History, written in Route 66 neon signs

 Arizona  Comments Off on History, written in Route 66 neon signs
Aug 172012
 


Illuminated, colorful signs for iconic businesses tell Route 66 story best

Editor’s note: Explore Arizona contributor Roger Naylor and photographer Larry Lindahl traveled the length of Historic Route 66 in Arizona to document it in their 2012 book, “Arizona Kicks on Route 66.” In seeking to excerpt the book, we might have settled on the small-town history, the people or the kitschy-cool vibe. But the bright neon photos leaped off the pages. Here’s an armchair tour.

One of my favorite parts of writing “Arizona Kicks on Route 66” was discovering the kaleidoscope blaze of neon that still slices through small-town twilight. From Holbrook to Kingman, from Winslow to Williams, neon-sign language is the lingo of Route 66.

Route 66 neon signs

Neon shimmers and glimmers, it reinvents the dusk and changes the direction of color. Neon is the nightlight of angels and drunkards. Keep your starry, starry skies; give me one twinkling with rainbow hues. If I ever enter politics, the first law I’ll champion will be a tax break for every business that erects a neon sign.

Neon — both old and new — is still in evidence along Arizona’s portion of Route 66. That wavy ribbon of two-lane pavement carves out the journey of a lifetime. Grand adventures mingled with intimate moments unfold, while conjuring images of simpler times. In places where diners are still run by sassy waitresses who call everybody “Hon,” and motel rooms are shaped like tepees, neon signs paint the night softly.

Here are photographer Larry Lindahl’s images of Route 66 neon.

Dairy Queen

This dollop of vintage neon blends in perfectly in Holbrook, where the skyline includes cafes, a historic courthouse, hulking dinosaurs guarding rock shops and motel rooms shaped like wigwams. Not to mention the only Route 66 movie theater left in Arizona. Now, who wants ice cream?

Joe and Aggie’s Café

Sitting at the booth under the “Open” sign at Joe and Aggie’s on a summer evening, it’s easy to lose track of the decades. Folks stroll past on the sidewalk, cars glide through downtown Holbrook, and it’s all bathed in a neon glow. You’re just a snap-brim fedora and a few swooping Chevy fins from 1957.

Museum Club

If the term roadhouse didn’t exist, it would be coined for the Museum Club, a Flagstaff icon. The giant log cabin once housed a taxidermist, then a museum, before becoming a legendary music venue. It’s said to be haunted by the former owners, both of whom died in the club.

Galaxy Diner

Photos and memorabilia line the walls of the Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff. The aroma of chopped-steak burgers wafts through the joint, and banana splits are piled high. Every weekend brings live bands, swing-dancing lessons and car-club meetings.

Western Hills Motel

Neon and Route 66 will be forever linked. Garish, gaudy signs like this beauty in Flagstaff cut through the cacophony of roadside advertising to snag passing motorists. The motel may be a little down at the heels, but is still in operation.

Sierra Vista Motel

The Sierra Vista is a remnant of another era. A cluster of hotels and boarding houses once huddled along a pre-1935 alignment of Route 66 just south of downtown Flagstaff. Now, businesses such as Mother Road Brewing Co. and Pizzicletta restaurant are springing up along this stretch.

Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe

Cruiser’s Cafe is the unofficial patio of Route 66, right on the Mother Road in downtown Williams. Ribs are almost always sizzling on the grill, and a guy with a guitar plays the soundtrack of a rambling youth. Traffic flows past, and it’s hard to resist ordering one more beer under those circumstances.

Rod’s Steak House

If you build it, they will come. If you build it and put a neon cow on the roof, they’ll stop for a meal. That bovine beacon has been luring hungry travelers to Rod’s Steak House in Williams since 1946.

Snow Cap

The Snow Cap in Seligman is beloved for its tasty grub and the wacky gags of the late Juan Delgadillo. Juan’s legacy lives on as his kids continue delivering his zingers along with juicy burgers. A visit to the Snow Cap is a reminder that life is delicious and should never be taken too seriously.

Supai Motel

Classic neon signs define the Seligman skyline, like the one at the Supai Motel. Pull into town at dusk with those lights beckoning and the seductive promise of New Color TVs, and it’s almost impossible not to stop for the night.

Historic Route 66 Motel

Route 66 pilgrims from all over the world visit Seligman because this is where the preservation movement began. They explore the small town with wide-eyed wonder during the day, then settle in at the Historic Route 66 Motel for the night.

Hill Top Motel

The sign lets you know you’re in for a classic Route 66 experience. The Hill Top in Kingman is an excellent example of the midcentury motor courts that are synonymous with the Mother Road. Enjoy a restful night on a high perch, away from the rumble of trains.

Route 66 facts

Arizona contains the longest unbroken stretch of Route 66 still in existence, 158 miles from west of Ash Fork to the California state line.

Arizona is the birthplace of Historic Route 66. Through the work of a handful of Seligman residents, Arizona became the first state to dedicate a stretch of U.S. 66 as Historic Route 66, thus beginning the preservation efforts that soon encompassed the entire road.

The only national park that Route 66 passes through is Petrified Forest National Park.

In 2009, Historic Route 66 in Arizona was designated an All-American Road under the Federal Highways National Scenic Byways Program. Only 31 roads in the nation have that distinction, and it is the only portion of Route 66 to hold it.

Details: www.arizonakicks66.com, Facebook.com/Route66Arizona, @Rt66Arizona on Twitter.

by Roger Naylor –  The Republic

 

Arizona Kicks on Route 66

 Arizona, Daily  Comments Off on Arizona Kicks on Route 66
Jul 152012
 




A new photo book out from two guys who know, and care about Route 66!

I have a little different connection with this book than most. I found the photography in this book of Route 66 in Arizona to be so crisp, clear and compelling I just had to use the pictures in my presentation at the 2012 Arizona Governors Conference of Tourism.

Not only did these pictures jump out on the ‘big screens’ when I gave my presentation – they really jump out at you in the book!

I have known Roger Naylor for a little while know – and we talk about our travels and upcoming potential projects on the route. He would tell me what ‘he heard was going on – on Route 66 in Arizona’ and I would share with him my stories and knowledge. The real opportunity to bond with him and Larry Lindahl was when I was approached to do the conference. Roger gave me a preview of his and Larry’s new book and I told him ‘I HAVE to use your images!

Then I contacted Larry – who I have NEVER spoken to before. After a few Emails, the deal was set and we were working together. The pictures are FANTASTIC.

Now, to the book! I had to buy this book! It is so clean and flows so well and it is so lively. Larry has taken pictures of all the places we know and love, and the short descriptions ond facts from Roger really compliment the book. It is a must have if you are looking for an addition to your collection!

I will say this – it is not a history book of Route 66 in Arizona, but it is nothing short of a modern day tour guide of Route 66 in Arizona!

While several places are not in the book, I think it balances out quite well, and who knows – maybe a SECOND Arizona Kicks on Route 66 would fill that gap?!?!?

You can order it online at Amazon buy clicking the link below:

‘On the Ninth day of Christmas, Route 66 gave to me…’

 Daily  Comments Off on ‘On the Ninth day of Christmas, Route 66 gave to me…’
Dec 192011
 



Some ‘new friends’ I have discovered on Route 66…


Crusin’ on the Mother Road – and crusin’ the web – I came across a guy (and his photographer) who share the passion and the love for Route 66!

Thankfully, in my (new) home state of Arizona, I happen to stumble across a man who not only is a writer for various publications, but he has a passion for Route 66. And starting next year – we might be able to start some restoration projects which are sorely needed in Arizona. While he admitted to me he did not know much about preservation / restoration – I feel he has something which is desperately needed: the want and drive to do something!

Writer Roger Naylor and photographer Larry Lindahl – the ‘Arizona Dynamic Duo’ as I like to call them – have been all over the state of Arizona writing stories of places to visit, the unusual, and the history of not only Arizona, but Route 66. Roger is a freelance writer, and his work appears regularly in “Arizona Highways,” “Arizona Republic,” “Las Vegas Review-Journal,” “Sedona Magazine,” and “Nevada Magazine.” He is a senior writer for “The Bob and Tom Show.” a nationally syndicated radio program.

They are releasing a new book in 2012 – Arizona Kicks on Route – with the description: “Arizona is home to the longest intact portion of Route 66, stretching 158 miles from west of Ash Fork to the Califronia border. In words and pictures, Naylor and Lindahl explore the history and nostalgia surrounding the “Mother Road,” and the great swaths of Arizona that it passes through. They describe a wealth of spectacular and easy side trips that surround the highway. Arizona, the birthplace of Route 66, is where you can still “get your kicks.”

I have yet to meet Roger – but that day is coming up VERY soon!

You can visit him on his Facebook page by clicking HERE.
You can get his book (when it comes out) from Amazon by clicking HERE – or do a search via my website on the Amazon tab on the right.