Wow! Time flies when your having fun, or working the behind off to keep your head above water. On a daily basis I receive at least half a ton of interesting stuff in the snail mail as well as email box. Much of it pertains to suggestions, compliments on work written, invitations to donate or speak in support of a cause, or complaints about something written. I enjoy it all. It allows me to feel as though the work is not all fluff, that I am actually making a contribution to the world in general. Well, in recent days there has been a general theme to much of the mail received. It would seem that lists of recommended attractions, restaurants, sites, museums, etc. are being written by numerous publications. This served as a reminder that I have been delinquent in compiling my annual destination list. So, without further fanfare here is my top ten list of places to see in 2010.
1) Afton Station – Afton Oklahoma – there is something really special about Afton Station. There is an atmosphere of friendliness and charm that invites lingering visits, long talks, and simply slowing the pace. I also found it fascinating to see how well the past and present blend seamlessly here. To stand in front and look across the street (Route 66) is to stare into small town America shortly after the highways that served as Main Street were abandoned for the hustle and bustle of the interstate and corporate box stores made it impossible for mom and pop shops to compete.
On the inside are a sampling of the crown jewels of the American automobile industry. Packards, Studebakers, and even a Hupmobile draw the eye with their fine art curves, gleaming chrome, and the faintest hint of raw power. 2) Pops – Arcadia – Oklahoma – this is the ghost of Christmas future on Route 66. The new, the modern, and the facade of the past is encapsulated here as a snap shot of Route 66 for a new generation. The spirit of the old roadside business and the pulsating excitement of the new presented against a backdrop of hundreds of colorful soda bottles quicken the spirit. This is a stop not to be missed.
3) Painted Desert Trading Post – Arizona – it takes an explorers heart and a pilgrims soul to find this forgotten roadside oasis. Haunting, forlorn, and meditative are three descriptors that come to mind. The setting is one of timeless beauty on the very edge of the Painted Desert. The old bridge across the Dead River and the empty shell of the Painted Desert Trading Post appear as remnants from a lost civilization. If you visit be respectful of this fragile time capsule. Help ensure it is here for another generation of explorers.4) Sitgreaves Pass – Arizona – the views from this summit on the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66 are truly breathtaking. To the east loom the towering Hualapai Mountains. To the west, the Colorado River Valley and the vast moonscapes of the Mojave Desert.
If your fortunate enough to be here at sunset do not rush the experience. Savor it as you would the rarest treat on earth. 5) Midpoint Cafe – Adrian – Texas – in Adrian time has stood still and Route 66 is still the Main Street of America. In the Midpoint Cafe the theme continues as you step through the door from the modern era into the world of the 1950s.
Fresh pie, good coffee, and even better conversation are always the order of the day here. Time slows to a crawl and with each bite of pie the tension and stress of the day slip further and further away. 6) Wigwam Motel – Holbrook – Arizona – this is a truly rare treat, a roadside business that has not been recreated but that has survived intact. It is almost as though this delightful treasure was transported in its entirety from 1960 to 2010.
The furnishings, the lobby, the atmosphere, the proprietor, and the guests exude this lost world. Only the intrusion of the modern automobile shatters the illusion. 7) Hassayampa Inn – Prescott – Arizona – here is an opportunity to step into the world of the Great Gatsby. With an attention to detail this hotel, as well as accompanying bar and restaurant, was restored to its 1920s splendor providing a rare opportunity to experience the world before the advent of the chain motel or airline travel.
The genteel opulence of the lobby, the simplistic decor of the rooms, and the opportunity to dine surrounded by almost a century of history make this a great destination. As an added bonus it is mere blocks to the heart of the Prescott historic district including legendary Whiskey Row. 8) Crown King – Arizona – this frontier era mining camp high in the Bradshaw Mountains may not be a ghost town in the traditional since but it is a mere shadow of what once was. Highlights included the saloon relocated from Bradshaw City in about 1880 and a new restaurant opened in the old stamp mill. Getting there is more than half the fun. For the adventuresome with a sturdy vehicle that provides ground clearance there is the territorial era Senator Highway, a 35 mile, four hour drive through some of the most spectacular back country in Arizona and through more than a century of history. Plan “B” is for those who prefer their adventure a bit more refined. Still, this drive along the old rail bed as it twists higher and higher into the mountains on a series of switchbacks is not for the faint of heart.
9) Hualapai Mountain Park – Arizona – located less than a dozen miles south of Kingman, Arizona this is truly an oasis, a pine covered, shade dapple island in a sea of desert. Fine dining at the lodge, miles of hiking trails, and lost mines are just a few of the treasures found here. If your travels take you to this part of Arizona during the months of winter, come play in the snow and watch majestic elk framed against stunning mountain backdrops.
10) Bisbee- Arizona – imagine an entire mining town, a modern metropolis with the most modern conveniences of 1910, suspended in time. Now set it in a stunning landscape of towering mountains and colorful, narrow canyons. This is Bisbee. To stroll its twisted, narrow, steep streets, to spend an evening at the historic Copper Queen Hotel, and to savor a quiet evening on the porch at the hotel is to experience a world more than a century past. Bisbee is more than a stop, it is a destination for the vacation of a life time. If you would like to know more about my favorite vacation destinations I suggest these two books. If you need more ideas, or would like more information about the places in these books, drop me a note. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760326894&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076032817X&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrHappy Trails!