Monday, February 29, 2016

R is for Route 66

On the same trip we stopped at the Petrified Forest, we took a journey (literally) down the road of Americana on America's Highway:  Route 66.  Back before the days of interstates criss-crossing the nation, our highways still went through every city, town, and settlement.  Out west, where there were miles and miles between towns, entrepreneurs set up lavish wayside stands -- souvenir stands, diners, and motels -- to attract people to stop.  In turn, with many people heading west, they were fascinated with the land and were only too happy to take in the sites and purchase souvenirs along the way.  This highway from middle America to southern California thus became the legendary Route 66.

With Interstate 40 as the primary east-west artery through the middle of the country, much of the physical roadway that once was Route 66 has been torn up.  Such is the case for the preserved Route 66 roadbed within Petrified Forest National Park.
Historic Route 66 Roadbed at Petrified Forest National Park.  The telephone poles are original.
In some cases, part of the road may still exist, but just like Radiator Springs of Cars fame, the towns have either dried up or become mere shadows of their former glory days.  Sanders, AZ and the Twin Arrows gas station and gift shop are great examples

The Sanders Diner, once a popular stop along Route 66.  The actual Route 66 road no longer exists here.
The Claymine Road Bridge in Sanders, a part of old Route 66.  The bridge still stands, but there is no road on either side.
Twin Arrows, AZ.  The flashy arrows, gas pumps, and the trading post structure still stand, but it has long been abandoned.
In a few places (generally right off the interstate), the trading posts are still there, struggling to cling to an era that has passed them by.  It doesn't take much imagination, though, to conjure up an image of what this bustling roadside stand must have been like in its heyday.

Route 66 trading post at Lupton, AZ
In still other communities, such as Winslow, Holbrook, Williams, and Kingman, the legend lives on.  These communities, while not bustling metropolises, still attract large crowds of tourists each year with the small-town feel, their diners, neon lights, and architectural oddities, hearkening back to the days of fancy-free trips on the open road through the romance of the wild west.

Standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona...

The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ, the inspiration for the Cozy Cone Motel in Cars.  We spent the night here!

Route 66 Diner in Kingman, AZ
And in still other areas, the same roadside America oddity that captured attention back in the day can still be seen along the highway today.

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX
My kids still don't completely understand why I drag them on some of my crazy adventures.  But I think it's important not only to appreciate the landscape in the beauty of creation but to also appreciate our historical and cultural heritage -- what it is about us that made us America.

Blogging Through the Alphabet” style=


  1. The Wig Wam Motel looks interesting :-) I always enjoy unique!

    1. That was one of the parts my family only reluctantly went along with. It was quite the experience (stuffing 5 people in one of those little things!), but in the end, I think they're glad they did it!

  2. What an awesome trip! I would love to go to the Cadillac ranch.
    Blessings, Dawn

  3. it was good to visit route 66 with you Tim. :)

    visiting via alphabet blogging

  4. I LOVE this post! So much shared here! Not just great pics but good history - and current stuff. (We used to live off Route 66.)