Following an incredible drive from Sedona into Flagstaff the previous evening, I feared that we had perhaps had reached the zenith of our trip. Can it get better than a spectacular winding drive through glowing red canyons? Yes, it can. Of course, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea to be chased by a dust storm big enough to swallow a town across a desert hot enough to melt your eyeballs, but that’s what day six of Route 66 would bring. Some of the most Route 66-y towns on the whole trip are on the map today, so buckle up and I hope you like photographs of rusty things.
Here’s a minor regret from the trip. In Flagstaff we were so wiped out that we had dinner and packed it in for the night, but the famous Museum Club was just down the street. Shoulda had a beer there and heard some live music, but we did snoop around in the morning. If you were here in the ’60s you could have seen Willie Nelson on stage here (unless he had an “opportunity to appear on national television,” according to a 1968 contract displayed on the wall).
Down the road is Williams, Arizona which might just be the most touristy Route 66 town on the map. My dad and I even rode a “zip line” that was shaped like a ’57 Chevy. Skip the temptation to shorten your life with a hot dog and a shake at a ’50s throwback diner and grab lunch at the Red Raven instead. It’s fresh and reasonable and doesn’t have a single RT66 t-shirt or keychain for sale.
Then you walk out the door of the Red Raven and get punched directly in the face with more World Famous Route 66 merchandise. It was a little much. But we are very near the Grand Canyon; everywhere you look there are bleary eyed families emerging from their rented RVs, stumbling directly inside gift shops for water just to reemerge wearing a 66 t-shirt and hat. OK, I did buy something, but it was just a coozie. It said “Get Your Sips.” Ha! Oh, I will.
Walk down 66 a little further from the Red Raven and you’ll see Pete’s Gas Station Museum. The garage is packed full of vintage tools, machines, tires, and oil cans.
Fed and gassed up, we blasted out of the manicured keychain version of Route 66 and immediately fell of the edge back into the dingier, more awesome version. Next up, Seligman, Arizona. This is a must stop town, a true time capsule of the old Route 66 with just the right balance of tourist-y services and authentic sights.
In Arizona it seems that old cars are just everywhere.
The Copper Cart is an original, still open and serving food, with some interesting Volkswagens outside. I always wanted a Karmann Ghia as a kid.
USA! USA! USA! FUCK, A RATTLESNAKE
The Supai is another classic that is still in business.
This couldn’t have been any better. We came across the Family Truckster replica that we first saw at Meteor Crater again, this time parked in front of the Snow Cap eatery in Seligman. My mind was practically malfunctioning with pure uncut Americana in this moment.
Delgadillo’s Snow Cap has been around since 1953, owned and operated by Juan Delgadillo. Obviously Juan was a character, there is a lot of personality in this largely handmade building. Since his passing in 2004, you’ll find his son John behind the counter, who scared me by squirting fake mustard on my shirt.
Behind the Snow Cap are more relics. One trend I could do without is Pixar Cars style eyeballs painted on any classic car’s windshield (I hid them in this photo). Ever. I liked the movie, of course, but real cars don’t need that shit, do they? Some of that was at Snow Cap, but as it turns out, the Delgadillos were involved with the historical side of the Cars movie, and are even thanked in the credits. So I guess they can do whatever they want. And they do.
Down the street we talked to Dave, who owns the Seligman garage. I think the garage has been there for a long time, but he’s just moving his business in.
An interesting “Mercedes” kit car sat out front. In the desert, that looks like fun.
A completely original Plymouth Savory sat inside. These had tube radios. So cool.
Outside, Dave had this funky old trailer. He claims it was actually built by Boeing out of leftover aircraft aluminum in the 1950s.
A view inside the Boeing trailer. Who knows if it’s true, but how many of these could exist?
As we left Seligman, we looked over and saw this massive dust storm pacing us from the north.
Had to stop for photos, of course. I think we could outrun the dust if we had to.
My pops spotted this Corvair wagon outside the Frontier Motel in Truxton, Arizona.
Across the street was the Truxton Station, which made for a good photo op. The skies were getting crazy and the radar app on my phone was showing some kind of stormy beast moving right alongside us to the north. That dust storm is getting bigger!
The Hackberry General Store is a must-stop. It’s a memorabilia mecca. The 1958 Corvette is certainly the most beautiful car among at least a dozen rusty heaps scattered across the property. As we pulled in, there was virtually no one here.
Well, it was silent as long as this ass wasn’t screaming at us. I thought he wanted to bite us, but he also looks strangely happy to see us. Maybe he liked our car.
The benches under the Hackberry General Store’s canopy provided a photo-op for me and my pops. Notice the big white bus over his shoulder that pulled in as the picture was taken. An army of French tourists with cameras stormed out and immediately started shooting pictures of my Mustang. We gave them a photo op by peeling out in a cloud of dust.
We stopped to recharge the batteries and have a beer in Kingman Arizona. The locals were all talking about the dust storm, which now was making our phones light up with emergency warnings. It was coming right for us, so we got out of there in a hurry. Grabbed a picture of the El Trovatore’s motel sign on the way out.
Now well clear of the storm, my dad and I decided to take one of the ancient alignments of Route 66 called the Oatman highway. If you’re doing the Route, you have to do this. It was incredible. A mostly deserted winding road through some of the best and most rugged scenery in the west.
We came up on Sitegraves pass and the sun was beaming at us from the other side. What’s down there?
This is. Are you kidding me? Best road ever.
We spent a half hour on top of Sitegrave’s Pass just soaking it in. Maybe saw two other cars the whole time. Just spectacular. Tomorrow would be the final push into Santa Monica, and we headed towards Needles, California tonight to get some dinner and sleep. Almost done with Route 66, but do you think the trip ends there? Hell no, I live in New York! How do you think I’m going to get home? Stay tuned.
MUSTANG USA, CONTINUED
This July, I am going to drive from my home in Brooklyn, New York, to Los Angeles and back again. It's just something I've always wanted to do. It's a…
Thank you Dave, very nice series.
nice blog fabulous photography too!
The “police car” at Hackberry is a 1965 Chevy Biscayne. One of the few I’ve ever seen and I notice them because a 65 Biscayne was my first car, and mine was also that off-white color. It was there when my two daughters, my wife and I drove that section of 66 in the spring of 2016. I’m enjoying going on this “trip” with you.