The primary goal for this past Mother’s day was to ensure my dearest friend, my loving wife had a wonderful day. The secondary goal was to give the Jeep a real road test, something that really wasn’t necessary after our previously noted abandonment of common sense on the road to Chloride.
As this was to be a day of relaxation we began with a very loose game plan – cruise to Flagstaff, check out the wonderland that is Bookman’s, find a new eatery, and take in a secret little gem in the mountains south of Route 66 in Williams. For some on a day such as this the destination would be the focus. For us the drive is an integral component of the day and so we chose Route 66 rather than I40 for the first leg of the adventure.
The old highway was surprisingly busy for a Sunday morning but in a pleasant, more benign way than the interstate. There were cattle trucks, and tourists gawking at the scenery, local ranchers headed for church and vast herds of motorcycles, some flying flags of the drivers homeland. Seligman was a beehive of activity with throngs of tourists thicker than bees in an Alabama honey suckle bush.
After seeing little communities along the highway die a slow death after being bypassed by the interstate the bustle of activity was sort of refreshing. It left me wondering how long it would be before folks along other historic roads, such as the Lincoln Highway, catch on and begin capitalizing on the international fascination with the back roads of America. At Seligman we temporarily abandoned our cocoon and joined the frenzied world of the interstate highway. Here too we were blessed as traffic was surprisingly light.
The Jeep performed flawlessly even on the steep grade from Ashfork to the Kaibab forest though it seems the ideal cruising speed is between 65 and 70 miles per hour where the tach indicates a hair over 2,000 rpms and the engine does not seem to be straining. Indicative of how steep this grade is here, to maintain those speeds the tack hovered at 3,000 rpms. Our first stop was Bookman’s, an amazing treasure trove of books and magazines, in dozens of languages, spanning more than a century of publishing history as well as cd’s, records, video games and fresh coffee. Time comes to a stand still here for us and the challenge becomes deciding what will our allowance buy.
Again, we were richly blessed. My wife found a cd released several years ago that has proven impossible to locate. I picked up some new reading materials, Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose and Inside The Third Reich Memoirs by Albert Speer. The latter is a book I have been wanting to read for sometime in an effort to better understand the origins of the Nazi regime. For lunch we chose the China Star on Route 66 from a list my wife had made. Nothing unique, nothing special, just the basic, good food we recalled from a previous visit several years ago.
One of the goals on this trip was to determine what we could expect from the Jeep in regards to mileage. On the last tank of fuel we averaged 17 miles per gallon, with the exception of forty five miles on the highway everything was off road or city driving. This trip was all highway but it was also up hill with occasional steep grades and the air conditioner running. We averaged 21 miles per gallon. Most folks who visit Williams do so for its association to Route 66, its proximity to the Grand Canyon or the Grand Canyon Railroad. If this charming community nestled among the pines is on your list of stops this year I have a little tip.
Drive south of town on Fourth Street for a half dozen miles or so. The road is paved though it is narrow and steep. Bring a picnic lunch, a camera, and be prepared for a surprise.
Now, if you don’t mind getting your vehicle a little dusty there are even more surprises with a drive of six or seven miles down Forest Service Road 140. Dog Town Lake, and nearby White Horse Lake, are delightful oasis of a type not often associated with Arizona.
As wonderful as the drive was, as delightful as it was to have a day with my best friend, the very best part, the greatest blessing of all, was that
my son was able to accompany us.
It would seem that once again Route 66 was our portal to grand adventure and the stage for memories that will last a lifetime.