Day three of driving Route 66 in Arizona was a Saturday. Time for a true confession: All that wine the night before had me wishing I could linger in bed awhile … no such luck.
We rolled out of bed and hit the showers as the scent of breakfast wafted in the window from the Grand Canyon Coffee and Cafe below our room. There’s nothing like the smell of coffee and bacon to motivate you in the morning! A crowd had gathered and a short waiting list was growing quickly by the time we made it downstairs. The cafe includes a menu for four-legged friends and it looked like at least one adorable puppy would benefit as his owners savored fare from the “people” menu.
Breakfast was robust and delicious. Fed and caffeinated, it was once again time to hit the road. We’d built some extra time onto today’s schedule because day three included a few things we knew we wanted to explore at length.
Fairly quickly, we arrived at exit 139 on Interstate 40. This is where the fun REALLY begins. You leave the high-speed traffic and begin a 159 mile journey through the past. The four-lane superhighway fades from view as you motor west on two lanes of blacktop, threatened by encroaching wildflowers where the centerline stripes fade and passing motorists give you a nod or wave.
The original Route 66 followed the train tracks west and from here you can spot freight trains with endless cars heading east and west. It’s calmer here. Barely any traffic interrupts the view as the ribbon of a highway reaches out ahead. We waxed a little poetic as we chatted about what travelers must’ve thought along these desolate stretches of road.
Soon we approached Seligman, the birthplace of the Historic Route 66 Association and the home of the man who spearheaded the movement to save this piece of Americana. Juan Delgadillo is gone now, but his legacy lives on through hundreds of visitors who crave the freedom and nostalgia of this famous highway.
As you near Seligman, Burma Shave signs harken back to the advertising days of old with their campy poems and bright red warnings before reminding you to use Burma Shave, a brushless shaving cream introduced in the 1920s.
In Seligman you simply MUST stop at Delgadillos. Even if it’s not the right time to grab a meal, grab a snack and a laugh. The Snow Cap Drive-In servers still offer up smiles and gags with delicious menu items. It’s such a great place to go, we hopped in the car one day a while back and made the six-hour round trip just for a burger and a milkshake.
Beside the Snow Cap Drive-In, you should visit the barber shop across the street where Juan Delgadillo came up with a plan to bring visitors back to this town that the highway left behind. That started the ball rolling on a movement that brings visitors from all over the world to Route 66 … not kidding – check the foreign currency and patches on the ceiling of the gift shop and visitor’s center!
We wandered through a few other shops then headed for Grand Canyon Caverns. Every guide book we’d seen talked about this cool cave tour. With temps pushing 100° a cool tour seemed well-timed.
We headed deep underground and learned this cave was designated as a shelter by the government which meant food and water stores for some 2,000 people were piled high amid the rock formations and … gulp … petrified animals that had fallen in and couldn’t make their way back out.
Further west, we drove through Peach Springs and caught a distant view of Grand Canyon as we bypassed the Wild Nature Park. Apparently zoos along the roadway were a thing in the past and a few still remain.
We pulled into the Hackberry General Store, where we’d picked up souvenir glasses on our previous trip. The store is now under new ownership, but you can still see Elvis and Marilyn Monroe sharing a soda at the fountain inside.
One of the interesting things about backroads is the oddities you spot that leave you scratching your head and wondering, “what the heck??” Headacus is one of those things. What is it? Why is it there? Whatever the reason, I snapped a pic to remind me of it and we drove on.
Our stomachs reminded us it was probably time for dinner as we pulled into Kingman for the night. While the Powerhouse Museum along the railroad tracks on the west side of town is well worth your time (we had visited on our first Route 66 adventure), we were tired and ready for some down time. We checked into our hotel and ordered a pizza as the sun set on another day.
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Smile, laugh and wonder at the sights along the way.
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