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Are you kidding me?

Route 66 follows a perilous, twisty mountain path along the Oatman Highway just before the California Border.  It’s narrow.  There are blind, hairpin curves.  There’s no guard rail.  It’s great!

Notice the road behind me… I wonder how many motorists went off into the ravine at too high a speed?

East of Seligman, somebody has restored a variety of vintage Burma Shave signs.  It really adds a nice touch to the drive. 

For those unfamiliar, Burma Shave was a shaving cream from the 1920’s, and their advertisements were tiny roadside one-liners that formed a jingle as you passed down the highway.

Oatman Highway reminded me of one in particular:

Angels that guard you
While you drive
Often Retire
At Sixty-Five

The Oatman Highway is better navigated at 15-20 miles per hour, co-incidentally.

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Tiki Head

Why there is a large Easter Island Tiki Head west of Seligman, AZ on 66 I do not know. 

Was it commissioned by the owner of the now defunct Kozy Corner?  Did it arrive on a flatbed truck?  We’ll never know.

Loose Ends

We’re spending the evening in Seligman, Arizona, where nobody knows where I can find a wireless connection.  If this post is late, it’s because I was unable to post until Monday morning.  If it’s on time, great.

A few thoughts on Arizona: Much of 66, like New Mexico, is interstate driving because the final, paved alignment was covered by the interstate.  What remains of older 66  is mostly dirt from earlier alignments – but those dirt passages are fun and many times passable (though many times, not.)

Like New Mexico, small towns like Winslow and Ash Fork all have remnants of the original highway – TONS of old motels and diners, most of them closed or converted to apartments, and many with their old signage advertising such things as “clean rooms.”

One stretch, through a conifer forest, was so relaxing I wanted to pull over for the evening.  Nice.

We forgot Winona.

Winona, Arizona is by all accounts sparse with very few, if any, 66 remains.  It seems ironic, as the town is included in the Route 66 Song (“Don’t forget Winona”).  Winona was bypassed in 1947.

Meteor Crater

In the middle of the Arizona desert, there’s an ENORMOUS crater carved when a 150-foot meteor impacted a few thousand years back.  One would think that Meteor Crater is a national park, with it’s “rangers” dressed in brown uniforms, it’s sparkling clean visitor center, and it’s auditorium with movie every half-hour.

National parks don’t have Subway restaurants in the visitor center, however, nor are there $15 per person admission fees in most national parks.  Meteor Crater Enterprises, Inc. (according to the brochure) impacted my wallet – though the crater IS spectacular.

If ever George Bush wanted to give a speech about how “privatization of national treasures works” he should deliver his speech at Meteor Crater.  Nice, yet somehow unfair.

Arizona Trading Posts

Two stories of two trading posts – one operating, and one defunct.

The Jackrabbit Trading Post for years had billboards all over Route 66 in either direction, advertising how far it was.  One final billboard existed just in front of the trading post itself announcing “Here it Is.”  That billboard still exists, as does the trading post, which is more of a souvenir stand and mini-mart.  I bought a tee-shirt.

Quick note about souvenirs along 66:  Junk.  All of it.  Overpriced and always disappointing – and everything is always on sale, though marked up by an equal amount.

The Twin Arrows Trading Post, famous for its two large wooden arrows sticking up from the dirt, is now defunct.  There’s a small Valentine Diner connected to the trading post itself.  Gas prices remain frozen at $1.39.  It’s separated from a dead-end alignment of 66 by a Jersey Barrier.  It was raining when I arrived, so I didn’t get a chance to take great pictures.

Valentine Diners

Valentine Diners began their nearly forty-year career in Wichita, Kansas during the Great Depression. Invented by Arthur Valentine, they were prefabricated eight-to-ten-seat diners that one or two people could operate. Valentine diners could be found along roadsides to attract travelers, in industrial areas to attract workers, and in small towns.

Though the buildings were prefab, the menu was not – it was up to the owner of the diner to make it successful with his or her cooking.

Unless the diner was purchased in full, each (early) unit had a wall safe inside the door, where the owners would put a certain percentage of their profits for a Valentine Representative to collect on his rounds. 

Because the diner was delivered on a flatbed truck, if a diner owner stopped making payments, the flatbed would return and take the diner away.

A few genuine Valentine diners exist on 66, though hardly in their original forms.  We tried to eat at one in Sanders, AZ, but it was closed on a Sunday morning.  A Valentine Diner in Winona is closed and likely up for sale.  The diner at the Twin Arrows Trading Post (picture later) is boarded up.  I’m not sure that any others are currently up and running as restaurants – I believe that there’s one in Santa Rosa, NM, used as a construction company office.