Dec 032013
 

flagstaff-route-66









Angel Delgadillo’s hand vibrates on the stick shift of his ’55 Dodge pickup as he squints out the cracked windshield and gears down to a stop. “The old road came right along here,” he says, sweeping at an expanse of dust-blown asphalt and the juncture where Route 66 hives off from the I-40, which bypassed his small hometown of Seligman, Ariz., in 1978. He may be showing me a road, but what he’s really pointing out is history.

The Great Diagonal Way. The Mother Road. Main Street of America. Route 66, arguably the most fabled and important road in the United States, was commissioned in 1926 and became America’s main thoroughfare, linking Chicago to Los Angeles. Immortalized in song, film and fiction, the almost-4,000-kilometre road was known as the path of opportunity in the 1930s for dust-bowl farmers from Arkansas and Oklahoma fleeing sharecrop destitution in hope of a better life in California, and was a prominent military deployment route for resources and hitchhiking soldiers in the Second World War. By and large on flat terrain, it spawned a trucking industry determined to usurp the rail cargo that paralleled much of the road. Later, it mapped a 1950s travelogue postcard route for the family road-trip vacationers who were California-bound or headed west to see the Grand Canyon. Motels, diners, gas stations, banks and general stores lined the highway and thrived on the wayfarers stitching their way across rural America. That is, until the road was eclipsed by a series of interstate highways built in the late ’50s, a portent of the inevitable decommissioning of Route 66. The bypassing of the last leg in Williams, Ariz., in 1985 was the end of the road. And then it disappeared off the maps.

“We didn’t exist, we didn’t count, we didn’t matter,” recalls Delgadillo of the rejection of the old two-lane road for the newer highway, which abandoned Seligman and other towns like it in this northern stretch of Arizona. Inspired by the survival instinct of those “flight of America” migrants he witnessed travelling westward through Arizona as a child, Delgadillo, hailed as the “guardian angel of Route 66 and a tourist attraction in his own right, and his brother Juan drove the movement to resurrect the spirit of — if not the traffic on — Route 66 and bolster relic Arizona town economies so that folks could stay. Make a living. Matter.

Arizona was the first state to designate the “Historic Route 66” in 1987, reviving the longest stretch of the original route of the eight states it traversed, and invigorating towns for visitors who share Delgadillo’s passion for the old road and who recognize the importance of a history laden with hope and suffering, exuberance and adventure.

Several towns are essential pit stops on this north-central Arizona journey. Oatman is a dusty former mining outpost where wild burros — descendants of the ones from Oatman’s turn-of-the-century mining days — still patrol the streets amid stalls peddling souvenirs and sentimentality. Kingman is home to three museums documenting the cultural history of Route 66 in the state.

Nostalgia has a certain currency, but Northern Arizona isn’t fetched up on a memory lane.

Route 66 traverses part of the Mojave Desert, and there’s something about that chalky landscape that focuses the senses. Your eyes grab for any departure from scrub — something higher like Joshua trees or bright like the “damned yellow conglomerate,” the way I heard someone refer to the flowers that carpet the dry earth. But grape vines? Don and Jo Stetson latched onto an idea that the virgin high desert soil on their ranch near Kingman, along with the hot days and cool desert nights, might be perfect for a vineyard plunked down in a valley against a backdrop of mountains.

It’s too early to say how Stetson’s Winery’s 3-year-old cabernet, chardonnay, zinfandel and merlot grapes will fare when they’re ready for harvest a few years down the line, but until then, they’ve turned out some pretty great wines using cabernet, merlot and chardonnay grapes from California thanks to the skilled eye and palate of one of Arizona’s wine gurus, Eric Glomski.

Arizona has an innate and comfortable frontier swagger, and this, along with the desert climate, has attracted a bold breed of winemakers. Glomski’s own Page Springs Cellars is located in the Cottonwood region of the Verde Valley, home to a more established group of wineries. The rocky, mineral-rich soils and intense heat contribute to the terroir.

Page Springs Cellars’ success has as much to do with Glomski’s zeal to understand and interpret that terroir as it does with his penchant for traditional southern Rhone varietals like syrah and grenache, or his bent for experimentation with new varietals like aglianico, alicante and marselan. He lets the land speak and the fruit guide the wine, which means some grapes are destined for a blend such as Page Springs’ 2012 Ecips, a mingling of cournoise, syrah, mourvèdre and grenache.

Page Springs, along with wineries like Pillsbury, Javelina Leap, Oak Creek and Fire Mountain, has breathed new life into the valley, as well as the town of Cottonwood, an epicurean hub for the area. They know they’re on to something, and the excitement is palpable. Five tasting rooms line Cottonwood’s main drag, including wineries from southern Arizona that want some northern exposure. Locavore, farm to table, snout to tail all infuse cuisine in the valley, with wine as the stalwart complement. It even informs the desserts: check out Crema Cafe’s Dayden rosé sorbet for a cold treat in the desert sun.

Gourmands might continue on to Sedona for its fine dining and chic shops in the northern Verde Valley, but the red rock hills, buttes and mesas are the real attractions in this city. Surrounded by towering rust-coloured spires and monoliths, Sedona’s “vortexes” beckon folk to explore what the Hopi Indians have known for centuries: there’s a spiritual energy in these here hills.

So it was natural for reiki master and native Indian scholar Linda Summers to settle in Sedona. Attuned to the subtle shifts in energy that draw visitors from around the globe to experience these sandstone pools of power, Summers shares her spiritual skills and area knowledge on personalized guided vortex tours, which include a description of the particular history and energies associated with each vortex, meditation at the sites and reiki. Summers points out the swirling pattern in nature at these sites: coils in rocks and twists in trees. Cirrus clouds begin to eddy above us at Cathedral Rock. And then Summers points at the sun, where a halo has formed: I’m hooked. While some come to meditate, absorbing the subtle energy here, others take to the hills for hikes about Cathedral or Bell Rocks, Airport Mesa or any number of treks around these surreal, otherworldly formations.

Sedona’s red rocks succumb to lush forests of gambel oak, ponderosa pine and canyon maple in Oak Creek Valley, and the ascent to Flagstaff is a sight for green-starved eyes. There are plenty of national campgrounds in the valley for those in need of some forest therapy. The road snakes steeply toward Flagstaff. At 7,000 feet above sea level, this official dark-sky city is not hampered by the tang of Route 66 motel neon, a beautiful, tawdry escort in and out of town. Flagstaff is a mix of the new and very old — check out the downtown core and cocktail lounges at the historic Weatherford and Monte Vista hotels once frequented by Hollywood stars like John Wayne and Clark Gable. This university town has an easy hipness reflected in the great restaurants and craft breweries that have cropped up here. The Museum of Northern Arizona refines the area’s history, geology and aboriginal culture artfully under one roof, and is worth a trip before exploring the Petrified Forest or the Grand Canyon or any of the multitude of other natural wonders in proximity to this mountain town.

The Grand Canyon is, of course, the magnificent main draw in Arizona. But no adventurer on a great journey ever made a beeline to the end. There’s too much to see here along the way. Start by climbing a mountain: watch for the Santa Fe train rolling alongside the old Route 66. Then follow.

The writer flew courtesy of the Arizona Office of Tourism and was a guest of Hualapai River Runners and the wineries listed in the story. The organizations did not review or approve this article.

IF YOU GO

All major Canadian and American airlines fly from Canada’s major cities to Phoenix, but there aren’t always direct flights; you’ll probably have a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare. Car rentals are available at a terminus about five minutes away (via a regular shuttle) from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport.
Winter might be an obvious time for Canadians to visit Arizona, trading our cold for the dry, warm winter and perennial sunshine in the state, where many retire to golf and hike and sightsee. Braver souls who love a dry, hot heat will enjoy easier access to all of Arizona’s wonders at off-season discounts from around May to September.

By Lynn Farrell, For The Montreal Gazette

Jan 212012
 



Arizona officially became my ‘new home’ almost a year and a half ago. Being a city boy from Chicago – they say ‘change is good’ – and brother – they weren’t lying!!

I love all Arizona has to offer (yes, even the dry heat) but what I love is I am sandwiched between two other Route 66 states! In Chicago – we had a condo downtown exactly 2 miles due north of the start of Route 66. While some make think it is great to be in such a location, plesae remember – we were at the START of the route, and for us to see any other part of it – it was a drive!!

Enough about me… we have a magazine down here (for all you non-locals) named Arizona Highways. They also have a television show which I catch weekly, not only to see what Arizona has to offer, but to see if and what they show about Route 66 in Arizona, and to be honest, they have been spot on….

They did the magazine entirely celebrating Arizona’s 100th anniversary as being a state – and loaded up the magazine with pictures.

Here are the ones that involve Route 66 towns and Route 66 itself:












































































































The magazine showed pictures from most of the cities in the state of Arizona – but seeing this is a Route 66 website… well, you know…

Copyright 2012 – Arizona Highways Magazine

May 312011
 



I had the opportunity to speak in front of 900 attendees at Ignite Phoenix 10 in Scottsdale. Click HERE to watch the video!

The premise is you get 5 minutes, 20 slides, and speak without cue cards, a teleprompter, or anything to rely on. Just your memory. The slides are timed at 15 second intervals, and you do not know when your 15 seconds are up – so timing is everything! I was first on stage out of 18 presenters – so I did what anyone would have done – prayed, took a deep breath, and headed out to the stage!

The presentation was to get 2 messages across: 1) Route 66 is still there! 2) here is a SMALL part of what you will see on Route 66 – so get out there!!

I was approached by SO MANY attendees afterwards telling me how they have traveled it in the past, or about the people and places they have met, or how they now want to travel it, or simply – they didn’t know it was still drivable! My point got across!

Now, it is hard to remember everything when you are standing in front of a packed auditorium, alone on the stage with only your slides behind you, and your mouth and brain racing to see which one gets the point out first!

As you can see, a few times the mouth won over the brain, and a few things got jumbled – so don’t hold it against me!

I truly want to thank David Schwartz for providing me most of the pictures for the slides – they served their purpose better than I expected – and only help me getting my presentation to the next level.

As I said in the last few seconds – ‘I hope to see you on the road!’

May 222011
 



Imagine presenting close to 900 people the thing you truly believe in…
Imagine being first on stage – without any teleprompter, cue cards, nothing! Just you and the audience!
Ignite Phoenix allowed me to speak of my passion – Route 66!

Below are a few pics taken before and during my presentation. The video will be available shortly – and I will post it.
Thanks to all of those who came – to those who had postitive TWEETS about my presentation – and to all of those who came up to me afterwards talking about Route 66!!

 

Twitter posts about the presentation:

lakeeler Lauren
Aw, @route_66_world, making me nostalgic for road trips. #IgnitePhx

ProsserArch Prosser Architects
#ignitephx @route_66_world taking us on the road again

impromptuguru Jill Schiefelbein
#ignitephx Get your kicks @Route_66_World

victormoreno Victor Moreno
#ignitephx the passion @route_66_world has for roadside travel and it’s timeless charm is palpable, I’m smiling 🙂

MackDuncan MackDuncan
Get your kicks on @Route_66_World #ignitephx

prestoniscrazy Preston Smith
@route_66_world – feeling emotion about my 85 year old grandparents!

halfacat Roger Williams
Opening of @route_66_world killing it at #ignitephx 10 http://campl.us/bbJ5

CorineMGreen Corine
@Route_66_World Very interesting, thank you! #ignitephx

amyheisler Amy Heisler
Fantastic stories and photos! @Route_66_World. Thx for sharing! #ignitephx

AlexBerger Alex Berger
Euros and others come to visit and explore @route_66_world reminds us to visit our local route 66 stretch/not take it for granted.

aussieheather aussieheather
I’m ready to travel on Route 66! Great presentation @route_66_world

RCWClady Teresa Lewis
The mother road as Steinbeck calls it – Route 66. @Route_66_World. Great job. #Ignitephx

ASUCaseyThomas Casey Thomas
Road trip! @route_66_world proud AZ is part of the greatest road in USA #ignitephx

dustpars Dusty Parsons
Celebrating Americana and @route_66_world! #ignitephoenix

RideNowPwrsprts RideNow Powersports
@route_66_world is giving a great presentation at #ignitephx about traveling along route 66. Great places to ride!

prestoniscrazy Preston Smith
@wifeofninja @route_66_world just say we should stay at a wigwam in Holbrook.

FowleLanguage Zach Fowle
.@Route_66_World says the mother road isn’t abandoned at all. Stay at old hotels, fill up at rickety gas stations, smell roses. #ignitephx

jackalert Jack Smith
great opening! “@halfacat: Opening of @route_66_world killing it at #ignitephx 10 http://t.co/4oRZZFw”

briankranz Brian Kranz
Awesome presentation, @Route_66_World! I wanna take a road trip on Route 66 now.

brandxtshirts Brand X T-Shirts
I wanna travel #route66 on a vespa @route_66_world #ignitephx

susanbaier Susan Baier
#ignitephx Great job @route_66_world

Intelliclean Intelliclean
@route_66_world go AZ and Da Route 66!!!!!

Mar 062011
 



A former mining boomtown, Oatman, Ariz., enjoys life today as a popular tourist destination located near the Colorado River casinos and resorts at Laughlin. At least a half a million people a year seek out Oatman’s authentic Old West atmosphere bolstered by noisily entertaining gunfights, special events and charming wild burros working the crowds for treats.

Visitors from Las Vegas take U.S. 95 south and Highway 163 to reach the Laughlin-Bullhead City area 90 miles south of Las Vegas. Oatman sits astride Historic Route 66, about 30 minutes’ drive from the river. From Laughlin, visitors choose either an all-paved route or a shorter, partially paved back road to the ghost town.

For the paved route, follow this highway about 15 miles to Boundary Cone Road, turn left and head east about 12 miles to Old Route 66. Turn left and drive north about two miles to Oatman.

About a half-mile before you reach the town, note the sign for the Oatman Stables. Many visitors to Oatman include a guided horseback ride through the surrounding desert or a stagecoach ride through town. Horseback adventures cost $25 for a half-hour, $35 for an hour and $60 for two hours. Reserve your ride by calling the stable at (928) 788-1764 or online at www.oatmanstables.com.

A few mountains and parts of Oatman itself seem familiar to fans of Western movies, for the boomtown served as a film location, notably for the end scenes of the epic Western “How the West Was Won.”

Oatman began as a tent town around mines developed after the discovery of gold in 1902. At first called Vivian after its principal mining company, the new town changed its name in 1909 to Oatman, after Olive Oatman, a survivor of a Yavapai Apache massacre of an immigrant family in Central Arizona in the early 1850s. Traded to Mohave Indians, Olive Oatman spent five years living along the Colorado until her rescue in 1857. By then, she bore tribal tattoos upon her face.

Look for information about Olive Oatman at the Oatman Hotel, one of the town’s original buildings, a two-story adobe structure built in 1902. The hotel became a favorite with travelers on Route 66, the Mother Road from middle America to the Pacific coast laid out in the 1920s. The hotel gained fame when movie stars Clark Gable and Carole Lombard stopped overnight after their March 1939 marriage in Kingman.

The hotel survived a fire in the early 1920s that swept away many of Oatman’s early buildings. Once one of Arizona’s top gold producers, Oatman took a hit in 1924 when its biggest mine closed. In 1941, the federal government mandated that miners turn to mining materials essential to the war effort. Oatman dwindled but still could rely on traffic along U.S. 66. In 1952, interstate traffic was diverted from U.S. 66. Oatman’s population soon dropped to about 60 residents.

Most thought the town was dead, but Oatman re-created itself. Building upon its proximity to Laughlin and later on the popularity of Historic Route 66 as a nostalgia highway, it became a tourist destination. Today, about 40 shops, cafes and bars line Oatman’s main street, part of Historic Route 66. Tourists throng the town’s eateries, crowd to imbibe bar beverages, wait in line to indulge in ice cream and gather to take pictures of the burros, descendants of old-time pack animals.

Most businesses stock carrots or pellets for the burros. About a dozen burros come in from the desert to hang out downtown, sometimes with spring foals at their sides. Traffic stops, for the burros have the right-of-way. The burros hardly notice when the Ghost Riders gunfighters stage their street confrontations at 1:30 and 3:30 each afternoon.

The creatures remain immensely popular with Oatman’s tourists, which long ago replaced gold as Oatman’s lifeblood.

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