JIMMY HOFFA, AN ARIZONA GHOST TOWN AND VALENTINES DAY

JIMMY HOFFA, AN ARIZONA GHOST TOWN AND VALENTINES DAY

What do Jimmy Hoffa, a scenic Arizona ghost town, and Valentines Day have in common? To be honest the only connection I can find is they all tie into our Valentines Day adventure.

For several weeks my wife and I had talked of a lunch in Chloride, about twenty miles north of Kingman, and then a drive to Windy Point high in the Cerbat Mountains above this dusty old Arizona mining town. After several weeks of postponements due to a string of winter storms, I decided that Valentines Day was the perfect opportunity for the lunch if not the drive to the mountain top.

So, after work on Saturday we saddled up and headed north for Chloride, an historic mining town that dates to the 1860s. We chose to take US 93 because the old highway from Mineral Park Road to Chloride crosses a number of washes and requires the fording of a small stream even during the months of summer.

As we rolled into Chloride it was easy to see that a drive to Windy Point was something that would have to be saved for another day. The snow line on the towering peaks was far lower than the ridge line along which Big Wash Road runs.

I have always enjoyed Chloride. There is an anemic effort among business owners and the chamber of commerce to lure the tourist from the main road that runs five miles to the south but for the most part it is a sleepy little community of a few hundred souls.
My wife’s family has a long association with this old town. Her grandfather worked in the Tennessee-Schullyhill mine, the deepest in Arizona, during the 1930s. Filled with happy childhood memories his son retired here.
My son and his cousins also enjoyed many a happy hour here riding ATV’s down the quiet streets and into the surrounding desert. I can’t count the times we enjoyed the pleasant company of my wife’s uncle here or the laughter of the kids as they toasted marshmallows in the back yard, and the comforting smell of a mesquite fire under a clear desert sky filled with stars that seemed close enough to touch.
The family element is now gone. The cousins all live in California, my son is a grown man, and my wife’s uncle and grandfather have passed away.
So, this Valentines Day in Chloride it was just my wife and I, a small herd of fond memories, and a cowboy crooner who wasn’t half bad. As always the food at Yesterday’s was a cut above average (I had the grilled bird sandwich), the coffee was excellent, and the atmosphere was tailor made for our liking – simple, quaint, old fashioned, and not to touristy.
The perfect desert after a good meal and good coffee shared with a great friend is a long walk in the cool mountain air. After strolling the quiet streets of Chloride we decided that an afternoon this perfect needed an encore so we decided to add one of our favorite drives, old Route 66 from the Colorado River to Kingman.
This meant traversing the future metropolis that is Golden Valley as well as the generic world of suburban Bullhead City but the reward was worth the price. For a treasure as wonderful as seeing the deep shadowing of the Black Mountains frosted with patches of snow, the iconic buttes and mesas standing in stark contrast to the snow covered mountains on the horizon, and being able to enjoy the view from Shaffers Fish Bowl Springs with my best friend I would gladly battle the traffic of Los Angeles and Phoenix.
Now, let me explain how Jimmy Hoffa ties into our Valentines date. As we enjoyed our delighful lunch the staff at Yesterday’s was taking down the banners and party decorations from the previous evenings festivities.
It would seem Yesterday’s had hosted Jimmy Hoffa’s 96 birthday bash on Friday night. The waitress noted that even though the guest of owner was invited, he failed to show up – again.
SNOW DAY

SNOW DAY

As promised here are a few more photos of Route 66, Kingman and the recent snow day.
The first photo is from Route 66 near the summit of Sitgreaves Pass looking east. These were taken on Sunday, five days after the storm.
The second photo is of my truck on the morning after the storm as I pulled into work off of Route 66. The last two photos are of Kingman on Route 66 the morning after the storm.
There is something truly beautiful about a snow storm in the desert. Perhaps it is the rarity of a snow or the contrasts it brings to the colorful landscapes.

PINK CADILAC AND A WINTER WONDERLAND ON ROUTE 66

PINK CADILAC AND A WINTER WONDERLAND ON ROUTE 66

Pink Cadillacs turned white, the dark browns and reds of the desert vanished and the landscapes that embrace Route 66 in western Arizona became a winter wonderland for the second time in two months. The towering buttes and mesas that dominate the western skyline in Kingman, Arizona, vanished in shrouds of white as the clouds, heavy with snow, dropped lower.
This photos were taken in the historic district last Monday afternoon. This weekend I will post photos taken Tuesday morning after the storm had passed.
For a brief moment as I waded through the snow, pried open my frozen truck door, and scrapped the snow and ice from the windshield memories of my years in Michigan came to mind. These ghosts from the past lasted but a short time as the mist lifted and the stunning, breathtaking majesty of snow capped mountains at every turn were illuminated by the rising sun.
I never need an excuse to show my dear love how much she means to me but today is Valentine’s Day. So, today after work and delivery of three cases of signed books to Import Corner, a fascinating store at the Kingman Airport that is a cross between a Turkish market and a Las Vegas swap meet, I plan on surprising her with a lunch at Yesterday’s Restaurant in Chloride. http://www.shepsminersinn.com/
We planned on a trip to Windy Point and lunch in Chloride several weeks ago but the weather wasn’t conducive for a trip high into the Cerbat Mountains. I am quite sure Barney could make the climb to Windy Point today but as I am sure the road will be rough, washed out, muddy and in some places snow covered we will save that drive for another day.
Tomorrow, dependant on weather, we may head for Peach Springs as I have been asked to speak at a church there. As there is a storm moving in and the last one dumped two feet of snow on Route 66 in the Peach Springs area we are on a wait and see mode for that trip.
Projects on the burner for the next week include follow up on restoration of a vintage Packard sign for the Old Trails Garage, a meeting of the Route 66 Association of Kingman, and final planning for the launching of a website. As envisioned the website will feature a book store filled with route guides, maps, and similar material for highways such as Route 66 and the Lincoln
Highway, this blog, a photo gallery, an information center, and interactive page for the sharing of ideas on historic highway travel.
As always your thoughts, ideas and suggestions would be appreciated. I am a relative newcomer to the world of website design and can use all of the help I can get.
I am not sure if time will allow for a new post with photos of the snow or the trip to Chloride this weekend. So, lets plan on having these for you on Monday.

NEW DAWN ON ROUTE 66

NEW DAWN ON ROUTE 66

Williams, Arizona, was the last community on Route 66 to be bypassed by I40. As with Seligman, Arizona, Afton, Oklahoma, and countless other communities that suffered similar fates, Williams quickly spiraled toward becoming a ghost town.
Williams, however, had an ace in the hole. It was less than seventy miles from the Grand Canyon and as a result a small core of motels, restaurants, and service stations survived.
Like the legendary Phoenix rising from the flames the town of Williams was reborn as the world rediscovered the kitchey glories of Route 66 and the once legendary Grand Canyon railway was revitalized.
Now, the entire town exudes vitality and excitement reminiscent of when Route 66 was literally the main street here. As a result Williams has become a role model for communities that suffered similar fates.
I often visit Williams when discouraged about loosing another historic structure in Kingman. It gives hope for the future.

I wasn’t surprised by a recent evaluation of Kingman motels and hotels. It found we have some of the highest room occupancy rates in the nation. It also reflected the average check in time as 8:00 PM and the average check out time as 7:30 AM.
Kingman just doesn’t show well, at least not yet. Still, this reinforces my belief that Kingman just may be the last remaining, undiscovered treasure on Route 66.
With Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk to the north we are closer to the Grand Canyon than Williams. The paving of Stockton Hill Road shortened the drive and improved the scenic quality of that drive.
We have a skyline unequaled anywhere along Route 66. At every turn the horizon is dominated by snow covered peaks, breathtaking buttes, mesas and whimsical knobs of rock.
Forty five miles to the east, in Peach Springs, is the only road where it is possible to drive to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Continue east about eighty miles and you have Supai with its towering waterfalls.
I suppose the only thing we don’t have is the polish, the shine that is transforming Williams. That is about to change.
The first mural program initiated by the Route 66 Association of Kingman met some obstacles that prompted a delay. So, its on to project two – the refurbishment of the Old Trails Garage a few doors down from the historic Brunswick Hotel on Route 66.
This garage dates to 1910 and has played a an important supporting role to history. As an example, in 1914 Louis Chevrolet and Barney Oldfield had their vehicles serviced here during the last of the epic Desert Classic Cactus Derby races.
The first steps to adding some flavor to this garage and this corner is the refurbishment and hanging of a circa 1940 Packard sales and service sign that once hung over the front doors. Next is a mural for the west side and last will be the placement of a visible register gasoline pump on the sidewalk out front.
Stay tuned for further updates and as you motor west, or east, on the old double six take the time to see what Kingman, a diamond in the rough, has to offer.
A ROUTE 66 SURPRISE

A ROUTE 66 SURPRISE

For most folks Route 66 and Arizona are equated with top down fun (convertibles) and Harley Davidson built motorcycles. Well, here is a Route 66 surprise from Kingman, Arizona.
I took these quick photos, one of the Dambar on the corner of Andy Devine Ave. (Route 66) and the other of the now closed Hot Rod Cafe, formerly the iconic City Cafe also on Route 66, yesterday on the way home. It snowed off and on throughout the evening and last night went I hit the sack it was snowing rather hard.
This morning it looks as though we have about six inches on the ground and temperatures are hovering around 25 degrees. So, I have to decide between the fun of a bicycle ride in the crisp morning air or spending time digging out old Barney for a drive down a snow covered Route 66.