THREE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS IN LIFE ARE 1. GOING WEST 2. ON ROUTE 66 3. WHILE TAKING PICTURES. MOST OF THESE PHOTOS INCLUDE PICTURES OF MY TEARDROP CAMPER IN LOCATIONS ON 66. I HAVE BEEN TEARDROPPING TWICE OUT WEST, THE FIRST TRIP SEEING FOR THE FIRST TIME THE GIANT REDWOODS ON CALIFORNIA'S COAST WITH MY WIFE AND THE SECOND TIME WITH MY BROTHER ON AN ADVENTURE THAT ENDED A FEW MILES SHORT OF CALIFORNIA AT COOL SPRINGS CAMP WEST OF KINGMAN. MY TRIPS BEGIN IN LITTLE ROCK.
I READ AND ENJOY OTHERS WHO POST THEIR TRIPS AND PHOTOS ONLINE AND IS IT MY HOPE THAT OTHERS MAY GET SOME PLEASURE FROM MINE IN RETURN.
LUCILLE'S PLACE IN HYDRO, OKLAHOMA, FORMERLY KNOW AS HAMON'S MOTOR COURT. I HAVE HEARD HER ORIGINAL SIGN NOW HANGS IN THE SMITHSONIAN. SHE DIED A FEW YEARS AGO AFTER RUNNING THIS PLACE SINCE THE FORTIES.
SOMEWHERE ON 66 IN WESTERN OKLAHOMA.
U-DROP-INN SHAMROCK TEXAS ON OLD 66. THIS IS A BEAUTIFULLY RESTORED GAS STATION THAT NEEDS TO BE SEEN BOTH DAY AND NIGHTTIME. THIS IS IN EASTERN TEXAS NOT FAR FROM THE OKLAHOMA BORDER.
A LITTLE FURTHER WEST IS MCLEAN, TEXAS AND HOME OF THE BARBED WIRE AND ROUTE 66 MUSEUM, THE CACTUS INN AND THE RED RIVER STEAK HOUSE. ALL THREE ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. THE OLD PHILLIPS 66 STATION PICTURED HERE IS IN THE MIDDLE OF TOWN TOO.
The cute little building below is in the ghost town of Glenrio, TX/NM as it is on the border and the last exit on I-40 heading West before you leave Texas. This was the little Juarez Restaurant and is featured in the Pixar movie CARS.
The first town of any size in New Mexico is Tucumcari which has some of the finest neon on all Route 66. Time is taking these treasures away slowly so if you have any interest in traveling 66, hurry. Places are vanishing as the old buildings are deteriorating in the towns with slow economies and in the bigger cities replaced by modern strucutures.
The Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari probably has the most magnificient neon on all the route, although that is an opinion. The owners are incredibly friendly and helpful and you won't forget them if you ever visit once. There are numerous places to stay in Tucumcari but if you are nostalgic, they can't be beat. The shower has a window that opens outside to green grass and birds singing, what a way to start the morning. They have one RV spot on the front lawn with cable included for $10 a night that makes for a unique experience.
That is Rod Serling on the yellow sign!
The sole RV spot at the Blue Swallow with the Baby Cabin Car ready for the night.
While we went to eat Bill found a tv cable and hooked me up for my late night entertainment. Bill on the left try ing to buy my teardrop so he can pull it with his 57 Chevy.
Who knew camping in the city could be so much fun, just a few feet from the original Highway 66. The tent has a porta potty and can be used for showering.
The West has lots of stretches of nothing but flat land but a good guide book on the old highway will keep you
busy looking for the next stop in its historical path. This next photo is just a rock, a big rock, but it was worthy of a post-card. I took a similar picture and here they are together. This is West of Albuquerque and the rock buttes are a vibrant red color against that turqoiuse sky.
Not too far down the road from Owl Rock is Cubero and the long closed establishment of Budville. Bud ran a wrecker service and service station in this remote part of the highway and had a reputation for being heavy-handed. He was murdered in his building in the sixties and I don't think the killer was ever found.
The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona is a unique experience for old time kitsch too. Still run by the Lewis family whose Dad built it, these are very cute inside with more room than you would think. Some have two beds, but watch your head going into the shower!
Holbrook is the first town on I-40 westward after the Painted Desert. It has a very retro look to it with lots of old buildings still being used.
The Jack Rabbit Trading Post near Joseph City was famous for these signs building up anticipation as you approached. This is across the street in front of the Trading Post which has grocery supplies for the locals and lots of standard souvenirs. It is hard to miss this if you are on I-40 as the land stretches flat for miles in all directions. Often you can see rain storms in the distance while driving on a sunny day. Remember I am from Little Rock so this is all different to me.
There is not much out here in this part of Arizona but what there is is big. The Meteor Crater is about 6 miles South of I-40 and 66. If you know where to look as you are driving down 40 you can see the red rock remains of the old Meteor Crater Observatory (no trespassing, looks dangerous) where for a quarter you could look from its observatory tower into a telescope and see the crater. That is until the owner forgot to take the telescope home one night and it was stolen. The Crater cost about $15 to visit and has a large complex of educational, theater and gift shop areas. Astronauts trained here for moon walking. Not the Michael Jackson type though.
In case you can't see it, here is my brother Don pointing in the direction of the crater. On the middle of the floor, you can't make it out but there is a lifesize cutout of an astronaut to impress upon you the vastness of this hole.
Just past Meteor Crater a few miles is what may be my favorite stop on all of U.S. 66. The place is called Two Guns and it has its own exit although there are no businesses or residences here. This place is full of history, Cowboy and Indian legends, train robbery and treasure stories and many 66 businesses long gone. A hidden cave was the sight of an Indian massacre and lots of old stone ruins around a scary concrete bridge to nowhere over Canyon Diablo beckon the adventurer to spend time here. The place is large and quiet and apparantly noone cares if you poke around it, but do so at your own risk. It would be easy to get hurt here, the canyon is deep and the rocks are hard. The ruins of Two Guns can be easily seen from I-40 but the world just passes by this wonderland. Lots can be read about it by searching Google. From the same exit heading North you can reach the ghost town of Canyon Diablo, one of the roughest cow towns in the Old West. Not much remains today but crumbling rock and an old grave hiding in the grass with an iron rail fence around where Herman Davis was buried. The railroad used to end here until the canyon was finally trestled and it makes a fine sight to see a train crossing this tall bridge out here.
To reach Canyon Diable you must take the hardest dirt road I have ever driven about 2-3 miles North of I-40. A car can make it but be prepared to spend 20 minutes to drive the short distance.
My brother and I teardropped at Two Guns and cooked a truly cowboy meal of pinto beans and corn fritters with 'Diet Mountain Dew' for a beverage. The next morning we had french toast, eggs and coffee after a great night of sleeping with perfect temperatures and a light breeze. We even watched an old Glen Ford Western to finish the evening. Probably our favorite part of the camping though was laying under the stars on our lawn chair recliners and watching comets, airplanes, satellites and the incredible vastness of space pass over our head. Under those conditions, you go back to childhood and remember the awe of this incredible journey we are all on. There is a beauty under the stars that cannot be matched by any other thing.
The exit after Two Guns is appropriately named Twin Arrows and is the location of a now defunct Gas Station and Diner. The charm has about worn off this old place but I have a coffee table book that has a photo of it when it was open and it was very neat looking. Sad to see it looking so close to death. I am guessing it will soon fall in and be razed. We met another 66'er here looking around and explored the grounds. The arrrows seen to the right have recently been restored, they are made of telephone poles buried into the ground. The Route 66 Casino a few miles West of Albuquerque copied these arrows and has several as signage in their parking lot. If you like 66 I recommend visiting the Casino as it has lots of 66 theme-art inside and is a free treat..if you can avoid the gambling machines.
Flagstaff is an oasis in Arizona as its elevation brings cooler temperatures and beautiful, green foliage which is quite a change from the rocky, barren terrain leading up to it. Not far West is Parks, Arizona notable only for being on 66 and the location of an old General Store where you can get a frech cup of coffee. The countryside is full of tall pines with the San Franciso Peaks, often snow capped, as a backdrop. You could find a lot worse place to live than here and I envy these folks with all the city conveniences but all the beauty of Arizona so nearby. Here is a picturesque spot that was a famous postcard scene in the old days.
66 roughly follows I-40 when it is not swallowed up by it as you continue West from Flagstaff and a very scenic drive out of sight from the four-lane is by following the old highway from Parks into Williams-the gateway to the Grand Canyon- which is about an hour North of Williams. Williams is a classic Route 66 town with the Main Street laoded with photo opportunites of eateries and shops all along it. A small mock Western town amidst it all makes for a fun visit and you may see a play gunfight on downtown 66 if you are unlucky.
After Williams, the interstate will take you to Seligman, one of the funnest towns on the old road and home of barber Angel Degadillo, who is known as the founder of Historic 66 as he was one of the fore runners in helping it be named an historic highway. He no longer cuts hair but can often be found in the barber shop with other family members selling knick-knacks to the hundreds of foreign tourists who always seem to be passing through town. There are several colorful shops in town but none so gaudy as the Snow Cap Dairy Bar, home of the late Juan Degadillo, Angel's brother. His children now run the place which has a walking tour of the back yard among its novelties.
The longest continous stretch of 66 still around includes Seligman and continues West away from I-40 into Kingman. On this stretch you can feel the peace of traveling as there is little traffic on this well-maintained roadway and occasionally you pass fading towns with quaint buildings, a few open and offering pies, coffee, steak, and possibly some good conversation if you take the time to stop and chat. Somewhere out here between those two towns lies Hackberry, an isolated community with the coolest looking General Store and out-buildings you have ever seen. If you are ever this way, don't pass by this place without walking around the grounds and inside which is loaded with information, photos and goodies.
After Hackberry, the old road comes into the back door of Kingman, a funky old, railroad town that offers alls the services you need before it takes you into the Black Hills running on an old stretch of 66 that was bypassed back in the fifties. Hairpin turns, steep mountain roads and abandoned and still functioning gold mines hide in the rocky hillsides and be on the lookout at one sharp turn for some steps carved in the rock leading to a hidden pool of water that sometimes is home to gold fish, a strange sight considering the dry, desert terrain around. As you just begin your trek slowly staring to ascend into the Black Hills, you pass Cool Springs, a meticulously restored gas station, complete with old gas pumps and cold pop inside. Not much on the Route captures the imagintation and brings thoughts of how it used to be as this place. The next few miles of 66 are probably the most memorable and least changed on the entire road.
Not far up the road from Cool Springs is Ed's Camp, no longer open to the public. Ed's is home to the only Saguaro Cactus on Route 66 as far as I can tell. Unfortunately, lightning struck it a couple of years ago and it is rotting down.
My little teardrop was a long way from Arkansas at this point and it was here that I ventured away from old 66 towards Bullhead, Nevada. This is Mojave Desert country and is home to the Kelso Depot, a restored train station far from the crowds. Considering the arid region about it, it was an incredible scene amongst the brown sand and vegatation.
Inside the depot, it was just as well-restored and vintage as the outside and the original diner bar is open a few days of the week for dining. A history of the place and original furnishings were among the stories told inside by placards, posters and personnel. Below is a view of the surrounding country and the desolation and isolation. There are lots of free camping spots around this area but Summer is no time to take advantage of them.
A few miles away, sand dunes offer a diversion from the typical scenery and a few lone trees create a shady spot and a haven for birds.
Our trip was now to take us to the Northern coast of California and drive the famous Redwood Highway. It was a few hundred miles away but the trusty little teardrop hung in there down the California freeways, spending a night in a rest area before heading over the Oakland Bridge and just bypasssing San Francisco below us. I never even thought of getting a teardrop picture on the Golden Gate Bridge, hmmm, maybe next time.
The following pictures are probably not in order but show some of the incredible scenery this area offers. America has so much to see if we take the time.
The above photo shows blue flags marking the San Andreas fault. This is from a trail in a park that centers around some of the major movements of the San Francisco earthquake from the early 1900's. Below is one of the many lighthouses on the coast with a long, winding stairway leading to it. The fog is not uncommon out here by the coast and really hides the beauty of the land. I believe this is Point Reyes Station. It is no longer functioning as a lighthouse but you can see why ships would need beacons with this type of visibility.
Some of the roads leading to the lighthouses are rather long and pass through cattle ranches of all things. Large black and white cows stand in the middle of the road until you nudge slowly up asking them to move over, please. The picture below was an unusual place that was very windy and a wooden deck to the left looked out over a steep cliff to the ocean below. The fog kept us from seeing them, but seals could be heard on the seashore under us. The sign says 'Caution Sand Drift.'
On one of these foggy beaches we came upon some abandoned artists' masterpiece. The driftwood on top was balanced on the pieces buried into the ground. I try to get them all spinning at once like the plate spinners do while my wife videoed it. This was certainly a strange scene on a nearly deserted, quiet beach way out of the way.
Being a fan of Alfred Hitchcok, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Bodega Bay where the film "The Birds" was located. The above is the schoolhouse which featured prominently in the movie, especially in a scene where the kids sang an eerie song while the birds slowly gathered outside as Tippi Hedren sat with her back to it. The school is a private residence now and is actually in Bodega, a few miles away from Bodega Bay. The picture below is from the Tides Restaurant, though the original building that was in the movie has burned down. This was the place they watched from as the gas station blew up.
I went into the new Tides and looked around and it has an upper-scale dining area with a liquor store and bakery. I asked one of the waiters if there was an RV park around to which he pointed out of one of the many large windows across the Bay to some campers on a beach. I was elated as this was where Rod Steiger's character lived in the movie and where Tippi took off for in the rented motor boat. It turned out to be a crowded state park but we found a spot and met the nicest Ranger in the world. He had a sailboat and gave tours and offered us a free one which I had to save for 'next time.' I plan on going back. Let me philosophize here and say that, if you live long enough, you realize that your time on earth is limited and you probably won't have enough to see all you would like. Right around here this happened to me.
The next set of photos are pictures of various places in Northern California.
A $6 camping spot close to the ocean, that is a closed section of Highway 1 behind us. About mile before we found this spot we almost paid $50 to stay at a KOA. This is the closest we got to sleeping by the beach. Above is in the evening and below is the next morning.
Set up and ready for a deli sandwich and a cold drink. This is why you need a 12 volt system and an inverter. We used a hair dryer for heat the next morning, didn't know it would be so cold out here!
Here is why this section of Highway has been closed. The road bed was laying on the beach below.