The winter storm that rolled through on Thursday and Friday left me chomping at the bit to take to the road in search of interesting photo opportunities. The striking contrasts of snow covered peaks, stark desert plains, and towering spires of multi hued stone never cease to fascinate or excite me.
So, on Saturday after closing the office at noon, I rushed home for lunch and to load the gear in our stalwart old Jeep. Then it was off to cruise one of my favorite sections of Route 66 – the pre 1952 alignment across the Sacramento Valley and into the Black Mountains. One of the challenges that comes from familiarity with a subject is the ability to see it from the perspective of the first time visit. This old stretch of road presents that challenge in spades as I have been up and down this section of highway countless times in the past forty-five years. I have been a passenger, driven in a staggering array of vehicles from hay truck to dune buggy, from convertible to antique truck, and have even walked it a time or two. Even though it was an unseasonably 34 degrees when we left Kingman the hope had been to unwind from the long week with a climb on the Mesa Trail near Cool Springs. However, by the time we made the far side of the valley the winds were beginning to blow and once we reached the summit they were howling. My dearest friend sensibly decided to take a few photos and enjoy the view from the Jeep. I, on the hand, couldn’t resist climbing to the top of the ridge for a better view of the spectacular panorama that unfolds to the east of the pass.
I was wearing long johns, a sweater, coat, and my insulated coveralls from work so the body was rather toasty. The hands and face were another matter as the winds were strong enough to make standing a chore and there were puddles of ice in the shadows.Surprisingly, in spite of the weather the old road was quite busy. There were even others who chose to brave the cold to savor the awe inspiring views awarded from the site of Snell’s Summit Station and Cool Springs. Undaunted by the weather and the postponed hike, we took our time on the way home. Time and again we pulled over to to soak in the raw beauty of this majestic land, and to allow a sense of awe to gently erase the stress and pressures of the week. It was just what the doctor ordered. Our next winter adventure will be a bit longer – just over 300 miles. I am scheduled to be the guest on AM Arizona broadcast live from Prescott, Arizona. This means we will have the excuse for another visit to one of our favorite cities, and, if the road isn’t to snowy or muddy, another opportunity to experience one of our favorite drives, the Williamson Valley Road from Prescott to Seligman. Also on our list, lunch at the Pine Country Restaurant in Williams. This should serve quite well as the carrot at the end of the stick that is the work week.