Finally leaving the land of the traffic we got into the more remote areas of Rt 66 which is exactly how we liked it. Arizona Rt 66 was the most scenic and fun to drive area of the entire road.
We did stop right over the border for gas but our first official stop was in a little western town called Oatman. The main attraction in Oatman, aside from the fact it's a cute western town with a dirt main street and lots of little shops, is that there are dozens of wild donkeys wandering around the town! They just kind of roam around asking for food from all the tourists.
There was a small dirt road leading out of Oatman. It was the only road there so we really had no choice but to take it and hope we were headed in the right direction. There were no other people to be found out here. We finally got to see some REAL ghost towns and an actual working mine unlike all the touristy ones we found in California. Eventually we did see some signs for 66 so we felt better about our little dirt road. Once we got up into the mountains on the windy, fun part of the road the landscape really opened up.
That little trail is Rt 66
This was my favorite part to drive on the entire trip. It was so fun to do all the twists and turns way up in the mountains. Rose loved the fact that there were no guardrails either! We did stop at the top of the mountain and wandered around on foot for a little bit before heading on our way.
Coming out of the mountains Dottie told us in her notes that we had to get a milkshake at Mr. D's Diner. It was an old 50's style diner with a really cool truck out front that had 66 decorations all over it. I wanted it...
The keys weren't in it...
The milkshakes were banging though! Thanks Dottie for the great suggestion. They were so good in fact that Rose decided to get two. She later regretted that decision but they were still good.
Dottie also suggested that we go to an old timey general store that was just up the road from the diner. Unfortunately by the time we got there it was closed. It seemed like everything on Rt 66 closed early! Apparently we got to see the cool parts of the general store anyways. They had a bunch of old cars and Rt 66 paraphernalia.
Most of the day was spent driving through the canyons and mountains of Arizona. We decided to stay the night in Flagstaff but before we got there we came into a happening small town called Williams. This town is actually what sparked my interest in Rt 66!
When I was younger we came to Arizona on a family vacation and I remember one day we went for a drive somewhere and took a turn into some small town. I loved it! It looked like a town straight out of Cars surrounded by the red rock formations and mountains with desert in every direction. There were small businesses and restaurants just trying to make it on the mother road. I also remember I had an awesome chili cheeseburger in one of the restaurants but didn't remember where. I just wanted to drive the whole thing and see all the other small towns like it.
I didn't remember what it was called or where it was but when we pulled into main street with all the neon lit up I recognized it instantly. We hadn't planned on stopping anywhere but I had to wander around the town that started it all so we parked the car and took a walk down main street.
It was just as awesome as I remembered it. We went shopping in some of the little shops and listened to some live music that they had at one of the restaurants. It was such a great little town. We might have to go back some day.
After our adventure in Williams we drove on to Flagstaff and called it a night. Flagstaff was another one of our favorite towns. It was so woodsy and temperate compared to the rest of Arizona. I guess it reminded us of home. We didn't stay long. Just grabbed some coffee (and some fake Birkenstocks from the mall) and off we went.
Our main objective for the day was to cover some ground. We didn't really have a goal as to where we wanted to end up. Just drive and see where we land when night comes. Apparently there is a huge meteor crater out in the desert which we did try to stop and see but after driving six miles round trip off the main road to find out they wanted $15 per person (I don't remember the exact amount) just to look at a big hole in the ground we just turned back and got on to Rt 66. I'm sure it was really cool but we didn't want to spend that much money.
We did, however, stop at the twin arrows which is another classic landmark on Rt 66.
Follow your arrow(s) wherever it points
Kasey Musgraves would be proud
This one was kind of goofy. I always thought this was a major landmark on Rt 66 so it should be easy to get to right? Wrong... As you can see in the picture there is not much going on here anymore. There used to be a gas station and a little diner but they no longer exist. Now it's just an exit off the main interstate. There's not even a road to get there. There are actually jersey walls all the way around it preventing anyone from getting in close to them. Well, anyone who doesn't have four wheel drive and a willingness to drive down a hill...
Leaving Arizona there were more red canyons and cliffs. I swear Arizona paints their rocks that color because as we crossed the boarder into New Mexico there was a very distinct color change going on. It was the same rocks, they just didn't seem as vibrant red anymore. It was strange.
And then we were in New Mexico!
He likes pizza.