If you read my little update, you’ll know that I was in a pickle over what to do and when about the three inches of snow I found on the scooter this morning.
So, I did what anyone would do. I walked around Flagstaff and took some pictures. This is a great town. And if it weren’t for what was falling out of the sky… in MAY, I would live there. I walked the streets and felt very at home. This was the first time I had been to Flagstaff when the students were there. The other two times, it was summer.
This was very clearly not summer.
And then, something weird happened. The snow stopped. The sun came out. This wasn’t supposed to happen!
So I loaded everything up and took off!
Well, the sun didn’t last long. Didn’t figure it would. For the first few miles, I had to be on the interstate. It was dead. Really dead. I am certainly not complaining.
The interstate wouldn’t be involved much today. Just a little now and a little later. The little bit now dropped me off at the Bellemont exit. This is a “turn around and come back” bit. But it’s a nice drive along old 66.
This four mile or so alignment was the ’41-’64 alignment, I believe. The east end dead ends into I-40, as does the west end.
Along this run was a mix of pretty ok pavement and mud/gravel. I was worried about this, but it turned out to be ok. Arizona mud is NOT Texas mud.
This segment of Route 66 is an auto tour. They’ve got markers along the way – even three interpretive signs (though I only saw two, somehow I missed the one in Pittman Valley) explaining where you are and the different alignments. It’s great. Finally someone does something right. Honestly, there could be more of these signs, but it’s only because the ones that are there are great. I want more.
The alignment I would be on first was the 1921 – 1931 alignment. That ran through a pretty much amazing pine forest before turning up a Fortynine Hill.
It had been snowing on and off, but thankfully nothing was laying on the ground. At points, mist was rising from the road. The temperature was well above freezing (40ish) and I’m assuming this is why it was happening. But whatever the reason, it was pretty cool.
The road was mostly dirt and mud, but very passable, even the descent. Here, the road leaves the ’21 and ’31 alignments (both can be followed only by hiking). The tour route drops down to pick up the final alignment before 66 moved to the interstate corridor.
The two other alignments (1921-31 and 1931-41) could be seen nearly the entire way. Soon, I was in Parks, which is mostly just a store and a few houses. Just before reaching Parks, the ’31 alignment rejoins the ’41 alignment. The ’21 alignment is just to my right for another couple of miles.
I know this isn’t super interesting to most folks, but I love this stuff. I hope to get back here and really explore this area. For some reason, Fortynine Hill was an obstacle for Route 66. Four different alignments were used to cross it. Very few other sections of 66 can claim that.
And because of these changes, the businesses had to change. Parks, Arizona made sure to take advantage of each of these alignments (that is until it because the interstate). Parks General Store was built in 1910. The main road (the National Old Trails Road), what would become the 1921 alignment of 66, was “behind” the store. Except from 1910 to 1931, the “back” of the store was actually the front. The business faced the road.
But in 1931, Route 66 was moved to what was then the back of the store. The owners took the windows from the front of the building and moved them to the back of the building, which was now where the main road was. The back became the front.
Other towns actually picked up and moved to meet new alignments.
After Parks, there is more gravel and some great turns and curves around Davenport Lake. This alignment is amazing and I’m so glad that the weather was almost cooperating. There was snow. Actually, at this point, it was sleet. And it was coming down pretty heavily. But for some reason, the road was fine. A bit chilly, but fine.
No other chunks of 66 give you so many alignments to pick from. My next choice, after crossing the interstate, was the ’21 alignment almost into Williams.
The ’21 alignment into Williams goes through yet another pine forest. There are tons of these out here. It’s an odd juxtaposition against the desert terrain of yesterday.
And thus ended my amazing ride through the central Arizona pine forests. I’ve done it twice before and in much, much better weather, but somehow this was more rewarding. Through the snow and cold and sleet, the mud and gravel, somehow this was a great ride.
Williams was next and I really don’t know what to do with Williams. It’s a town big on Route 66. And it’s got a pretty cool steam engine that takes you to the Grand Canyon. At least, I think it’s pretty cool. I’ve never seen it. Never there when it’s there.
I rode around Williams, up one street and down the other, both had been 66 and both are lined with businesses. I was getting hungry and saw a sign for Denny’s. The sky was growing a little darker, so I figured I’d eat a bit.
After I finished eating, the snow was really coming down. I didn’t figure this would be a problem as it wasn’t sticking to the pavement. I geared up and took off for the fifteen miles of interstate ahead of me. But by the time I pulled out of the parking lot, my face shield was covered in snow. The inside of it had also fogged over. This was a bad situation.
I wiped the snow away, but the fog on the inside made it not matter so much. I tried to wipe that away while pulling to the side of the road. After parking as well as I could, I wiped it a bit more and headed back for town.
I stopped at the Safeway (a grocery store) and the little blizzard did its thing. I walked around inside for about a half hour. And when I poked my head out again, the sun was shining!
Perfect. I mounted up and rode off to Ash Fork, my next stop.
When I got to Ash Fork, the snow had turned to rain. It was practically a down pour. With Devo suit a-blazin’, I rode through the town, taking a picture here and there. Taking pictures in the cold is a difficult thing. See, when it’s warmer, I have smaller gloves. With smaller gloves, i can easily work the camera. But big winter gloves, like I had on today, make it impossible to do anything at all.
So today, I would take off the left glove, get my camera out of my pocket, turn it on with my left hand and snap the picture. Yes, all with one hand. Thankfully, I only dropped it once.
A quick hop onto the interstate and I was finally there. I was at the longest stretch of Old 66 on Route 66. 159 miles! But first, some exploring.
At the exit, I crossed the interstate and took a left on the frontage road. This was Old 66 that ran easterly to Ash Fork. Now, the interstate is blocking any clear passing, but that wasn’t why I was here.
I was here to see the Partridge Creek Bridge. Yeah, that’s right, yet another bridge. But this one has a tree growing in it! Off in the sort of distance, there was a pretty huge storm. It was moving in my direction, so if I was going to do this, I’d have to do it now.
Along the way, I frightened a herd of cows – the farmer graces his cows around and on Route 66. They nearly stampeded. But after a couple of miles, I was there!
On the way back out, the cows were gone. But the storm wasn’t.
I returned to where I started this little detour and met up with Crookton Road, Old 66 into Seligman.
Stopping in Kingman, about 50 miles from Seligman, was my original plan. But the rain, snow and freezing made me rethink that. Seligman was about 17 miles away. And soon I would be warm.
Along the road to Seligman, you can see at least two other alignments of Route 66 as it winds its way up the hill. One of them, the one south of the main road, seems almost accessible. I wonder if it is.
And up one more hill, down it and I’m there in Seligman. While I was looking over the city, I watched a storm pass through. It’s quite a bit different than in Pennsylvania. Here, if you want to avoid a storm, just don’t go where it’s raining. You can specifically see where it is and isn’t raining. It’s pretty impressive.
I stopped in Angel’s shop, but oodles of French tourists were crawling all over the place. So I walked a bit around the town and retired for the evening.
And that’s all I’ve got to say about today. Today was a much, much better day than it could have been.
Miles today: 102
Miles total: 3942