For this weeks edition of the travel and book tips, I have something a bit different. As we will be on the road to Prescott, and then Jerome, Flagstaff, and Williams, tomorrow I thought you might be interested in a few of our favorite stops along the way.

Williamson Valley Road

Two days of rain in Kingman, which translates into snow from Peach Springs east means we will have to give up on plans for the Williamson Valley Road, a scenic and pleasant back country drive of about forty miles that also serves as a short cut of sorts. In addition to loping off about twenty miles from the trip it spares us the pain of having to brave the gauntlet of morning commuter traffic from suburbia.
During the months of summer, if it hasn’t been raining, I highly recommend this drive. It can be done in an automobile with caution but ground clearance will alleviate a few worries.
Pack a picnic lunch and bring a camera. This is a rare glimpse into fast vanishing Arizona that is also a window into the state as it was when I first began my explorations here some forty years ago.
And as it will be between ten and twenty degrees in the high country in the morning, it also means we will most likely have to take I-40 rather than Route 66 in a effort to avoid icy or snow covered roads. Of course we can rectify that on the return trip by picking up old 66 at the Crookton Road exit just west of Ashfork.  
The primary reason for this winter adventure is a live interview on AM Arizona in the morning. As this will be our third appearance on the program there is eager anticipation for the spirited discussion about the fascination with ghost towns, Route 66, the books written on these subjects, and the latest project, a Route 66 encyclopedia.
Then it will be off to lunch at the Peacock Room in the historic Hassayampa Inn. Often when business takes us to Prescott we use it as an excuse for an overnight stay at this charming time capsule lifted from the 1920s in the cities historic district but budget constraints, an ailing and elderly cat that will need a sitter, and other obligations such as promises made to our granddaughter make it an impossibility on this trip.
Next, I will stop by Barnes & Noble at the mall to sign books as a favor to the manager. A formal signing for Ghost Towns of Route 66 is being scheduled for latter in the summer.

Hassayampa Inn lobby

Then its a family visit and a winter odyssey over Mingus Mountain into the ghost city of Jerome. The destination will be the mining museum as an introduction and a plug for Ghost Towns of the Southwest.
Jerome is quite a treat. Yes, it has become touristified but that has prevented it from being erased from the map and besides, the views looking east toward the Verde River country and the red rock spires that embrace Sedona are spectacles never to be forgotten.
Snow will most likely be an issue on the grades over Mingus Mountain. Snow frosted the red rock country should also make for great photo ops.

Backroads near Williams during the summer are
great adventure.

All of the rain and snow means we will also have to skip the planned trip to Williams over the old Perkinsville Road. There was a time when little thought was given to braving forty plus miles of pudding before tackling summits near 8,000 feet in the midst of a winter storm with a two wheel drive truck that was older than I am but with age comes a bit of wisdom.
So, instead we will brave the bizarre world of Sedona nestled in its scenic red rock wonderland and savor the beauty of Oak Creek Canyon on the drive to Flagstaff. Here too I expect a few issues with snow but as this is a main highway it should be fine by mid to late afternoon.
In Flagstaff, as another favor, we will stop the Barnes & Noble to sign books and to discuss a summer signing for the new book. However, our primary goal will be Bookmans, recently reopened after last winters record snows collapsed the roof.
Bookmans is more than a mere book store, it is the stuff of dreams. Used books and magazines from the past century, phonograph albums, tapes, video games, coffee and wing backed chairs for relaxing hours of reading are just a part of the charm.
On my shopping list is the book by A.L. Westgard, Tales of a Pathfinder. The book can be ordered through but I would like to see an original copy is available first.
I have excerpts from the books as well as a few articles he wrote during the teens. They have proved to be a valuable resource in working on the Route 66 encyclopedia.
Westgard is a fascinating and surprisingly obscure figure. His pioneering in regards to mapping feasible automobile roads in the southwest and midwest during the early teens is nothing short of astounding.
In about 1910 these back country adventures amounted to something like 10,000 miles! His Trail to Sunset highway started at the same intersection as Route 66 would in 1926, and the section between Santa Fe and Yuma was initially selected as the course for the National Old Trails Highway.
He was also instrumental in pioneering the use of trucks on the primitive roads. In this regard his work became a primary source of information for the planning of the epic cross country military convoy of 1919 along the Lincoln Highway detailed in the excellent book, American Road.
Thanks to Joe Sonderman, I have a list of historic motels that we hope to photograph for the new book. Likewise with Williams. Chances are this will take us to a point well past dark so that means braving the temps for some shots of neon reflected in the snow. 
If you are not familiar with Joe’s books or his astounding collection check out his website where signed copies are available, or pick up a copy of one of his books released by Arcadia Publishing. If you have the faintest interest in early highway history I can promise you will soon be buying all of his work.
The gracious use of his collection for illustrations in the Route 66 encyclopedia is something I am most grateful for. My idea is to present historic and current shots of select properties.
As I owe my dearest friend a belated Valentine’s Day dinner, we will attempt to ward off the chill at The Pine Country Restaurant before rolling west into the frosty darkness and onto Route 66. One of the stops on my list is the Hackberry General Store as I want to photograph it at night.
To say the very least, it should be a very full but rewarding day.

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