Like I said yesterday, Kingman was a major disappointment. I rode back towards town on Route 66 just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. Nothing. Just modern motels, gas stations, restaurants and the like. There were a few period motels still standing, but there was nothing noteworthy about them. Even in Portland we have better roadside attractions on Hwy 99 like The Alibi or The Bomber.
I took off on Route 66 headed roughly northeast. This portion of Route 66 is the longest surviving section of the old highway which wasn’t overlaid by Interstate 40. But again, there’s nothing there. If you’re thinking about ever driving this section of Route 66 expecting to see all of this long-forgotten roadside attractions and memorabilia, forget it. There’s (practically) nothing there. I was especially disappointed by the town of Peach Springs. This is the analog to the town of Radiator Springs from the movie Cars, so I was hoping that there would be something there worth seeing. But no, nothing.
Now, I fully realize that Cars is fiction, and that Radiator Springs is an amalgamation of attractions from all over the West. Still, I was expecting to see something interesting, and there was nothing. The message of Cars was that all this cool stuff still exists, and that we should all take a little time, get off the Interstate, and go see it. But there’s no “there” there. Cars was a perfect advertisement for all these potential little tourist traps, but nobody seems to have taken advantage of it. Now, having gotten my complaints off my chest, here’s what I did see:
- In the town of Hackberry, there is an old gas station which has collected a lot of memorabilia from the pre-Interstate era, and has turned itself into a combination museum/gift shop.
- A few miles east of Hackberry is an old, run-down motel which has a space theme, but its out of business.
- All along the road there were replica Burma Shave signs, the ones where they have a series of 4 signs which recite stanzas of a humorous poem, and the 5th just says “Burma Shave.”
- The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, which I mentioned a few days ago.
- Seligmann, Arizona came the closest to meeting my expectations. There were a bunch of old motels, restaurants, gift shops and so on which all still in business or were in the process of being restored. Especially interesting here was the Snow Cap drive-in. I had lunch here and took lots of pictures, which will get posted one of these days. The bottom line is that your best bet for seeing anything like what was in Cars is to just cruise along I-40, and get off at the “Business Loop” exits for all these towns along the way. These are were the old highway runs through the middle of the town, and there you have the best chance of seeing something interesting.
Red Feather Hotel
The ultimate destination for today was to get to the Grand Canyon. After Seligmann, I got onto I-40 heading east, and exited at Williams, AZ and headed north on Hwy 64/180 to the town of Tusayan. Every major National Park has a town like Tusayan located just outside the border of the park, which has cheap motels, gas stations, fast food restaurants and the like. West Yellowstone is just like it. They exist because inside the Park itself, everything is controlled by the Park Service who strictly limit what can be done within the park. There are usually hotels and stores, but they are monopolies within the park and the prices are pretty high.
I choose to spend the night at the Red Feather motel in Tusayan. When I checked in, I found that housekeeping had failed to clean the bathroom in my room. So I called the front desk, expecting to be moved to another room. And sure enough, I was. But, instead of getting another basic room like the one I paid for, they gave me The Suite. This was the biggest room in the motel; I could tell that from the map of the motel. It was pretty nice, so I resolved to spend as much time in it as possible.
The Grand Canyon
Which turned out to be not all that much time. After all, the whole point of being here was to see the Grand Canyon. So I unloaded the Vespa, changed my clothes, and headed into the park to see the canyon at sunset. I was there for a couple of hours as the sun when down, and I came back the next morning to see the rest of what I didn’t see today. I’ll have a separate write-up covering both days for tomorrow. Stay tuned.
The plan for Day Twenty-One is to first, have a leisurely morning in The Suite until checkout time, then back to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon for some more photos and viewing. Sometime in mid-afternoon, I’ll head out of the Park to the east and then north towards Utah. Shooting to spend the night in Page, AZ in Glen Canyon.