THE ROAD HOME
On Sunday morning, after a subdued breakfast filled with goodbyes at the Ambassador Hotel, we reluctantly loaded the Jeep and with the wonderful memories made over the weekend at the 2011 International Route 66 Festival dancing in our head, pointed the “Roo Bar” west, and began the journey home. The first stop was for fuel at the “Toot and Totem – Beans & Burlap” convenience store to top off the tank.
With thoughts of a return to work, and mountains of details to attend to before that nipping at our wheels it was a bit difficult to maintain the level of relaxation obtained through the long weekend but we made a valiant effort by taking to Route 66. As it was only around 8:30 in the morning we were a bit early for the sixty-six cent root beer floats in Vega but we took a few photos of Roarks, the oldest continuously operated hardware store on Route 66, and the refurbished 1924 magnolia station near the courthouse for the Route 66 encyclopedia.
The next stop was in Adrian at the now world famous Midpoint Cafe. I had promised Fran a signed copy of Ghost Towns of Route 66 during our lunch visit on the way to Amarillo as well as when we stopped in 2010 on our research trip for that book.
|Fran and Jim at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas|
Unfortunately, our schedule did not allow for a long visit or even a chance to linger over pie and coffee but there was time for a quick adios to Rich Talley, and his wife, of the Safari Motel in Tucumcari, and Michael Wallis who were having a bit of a breakfast meeting. With the usual full house, Fran was busy in the kitchen but she welcomed us like long lost family, and I fulfilled my promise with the reward being a big smile.
Admittedly, we were dragging our heels a bit but it was impossible to just get on the interstate and zip home. It is never easy to exchange the magic of Route 66 for the grind of the modern era or the generic and sterile world of the interstate highway.
So, we made another stop in Glenrio and savored the silence. Surely, we are not the only ones who have allowed thoughts of what it would be like to refurbish the old Longhorn Cafe and Motel, and call Glenrio home, to fertilize the imagination?
|Jim Hinckley in front of the Longhorn Cafe in
As we had driven the pre 1952 alignment through Endee on the trip to Amarillo, we chose the latter alignment past the fast fading remnants of Bard for the return journey. As added incentive for skipping one of our favorite segments of legendary Route 66, we wanted to check out the Russell’s Travel center we had been hearing so much about.
Okay, on the surface the travel center is a clean, well stocked modern incarnation of the old general store, truck stop, and cafe rolled into one package similar to countless others found all along the interstate highways. However, there is a distinct difference with Russell’s and it is for that reason I highly recommend a stop.
|Russell’s Travel Center|
Here the owners have created a wonderful bridge that links the world of Route 66 with the modern era. In addition to the groceries, sundries, and prerequisite food court franchise of the modern truck stop, there is a small, free automotive museum, Route 66 displays, and a wide array of Route 66 souvenirs. It is almost a near perfect blend of the old world where Stuckey’s and the trading post reigned supreme and the new with its all in one stop roadside convenience store.
|Auto collection at Russell’s Travel Center|
On the road west we slipped from the past into the present and back again with drives along Route 66 through Newkirk, Montoya, San Jon, Tucumcari, and Santa Rosa as well as I-40. On the modern four lane we joined the herd and drove with a focus on the destination, on Route 66 we savored the journey and stopped often to peer through the fence at a wrecking yard where a diminutive Crosley pick up truck basks under the sun with a Nash Metropolitan and a herd of vintage Studebakers, to check out the cars at the Santa Rosa auto museum, or to check on the status of our favorite ghosts along the road.
|A Crosley pick up with its original hubcaps!|
In spite of our best efforts, by the time we made Moriarty the miles driven on the interstate had tarnished our Route 66 frame of mind. So, we settled for a quick lunch at Subway, and topped off the tank at the TA Travel Center, the former Rip Griffith truck stop.
On the west side of Albuquerque, near the top of what was once known as nine mile hill on Route 66, a long grade from the Rio Grande, we stopped for a visit with Vicke Ashcraft at the Enchanted Trails RV Park and Trading Post. With time, patience, and investment, Vickie has transformed this former trading post into a marvelous oasis for those who prefer their road trip with the conveniences of home in an RV or travel trailer.
|A vintage trailer for the night keeps the Route 66
frame of mind fresh for the day ahead.
In Amarillo, I had talked with Vickie about changes being made to Enchanted Trails, and had promised to stop by to see them and to drop off signed copies of the new book as well as some of the Arizona Route 66 Passports. The big news is that here it is now possible to experience the world of travel trailer life circa 1955 by spending the night in a fully refurbished vintage travel trailer!
For more information about rates and availability call 800-326-6317 or 505-831-6317. And if you just want a great photo op, a copy of my new book, or an Arizona Route 66 Passport before beginning your Route 66 adventure in Arizona, be sure to stop by. If you do, say hello for me.
|Enchanted Trails RV Park at Albuquerque|
Our flitting between the past and present continued on the road west but my initial thoughts of driving straight through to Kingman from Amarillo, more than 750 miles the way we were traveling, were giving way to weariness and a reluctance to return to the crushing weight of the real world to soon. So, we began considering options for a final night on the road by the time we made Grants and by Gallup had decided we would take a gamble, run to Holbrook, and see if there was a vacancy at the Wigwam Motel.
|Time capsules abound at Enchanted Trails|
As it turned out the Wigwam is alive and well and there was no room at the inn. In fact, it seems as though a number of people had decided to call it a day in Holbrook making a vacancy a rare commodity. Perhaps that is why the Best Western Adobe Inn management had decided their rooms were worth their weight in gold or perhaps the rates are always set with the thought that we only half to rent half of the rooms to ensure profit.
In either case, I can only recommend this as a stop of desperation. The room was clean but musty and showed its age. With the passing of each train the building shook. The floors creaked like the joints of a man who has spent most of a century in the saddle and still they held the rate at $90.00.
Only one day remained for our adventure and we swore we would make it one to remember!