13 Feb Route 66 – onto Williams, AZ
As much as we loved Holbrook, we knew we had a lot of ground to cover in one day if we intended to cross the whole state – so we opted to take the Freeway (#40) from Holbrook to Flagstaff, and figured THEN we would drive only on Route 66. Sadly, we were cruising at such a high speed on this very desolate stretch of road and must have been gabbing – we missed the turnoff to Winslow, Arizona (“such a fine sight to see” – of The Eagles fame!!). But we pressed on and decided to have lunch in Flagstaff at a funky diner in the Howard Johnsons called “The Crown Railroad Cafe”. Not surprisingly titled, as the railroad tracks ran flat along next to us the whole way over and sure enough – there they were directly across the street (er, Route 66) from lunch! Which was delicious by the way – a green chile stew! Love green chiles! Oh yes, they also had a miniature railroad that ran along a rail above our heads and around the entire restaurant! Fun!]
Heading out of town, we passed this gem – The Western Hills Motel! and much as we were anxious to be a part of the old Route 66, this section appeared to be fairly closely merged with #40 till we got to Williams.
We had been warned that the main street in Williams was actually two one way streets, so as usual we were driving very slowly so I could jump out and take pictures. The first thing we came to was Rod’s Steak House (I have a brother-in-law named Rod, so you can imagine how excited I was to see this place)! I got some great snaps, but had no idea of the jackpot waiting on the uphill side of the street! Right now I’m working on a 48″ x 48″ oil painting of the neon Rod’s Steak House sign. Will be posting when I’m finished! I wish I could tell you more about the history of Rod’s, but their site appears to be down right now – all I know for sure is that it’s been open since 1946 – a real success story for any restaurant!
Williams roots go back to 1882 when the town was brand new, having been created for the construction of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. It was set to be next in the western push from New Mexico through northern Arizona and then on to California. The rails would connect Arizona’s last frontier with national markets for beef and wool.
Today, you can catch a train ride to the Grand Canyon from Williams, but it looks to me like the main attraction is our dear ol’ Mother Road!
We enjoyed strolling around the Route 66 – themed town of Williams, which is just one hour south of the Grand Canyon.The town was named for Bill Williams who was a trapper, pathfinder and guide in the 1820’s, 30’s and 40’s, and whose contemporaries were other famous mountain men including Jim Bridger, Mariano Medina, James Beckworth, and Kit Carson.