Sunday, September 15, 2013

Getting My Kicks on Route 66

We didn't have any plans for Labor Day Weekend 2013 so on a whim I suggested we ride to Williams, AZ to ride the train to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  After further investigation, we decided to ride Route 66 to Williams rather than I-40 to kind of spice things up a bit.  Oh boy, a plan is hatched.  I made reservations at Williams for two nights at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel along with two tickets for the train ride to the South Rim.

Now, we just had to pack up the bikes and head out.  We left Friday morning and took old Hiway 91 to I-15 which we rode for a short time and took the Overton exit.  The road around Lake Mead is fabulous - freshly paved, smooth as butter and very little traffic.  The weather was looking quite ominous but somehow we managed to dodge the huge, violent thunder showers and only got a few sprinkles.  We took a small detour to Boulder City, NV.  In particular, we were headed to the Coffee Cup Cafe (as seen on TV's Diner's, Drive-Ins and Dives), for brekkie.  If you are ever in Boulder City, NV, stop here for a meal!  It's kitchy, fun and the food is fabulous. No wonder Warren Harhay loves living here.
We left a DPK sticker at the front door.

 After stuffing ourselves, it was back on the bikes, across the new bridge at Hoover Dam and on to Kingman, AZ.  At Kingman we picked up Route 66 and headed to Peach Springs.  The hiway was great, the weather was tumultuous but the skies opened up to the left and to the right but never right on top of us.  We got a few sprinkles but stayed dry.  We rode along at a pleasant pace enjoying the scenery and the occasional roadside attraction.  I was craning my neck and gawking at some of the fun sights along the way.  We finally took a break in Peach Springs, AZ.  There is a very nice, new Indian lodge, Hualapai Lodge, with a restaurant, gift store and hotel.  While dinking around and looking at the gift shop I spied a display for the Route 66 Passport Program.  Hmmmmmm......what is this?
Woohoo!  Similar to the Nevada Hiway 50 Passport, the Arizona Route 66 Passport is a program where you follow Route 66 and stop at all kinds of fun places to get a stamp.  You have to obtain at least 7 major stamps and one Wildcard stamp to complete the program.  However, there are many, many more places to stop.  Yup, that sounds like a level of fun to add to our ride.  So, we got the Peach Springs stamp and went in search of more.
 Of course, at this point we were already a ways into Arizona Route 66 so we missed the stamps before Peach Springs.  No problem, we quickly changed our plan to complete the Passport.  On we went from Peach Springs to Seligman, AZ.  Now, this is a kitchy, cool place to take a stop.  Our stamp was located at Angel's Barbershop & Visitor Center.  Angel Delgadillo is a business owner in Seligman, Arizona who has been dubbed the 'guardian angel' of U.S. Route 66. He is a founder of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, established in 1987 to campaign for "Historic Route 66" signage on the former US highway; similar initiatives have since been established in every U.S. Route 66 state.  Basically, he's the awesome guy who made the Arizona Route 66 Passport Program a reality. 

Here are some pics of Seligman Route 66 coolness.

This is a very fun, historic place to visit.  We would return here on our way back home!

After collecting our Passport Stamp for Seligman we continued on Route 66 to the thriving metropolis of Ash Fork, AZ.  Ash Fork is the Limestone Capital of the US, go figure.  The guys who knock off slabs of limestone are called "Doodlers".  We learned a lot at Ask Fork!  We took time to visit their very well done museum and visit with the locals.  It was worth the stop.  While there, we took the opportunity to snap some photos.  They have a mock up of a real jail cell from Ask Fork - don't want to stay there!

 Apparently, gambling was a big draw for Ash Fork way back when.
 As you can see, I held the winning hand :-)
From Ash Fork, we headed on to Williams, AZ and our destination.  Again, dodging massive thunder cells and spotting lightening all around, we managed to stay relatively dry with no down pours.  We arrived at Williams and immediately went to the Visitor Center to get our Passport Stamp.  We also got a stamp for the Grand Canyon Railway.  Double bonus!  We parked our bikes and covered them up, we were going to spend the next day as tourists in tourist clothes!  We checked into the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and were very pleasantly surprised at how nice our room was.

I'd been here many years ago and remember hearing a LOT of trains but the hotel has been re-done and we didn't hear a thing.  Bliss.....  Our hotel/train package included two dinners and two breakfasts at the hotel restaurant.  Nice, but not great.  Both meals were buffets and just okay. was included so we did it. 

The next morning we got up and donned our best tourist attire including my belly bag!  After our buffet brekkie, we headed to the outside show area for a Wild Wild West show that was a lot of fun.  Yes, kitchy, but fun.

The show was entertaining, funny and not too long but just right.  It was the perfect intro to our train ride.  We were off to hop the train.

This isn't the engine on our train but it is the engine on display at the tracks.  We had a diesel engine.  While waiting to board the train we were entertained by the huge ravens hanging around :-)

 The ravens were awesome - huge - and silly.
Here is a photo of our train.  We had booked the "Luxury Parlour" car and we were not disappointed.  This gave us full access to the entire train including the dome cars.  Our package included a simple buffet of pastries, fruit, yogurt and other goodies along with beverages.  Liquor was extra but it was too early for that anyway! 
 The train ride was about two hours.  We had a lovely, comfortable car and fun folks to visit with.  During the ride to the Grand Canyon we were serenaded by a Cowboy toting a guitar. He was tons of fun.
We arrived at our destination and immediately boarded a coach bus for a tour of the South Rim.  You can drive your vehicle to the South Rim but you cannot drive along the Rim itself.  That is limited to tour buses or you can drive to the Visitor Center and buy a ticket for the Grand Canyon Shuttle to get you around the rim.  Our tour included a private coach bus tour and it was fabulous.  We only had a dozen folks on our bus and the driver was a lot of fun and full of interesting tidbits of information.  It was a very good time.  The tour took about an hour and a half.

Here are some pics but honestly, you had to be there.  Or at least have a great camera.  Our little point and shoots didn't do it justice.  Take my word, it was awesome beyond belief.  We had clouds moving in and out of the canyon making it seem surreal at times.  Sun would peak out and surprise us with a fantastic view only to have mist move in and make everything mysterious.  Oh yes, this was awesome indeed!

Here you can see a bit of the Colorado River which was running mud from all the rain storms.
 Our little cameras simply don't do the canyon justice.  It was incredible :-)
 Eric took a couple of videos that help you get some perspective on the vastness of the Grand Canyon.

A kind tourist took our photo at the rim.

 Some more panoramic views.
 A long, long, long way down!
 I should have been a tour guide :-)
 More panoramas!

 Cloud mists rising out of the canyon. 
 Gnarled juniper trees along the rim.
 Here you can see part of the trail that hikers and mules take to the lower part of the canyon.
 More of the trial.

We found these markers all along the rim trail.
 Isn't this just fabulous?
 Down in the valley where you see the trees is the Ranch where the hikers and mule teams stop for the night.
We had a fantastic bus tour with many stops along the South Rim.  Our bus took us back to the South Rim Village and we spent some time looking at all the buildings, cabins and galleries.  While there we got several National Passport Stamps.  Who knew there are FIVE different Grand Canyon South Rim stamps?  We managed to get three.  While at the South Rim, the weather was off and on but we managed to dodge the rain until.......just about time to head back to the train depot.  And then....the heavens opened up big time.  Neither of us had rain gear, umbrella, plastic bag, nothing.  I improvised and used my little string backpack for a hood and tucked my belly bag under my jacket to keep it dry.  I'm rather pleased with the result.
I've always been rather fashion conscious and I think this picture says it all, lol!!!

We managed to slog our way back to the train depot and board our luxury parlour car for the return trip to Williams.  Our car had a viewing platform off the back so we took the opportunity to snap a few more pics.
The scenery was fantastic.  We saw a few deer and lots of greenery.  The train ride was totally fun :-)
On the return train trip, we were served Champagne along with chocolate covered strawberries, cheese and crackers (oh gourmet cheeses by the way!), fruit and other goodies.  They took very good care of us.
 I think Eric enjoyed the train ride almost as much as I did.
 Oh yes, the car was elegant and the accommodations were excellent.  Our car was not full but the folks were fun.  Everyone was either celebrating an anniversary or birthday.  We were all in party mode!
 Enjoying our champagne and snacks, imagine our surprise when looking out the window we saw this!  Outlaws on horses chasing down our train.  Oh no, this can't be good....

These outlaw cowboys actually stopped the train to rob us!  Yikes! 
 Don't we look scared?
 Don't they look menacing?
 What a motley crue!
 Is it a coincidence that these are the same cowboys who gave us a show in the morning?
Hahahaha.  The train robbery was a good bit of fun.  We also had another cowboy serenade us on the way back to Williams.  Everyone involved from the conductor to our car hostess to the singers to the robbers were all good fun and made a great time for everyone!

We arrived back at the Williams Depot and headed to our room for a pre-dinner cocktail.  Again we went to the buffet (okay at best) and turned in for the night.  Tomorrow would be another day of riding Route 66 and I was pumped about that.  Our train trip and tour of the South Rim were memorable and I highly suggest this to anyone who wants that experience.  You can probably arrange your tour a little less expensive and stay elsewhere in Williams and enjoy some of the eateries in Williams for less $$ than we spent.  If we do it again, we will explore options.  However, this package was loaded with fun and we had a blast.  An incredible, good, fun memory!

The next morning we partook of the breakfast buffet and started to load up our bikes.  We encountered some of our trainmates in the parking lot and had a pleasant time chatting and exchanging good byes and good travels.  We took our time and leisurely saddled up to move on back to Route 66 and our Passport Stamp collecting.

From Williams, our next Route 66 stop was Bearizona.  This is a drive through park loaded with wildlife in a natural environment.  Of course, they don't let motorcycles ride through.  There are wild animals after all!  However, we pulled up to the pay station and told the staff our mission.  They were very accommodating and stamped our passports and let us through the gate to turn around.  We then headed to Flagstaff.  Right downtown to the old, historic district, we found the visitor center and grabbed the requisite passport stamp.  From there we headed up to the Lowell Observatory for yet another passport stamp.  Next time in Flagstaff, we'll take the time to really explore the historic downtown and the Observatory.  Good stuff there!

Deviating from our original plan of a loop back home, we instead headed east on Route 66/I-40 to collect more passport stamps.  We made a quick trip to Meteor Crater to collect a stamp.  We'd been there before so didn't pay to go inside.  However, if you haven't been here, do take the time.  It is mind boggling!  From Meteor Crater we slogged on the I-40 to Winslow, AZ.  You know, the place made famous by the Eagle's song, "Take it Easy".  Anyway, we did take it easy.  We stopped at the visitor center only to find it closed.

So, we moved on to the bustling (not) downtown for a picture on the corner.
Although not much was happening on a Sunday afternoon, I found this place to be very cool.  We shopped a bit at the corner store and contributed to their economy albeit in a small way.  Notice the Flatbed Ford on the corner :-)
 The corner is dedicated as a Route 66 Roadside Attraction and rightly so.

Following a pleasant interlude in Windlow, we moved on toward Holbrook.  We were heading east, way further east than our original plan.  But, heck, we were on the hunt for Route 66 passport stamps.  So, Holbrook it was.  More slabbing along I-40 took us to Holbrook.  We slid through town and found the visitor center which was open, hooray!  We quickly got our stamps but the museum/visitor center curator insisted we take a look at the old jail cells.  So, we complied.  Yikes, no photos but these hot box cells were used until sometime in the 70's.  Totally worth a stop and look.

From Holbrook, we did an about face and headed back west on I-40 to collect the stamps we missed on the way east.  We made a brief stop for a late lunch just east of Joseph City at a Love's Truck Stop.  Eric was thrilled they had a Chester's so he could pig out on deep fried gizzards (ugh!).  I was happy they had a Subway.  As I was waiting in line a young man came up to me and asked if I was hot in all that gear.  Nope, I told him as long as I was moving I was quite comfortable and explained a bit about LD Comfort and how to stay cool.  Then....I really took a look at the young man.  LOL, he was a 1%'er, a Bandito.  Hahahaha.  Eric and I sat at the dining area to chow down and a group of Banditos took tables there as well.  (Another family decided to eat outside).  I chatted with them about their ride.  I had forgotten, but the Banditos held a big rally at Duck Creek, UT over Labor Day weekend and these guys were returning home from there.  The rally was a success with no issues and these guys were just about as friendly as any bikers I've ever met.  Yes, a bit tattooed, pierced and definitely wearing pirate leather...but just guys out having a great weekend riding!  And, I think the young man who asked about my gear might just look into some armored, textile gear.  It was a good lunch :-)

Our next stop for Route 66 passport stamps was the Jack Rabbit Trading Post at Joseph City.  Hahahahahaha.....a must stop even if you aren't collecting stamps.

We motored on from Joseph City, backtracking toward Seligman where we ended up for the night.  We rode through town looking for just the perfect place to bed down.  There are several nice looking places in Seligman but we decided on the Route 66 Motel, right next to the Roadkill Cafe.  Could it get any more perfect?

An original Route 66 Mom & Pop motel.  The rooms were large and clean.  Somewhat updated and a nice stay.  I'd do this place again in a heartbeat.  We got to park right outside our front door...and there was plenty of ice :-)  Big flat screen TV in the room and lots of space.
Why is my honey still in riding gear?  He should be in shorts with a cocktail in hand!

 We were only a parking lot away from the Roadkill Cafe.  We had dinner here which was just okay.  We later found out the diner across the street was better.  Oh well, it was still a good time :-)

 From Seligman, we continued along Route 66 (the way we originally came) to the Grand Canyon Caverns.  We were way too early for anything but a photo.  They do have a restaurant here as well as a campground and the caverns.  I'd love to go back and tour the caverns as they are really supposed to be a treat to see!

Eric very kindly poses for a picture :-)
 Some of the old, antique vehicles parked outside.
 Me and my LD bike, ready for anything, posing for the requisite picture!

Just a few of the very interesting bikes we found at the Grand Canyon Caverns.  We had a lot of fun talking about restoring some of these rides.
Then we were off again heading to Valentine, AZ for a photo for our passports.  The score here was the Keepers of the Wild Nature Park and Animal Sanctuary.  We were a bit early so we took photos of the signs.

Needless to say, we were having a marvelous time riding Route 66 and stopping at all the silly, kitchy places to get passport stamps or take photos. 

Maybe one of the funnerest places (a RenoJohn expression) was Hackberry, AZ.  Nothing more than a blink of the eye and you miss it kind of place.  This stop was packed full of nostalgia from the gas pumps out front to all the kitch inside.

We were still early and not sure it was open.  We parked and I gently pushed on the door and it was open!!! Yay!  The owner was behind the counter and welcomed us.  We perused the store, bought some silly stuff and had a good talk.  What a find...this place has it all including a Corvette parked outside, the perfect Route 66 stop.

Hahahaha, had to get pics of my bike in all the photos :-)
Does it get any better?  Well, apparently it does....

We were on target for our next stop at Valle Vista, a community just off Route 66.  It was brekkie time and we were headed to a golf course country club.  Perfect!!!

We got our Route 66 Passport stamp at Valle Vista and had a wonderful breakfast for a good price.  Not much on ambiance but big on good food.  The waitress was a hoot and we had a great time here. 

Sorry, no pics of this place but it was probably the best food we had on this trip!

Now we were only minutes from Kingman, AZ.  So, on we scooted..... We followed Andy Devine Avenue through Kingman, AZ.  What fun....I was gawking all the way, both sides of the road had evidence of the original Route 66 with old motels, restaurants and buildings.  Some were restored and still open for business and some very sadly were decrepit and in disrepair.  But all in all, a great time looking from side to side.  Fortunately there was very little traffic and I could look to my heart's content.

We finally arrived at the Kingman Powerhouse Visitor Center.  We climbed off the bikes and got into tourist mode as we strolled through the gift shop and visitor center.  They  have a great museum upstairs that is a must see.  The attendants at the visitor center were wonderful and full of information.  They were tickled we had done the Route 66 Passport trip and were happy to give us our stamp and certify our tour.  We received a certificate of completion although we still had a few more stops we wanted to make.

 Here is a pic our our passport with the Seligman and Ash Fork stamps and a note that we took a picture at the Grand Canyon Caverns.
 At the Kingman Visitor Center, we were rewarded with a certificate for our Arizona Route 66 Ride!

Well, although we got the finish cert at Kingman, there were still three more stops to really complete our Route 66 tour.  However, gosh darn, gee whiz....the rains and flash floods in the area put the kabosh on that idea.  We were going to hit Cool Springs, Oatman and Topock but the roads were closed, from both directions!  So, we didn't get to go there for more passport stamps.  No problem, that gives us a reason to go there another time :-)

We simply turned our bikes once again toward  Hoover Dam and home.  We did take a side trip to Temple Bar along Lake Mead....nothing to see here folks, move along.

Backtracking, we rode the Lake Mead road to Overton and I-15, scooted up the interstate to Old Hiway 91 which took us home.  We did stop at the Springs but didn't see any turtles or cool stuff, just had a nice rest  break.

All in all, this was a fantastic 4 day holiday ride.  I had a great time riding Route 66 and collecting stamps for my passport and a lovely train ride to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Heck yes, I'd do this again and highly recommend it for anyone who is out this way.

As a matter of fact, I'm still smiling about the trip and yes, we will ride out to Oatman and Topock to finish the grand tour of Route 66.  By the way, the Arizona section of Route 66 is the longest existing section of the original go there, do that and get your passport stamps.  It's a ton of fun!!!

See you on the road......