Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Day 10: Winslow AZ - Needles CA

A game of two halves today, Gary, as there is a good deal of I-40 involved to start with before western Arizona allows you to drive almost 160 miles on the real thing before getting back on the Slab one sizeable river away from California.

First port of call today was the Meteor Crater.  Went here in 2003 too, and not much has changed in that the crater is still 1.2 km across and more than 160 m deep, as it has been for the fifty thousand years since a chunk of red-hot space junk ploughed into the Scorching Plains™ of Arizona at somewhere north of R171, or about 26,000 mph in old money.

A hole in the ground. Arizona. Monday.
Back onto the freeway for a couple of miles before exiting for the mortal remains of Two Gnus, so named because it lay on the migration route of the South-Western Wildebeest from the mountains north of Santa Fe to its winter home by the Colorado in southern Arizona.  At least, that's what the bloke who sold me this jackalope said.

Oh, Two Guns.  As you were.  There used to be quite a thriving little community here, and now there isn't, just graffiti-covered ruins.

Then down the road to Twin Arrows, which is about all you'll find there.
Apart from a huge casino resort place operated by the local Hopi tribe, obv.  The first major bid for freedom comes at Winona which, like Winslow, is famed in song and verse2; Bobby Troup's 1947 ditty "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66" advised us "Don't forget Winona" and as a qualified versificator he wouldn't have just bunged the place in because it sort-of-rhymes with "Arizona".  Would he?  There's not much there, to be honest, except this rather nice bridge:
The old road climbs steadily up towards Flagstaff and, praise be, does so through pine forests - probably the first Proper Trees since central Missouri.  Post-Flagstaff sees one dumped back on the interstate for most of the run to Williams, though there's a nice detour to Parks and its photogenic General Store and BEAR.
Williams hav a very interesting history if you are interested in hist. which few boys are.  Initially a railroad town - it's the jumping-off point for the line north to the Grand Canyon as well as being on the main east-west line which we've been more or less following from Albuquerque.  It was also the last town on the original Route 66 to be bypassed, when The Man finished I-40 in 1984.  And the bloke in the gas station was impressed with the Ratmobile.  You got more dirt on yer sports car than most big trucks, he opined.  You should see the other side, I told him.  If the place hadn't been busy he'd have been out the door with his phone camera at the ready.

Six miles of 6% downhill bring the route out of the pleasantly cool forests and back onto the Scorching Plains™ before the turn onto the long stretch of the old road.  Either side of Seligman the local Route 66 Association have erected a whole sequence of replica Burma-Shave signs, but you have to Park Like A Fud to be able to take pictures.  Of them.  The results may been viewed using the photo Linky SCIENCE on the left.  The guidebooks wax lyrical about Seligman, but it looks to me like a fairly ghastly tourist trap.

More altitude is lost on the descent of Crozier Canyon, which brings you out around Kingman, more than a thousand metres closer to sea level than Flagstaff.  Some careful navigation then takes you onto the Oatman Highway, over the Sitgreaves pass.  The guidebooks wax lyrical about the wiggly bit but it's not very long, it is very narrow and it does have lots of blind corners.  Nice view from the top though:

The guidebooks all wax ect. ect. about Oatman but as far as I can tell it's like Seligman but with less parking, a single-lane main street and feral burros begging for sandwiches outside all the shops3.  Swing south shortly afterwards and descend into what it now the Scorching, er, Valley Below, to pop up alongside some bridges over the Mighty Colorado familiar from 2014's passage through these parts.  Crossing any of them will have the traveller finding themself in California, though it's best to stick to the road bridge as the Burlington, Northern & Santa Fe railroad likes to send a lengthy goods train through every few minutes.  Right past tonight's hotel.  Bah!
  1. R, as any fule kno, is a velocity measure, defined as a reasonable speed of travel that is consistent with health, mental well-being and not being more than, say, five minutes late. It is therefore clearly an almost infinitely variable figure according to circumstances, since the first two factors vary not only with speed taken as an absolute, but also with awareness of the third factor. Unless handled with tranquillity this equation can result in considerable stress, ulcers and even death. R17 is not a fixed velocity, but it is clearly far too fast.
  2. Lie. The poem in question was about Winona Ryder and her conviction for shoplifting.
  3. Trufax!


  1. Are vivting Snoopy's brother . . . ?

  2. They did have a massive framed bunch of Peanuts cartoons opposite the ice machine in the hotel but, having no requirement for ice to melt in Strong Drink these days, I did't see it until the morning, having been previously unaware of Snoopy's connection with that part of the world.

    I came through these parts following the Mighty Colorado two years ago and didn't see a dog living in a cactus then either. He's probably written a self-help book and moved to a condo in Lake Haversack City.

  3. My apols for half-witted typing!