Yesterday was all about winds and dust storms. What will today be about?
Well, not dust storms, that’s for sure. But there was wind. However, there wasn’t wind when I woke up. Holbrook, Arizona.
As I rode through the streets I was pretty happy that it was a warm morning. I had heard rumors that it would be snowing in Flagstaff, my destination today, and with such a mild morning, I doubted it.
Holbrook has a lot of dinosaurs on their streets. Just a couple hundred yards from my motel, there was a tyrannosaurus rex killing a triceratops. In front of a rock shop (which number about as many as the dinos) were ten or more rather large dinosaurs. Who buys these? I hope someone does. I’d love to see a 15 foot tall green, smiling brontosaurus in the yard of some suburb. It would really make my day.
Today they expected rain. Of course they did. If there is bad weather, this trip demands it! Word of wisdom: to NOT do Route 66 in May. Wait till July or maybe September. May is too rainy.
The rain started just before I entered Joseph City. I had never been to Joseph City before, we bypassed it twice.
I could see that it was really pouring in the town itself. But here, next to a Love’s truck stop, it was just a drizzle. So here, at the Love’s truck stop, I hung out for a bit. And before I knew it, unlike in Missouri, the rain was gone.
The streets were wet, but I was dry as you please. I looked for something to photograph in Joseph City, but couldn’t find anything until the very Pennsylvanian house at the end of town. Not sure what that was about, but it was a nice surprise. Maybe it was the house of William Allen, a mormon who was sent to Arizona by Brigham Young. He founded Joseph City.
Just west of Joseph City is a very ugly power plant of some kind. Also, there is the interstate which hacks its way though the hills of Arizona. Route 66, which respected the land, flowing with its curves and rises, is gone. Either buried under the interstate or now a forgotten and inaccessible dirt road.
While the overall picture is one of beauty, it pales in comparison to the Arizona that Jack Rittenhouse described in his book. He said of this stretch:
On the level plains west of Joseph City, you enter a region of true Arizona beauty. During many months of the year, great, soft clouds drift across the turquoise sky; the earth is a warm tan; the sunsets are an indescribable riot of vivid colors which change swiftly. Far ahead you can see great peaks, snow-capped much of the year. These are the San Francisco Peaks, ancient volcanoes which are Arizona’s highest mountains. You will pass them west of Flagstaff.
Here it is! And I find myself back at the Jackrabbit Trading Post. This was built in 1947 and is one of the most famous Route 66 icons in existence. The wind was picking up and I was getting pretty chilly. Even so, I decided not to go in. I stopped to take a few pictures, but did not go inside. It is, essentially, a curio shop. I haven’t the money nor desire for souvenirs. Ok, well, some desire. But no money and no room on the bike.
To get to Jackrabbit and to get from Jackrabbit to the next town, Winslow, I had to use the interstate. The wind today was getting stronger. However, today it was a cross-wind as well as a bit of a head-wind. Yesterday it was all headwind and I couldn’t move faster than 50mph. So far today, I could get it up to 55.
Like yesterday, the wind was affecting things. Only, today, I had to lean very hard to my left, like I was turning. Otherwise, I would be blown off the road. This actually happened pretty often. Thank god for large shoulders on the Arizona interstates.
And like yesterday, the 18 wheelers were having their way with me. As one would approach to pass me, the wind would push me even harder towards the shoulder. But as they passed me, the lack of cross-wind would set me straight and, if I wouldn’t check it, would add about 10mph to my speed, only to be beat around by their tail wind as they pulled away from me.
I would slow from 60ish to 50ish to ready myself for the return to normal, wind-blown speed. This was a safe way to deal with it. But mostly I did it out of pure terror. This wind was too much. Again.
Thankfully Winslow was there.
Winslow loves three things. 1) Route 66, 2) The Eagles and 3) trains. Thankfully, all three can be found in abundance in Winslow, Arizona.
Route 66 is on two streets, one east bound and one west bound. I did both, of course.
Right when you enter Winslow, you’ll see their World Trade Center memorial it contains two large pieces of girder that were in the World Trade Center.
The plaque reads:
“These two steel beams from the World Trade Center, entrusted to the citizens of Winslow by the City of New York, along with this flag that was flown at the Pentagon, stand as the centerpiece of our Remembrance Garden. The words “United We Stand” remind the world that we will not fear terrorism. We hereby dedicate this Garden to Northern Arizona’s promise that ‘WE WILL NEVER FORGET’”
This memorial was erected early on, dedicated merely one year to the day of the fateful 9/11. I find it both nice and eerie. The steel beams seem like replicas of the twin towers. I’m not saying it’s in bad taste, but it’s … odd.
The town itself has old motels and a great park with some cabooses in it. Unfortunately, you can’t play on or in them. But I spent some time walking around them. I even peeped inside. A caboose is much bigger than I thought. I wish I had one. They’re not so expensive. Maybe someday.
But what Winslow’s most famous for is “Take it Easy,” The Eagles song that is set on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.
The town loves this. And, really, how could you not? They’ve even dedicated a corner of the town square to it. Here stands a bronze statue (on the corner) and behind him is a mural of a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowing down to take a look at this bronze statue.
Winslow is a very picturesque town. That’s not to say that it’s beautiful (in the traditional sense), but there’s a lot to capture here. If it were warmer and less windy, I would have stayed longer. Again, no Route 66 in May. On a scooter, anyway.
And on a scooter I headed for the interstate.
Here began my 40+ miles of straight interstate riding. Yes, there were some side trips, but I’d always have to come back to were I started to pick up the interstate and move on.
Six miles and it’s Meteor City. Meteor City was obviously named after the large meteor crater not far from it. However, this isn’t the exit for that. All that is here is a white geodesic dome that sells tourist stuff. Old 66 is also along here. But it’s pretty inaccessible.
Five more miles – the wind and trucks were killing me out there. My arms were tired and I needed a break. I stopped at a rest area and hung out for a bit. But having the itch to keep moving, I kept moving.
A mile later was the exit for the actual Meteor Crater. If it were warmer, I would have paid the admission price and seen the thing. However, I did not.
But I did discover something pretty great. After exiting, I came across Old 66. The west-bound section was closed off by a “No Trespassing” sign. But the east-bound section was open. And there was something on the hill. What was it?
As I rode along the old bit of 66, it took shape. An old castle?
No. This was Route 66′s very own Meteor Crater Observatory. Back in 1946, admission was free (though later, they charged a quarter). You could climb the tower and, through a telescope, maybe see the crater, about 4 miles away. This building also housed a replica of the impact crater left from a meteor 20,000 or so years ago.
I can’t imagine the view was so great from here, but what a building! Here’s what it looked like way back when.
Three more miles of interstate and it’s Two Guns. Two Guns isn’t a town. It never was. It was always a tourist trap. Well, it isn’t now. Now it’s many different piles of rubble, each pile marking a different Two Guns incarnation.
I spent about an hour an a half here. I first rode to the old Shell gas station, just below an abandoned KOA campground. And then, because a pick up truck was poking around, I rode over to the “second gas station and zoo.” This is the one with “Mountain Lions” painted on the side.
This “second gas station and zoo,” located on the edge of Canyon Diablo, have been part of Route 66 since, at least, the 40′s. They probably stopped being so around the time the interstate came in. As the story goes.
I poked around here for a little. I had been to this spot three times now. In 2004, 2006 and now. 2004 was the year that we drove across a pretty scary bridge that spans the canyon, now closed. 2006 we discovered that it was closed and didn’t drive it.
So I then moved back to the KOA area. The pick up truck was gone, it was my turn.
I have a thing for abandoned campgrounds. I don’t know why, but they fascinate me. This was a good find. I had never gone up here before. For some reason, I thought that people lived up here and would shoot at me with the two guns. Or something like that.
The KOA had a small pool, which is now, thankfully, used for skating. The A-frame building has been raided for its copper wiring and graffitied all over.
The camp sites are all pretty well noticeable. Even the electrical boxes, also raided for copper, still stand next to wiry, dying trees.
I parked my scooter here with plans to walk to the edge of the canyon to see what I could see.
I took off my helmet, but left my balaclava on. I felt all sneaky so as a joke to myself, I pulled my hood up and hid my face under the mask. Dressed all in black and wearing a face mask, I was ready for a little exploring (or a riot, your choice).
I walked along the rocky and grassy flat land towards Canyon Diablo.
As I neared some ruins where Two Gun “Indian” Miller lived, I noticed a minivan and then saw a family with three small boys. Not remembering that I was dressed in black and wearing a mask, I started to walk up to them.
The father called to his kid, “get over here… NOW!” The kid looked at me and swifty obeyed his father.
I got a little giggle out of this. I took off the mask and waved and smiled at the family. I said, “Hi there! Sort of a windy day, huh?” Small talk, but it broke their fear of me (that and realizing how tall I wasn’t).
We talked a bit and then they drove off. I explored these ruins some and found the Death Cave (seriously, click on that, GREAT story), but I had also been here before. The ruins I really wanted to explore were the earliest there.
These were the ruins built by Two Guns Miller himself!
The family in the minivan somehow got to where they parked. I thought all the access roads to where they were had gates blocking them. Clearly, one did not. That meant that the bridge may very well be open if I looked hard enough.
And so I did. I had to zig-zag my way to it, but I made it to the bridge! The bridge is old, but still in pretty good shape. It lead me past some ruins of an unknown era, around a bend and to the original Two Guns site.
Here was Two Guns Zoo and an old gas station built by the Hopi tribe.
This site was much larger than the “newer” site from the 1930′s. I took a lot of pictures, you’ll have to check them out at the end of this post. Having seen everything I came to see, I decided to find my way back to the interstate.
For more information that you could ever imagine on Two Guns, please go here. It’s a great source of info and history of the area.
In the eleven miles between Two Guns and Twin Arrows, the next exit, I discovered something fun. While before I was freaked out by truckers when there were cross winds, I found that I could “surf” with some fun results.
The wind was blowing at me like someone throwing a right hook. It was hitting the left and front of me, often times forcing me into the shoulder. A truck was coming behind me and I got the idea that instead of slowing down when they go by, why don’t I take advantage of the vacuum and see what happens.
The truck moved beside me and then a little in front. The wind suddenly stopped and I picked up nearly 10mph. I jumped from 55 to 65 in a matter of seconds. But I knew there would be a price to pay. As the truck pulled in front of me, I held my speed and the tail wind of the truck threw me, but not so bad. When all was said and done, because of the wind, I dropped back to 60. But all in all, I gained 5mph.
I did this many times between these exits and afterwards. This was fun and quite a lot like surfing. I’d wait for the next wave, see it coming and hop on!
Twin Arrows, where I exited, is all blocked off and pretty much going to rot to nothing. I don’t know who owns stuff like this, but I can’t imagine why. It will probably never reopen. The arrows are already decaying away. Enjoy it while you can, folks.
Back to the interstate for another eight miles, surfing as we went. And here we are in no time in Wynona. There is nothing in Wynona except a bridge that was used in the movie Forest Gump. But this is the “back” way into Flagstaff. I like this road. There is another alignment a bit south of here that I should eventually take sometime. But I took this one, which winds through a pine forest, climbing to nearly 7,000 feet. The mountains to my front were snow-covered. I could see snow falling on them as I got closer.
Luckily, there was no snow in Flagstaff itself. Just Macy’s Cafe. I stopped for a veggie burger and some internets.
The wind tuckered me out again today. And it’s supposed to snow tonight. Thus, no camping. It’s a motel for me.
I went out for some really great Indian food after settling in at the pretty crappy motel. The Indian food was quite delicious. Thanks!
A great way to end the day.
And that ends my very long story.
Here are my pictures.
Miles today: 127
Miles total: 3840