Our day started at 4:00 AM, a half hour early for me and about an hour early for my dearest friend. By 6:00 AM we were on the road to adventure once again. With an early morning appointment in Prescott as the goal we rolled east on I-40 rather than our usual choice for east bound travel which is Route 66 to the Crookton Road exit. The highest peaks of the Hualapai Mountains were tinged pink with the first rays of the morning sun as we rolled through a landscape sculpted by shadows and some vintage C & W music set the mood. The sun broke over the ridge by the time we reached Fort Rock Road and the shadow began their daily retreat leaving the juniper and cedar studded hills bathed in a warm, welcoming light. It almost made the journey on I-40 rather than Route 66 worthwhile. We arrived at the television station with 15 minutes to spare and visited with the other guests scheduled for an appearance on AM Arizona, Debbi Grogan with Peak Events in Flagstaff and Paul from Minneapolis promoting the Papa Lemon Little Wanderer series of books. The topic of discussion for my portion of the show was the international fascination with Route 66 that included a plug or two for books written and a teaser for the new title, Greetings from Route 66http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076033885X&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr, scheduled for release in early October. Our original plan to make it a two day adventure with several interviews, a possible book signing, and the long promised trip to Crown King were cut short as the situation at the office that has resulted in six day work weeks has only been partially resolved. In fact, I needed to be back in the office before 2:00. Even with the abbreviated schedule my dearest friend and I decided to make the best of a bad situation. So, we took our favorite shortcut home, the Williamson Valley Road from Prescott to Seligman. I have never evaluated the savings of a gravel road that cuts about twenty miles but results in speeds in the 35 mile per hour or less range over the main road, heavy traffic, and miles of stop lights. All I do know is we prefer the road less traveled.
|Your intrepid author on the old bridge north of Prescott.|
To ensure we stayed on budget, time and financial, lunch consisted of a few sandwich items from Fry’s and a shady spot near the vintage bridge on Williamson Valley Road. You might say it was a picture perfect outing; the weather was delightful, my dearest friend loves to pilot the Jeep along dusty back roads, and for the most part we had the road to ourselves. One aspect of this road that always fascinates me is the diverse textures of the soil that it cuts through. In some places the stone is powdered to a white flour consistency. In other places it appears to be compacted beach sand. Then there are long stretches of fine red volcanic cinders. In some places these various colors and textures blend together almost seamlessly.
|Red cinders add contrast to the dusty trail.|
When viewed against the flowers, the dark greens of the cedars and junipers, and the dark rocky ridges under a cloudless blue sky the road appears as a colorful thread in a rich tapestry. Then without hint or warning the road twists its way to the top of a ridge and a vast panorama of quintessential western landscapes stretch to the very horizons. On our list visit to Prescott the snow was coming down in sheets and even though we desperately wanted to see this road and the old bridge dusted in snow, we decided discretion was the better part of valor and took the highway. As it turned out this was a very wise decision, the snow in places ended up being several feet deep with a layer of muddy pudding underlying it. I am quite sure that with the Jeep we would have pulled through. Still, the fun has a tendency to leave an adventure real fast when your wet, cold, and mud covered from digging a vehicle out of a hole.
Perhaps this winter we can give it a go. I wonder if we could catch a photo of the herd of buffalo that roams a ranch along the road in the snow with the red cinder hills as a backdrop?