14 May 2021

RAPEA - Day 28 - Flagstaff AZ to Kingman AZ via I40 and Route 66

We departed Flaggstaff AZ and headed west via I40 (which also serves as Route 66 in this neck of the woods). The first thing I noticed was the numerous dead and dying Ponderosa Pines that covered the landscape on both sides of the road. From their gray skeleton trunks their branches sprouted willy nilly. Some looked as if beseeching the sky for rain, while others drooped toward the ground as if they had given up all hope. The only information I could find on the internet about it seemed to indicate that it was caused by a combination of beetles and drought.

The scenery was spectacular once we passed the Ponderosa Pine graveyard. You'd go over a rise and the mountains would appear in the distance with a vast valley in front that's dotted with houses only occasionally. The mountains are part of the Black Mountain Range which is approximately 75 miles long.

If any of the pictures below look familiar, it's because Seligman served as the inspiration for the storyline and topography of the little Route 66 town that had to fight for its survival after being by-passed by the interstate.
In 1987, Seligman gained its name "Birthplace of Historic Route 66" (not to be confused with the Birthplace of Route 66, which is Springfield MO) due to the efforts of Seligman residents, who convinced the State of Arizona to dedicate Route 66 a historic highway. Seligman is the first stop heading west on the longest uninterrupted stretch of historic Route 66, running around 160 miles (260 km) to Topock AZ on the east side of the Colorado River. 

Here in Seligman you'll find a variety of delightfully quirky businesses, each trying to be more ostentatious than the guy next door. Here are just a few:

The Snow Cap Drive-In – built in 1953 by Juan Delgadillo and family with scrap lumber that Juan collected while working for the Santa Fe Railway is still alive and well and has Juan's daughter and grandson now carrying on his legacy.

The Rusty Bolt – built in 1955 by Reginald Sander has adorned its roof with nearly 20 mannequins in various poses and contains a gift shop like no other dealing mainly with Route 66 memorabilia.

The Copper Cart Motoporium – built in 1952, is no longer the classic diner it once was. It's now a museum and gift shop and even has a "Mater" replica from the movie "Cars."

Canyon Shadows Motel, Comfort Lodge, Canyon Lodge – built in 1963 now boasts theme rooms honoring Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, John Wayne and Route 66. 

On the western edge of town we discovered the Roadkill Cafe. Now there's a restaurant name that makes you hungry. It was a great place filled with a lot of hard working people and the food was delicious. It's the first place that served me my sweet tea in a quart sized mason jar.

One of the kitschiest stops on the Mother Road, the Hackberry General Store, has been nicknamed "The Mother Lode of Mother Road Memorabilia" and has an internationally recognized shelter dog who is best known for his appearance on Harley Davidson and United Airlines Commercials. Route 66 Artist, Bob Waldmire, who traveled the road in his orange 1972 Volkswagen Microbus once owned and operated the store. The entire area abounds with photo opps from the rustic storefront to the nostalgic gas pumps to the old blacktop and scenic vistas. It's like a microcosm of Route 66 all rolled into one stop.

When we arrived in Kingman AZ it was still early in the day so we went exploring. Our first stop was Locomotive Park across from the old Powerhouse that's now a museum and the Visitor's Center. The locomotive on display is the Santa Fe Locomotive #3759 which was presented to the city of Kingman as a historical monument by the Santa Fe Railway in 1957. It's a "Mountain Type" coal burning steam locomotive which was built in 1927 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. It was rebuilt and converted to oil fuel in 1941. You don't realize how huge these things are unless someone volunteers to stand next to it to show scale. Thank you MTC.

I was intrigued by the cool looking shop across from the park with all the flags so MTC and I went to take a look. I loved their signage as well. The name of the shop is Thunder-Rode and their main product is biker gear. I met Jack Alexander, the owner, and he was a really great guy. Even if you're not a motorcycle enthusiast you should check out their website. It's pretty cool.

Next we stumbled upon the Mojave Museum of History and Arts, which seems to be an interesting place. And up the road someone muralized the locomotive on a water tower.

Then we arrived at the Ramada across the street from where we stayed. They have a large variety of celebrities gracing their exterior walls which were expertly drawn by Dan and Vicky, artists from Arizona. For more information on Murals of Kingman click here.

11 May 2021

RAPEA - Day 27 - Flagstaff - Day of Rest

Today I saw nothing and I did nothing. So I thought I'd give you a little information on the town we've resided in for the past 3 days. 

Flagstaff AZ, incorporated in 1928, was, like many towns in the west, inhabited by Native Americans prior to its incorporation, specifically the Sinagua tribe. Flagstaff thrived even during the Great Depression due to all the natural wonders in the area. It was revitalized in the 1990s after a new administration saved its crumbling infrastructure.

Today the city remains an important distribution hub for companies such as NestlĂ© Purina PetCare, and is home to the U.S. Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station, the United States Geological Survey Flagstaff Station, and Northern Arizona University. Flagstaff has a strong tourism sector, due to its proximity to Grand Canyon National Park, Oak Creek Canyon, the Arizona Snowbowl, Meteor Crater, and Historic Route 66.

Due to it's 7,000ft elevation and skies which are unpolluted by light it's of particular interest to astronomers. Pluto was discovered from Flagstaff in 1930.  In 2001 it was recognized by the International Dark Sky Association as the first International Dark Sky City.

RAPEA - Day 26 - Day Trip to Sedona, Cottonwood, Clarkdale and Jerome via Route 89 and I17

The ride from Flagstaff to Sedona is absolutely wondrous! SR89A is a narrow two lane that slowly snakes through the Coconino National Forest. In the beginning it includes a section of twisty turny asphalt that would rival the Tail of the Dragon in Deals Gap NC. The road is thickly forested with pine on one side with a red rock cliff face on the other that occasionally protrudes precariously over the road. We passed by numerous campgrounds which are visible from the road and it's at the top of my bucket list of camping destinations.

Within the Coconino National Forest is the Slide Rock State Park which was originally the Pendley Homestead, a 43-acre historic apple farm located in Oak Creek Canyon. Supposedly, it is world famous for its sandstone rock slide which measures 80 feet in length and 2.5 to 4 feet in width with a 7 degree incline which empties into a half mile area of Oak Creek that's open for sliding, swimming and wading. The area is so beautiful that it has also been the set for many movies including one of my classic favorites "Angel and the Badman" which was filmed in 1946 starring John Wayne.

Sedona AZ, the aridly beautiful Lady in Red from her foundations to her cloth awnings fluttering in the breeze, where (if you take a second mortgage on your house) you can shop til you drop and a shuttle bus will pick you up and deliver you to one of the many spas for rest and relaxation so you can live to shop another day.

Cottonwood AZ, the center of AZ wine country, took its name from a circle of sixteen large cottonwoods growing about one-quarter of a mile away from the Verde River. In the 1920s it was called the 'Biggest Little Town in AZ' due to having so many businesses and only a population of about a thousand.

Clarkdale AZ was Arizona's first "planned community" in the heart of the Verde Valley, and once served to house the miners who worked the copper mines of Jerome and their families. I would have loved to have toured their Arizona Copper Art Museum but sadly we were there on a Monday and they were closed.

Jerome AZ...for all my AZ friends think about a high altitude Bisbee AZ on steroids! For the rest of my readers, Jerome, like Bisbee, was an abandoned mining town until a band of merry hippies adopted it and turned it into an artist enclave. You know those Adopt a Highway signs you see everywhere? Jerome has one that states the area is kept clean by the Psychedelic Mariachi Band. Now that's a band I'd love to hear play.

We took I17 for the return trip and the only place of note I saw was the exit sign for Montezuma Castle National Park which I discovered was erroneously named by settlers of European descent. It neither belongs to Aztec culture nor is it a castle in the traditional sense. The castle is actually a prehistoric high rise apartment structure built into the stone cliffs and abandoned nearly 40 years prior to Montezuma's birth. Several Hopi clans and Yavapai communities trace their ancestries to early immigrants from the Montezuma Castle/Beaver Creek area.

09 May 2021

RAPEA - Day 25 - Gallup NM to Flagstaff AZ via I40 and Route 66

Farewell NM. I really liked the looks of your state but I hate your politics. If you ever get out of lockdown give me a call...maybe I'll return. But it's kind of disheartening when every tourist site is closed, motels no longer offer free breakfast or have the pools open and restaurants can't seem to find anyone to serve people.

Hello AZ! I can actually walk into a hotel lobby, restaurant or store with no mask! The downside of that is more traffic because more people are finally out and about. But few of them are staying at motels.

I started my day with a 1.2m hike around the rim of the Painted Desert at the Petrified Forest National Park. First off, will someone please notify the National Park Service of the definition of Forest? According to Dictionary.com a forest is:


1. a large tract of land covered with trees and underbrush; woodland

2. the trees on such a tract: to cut down a forest.

3. a tract of wooded grounds in England formerly belonging to the sovereign          and set apart for game.

4. a thick cluster of vertical objects: a forest of church spires.

Yeah...none of that exists in this particular "forest". This "forest" is horizontal not vertical. Petrified wood forms when fallen trees get washed down a river and buried under layers of mud, ash from volcanoes and other materials. Over millions of years, these minerals crystallize within the wood's cellular structure forming the stone-like material known as petrified wood. So scattered throughout the park these trees can be found from the miniscule to the ginormous. But they're all laying down on the job.

In my opinion, the best part of the park by far is the view of the Painted Desert floor. It just took my breath away...or maybe it was just the altitude since I was over 5,000 feet higher than where I usually reside. And Park Rangers are sneaky little devils. They place these informational signs just right so there's always another sign within sight beckoning you to come "learn things" as Dwayne Pride would say. Before I knew it I was hiking a 1.2 mile trail, one sign at a time. It felt great when I finished though.

While touring the the various overlooks I came across three Southern Belles of a certain age from northern GA in a red version of my car back home. I have dubbed them The Royal Wheeeee! because they were having an enormously good time trying to take a selfie with a stick against the backdrop of the Painted Desert. Their laughter was infectious and I envied their comedic intimacy as only three sisters on a road trip can be.

Next up was Holbrook AZ and the highly recognizable Wigwam Motel from the movie "Cars". And what a lot of classic cars there were! There was even a camper conversion of a classic VW Bug. I loved it! I even got to take a quick pic of the interior of one of the wigwams with it's typical, 50-60s made for TV, twin marital bed set up. I don't know how so many boomers were created when supposedly all parents slept in twin beds according to Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver, The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, Dick Van Dyke...but I digress. But I've always wondered...whose bed wound up with the dang 'wet spot'.

"One of These Nights" "After the Thrill Is Gone" of "Life in the Fast Lane" in that "Ol 55" with all that "Fast Company" on "The Long Road Out of Eden" (I40), you'd be a "Certain Kind of Fool" with a "Frail Grasp on the Big Picture" to wait until you reach the "Hotel California" for an overnight stay. Don't end up like "James Dean", stop "In the City" of Winslow and enjoy a "Peaceful Easy Feeling" at the "Last Resort", or La Posada Hotel with a "Tequila Sunrise". "Do Something" for yourself and get "Busy Being Fabulous"! "I Can't Tell You Why" Winslow decided to "Take It To the Limit" after their resurgence in 1972 as a result of the Eagles/Jackson Browne song "Take It Easy" with the lyric "standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona". But "In the Long Run" it was a great investment. If you're a "Victim of Love" with a "Heartache Tonight" because a "Witchy Woman" claims you're "Guilty of the Crime" of belonging to the "I Love to Watch a Woman Dance" Club with your "Lyin' Eyes", don't become a "Desperado". "Get Over It"! You've "Wasted Time" enough in "The Sad Cafe". She's "Already Gone" and in Winslow there are plenty of "Pretty Maids All In a Row". "It's Your World Now". "You Are Not Alone". "I Wish You Peace". OK, "I Don't Want To Hear Anymore" either!

And of course no visit to Winslow would be complete without a visit to Meteor Crater National LandmarkThe crater is privately owned by the Barringer Family who claims it is the "best preserved meteorite crater on Earth", and as such it is not protected as a national monument, a status that would require federal ownership. It should be well preserved with what they charge for an entrance fee! But they do have some nice viewing platforms installed with labeled telescopes permanently focused on particular aspects of the crater and that was kind of cool.

RAPEA - Day 24 - Tucumcari NM to Gallup NM via I40

We began our day with a blast from the past. Yes folks, that is an actual working phone booth in Tucumcari NM at the Conoco Gas Station. It would have been nice if Tucumcari had held on to a little more of the past...like one of these vintage credit card machines. While trying to obtain a receipt at checkout this morning, I was explaining to the two young girls at the desk that if they had one of these last night they wouldn't have had to turn away all the customers with no cash last night because the system was down. Insert deer in the headlights stare with crickets in the background here.


Our first stop on today's itinerary was the Blue Hole of Santa RosaThe Blue Hole was used by nomadic tribes as a reliable water source in the arid plains that surround the area. Cowboys on cattle drives across the Pecos River would also stop by the pool. When Route 66 came through the city in the 1920s, the original alignment brought it right past the property of the Blue Hole. The pool became a popular stop and tourist attraction for motorists on the new highway. In 1932, it became a hatchery for the National Fish Hatchery. Afterward it became the Blue Hole Recreation Area in the 1970s, then the Blue Hole Dive and Conference Center. In the current era of the Interstate, the pool continues to be a popular destination with both locals and divers from around the world.

I was happy to see that the large public swimming, fishing and picnic areas just before the Blue Hole were full of families enjoying the beauty of the area...without a mask in sight even though we're still in NM.

Next up was the Musical Highway. It's a short stretch of highway that plays America the Beautiful if you drive on the rumble strip at 45mph. On the internet they show that there are blue signs but we didn't see a one. We had actually pulled over because we didn't see any markers for the spot Google Maps directed us and while we were sitting there a car passed and I heard it. It's so amazing how they were able to achieve this. I made an attempt to record us but I'm afraid my audio didn't pick up much and I was afraid to dangle my phone any further out the window. It can be seen and somewhat heard here.

The Travel Gods were definitely with us today. Along I40 between Albuquerque and Gallup NM we passed three massive traffic jams that were backed up for miles. Lucky for us they were in the Eastbound lanes and we were headed West.

Our last quick stop was at the Continental Divide which is located on the original 1926 alignment of Route 66. Other than a couple tourist traps and a sign there was nothing much there.

We made it to Gallup, checked in, dropped off our bags and decided to take one more quick trip to end the day. So we headed up what the sign indicated was the devil's highway in search of the Window Rock Navajo Tribal Park and Veteran's Memorial. And of course it was closed. But with a loose interpretation of the signs and a good zoom I managed to get a few shots anyway.

And this, my friends, is where we say goodbye to New Mexico, for tomorrow night we'll be in AZ. Well technically we were in AZ today but only for a short time. The Code Talker Memorial is in AZ.

07 May 2021

RAPEA - Day 23 - Ruidoso NM to Tucumcari NM via Roswell NM and US 70

What a roller coaster today has been! The first thing I spotted on US70 right around Hondo NM made me laugh. "No face diapers required!", proclaimed the sign outside the Tangle Y Wood and Art. I believe that's the first bit of anarchy I've seen in these parts!

Further along near Picacho NM we pulled over so I could get a picture of this old house. It looks like it may have been a way station a very long time ago. Across the road I spotted these 2 white horses grazing under a blue sky.

Then it was on to Roswell where I snapped this Welcome Sign area just outside of town. In town,  we went to the Chavis County Magistrate Courthouse at Roswell Pioneer Plaza. Everything was great until the flag out front was pointed out to me. It was quite frayed. Really Roswell? You could do better!

Back on the road we headed to Tucumcari NM to rejoin Route 66. The closer we got, the darker the skies became. I wanted to stop at a few places to take some snaps before we checked into the motel for the night. Just as I was finishing up my 3rd and final stop the downpour started. We headed for the hotel only to discover a very harried clerk at the counter who stated their computer system was down and he couldn't accept credit cards. So we said we'd go to dinner and return.

We went to Del's Restaurant, which is a Route 66 staple in Tucumcari, at the urging of a cowboy we met in the lobby of the motel. It was wonderful! the price was reasonable, the food was great and the ambience was nice. We discovered while we were there that their computers were down too.

After dinner we headed back to the motel and informed the clerk about Del's computers being down too. We paid cash for the rooms and finished our day under cold, soggy skies.

Sorry it's so short and sweet today but for some reason today wore me out so I'm going to head my body's request for a nice long sleep tonight and crash early.