Resigned to the fact that this was the last day of of our grand adventure on Route 66 we set our sites on a day of fun. Still, thoughts of the multitude of projects and chores that awaited us upon our return – organization of trip photos, preparing photos for sale as stock photos and prints, a BBC interview, the garden, mom, the office, and finalization of a contract for a new book, a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas – began weighing heavily with the passing of every mile.
The day began with our morning road trip tradition of oatmeal and coffee in the room before raiding the continental breakfast for fruit. As it was only a few minutes after 6:00 we were the only ones in the entire lobby and breakfast room. How fitting in light of the fact we had spent most of the trip seeking ghost towns, lost highways, and empty places.
The traffic on I-40 in Albuquerque at that early hour was light and soon we were free of the confines of the city with the valley of the Rio Grande fast fading from view in the mirror. At exit 117 we again abandoned the modern era and turned to Route 66 in an effort to prolong the last day of the grand adventure as well to seek out the places missed on the first leg of the trip when we were battling gale force winds.
It was a pleasant morning with cool temperatures and just enough clouds to add shadows, depth and color to the beautiful landscapes that embraced the old ribbon of asphalt. In spite of the situation that sparked the rush home, there was reluctance made manifest in speeds that dropped to 45 miles per hour as we leisurely cruised Route 66. Time and again we were compelled to stop and savor the silence in places such as San Fidel and Cubero.
After a brief pit stop in Grants for gas and coffee we were on the road again. However, this time we were determined to follow Route 66 through Gallup and all the way to Lupton, Arizona.
All to quickly our flirtation with the past drew to a close as we stopped at the old trading post in the shadow of a towering wall of stone just across the Arizona line, took a deep breath, and turned to I-40 in an effort to make time. Even though the clock was ticking and the pressure was on, we forced ourselves to slow the pace as often as possible with excuses such as the need to see what was new in Joseph City or how the legendary Jack Rabbit Trading Post was doing.
You might say we were procrastinating. Still, in spite of our best efforts the miles rolled by and as a last hurrah we set our sites on the ruins at Two Guns.
I am always amazed by how places like Two Guns can capture the imagination and compel people to travel thousands of miles, brave nails and angry caretakers, heat, snakes, and other unpleasantries to visit the forlorn ruins merely because of its association with legendary Route 66. What an amazing highway!
The visit to Two Guns was relatively uneventful. The apocalyptic scene of ruins amongst a stunning landscape of stone and the silence accentuated by the mournful tune played by the wind as it danced through the supports of the old bridge fit our somber mood quiet well.
On I-40 we zipped along wondering how many of those on the road today had any idea of what they were missing or what had been sacrificed to create the super slab where it was possible to motor east or west for thousands of miles, see nothing, and meet no one. A journey on Route 66 is sure to inspire reflection.
Even the child like sadness that comes from the realization the summer vacation is rapidly coming to an end couldn’t dampen our spirits as one of our favorite stops was just ahead. To celebrate the blessing that was an uninterrupted week of adventure on America’s most famous highway with my dearest friend, we stopped in Williams at the Pine Country Restaurant for a late lunch.
Then it was I-40 and a long uninspiring drive home accentuated by discussions on the next grand adventure. The Senator Highway to Crown King?