Give me a road trip any day

blogIMG_1126Now that we’re opening up a bit and not sheltering in place by staying at home, I’m looking forward to more road trips in the near future. I used to love to fly, but in the last few years, I enjoy it less and less.

Obviously, you can get from point A to point B much more quickly by boarding a jet but for me, there’s just something way more enjoyable about packing up the car and setting out for destinations by highway and byway. You can view the most interesting sights and stop whenever and wherever you choose and I enjoy that so much more.

Maybe it’s because when I was young, my father used to take my mother and me on Sunday afternoon drives and I have such fond memories of that. Or maybe it’s just that I like the peaceful, quiet aspect of a car trip consisting of just hubby and me and an open road when we can pick and choose where to go, how far to go, and where we want to stop and check out the scenery.

Back in early March before the stay at home mandates were issued, which seems like an eternity ago, Papa and I flew to Arizona to visit family. Upon arrival at the Phoenix airport, we picked up a rental car and hit the road northward for our Grand Canyon visit.

The day we left the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, rain poured from the overcast, foggy sky. We headed south to Williams, AZ where we could catch an intersecting highway traveling west. But instead of entering the interstate in Williams, we opted to drive westward on old Route 66.

blogIMG_1117With each mile on this less traveled two-lane byway, we encountered blue skies, sunshine, and warmer temperatures. Just what we needed! As an added bonus, Burma Shave signs along the road kept us amused.

blogBurmaShaveWhat a fantastic way to spend the day it proved to be! As we traveled along, enjoying beautifully different scenery and stopping in quirky and interesting little towns, I couldn’t help but remember an old song, Get Your Kicks on Route 66, written in 1946 by musician Bobby Troup. (Click on his name to watch/hear him perform the song.)

We surely did “get our kicks” traveling this mostly empty stretch of pavement. And eventually, my mind rolled back to an early 60’s television show, entitled Route 66, which I recall watching with my dad.

That show may have appealed to Dad, who enjoyed driving and traveling by car, because two characters, played by Martin Milner and George Maharis, wandered across the United States driving a Chevrolet Corvette along Route 66. Imagine my surprise as Papa and I were traveling on this remaining section of the old, historic highway when we saw a number of Corvettes coming towards us. Serendipity!

blogIMG_1175The original Route 66 highway extended from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through America’s heartland (an area you pass OVER when you’re flying). We stayed on Route 66, which first opened in 1926 and was decommissioned by the 1980’s when newer, larger highways took its place, all the way into Kingman, AZ.

The trip proved refreshing and fun and we delighted in every mile of the way.

blogIMG_1136“Look for chances to take the less-traveled roads. There are no wrong turns.” — Susan Magsamen

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Kicks…in more ways than one

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If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way
Take the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66

~ lyrics by Bobby Troup, American songwriter

That’s exactly what we did – we got our kicks by traveling on Route 66 to a little old town in the Black Mountains of Arizona that used to be a booming gold mining camp after a couple of prospectors struck gold in a big way – $10 million – back in 1915.

Oatman, Arizona, rapidly turned into a town but after fire destroyed some buildings and eventually the gold mine shut down, it deteriorated into a ghost town of sorts until it was transformed into a tourist attraction sitting along the famous old American highway, Route 66.

And just for kicks, my sister and brother-in-law took us there to see the wild burros. Fortunately, we didn’t actually get kicked by any of the burros, but one did try to steal my newly purchased bag of cashews right out of my hand.

The burros, apparently descended by pack mules that were once owned by gold prospectors, are truly wild. They live in the area and every day around 11 am, they saunter into the town of Oatman.

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Looking for a handout

There they waltz down the street and willingly approach humans in search of a hand-out. Carrots once were the food of choice, but now that the wild burros are protected by the US Department of the Interior, tourists must purchase paper bags containing small hay cubes, or “burro chow,” to feed the animals. The baby burros have stickers on their heads informing you that you should not feed them anything as they are still nursing with their mamas.

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Do not feed the baby burros

But the mature wild things will try to eat anything you carry in your hands, so you have to be careful. I learned the hard way when a burro grabbed onto my bag of cashews and I had to “fight” him for it. They are pretty gentle animals unless you take away their food source. 

We enjoyed this day and we did get a kick out of strolling down the old original Route 66 through town, perusing the wares in the shops, and looking at all the beautiful natural gems for sale.

In addition to the burros, the other highlight of the day was visiting the Oatman Hotel, one of the original buildings that escaped the fire back in the day.

One of its claims to fame is that Hollywood legends Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon in the hotel and you can view the very room that served as their honeymoon suite upstairs.  Downstairs though is another major draw.

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Yep, those are all dollar bills here…

The Oatman Hotel Restaurant has some of the yummiest hamburgers we’ve ever eaten. But the food isn’t the only attraction. Inside the restaurant, thousands of $1 bills are attached to everything – walls, ceilings, bandstand, the bar – everywhere you look folks have stapled the bills onto any open surface (except the dining tables and chairs). It’s a crazy and totally fun place to visit and we had a delicious lunch there.

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…and here and just about everywhere you looked.

The day we visited, there was a Wild West “shootout” in the middle of town. Kind of hokey but still enjoyable and funny. But the best part was the unscripted action when one of the little burros wouldn’t leave a gunslinger alone. That day, the burro was the star. Of course, a hat was passed for monetary donations, but the money was collected for a good cause, a children’s charity.

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Wild burro steals the scene!

It truly was a day full of kicks during our Arizona adventure on Route 66 and the sightseeing on the way to and from that little mountain town was amazing.  

“Towns are like people. Old ones often have character, the new ones are interchangeable.”  ~ Wallace Stegner

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