01 Apr Route 66 – the final push to Oatman
The final stretch of our journey along Arizona Historic Route 66 had the feeling of the rough and tumble Wild West. The road has not been kept up as well and we really felt like we were driving through a movie set with the wide vistas, mesas, and cracks in the road that have been patched too many times to count. We were sorry that we still had so far to go (Palm Desert, California) as the afternoon was wearing on when we rolled through Kingman. This would have been a wonderful place to stop and enjoy the numerous Route 66 attractions like The Route 66 Museum and the offices of the Historic Route 66 Association. But we still had miles to go, so we pressed onward.
After leaving Kingman things became quite desolate, so we were thrilled to come upon a fabulous old gas station in Cool Springs – a great place to stop (actually, it’s THE only thing in Cool Springs!). We were greeted by the very hospitable owner, George Chicago, who gave us the run down on the history of this totally rebuilt landmark. There’s a wonderful essay on the Historic Route 66 site about this life-saving original pit stop.
But if it weren’t for Ned Leuchtner, the only thing we would have seen would have been a pile of stones in ruin. In 1997, he first passed through this majestic landscape and decided he wanted to own it. After many years of trying, he finally succeeded in 2001 and began to rebuild this roadside stone marvel. Again, kudos to folks like Ned that have given us a chance to take a brief walk back in time and appreciate the importance places like this.
As we were leaving on our way to Oatman, he said “Enjoy all those 122 turns in the road!” We smiled and got in our car. Little did we know what awaited us: a very steep climb up the very road that was the original Old Trails Highway which paralleled the Beale Military Road from 1857. Of all the stretches along Route 66 this was perhaps the most intimidating with its steep grades, narrow road, and hairpin curves. But what a spectacular view!!! I wouldn’t let Richard look as he was driving – and we almost felt a little woozy by the time we got to the top – Sitgreave Pass at 3,550 feet! Amazing views in both directions!
Then down down down an equally windy road to the historic and charming old mining town of Oatman!
This was the end of our Arizona #66 journey and we were sorry that we had missed the gun fight in the center of town by a few hours. If you can plan your trip to see that, make a point of it! The highlight of Oatman, of course, was the burros that roam freely around the town. They’re protected! and have been an integral part of the community since they were used as pack animals back in the days when this town was a thriving mining destination.
We said good-bye to Arizona Route 66 with great sadness, but await the day when we can return for the Fun Run. Thank goodness we have relatives that live in Arizona, and they even own a motorcycle – “Harley”, I should say!! I’ve told them about it and with any luck, they’ll be there for the big weekend this year on May 4th.
Enjoy the pics and Happy Trails!