I traveled to Arizona last week and was loathe to zip over there via the mind numbingly dull (though almost an hour quicker) Interstate 10.
Last Thursday morning broke sunny and Spring-like in Southern California, perfect driving weather. I traversed the Cajon Pass before turning East onto I-40 in Barstow.
The original Route 66 was covered by I-40 over much of it’s path although a few drivable sections remain. They are mostly on the Arizona side of the state line but portions can be seen resting in the California desert sun here and there along the way. This route took me first to Needles CA then through Kingman AZ and Ash Fork where I turned South toward Prescott.
Original 1970s 7up sign in Needles
Since I was without any time constraint this trip and the temperature was still cool and Springy I stopped in Needles to explore a bit farther from the highway for the first time in my life. I have been here many times but it is either far too cold in the wee hours of a desert morning or blistering hot on a Summer afternoon to want to stay any longer than it takes to fill the gas tank and hurry away.
Nice little Studebaker Truck
Colorful tagged cattle cars rolling East
Vintage Motel still welcoming guests
Kingman has a modern thriving town accessible via the second and third exits from the Interstate, it is always a nice stop along the way but I didn’t go there this time. I took the first exit onto old RTE 66/business 40 taking me through old Kingman which is full of antique shops, tasty BBQ lunch and friendly locals. The requisite small town water tower looms over still busy railroad tracks while a western theme permeates vintage motels and eateries for a couple miles until the old road hooks up to the interstate once more. I was so focused on the BBQ lunch that I didn’t take many pictures here but you can bet I will return to this road on a future trip.
Building being restored in Kingman
Late afternoon found me in Ash Fork which has been one of my favorite places in the entire state of Arizona for many years.
The reason? Oh, the little old Mobil Gas station!
Ash Fork station lot
I darted in this station one very cold afternoon about 15 years ago to find myself in a warm, cozy hang out for the local old guys to spend the day telling tales and drinking (ahem!) coffee. The walls were covered with old license plates, junk parts and taxidermy…I wanted to stay forever!
A beautiful Jeep @ Ash Fork Mobil
After I paid for the gas I was graciously allowed to join the conversation so while Bob filled the gas tank outside we talked about Jeeps, Javelina and the value of Gold Toe socks in the glow of a pellet stove. I make a point to stop here just to check in anytime I am nearby.
When I walked in the station last week the conversation was ongoing and the guys were all still in place. After topping off the tank I grabbed my camera and went back to ask if I could take a picture…of the Javelina…they seemed disappointed so I told them to crowd around the wall pig and smile…only the Javelina complied at that point.
I think she winked at us!
Special places that welcome you as a kindred soul are few and far between, when you find yours enjoy it for all it is worth!
I will post the road home to So Cal next week!
See more of the sky above at: http://skyley.blogspot.com/