Route 66: Day 14 – Williams to Needles

Well, the end is clearly in sight now.  

This is the longest video of the series so far.  There are so many places to check out along this stretch of the Mother Road.  I hope you’ll take the time and check out our adventures along the longest unbroken section of Route 66 remaining in existence.

We wake up to snow in Williams but most of it is gone by the time we get to Ash Fork.  We hit the birthplace of Route 66, Delgadillo’s Barber Shop in Seligman and also stop by the iconic Hackberry General Store.  We end with a trip up and over the Sitgreaves Pass, one of the most notorious stretches of Route 66 and then spend more than a little time feeding the burros in the wild west boomtown of Oatman.  California or bust on Day 14!

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Route 66 – Episode 13

So, Day 13 actually started slightly unlucky for us.  For the first time on the trip I forgot to unplug the 12V electric cooler we had in the backseat and when we emerged from our wigwam and went to set out on the road, we had a dead battery.

Fortunately, a quick call to AAA and a wait of about 30 minutes was all it took to get us back on the road — and we even got to chat with a nice local tow truck driver as a result.  Life on the mother road needs to have a few glitches if it is going to feel authentic, right?

Day 13 involved a lot of fun stops, including the Jack Rabbit Trading Post.  The owners of this historic trading post are doing such a good job of embracing social media that we felt like they were old friends when we arrived.

We also grabbed some drone footage of Meteor City Trading Post (abandoned but on the track back to life), visited Meteor Crater itself, lived out a moment from a classic Eagles song, and managed to end up in Williams, Arizona for the night.  There may have been a couple of other stops along the way — check out the video to see what they might have been.

As a side note, I am just starting on Day 14 and I have more than an hour raw footage to sort through and it’s going to take a lot of editing to get it down to something manageable — or, I might need to break Day 14 into two parts.  We’ll see once I get into it.  Either way, it might be a fair amount of time before the next episode comes out.

Thanks for watching!

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Route 66: The Painted Desert Trading Post!

Well, we’re two thirds of the way through our trip down Route 66.

Today’s episode sees us depart New Mexico and set course for Holbrook, Arizona.  Sure, we’ll stop in and see Fort Courage — an abandoned tourist trap replica fort built to resemble the one used on the 1960s TV series “F-Troop” — but the real crown jewel of this day’s journey is the Painted Desert Trading Post.

The “PDTP” has an interesting history.  It was opened in the early 1940s by Dotch and Alberta Windsor along Route 66 and it served as a haven for the travellers crossing the desert of Arizona.  It never had electricity or telephone services so all the appliances ran off wind power.  There used to be gas pumps out front which were the old gravity feed style.

As is the story for many of these places, when the Interstate (in the case, I-40) was built and bypassed the old route, the customers disappeared and the business was closed.  The PDTP would sit, essentially untouched, for the next 50+ years.

This stretch of Route 66 was quite hard to access for a long time.  The west end of the road used to go right through into Petrified Forest National Park, but it was blocked off and is no longer connected, so it is a “go out the way you came in” stretch of road. 

(Side note:  From Petrified Forest National Park, you can see where the old roadbed sits and connected to the modern roads, complete with a line of lonely telephone poles heading off to the horizon.  This is an area that really deserved more exploration time.)

As well, the land where the PDTP is situated is used for cattle grazing so getting onto the old Route 66 alignment required a bit of luck (finding the gate open), bravery (opening the gate and going in), or homework (tracking down the owner).  Despite — or maybe because of — these obstacles, the PDTP became a bit of a holy grail for roadies.

Today, the situation is a bit better.  A group of Route 66 enthusiasts formed a co-operative and purchased the land.  They installed a bluetooth padlock on the gate.  Today getting access is much easier.  You simply arrive at the gate, call one of the phone numbers listed and speak with a co-op member.  They will send you a link which allows you to donate $10 to their cause.  Once the money is confirmed, they send you another link, this time to an app for the lock.  They grant you access for a set amount of time, you hold your phone next to the lock and it opens.  Drive in, lock the gate behind you, and go on and check out the PDTP.

 You will see this whole process in the video above.

Since we made this video in early October, the Painted Desert Trading Post Co-Op has made several changes to the building.  They have cleaned up more of the site, including grading the land around the building and installing a fence to keep the cattle out.  They have added a flagpole and also stabilized the sagging corners of the building.

I am of two minds about these changes.  On one hand, I feel some of these improvements are too modern and take away from the rustic and remote charm of the area.  Of course, it makes me happy to know the building is being preserved and will continue to draw in Route 66 roadies from around the world for many years to come.  Make no mistake, this building was on a path towards disappearing forever without their help.

Hope you are enjoying the series!

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Route 66: Day 11 – Going Underground in New Mexico

Don’t let the thumbnail scare you away, we have some great adventures in store along Route 66 in New Mexico.  Well, unless you are afraid of snakes — in that case, watch this video with caution.

We start in Ross Ward’s passion that took more than 40 years to build — Tinker Town.  We then check out the Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque, the New Mexico Mining Museum in Grants, and a couple of other places along the way.  

It’s our eleventh day on the Mother Road and the good times just keep on coming.  

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Two More Route 66 Videos

It’s a two-for-one special in terms of videos today.  On Day 9 we hit up a less traveled section of Route 66, “The Cuervo Cutoff” while making our way from Tucumcari to Santa Fe.

Day 10 sees us take a break from the road and spend the day walking around downtown Santa Fe.  Santa Fe was only on Route 66 from 1926 – 1937, but it is certainly a great place to visit and see some history much older than we get here closer to home.

I hope you are enjoying this series of videos.  We’ve now broken the 30 subscriber mark on our YouTube channel so we are seeing a steady growth as we play with new ways of sharing our adventures.

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Route 66: Tucumcari Tonite!

Well, we’re more than halfway there! It’s our eight day on Route 66 and — after visiting a couple of museums — we depart Amarillo, Texas with our goal being Tucumcari, New Mexico.

“Tucumcari Tonite!”

It is a slogan used for many years up and down Route 66, which enticed travelers to spend the night in the many motels of Tucumcari, formerly known as Six Shooter Siding.

Our goal is the Blue Swallow Motel, a Route 66 icon since 1939. Originally known as the Blue Swallow Motor Court, it retains much of the original charm, including some rooms which still have the carports in place. The classic neon sign was installed a few years later when the Blue Swallow changed from “Motor Court” to the more modern “Motel” and still boasts “100% Refrigerated Air”.

There are a lot of things to see before we get there though. From well-known places like the midpoint of Route 66 in Adrian, Texas to the photogenic ghost town of Glenrio, with some small surprised mixed in — such as a former iron ore car from the Southern Pacific railroad converted into a bridge.

Farewell Texas, hello New Mexico! For the next while the most important question to be answered is “Red or green?

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Route 66: Into Texas We Go!

You need to meet Harley.  No, you *really* need to meet Harley.

We start our seventh day on the road in Erick, Oklahoma.  Erick is the home of the Sandhills Curiosity Shop and it’s eccentric owner Harley Russell.  Emily and I were familiar with Harley from videos we had seen on YouTube from our favorite vloggers.  Honestly, we weren’t sure if we really wanted to meet him or not.

The Sandhills Curiosity Shop is one of those places where you’re not sure if you go in if you will end up having a great time or end up a statistic.

This was my mindset while I was standing around the corner from the shop taking photos by myself.  Emily was around the front checking out the myriad of signs and antiques hanging all over the porch of the shop.  Suddenly I heard her say “Oh, hi!  We didn’t know if you were around today or not.”

Immediately I knew she had met Harley.  This was it, the one Route 66 stop we had hesitated about checking out but we had crossed the Rubicon.  I came around the corner, with the camera rolling just to see what would happen next.

What happened next was Harley.  How to describe him?  You’ve got the long redneck beard.  You’ve got the red and white striped overalls and you just *know* he’s got nothing else on underneath them.  You’ve got the booming voice welcoming you and telling you to take all the picture you want.  You’ve got a guy who doesn’t hesitate to drop a f-bomb, take a drink from a bottle of Jack Daniels, to talk about how the local community has tried to get rid of him by “turning me in to every agency you can be turned in to” or threatened to burn his shop to the ground.

But, the longer you are there, the more you relax and the more you get to see the many layers of this man.  Even after you leave, you’re not really sure how much is real and how much is an act designed to put money in his tip jar.  Make no mistake about it, Harley is a smart businessman and he’s one of the few people in Erick, Oklahoma who seem to be having any success.  All those oddities and signs in his shop?  They didn’t pay for themselves, you know?  Are the locals trying to get rid of him because he’s the crazy guy down the street or because they’re envious of how he has used the lure of Route 66 to make a living?

This is his schtick.  He does it day in and day out, often for busloads of tourists (often from Europe) or for individuals like us.  As I said, we sort of knew what to expect but for the uninitiated, I can only image what sort of impression he leaves on them.

Only once during our visit did we see a break in the act.  When Harley picks up an old photo of his late wife Annabelle, the true Harley emerges.  He looks at the photo and speak of her in a longing tone.  This is a man who misses his wife dearly and you sort of think the drinking and the smoking is his way of trying to get to be with her sooner rather than later.

Harley was a real character and the most unique individual we met on Route 66.  While Lowell Davis in Red Oak II was quiet and thoughtful, Harley is the polar opposite and you can’t help but love the guy for it.

You know he had an impact on us because despite seeing sights like the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, TX or the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, it is the former butcher shop in Erick, Oklahoma with its freedom-loving owner that remains the strongest memory of the day for me.  Watch the video and see for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

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