron when they hear the words "Cracker Barrel"?).
Anyway, they're sort of mumsy and popsy good ole home cookin' type restaurants and you are forced to walk through a gift shop full of mumsy and popsy cr*p. But Arthur likes the food - a typical offering bein' roast turkey with all the trimmin's an' dumplin's an' corn bread on the saaad,
We enjoyed it too, as we were served by the delightful trainee waiter Adam and his "trainer" whose name we forget. We guess most of the staff are students at the local Northern Arizona University. Being served a meal in the US when you have a good "server" can be all the fun you need of an evening. But then, we're easily pleased.
By the way, don't try doing this at home whilst driving on the freeway:-
Today Saturday, has been a gentle day. Exploring first the prospering downtown area (mainly upmarket gift shops and cafes - but a least it's still going unlike most American cities' downtowns), as well as the old 1926 station, an important stop on the Chicago to Los Angeles line (sadly one train a day now, in each direction). But still loads of freight trains (around 125 a day) and all sounding their hooters at every crossing. After a campaign by the city, the amount of hooting has been drastically reduced, we are sad to report.
We then did a loop drive to take in Sunset Crater National Monument, a volcano that erupted last in the 11th century but the lava of which can still be clearly seen as if it was last year. Then on to various ruins of the Wupatki Indians also dating from the 11th century,
We then took a back-road over Schultz pass. A first this was an easy, or fairly easy gravel forest road but then the gravel disappeared, then the dirt disappeared, and then we had a very bumpy ride over a rutted rocky track for the last 7-8 miles. We were very pleased to get back on to a blacktop and a gas station to fill the tank and wash the dust off the car. Phew!
Junctions can sometimes be a little confusing. Right or left?
"Left for Denny's" says Arthur. Night night. Tomorrow, down through Sedona to the Western town of Wickenberg, AZ.