Holbrook to Flagstaff was down on my plan as one of my easy drives. Not many miles, but plenty to see. Unlike yesterday, where the old road was buried under the I-40, there's a few sections of real Route 66 still remaining on this drive.
One that's still holding on is the Jack Rabbitt trading post. They make absolutely sure you know to take the exit. They post huge, bright yellow signs with their characteristic rabbit logo on for many miles in advance. There's not much at the store itself - the usual collection of Route 66 fridge magnets, 'authentic' Indian goods and supplies for weary travellers. But it's good to see it holding on.
Next came Winslow, and to begin with it lived up to my expectations for a bypassed Route 66 town. Deserted motels and shells of long closed businesses. I passed all the way through on the west bound road, and was about to rejoin the I-40 when I had a nagging feeling I'd missed something. So I swung around and took the east bound Route 66 back - and find people, lots of people, all posing around The Corner.
There's Eagles themed gift shops on the other two corners and a themed coffee shop on the other. Eagles tunes float out from the shop HiFi's. Young girls and old old bikers pose by the statue and get their photo taken. I forget how popular the song - and the band - are here.
These luxurious hotels, run with military precision, appeared at major train junctions and tourist spots across the USA. Few remain - certainly not as well preserved as this one. I've long planned to write a more in depth post about how important these hotels were.
I was particularly glad to see the latter, as you only see the arrows after you've passed the exit (and can't turn round for tens of miles). This time I'd planned for it, and pulled off early, knowing it was coming up.
From there it was an hour of bumping along on the deserted and crumbling sections of old Route 66. It skirts around hills and valleys the I-40 just ploughs through, until I reached Flagstaff. This is my third time there and the city is as charming as ever. A few compact blocks of living downtown with restaurants, bars and (mostly gift) shops.
I stayed in the Weatherford, where I stayed the first time. Like the first time I wished it had lifts, as my case is heavy to drag up three flights of stairs. The rooms are tiny by modern standards, but absolutely fine.
Tomorrow, it's another relatively short drive on Route 66 to Kingman, with plenty more distractions.
34 S San Francisco St, Flagstaff, AZ
There's nothing wrong with this place. It's an upmarket restaurant for older couples. I read my book and ate my dinner and I left without any huge impressions. The tempura vegetables were more 'beer battered' than tempura. The staff were just that little bit too ingratiating, for this European's tastes. I think that happens when a restaurant wants to be taken seriously. The mac cheese and brisket was fine, but I should know better than to have brisket outside of Texas. What was I thinking?
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