Yesterday we ended our west bound Route 66 adventure with a stop in Amarillo for the International Route 66 festival. Now, as we continue our westward journey the first stop has to be the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas for some coffee and wonderful peanut butter and chocolate pie.
Glenrio located right on the state line is a haunting and fascinating stop. At last check the population was less than five but the photo ops are unlimited in a town with origins stretching back in time more than a century.
Dependant on weather conditions and the vehicle you are driving, my suggestion is to drive the end of town and continue west on the graded, gravel road. This is an early alignment of Route 66 that is often overlooked.
The treasures found on the road between Glenrio and San Jon are many. However, there is one true gem along the way and that is the now abandoned town of Endee, another community with roots reaching back in time more than a century. As an added bonus the scenery along the way is quite picturesque.
To decipher the various incarnations of Route 66, including the pre 1937 alignment that looped from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque via Santa Fe, and to get the most from your adventure a copy of Jerry McClanahans book, EZ 66, is an absolute must. Another great source for information is the New Mexico Route 66 Association website.
Vintage lodging in New Mexico really isn’t an issue as there are so many choices with several excellent motels on each end of the state and many clean, historic properties that line line Central Avenue in Albuquerque. In Tucumcari there is the iconic Blue Swallow Motel and the beautifully refurbished Motel Safari. In Gallup there are a number of historic motels but for atmosphere and a rich history it is tough to beat the El Rancho Hotel.
New Mexico bills itself as the land of enchantment. Cruise old Route 66 through the vast landscapes, dusty little towns with origins that predate that legendary highway by centuries, and savor the unique foods and you will discover why. assist in your endeavor to spot historic locations I suggest obtaining a copy of Joe Sonderman’s book, Route 66 in New Mexico. I find a little context really enhances my adventure.
From the New Mexico state line to just west of Ashfork, Route 66 is badly broken in Arizona. This is not to say there are not intersecting sections or interesting sites. You just have to know where to look.
Holbrook is a bit down on the hills but there is still allot to see and when you factor in the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest it is easy to loose a day. Then, when the sun sets in the west, snuggle up in your own teepee at the wonderful time capsule that is the Wigwam Motel.
Winslow, like Holbrook, is a bit worn but here there is an absolute gem awaiting discovery. The historic La Posada is an old Harvey House that has been fully refurbished and as a result here you will find fine dining and excellent rooms in an atmosphere better suited to the 1920s than the hustle of the modern era.
To cruise Flagstaff on Route 66 is to experience that highway as it once was. Traffic, and lots of it, glittering neon at motels unchanged in a half century, great mom and pop restaurants, and ample opportunity to explore bookstores, museums, and galleries.
Williams rates very high on my list of favorite communities on Route 66. Great efforts have been taken here to ensure that the town presents the illusion Route 66 is still the Main Street of America.
Enhancing that illusion are a myriad of tangible links to that time. There is Rod’s Steakhouse dating to 1946, and Old Smoky’s, also dating to 1946, numerous motels spanning the period from 1930 to 1970, and wonderful shops housed in buildings that predate the highway by at least a decade or two.
As you drop precipitously down the mountain west of Williams, look to your right and left. That old road bisected by I-40 that twists and turns down the grade is Route 66.
Ashfork is less than a shadow of its former self. A series of devastating fires in the 1970s erased large segments of the historic district, much of which predated state hood in 1912, and the bypass of Route 66 sent many businesses into a downward spiral. Still, cruising through town on the east and west bound alignments will be well worth your while.
Just to the west of Ashfork turn off I-40 onto Crookton Rod. Here begins the longest uninterrupted portion of Route 66 still existent, almost 200 miles.
Seligman will be the first top. This sleepy little village is the cornerstone for the resurgent interest in Route 66 as it was here the first organization meeting of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, the first organization of its kind, was held.
The things to see and do here are quite astounding when you consider the size of the town. There is the legendary Snow Cap Drive In, Angel Delgadillo’s shop, Seligman Sundries, the refurbished Supai Motel, and the Road Kill Cafe.
If you really want to see this town as it was when Route 66 served as Main Street plan your trip to coincide with the Route 66 Fun Run. This three day block party along 180 miles of Route 66 with hundreds of vintage cars makes one think they have stepped through a portal into another time.
In our next post I will serve as your tour guide to the rest of Arizona, and California, arguably the most scenic section of Route 66. This weekend we will also have the next installment of the Kingman Army Airfield story and a few book reviews.