Friday, July 1, 2016

Route 66 - Day 9: Flagstaff to Kingman

Most of this leg is concurrent with I-40. Driving directly would only have taken less than two hours, but I took Route 66 as much as I could and with the brief stops I took, it took about four hours to get to Kingman.

The first interesting town it took me through was Williams, AZ.  Outside of town, there was a place called Bearizona, which is a drive-through wild animal park. I was very tempted to check it out, but something told me to give it a miss, so I did.

In the town of Williams, there was a lot of pastiche. Not a lot of kitch, and it wasn't like a ghost town, but more like it preserved the look of the old west. It was also a very quiet town.
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There was a clever ruse going on in Williams. As I drove through the town on a one way road, one of the last things I saw was a sign urging me to enjoy the "Route 66 Loop" by turning here. I did. And it took me back through town on a one way road going the opposite direction. I got about two blocks when I changed my mind about the loop because of the poor road quality. 
Being in a sporty vehicle, I feel the road intimately. And when roads like this one in Williams have seams or cracks every few yards it gets irritating quickly. Imagine you're a passenger and the driver drifts out of the lane just enough so that he's driving over those reflective dots. Ka Boom, Ka Boom, Ka Boom, Ka Boom, Ka Boom... and he doesn't adjust so that he's back on the pavement, but just keeps driving over the dots. Ka Boom, Ka Boom, Ka Boom, Ka Boom, Ka Boom. Annoying, right? That's what it's like driving through the Route 66 Loop in Williams.
"Fix your damn roads!"

The next detour from I-40 was through Ash Fork. This poor place is such a small town that they didn't even have their own water until they built a well in 1976. Before that, they'd have it trucked in every day.
River and I stopped at a historic marker...

As I was headed back toward the car, River pulls a little Pit Bull stubbornness and simply stops walking. He does this occasionally. Just stares at me until I relent and let him go the opposite way that I was headed. Either that or I insist we continue walking, but I make an effort to do that only if it's absolutely necessary. I kind of like that he 'asks my permission' to stray from my plan, so I honor his request when he asks.
Usually he's headed to something obvious, but today it wasn't obvious. He wanted to cross the street (Route 66) but I didn't go for that. So then he wanted to run along the sidewalk, which I did with him for a while but then it started to rain and I had left my car windows open so we turned around and ran back.
He still seemed to have unsatisfied energy left. And I had made a promise that today was all about River, since yesterday, as I taught a class and then a three hour workshop, he was cooped up in his cage, or the car, or the motel room all day.
So I got one of his toys out of the car and we played chase and tug until it was raining too hard to enjoy.
Ash Fork is the "Flagstone Capital of the US" and funny enough, as I tried to take a video of the peaceful stretch of road we were on, a huge truck drove through the frame loaded with flagstones in the back.
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It was obviously headed to the huge flagstone yard just down the road.
On the way out of Ash Fork, I saw a sign pointing me to "Old Route 66". I was already on Route 66 and I didn't think there was an even older one, but I was intrigued so I turned.  And this is what I found. 
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The interesting things are: The Route 66 icon painted on the street. You can't really tell, but the next thing you see is a road sign indicating that I'm on Old Route 66. Then I see the first of many Burma Shave advertisements I would see on the upcoming length of the Mother Road. And then it got weird. The last thing I shot in the video was another Route 66 icon in the road. If you look in the distance you may be able to tell that there are yellow signs blocking the road. That's because it's a dead end. I don't know why the sign pulled me off the main road to take this dead end road. 

Our next jaunt was through a town called Seligman.  Now this town is mostly just a sleepy burg like one would expect in the middle of nowhere, but on this one block it was like the New Orleans of rural Route 66. I tried to capture it on video as I drove by, and I even made two passes, but it's going by so fast, it's hard to make out the kitchy details. But if you look sharply you can see the spirit of Route 66 is represented everywhere.
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After leaving Seligman, I was able to get on AZ-66. Which was also called Historic Route 66.
This is one of those roads with miles and miles of nothing but desert on either side and nothing but miles of straight road ahead. I took a picture, but it looked stupid. The vast openness of the scene didn't translate to the confines of a picture frame.

One of the towns AZ-66 passes through is called Peach Springs and we stopped there in a little park because it was called Historic Route 66 Park. There wasn't much to it, but it was all in the spirit of this adventure I was on to soak in the feelings of Route 66.
Also, along AZ-66 were about a half dozen sets of old-fashion Burma Shave signs. Some of the rhymes actually made me laugh and some were stupid. I liked the ones that had a more morbid bent. Here are some that I can remember:

He tried to pass
As fast train neared.
Death didn't draft him,
He volunteered.

If daisies are your
Favorite flower,
Keep pushing up
Those miles per hour.

He who drives
After drinking
Is asking you
To do his thinking.

It would be more fun
To fly through the air
If we could get
These signs up there.

Listen birds
These signs cost money.
So roost a while
But don't get funny.

Burma Shave

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