https://The 2011 International Route 66 Festival is now history and I am quite sure it will set a new standard for events on legendary Route 66. The hard work of Delbert Trew, “Croc” Lile, and the rest of the organizational committee that manifested in a first class weekend celebrating this amazing highway, and the hospitality displayed by the community of Amarillo, made quite an impression on my dearest friend and I as well as those who attended from the four corners of the world.
In the week before we left I started a series on the road to Amarillo. I apologize for leaving you hanging but hope this updated series, our road to Amarillo and home again, will be a suitable reward for your patience.
Initially our plan was to leave early and follow Route 66 east to the Crookton Road exit. We did manage to hit the road as the first rays of the sun were chasing the shadows across the vast desert floor of the Hualapai Valley but as I wanted to photograph some places near Ashfork with the morning light the decision was made to suck it up and follow I-40 for the first leg of the adventure to Amarillo.
From Ashfork we slowed the pace to set the mood for the big celebration. This included a leisurely cruise through Williams and Flagstaff in Arizona.
After battling our way through he morning traffic in Flagstaff, we elected to follow U.S. 89 north to the Townsend-Winona Road, the pre 1947 course for Route 66. Suburbia has pressed in on the old road but there are still vestiges where it is almost possible to peer through the very thin veil that separates the past from the present.
|Walnut Creek Bridge|
One of these is the old Walnut Creek Bridge, a beautiful old iron truss structure that is now listed on the Register of Historic Bridges. Take the time for a stroll, give the imagination free reign as you examine the battle scars in the form of bent members.
As per the famous song, we did not forget Winona but our stop was only a cursory one. With stops at Twin Arrows, Two Guns, and the ruins of the Meteor Crater Observatory on our return schedule we again took to the interstate highway where the people seem to point their cars rather than drive them.
In recent years I have conducted an informal poll to satisfy my own curiosity. It seems those who prefer to fly rather than drive have usually made most of their road trips on the interstate, the road of generic boredom where the destination takes precedence over the adventure of getting there.
|La Posada, Winslow, Arizona|
As it was the anniversary of our engagement, I had planned a special stop for lunch – the legendary time capsule that is the La Posada in Winslow, Arizona. The food is excellent and the prices are in the medium range but can run to the expensive. Still, this is a stop that must be experienced and if time, and the budget, allow, plan for an overnight stay.
|Highway Diner, Winslow, Arizona|
The historic La Posada may be the crown jewel along Route 66 in Winslow but tarnished gems abound here in this historic community. Two that really deserve honorable mention, and perhaps a photo stop, are the Highway Diner across from the La Posada and the Santa Fe Diner, both examples of the once popular prefab type Valentine Diner.
After a delightful lunch we saddled up and again took to the supper slab, at least as far as exit 269. In rolling past the timeless Jack Rabbit Trading Post, we could again breathe a sigh of relief as the old familiar ghosts of the past embraced us as the Jeep thumped over the well worn pavement into Joseph City.
The thick haze that resulted from the sweeping Arizona wildfires muted the light and brought back memories of thousands of camping trips where I awoke to the morning light with a scratchy throat after a night of telling tales around the fire. The plan had been to pick up old 66 at Lupton but the smoke prompted us to put miles under the wheels rather than wander the road of memories.
By the time we made Gallup it was late afternoon but here to our plans to photograph historic sites for the current project, a Route 66 encyclopedia, were thwarted by the smoke that the winds carried like fog from the sea. So, with resignation, we set our sights on Albuquerque and promised ourselves that on the return trip we follow our old friend, the highway signed with two sixes, toward the setting sun.
We picked up Central Avenue, the last incarnation of Route 66 in this ancient city, at exit 149 and rolled into town past a wide array of businesses that had seen better days. Perched in the midst of these dusty gems, and a few intruders from the generic era, is the Sandia Peak Inn, 4614 Central Avenue SW, on the site of the former Sandia Motel.
The neighborhood does not invite one to stroll the streets after 10:00 but the motel is centrally located mere blocks from Old Town and the zoo, is very clean, and is reasonable, less than $60.00. As a plus the owners are quite accommodating and the staff is very friendly.
On the downside are doors in some rooms that transform them into connecting suites. I found myself saying, “God bless you” when the neighbor sneezed.