Wigwam to Walmart

After a fun night at the Wigwam Motel I was ready to roll once again. But first, tacos and beer at Romo’s Restaurant in Holbrook! I had a great lunch while using some free wifi, I finished off a blog post, and set off for Petrified Forrest National Park.

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She really could be a NPS truck. No one would even know.

I followed Route 66 to the North Entrance, but I would suggest from Holbrook heading toward the south entrance because it all the cool hikes and views of petrified wood were on the other side for the park. From the South Entrance you can drive up through the whole park and rejoin Route 66 by exiting at the North Entrance.

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Painted Desert

Petrified Forest National Park holds the only remnant of Route 66 on National Park land. An old 1932 Studebaker sits where the Mother Road once ran nearby. The line of telephone poles you see, traces the original route through the entire park.

That’ll buff out.

Something about being in this spot gave me some really strong emotions. I walked around this Studie, strolled over to the telephone poles, lined them up in my view from either direction, and squinted. It was like the ghosts of everyone who’s ever traveled through that spot all hit me at once. Even before Route 66, the pioneers going West for the gold rush, and the cowboys and rancheros. Countless human beings have taken this trip. All of their hopes, all of the dreams, all of the expectations for what was out west just waiting for them. What did their lives look like when they were traveling? What happened to them? Did all their dreams come true? Did they find new dreams? Were they happy out west or did they regret ever making the daring passage? Did they make it to their planned final destination or did they let the journey take them for a ride?

There I was in the middle of my own pilgrimage on the route and the spirit of all those that came before me was there with me too. It was that feeling of anticipation before you make a big life changing decision. You’re excited but terrified all at the same time. You’re scared to start, but you know you must. It felt like that times a million. It felt like I was feeling that feeling for everyone that had or has yet to come through this point on the road or in their lives.

To say the least, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I can’t even write about it without getting weepy.

What happened to kitschy post cards like this?

And just like that we had crossed our 2nd National Park off the list!

Now I was eager to make it to New Mexico before the end of the day. I had decided Gallup should be my goal for the night. Two National Parks and three states would be under my belt before I went to sleep that day.

On the road, you never miss a sunset.

I rode a great stretch of dirt Route 66 just as the sun was setting and came up on a rest area in Lupton which is right on the state line of Arizona and New Mexico. I briefly considered setting up camp there for the night, it was pretty dark and quiet there, but I knew I just had to get into New Mexico before I could call it a day. So I pushed on to Gallup.

When I got into town, only a short drive away, I instantly regretted not staying in that lovely and quiet rest area. The only place I could find to safely park Betsy overnight was a Walmart parking lot. I parked Bets near some big ol’ semi’s and huddled up for the night, after eating some pretty bomb ramen. I soon learned that the big semi’s just idle their engines the entire night through. I mean, I guess I could say it was kind of like a fancy white noise machine that fancy people get because their fancy houses are so expensive and well insulated that they can’t hear anything except their own thoughts and the existential dread that comes along with that which keeps them from sleeping at night.

In the end, I knew this trip wouldn’t be complete without sleeping in at least one infamous Walmart parking lot…

Home is where you park it.

Standing On A Corner

After being not driving for a couple days I was ready to hit the road pretty hard. But first I needed to pick up my new oil pressure light switch from NAPA.

I got up bright and early that morning and me and Bets headed over to get her all patched up. Got the part, whipped out my trust vise grips, lefty-loosy, righty-tighty, and she was as good as new! I didn’t even make a mess, a dirty old rag comes in very handy in parking lot repairs!

I decided to treat myself to a celebratory breakfast at Miz Zip’s Cafe to fuel up for the day’s drive ahead of me.

Shortly after this photo was taken, everything you see was drenched in hot sauce.

And I was off to the races! Actually, next was Winona which was completely forgettable, ironically. I think I got gas there? Maybe?

I drove right past Twin Arrows and stopped at Two Guns. Now that’s how you name a town. There was some really cool stuff to explore around here. I parked Betsy and walked around for a bit to try and find the Apache Death Cave (which is my new band name, by the way) but I felt a bit uncomfortable leaving Betsy all alone at the end of an abandoned road.

Betsy, the archeologist! All she needs is a hat and a whip!

We couldn’t drive any further because there was a bunch of nails in the road, and I wasn’t about to risk that. It looked like there were a bunch of dirt trails (with no nails on them) among the ruins so I’m already making plans in my mind to come back with a sweet 4×4 ride to crawl around and find some ghosts!

Dat Arizona sky tho!

After Two Guns was the famed Meteor Crater. What can I saw it was a big ol’ hole in the ground! It was cool to see if you’ve never seen it before, but I probably won’t be stopping by again. It costs $18 to see the crater, but that includes a pretty good museum and a short movie, as well as an informational guided tour/hike around the rim (which I skipped).

There, you’ve seen it.

Now, after the crater came the thing that I was most excited for the entire day. I was about to be… brace yourselves… standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. I know, I know. I flipped out.

I’ve suggested they change the lyrics to “It’s a truck, my lord, a 63 Ford, slowing down to take a look at me”

Also turned out that me and Glenn Frey had matching boots. That was cool.

I’m basically an Eagle at this point.

I must have hung out there for more than an hour just watching people come and go just to take pictures with this ridiculous land mark. It filled my heart with joy.

Oh and Betsy made a new Ford friend with that famous flatbed!

Look at that big ol’ fridge!

Turns out, that corner isn’t the only cool thing in Winslow. I also stopped by the La Posada Hotel, which was a Harvey House originally built in 1928. If you’re ever in the area, definitely stop by this historic establishment. Not only is it incredibly interesting architecturally (it was designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, such a badass babe she needs four names), it also serves as a gallery for the art of Tina Mion, who’s stunning work made me misty over and over again.

Betsy really enjoyed the butterfly garden!

After Winslow, I quickly stopped by the Jackrabbit Trading Post which was actually a really great place, with a whole lot of original Route 66 feel to it! I ended up getting a Route 66 Cream Soda to help get me to Holbrook where we would be spending the night!

Betsy makes Ford friends wherever she goes!

If you watched my Instagram story from that night, I think you knew I had a great time in there. Although it was fun and totally iconic Route 66 kitsch, I don’t know wether I’d recommend staying in one of these things. Although everyone was very nice and the stay was pleasant, the imagery of the wigwams is used here a bit problematically. The Native Americans in this part of the country didn’t use these teepees, and I really doubt any Native Americans were consulted in their design (yes, I know it was the 1950s, but it’s 2017 now and we can hold ourselves to a better standard). The fabulous Globetrotter Motel is just across the street, and is probably a lot less culturally cringe-y and comes with high recommendations from many people I’ve talked to on Route 66!

The thing is that Route 66 is kind of this mishmash of history, culture, and people from all different times, backgrounds, cultures, histories, ideals, thoughts, theories, you name it. Each one of those things belongs and deserves it’s place on the mother road. They can all co-exist together and when you experience them on this string of a road you travel, like a each bead on a hand crafted necklace, on you really can start to get a glimpse of the vastness of what America, as a society, is. I wish everyone gets a chance in their lifetimes to experience as many facets of this road as possible. Without all those facets co-existing together we wouldn’t have the beautiful country we do today, for better or for worse. You have to accept every part of it to enjoy the whole thing fully. Every. Single. Part.