OF ANNIVERSARIES, ROAD TRIPS, ASSIGNMENTS, CHAOTIC SCHEDULES, AND A WEEKEND OF ADVENTURE

Frank Kocevar, left, and author Jim Hinckley.
A myriad of issues associated with development and promotion of the 2014 Route 66 International Festival, a variety of employment related issues, book promotions, looming deadlines, home repairs, storm damage, family issues, and a few other items consumed the year 2014 like a ravenous wolf.
As a result, my dearest friend and I have experienced a road trip and adventure drought that is almost unprecedented. In fact, our last grand outing was a weekend adventure to Crown King in early spring.
So, on Saturday morning we set out on a whirlwind adventure across northern Arizona. The catalyst for the outing was the need to  celebrate a milestone anniversary. A small photo project provided the excuse.
Our destination was the quiet places we so enjoy – those empty places where you can think, meditate on a year seasoned with opportunities to visit with friends, make memories with a friend that will put smiles on our faces in the years to come, and simply reflect on the years gone by while peering into the mist shrouded future without the jangling of cell phones, the unrelenting tick of the clock, or a pressing schedule intruding.
As we had but one appointment to keep, we zipped by the Hackberry General Store, and Stacy and Allen’s place in Truxton with a wave even though we eagerly wanted to see the latest improvements at the Frontier (the friendly invite on the signboard is a nice touch). Our first stop was in Seligman where we hoped to catch the Kocevar’s of Seligman Sundries to personally thank them for their contributions and years of service to the Route 66 community. As it turned out, not only did we have an opportunity to visit with Frank, but we also met the new owners, and learned that Mr. Kocevar is planning on attending Cuba Fest in October.
Our plans also included stopping to see the one and only Angel to thank him for coming to Kingman, and for helping make the opening reception for the Route 66 International Festival such a success. If possible, a haircut was also on the agenda. However, as often happens during the months of summer, his barbershop was swamped with visitors so we simply continued our eastward journey hoping to see him on the return trip.
West of Ash Fork, we made our first foray into the quiet places and stopped to watch a herd of pronghorn antelope as they moved along the broken red asphalt that marked the course of Route 66 in its infancy. In an instant the stillness of the Arizona outback, and the quiet so complete you could hear hoof beats on the stones in the meadow, a year of rushing to meet schedules and deadlines, to fulfill obligations or keep appointments seemed to melt away.
As we bounced along the broken asphalt, and over the old Partridge Creek Bridge, I-40 engulfed all traces of Route 66 and we were left to negotiate a rutted road that on occasion imitated a goat trail as we picked our way across the plains toward Ash Fork. Sadly, fences and gates forced us to retrace our steps all the way to Crookton Road. 

The signing of books at the visitor center in Williams, and answering questions from a legion of international fans of the double six, was followed with a walk though town to document the opening of some new restaurants since our last visit and a late lunch at the Pine Country Restaurant in Williams (always excellent). We were in such a good mood even the flat tire on the Jeep discovered upon our return to the visitor center couldn’t dampen our sense of eager anticipation for the journey ahead.
It wasn’t my best record and I surely won’t asked to join a professional pit crew but we were back on the road in twenty minutes. The next stop was a tire shop in Flagstaff.
This year we tapped the anniversary celebration fund for an evening at the La Posada, our first stay at this wonderful roadside gem. We strolled the grounds, watched a few trains, and explored the hotel from top to bottom.

The historic La Posada in
Winslow, Arizona. 

I remember stopping here during he 1970’s when this building housed the railroad offices. What a difference, passion, enthusiasm vision, and a whole lot of money can make! Needless to see, we are eager to see what magic Mr. Afedlt and his wife can bring to the recently purchased historic properties in Las Vegas, New Mexico. 
Tire changing and exploration work wonders for stimulating appetites and so we set out in search of dinner long after the sun sank in the west. As we were most definitely in a Route 66 frame of mind, we decided that the Falcon Restaurant, a fixture on the Route 66 landscape for sixty years.
The old place is starting to show its age. Still, the food was good if basic. The prices were just north of moderate (a hair over $25.00 for our dinner). Still, there is something about the atmosphere in a restaurant where the locals gather, and travelers have stopped for decades, that seems invigorating.
After a relaxing nightcap at the La Posada, my dearest friend and I retired to the oasis of the sunken garden where we basked in the warm desert air, and a bit of memory laden conversation. It was a delightful stroll down memory lane that spanned more than three adventuresome decades.
We kicked Sunday off with an interesting breakfast at the La Posada. Then there was the signing of books, and we were off on another adventure, this time to McHood Park, and the 1913 bridge spanning Chevelon Canyon on the National Old Trails Highway (Mr. Heward, we ran out of time and didn’t drive all the way to Holbrook).     

McHood Park near Winslow, Arizona. 

McHood Park, just a few miles southeast of Winslow, is one of those special places that are often missed in the need to keep our Route 66 adventure neatly sandwiched between bookend dates. This truly is an oasis tailor made for a relaxing picnic or overnight camping, especially in the months of late spring or early fall. 
If the schedule allows, bring a canoe or kayak. My understanding is that there are stunning natural wonders just a short distance down stream. 
Original plans called for following the circa 1913 alignment of the National Old Trails Road (now Territorial and McLaws Road) from highway 99 to Holbrook, but we became so immersed in our explorations that we back tracked from Chevelon Canyon to ensure we were home by 5:00.

Chevlon Canyon, Arizona. 

The recently refurbished bridge is already being targeted by taggers but it is an incredible time capsule framed by stunning landscapes. Climbing into the rocks to photograph the bridge from different angles soon made it quite evident that the foot had yet to fully heel.
As I perched high on the rocks above the canyon floor, looking down on the bridge, I could almost hear the squeaks and rattles, and distinctive clatter of a T Model Ford on the gentle desert breeze. Enhancing the illusion of peering into the past was a bit a graffiti carved into the soft stone by previous visitors in 1919, 1920, and 1924 who had shared my rocky perch.
Embraced by the solitude and raw beauty of the desert landscapes, I think we could have stayed for a week but the clouds building over the distant San Francisco Peaks, and the lengthening shadows were clear indication that the time had come to set our course for home. 
The drive westward through intermittent showers was festive but with solemn overtones as with the passing of each mile, we knew that our brief respite from schedules, deadlines, and obligations was drawing to a close. Still, we made time to explore Bookman’s in Flagstaff, and for a pleasant lunch at Miz Zip’s.

The 1913 bridge over Chevelon Canyon. 

Even though we have a grand adventure on Route 66 developing for October, and an opportunity to visit with our Route 66 family at Cuba Fest, our thoughts are on the next anniversary adventure.  


     

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