Plans to walk in the steps of the Shogun, eat yakitori on the street, visit Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, and the Imperial Gardens were washed away by typhoon Hagibis on October 12, 2019 that hit Tokyo and would not allow us to get a flight out of Sky Harbor in Phoenix.
Now, what. I had pet sitters from Australia in my home until October 24. My friend Ruth Ann and I put together a plan we have the same adventurous spirit. We pulled out a map of AZ, highlighted the places we wanted to see, reserved our hotel rooms, and jumped into the car. We were ready.
This window is located on the outside of a store that sells t-shirts, postcards, and other Eagle souvenirs.
A door opening to a garden at the hotel Posada
The first hotel was built in 1887 but burnt down in 1914. La Posada was rebuilt and opened in 1930. The Santa Fe Railroad stops in Williams and many passengers disembark and stay at the Posada an oasis in the desert. It is the last hotel standing which employed the Harvey Girls.
The hotel is pricey. Don’t pass up having dessert or lunch in the Turquoise Room.
We traveled to Holbrook to spend the night. We arrived in the dark after driving miles out of the way because Ruth Ann decided she knew where she was going. The directions on the GPS pointed in another direction. The closer we got to Alberquerque, my trusty driver, Ruth Ann, decided to listen to my directions. We turned around on I40 and she was determined to find wigwams by the side of the road. We didn’t.
Ruth Anne’s dream was to stay at the Wigwam Hotel. My directions led us to the Wigwam Hotel in Holbrook. We parked the car and walked into the reception room.
A young girl was sitting on the couch watching TV and munching on popcorn.
“We have reservations for tonight,” I said
“It’s the one in California.” She replied
Ruth Ann and I looked at each other wondering why she thought we had made a reservation in California.
“I made the reservation online.” Ruth Ann insisted
“No, I think I made the reservation. Can you look to see if our name is in your system?” I said
“No, it’s for the one in California. Our guests have all checked in.”
Ruth Ann and I are confused.
“Do you have any rooms available?”
“No, we are full.”
We went out to the car and looked at each other again and broke out in laughter. We drove to the next streetlight and took a left. There were more hotels.
We stopped at Best Western and got a room with a free breakfast.
The next morning we went back to the Wigwam Hotel to take pictures. It was not what we expected. The people who had stayed the night before were all motorcyclists. The wigwams had no windows and were very small. We were relieved that they did not have a reservation for us.
Our next trip will take us to the Wigwam in California some other day.
Ashfork is part of the longest original section of Route 66, ninety-two miles from Flagstaff. The population of Ash Fork is three hundred sixty people. It is the highest desert town in Arizona surrounded by National Forests. Ash Fork burnt to the ground in 1893.
The only restroom available is inside the Ash Fork Route 66 museum.
Once you step into the museum you experience the southwest history of more than one hundred and fifty years. The museum has a collection of various items from time in the past. Colorful rugs, pottery, and other nicknacks are on the walls, floors, and bookshelves.
A full-scale model of the Escalante Hotel (1906–1948) is on display. One of the Harvey Girls who was left behind in the rush to get out of town sits at the piano waiting for someone to make a request for her to play a song.
Note: There are no hotels or restaurants in town.
Our next stop was Seligman, AZ. at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap restaurant built out of scrap lumber in 1953 right next to an old Texaco station. Over 500,000 out-of-state cars passed through the Arizona portion of Route 66 in 1937. In 1978 I-40 opened up and towns like Seligman were left in the dust because people found it faster traveling the interstate.
Route 66’s heyday was over. Delgadillo’s is the only restaurant to survive. Its Cheeseburgers are made with real cheese and the fried chicken makes use of dead chickens.
The walls of Delgadillo’s are plastered with money, business cards, and messages from all over the world. You will be squirted with mustard as you order but no need to worry, it is not real. The people who take your order will give you a quirky name to answer to when your order is ready.
As you wait, take a walk around the place. Green, pink, and red metal lawn chairs waiting for you to sit and get comfortable. An antique white truck sits in the front of the restaurant with a Santa sitting in the driver’s seat with his hands on the steering wheel waiting to take you for a ride.
Sit at the picnic table and enjoy the life of the past.
Note: There are no hotels in the town. Restrooms are found outside of the restaurant.
Do you want a unique experience on Route 66? Stay at the El Trovatore. The outside walls are painted with murals honoring famous cartoons and a map of Route 66. The rates are cheap and the rooms are themed. There is nothing fancy about this hotel. We woke up and there was no hot water.
Mr. D’s is an iconic place to eat. The menu is extensive and the decor is from way back when. Elvis stands to the side of the entrance waiting for you to take a selfie.
Spaniards came to Kingman looking for gold in the 1500s. The first camel corps lead by Edward Beale located water near downtown Kingman while surveying the land to build a wagon road. Unlike most of the towns on Route 66, Kingman is a thriving little town. Tourism helps to keep the town alive.
Ther are places of entertainment, museums and historic sited, parks, and hiking trails. Choices of restaurants and hotels are abundant.
Note: There are plenty of restrooms.
Cool Springs, AZ
Get your kicks on Route 66 at Cool Springs
This is a one-horse town or maybe a one-car town. Don’t drive fast on this stretch or you will drive by the only gift shop for another fifty miles.
The couple who owns the shop is very friendly. The owner gets angry if you don’t park in the designated parking spots. He offers to take your picture while you get your kicks on Route 66.
Note: There is a small public restroom. You can buy sandwiches, hot dogs and drinks.
Donkeys (Burros) rule this town.
Oatman is another deserted mine from times gone by. It is now a tourist destination (trap) where everyone can get to know a donkey. They wander the streets and don’t belong to anyone in particular. They wait outside the candy store for unsuspecting visitors who have opened bags of chocolates and try to grab your purchase. There is a sign hanging on the inside of the store warning visitors to guard their stash of candy because of the four-footed thieves waiting patiently outside for their sugar fix.
There are “donkey treats” you can buy at the end of the street.
Oatman’s “wild” burros are the descendants of burros brought here by the miners in the late 1800s; when the miners no longer needed them, they were turned loose. Each morning they come into town looking for food. They wander the streets and greet the tourists. Burro pellets and carrots are for sale at many of the shops — the burros will eat all day if you feed them. Shortly before sunset they wander back to the hills for the night.
My trip to Japan was not to be, but that didn’t stop me from cruising the state I have lived in for so long and know so little about.
Come visit Arizona and its quirky mining towns of the past.