May 6, 2015
This was a very short travel day; Holbrook lies a mere 34 miles east of Winslow. But it was eventful enough to make some slight changes to our overall approach to our trip – but more about that later.
A few miles north of Winslow on Arizona highway 87 is the Homolovi State Park. It’s the site of some ancient pueblos similar to those we saw at Wupatki National Monument in March.
This area goes along the Little Colorado River – which gets much bigger as it gets closer to the Grand Canyon. As we hiked along we came to this gate and I jumped back!
When I was young – late elementary or early junior high maybe – I saw a movie preview at the Palm Theater that featured a man getting caught in quicksand. It made quite impression on me; I added a prayer to my list for about a year that I wouldn’t get caught in quicksand. I guess it wasn’t likely where I grew up as there was no river nearby. All these years later I made sure we gave the area a wide berth.
Like many of the Native American sites, this one was looted many years before; nevertheless, old pottery shards abound. We’ll talk more about shards like these in the post about the May 7 tour.
We hit the road and headed east. We hit a major roadside attraction: Jack Rabbit Trading Post. When I was a kid riding along Route 66 with my parents I’d see signs proclaiming this place for miles. Being close to the Petrified Forest, they mostly sell rocks and bits of petrified wood.
But they still have that big rabbit out front. I had to pose with it!
When we pulled into Holbrook in mid afternoon we were pretty hungry and headed to Joe and Aggie’s restaurant. We read about it in Jerry McClanahan’s EZ66 Guide Book. It is obviously a family run business with lots of locals. A little girl was with her mom who was our waitress; she ran around to a couple of tables that were filled with people she knew. There was a group of older men in the booth next to us talking about stuff.
They feature Mexican food and I enjoyed my beans, tamale, and enchilada. I think it didn’t agree much with me though. Oh well, it can happen anywhere.
We then headed over to the Navajo County museum and saw some great old relics.
There was an actual old chuck wagon used on cattle drives. I watched a couple of episodes of the old Rawhide TV show recently and the chuck wagon was very similar – so it was obviously researched. I learned at the museum that the cook was second in charge.
We also saw an interesting set of rules for teachers in the county. While there was no threat of stoning a teacher who didn’t follow the rules, I was struck by how rigid the code was.
We read an interesting story about a sheriff who had to go out to a home to arrest someone and ended up killing two of the men. Another was caught and was sentenced to be hanged. There was a rule that the sheriff had to send out an invitation to the other sheriffs of the state inviting them to the wedding. His invitation was a little sarcastic.
A judge got hold of the invitation and issued a stay of execution for a month. The sheriff then sent out another, similar, invitation but late enough to make sure the judge wouldn’t interfere.
Having driven by the Wigwam Motel we knew the rooms/wigwams were very small with only a small window so we decided to kill some time by going train watching. The trains are going much faster here than in Winslow where they are slowing to a stop or just starting up. But these trains are huge; I think the westbound ones were just starting to slow down for their stop in Winslow 34 miles away.
The bottom train must be a local or other special. The locomotives are old. The lead Burlington Northern (the “BN” of “BNSF”) still hasn’t been painted and the two following are smaller without the wide crew cabs.
Finally it was time to check into our motel.
The room was probably no more than 15 x 15 with a low ceiling and a tiny window on one side. It was furnished with two full beds, 2 lamps, a tiny desk, and an old TV mounted on the wall. There was a small bathroom in the back. The bedspreads were nice but this room showed every year of its life. There are benches and what-not outside; I imagine back in the day families gathered outside and just used the huts to sleep in.
Let me say at this point that “it’s me, not them”. The proprietor was great. We just didn’t feel very comfortable in the room. We knew it would be an adventure and had prepared ourselves for something different. If you are traveling Route 66 and always wanted to stay here; then don’t let me dissuade you. Just know it’s old school to the max.
Having an evening to kill, we went to the Roxy, the local theater, to see the “Avengers, Age of Ultron.” It was fun. The action scenes are confusing but really all you need to know is “Avengers, good; Ultron bad”.
After the movie we gassed up the car and went to the local Dairy Queen for an ice cream. When we walked in, one of the patrons, a pot-bellied older man with a camo T-shirt got up from the table with his wife and kind of gave us the eye. He turned to one side to display his open-carry pistol on his belt. He struck me as the kind of person who would shoot someone accidentally someday or get shot trying to butt into something. Although he had plenty of bluster, he didn’t look like a man who could back it up. Maybe I’m wrong. This is the second time I’ve seen an open-carry situation in Arizona; the first time I found disconcerting, this time, with this guy creeped me out. [Edited 5/9/15]
Please don’t misunderstand me, I learned to shoot and owned guns when I was young. My dad was a gunsmith both as an amateur and a professional. I reloaded my own ammunition. I understand guns. I just don’t see the point of walking around a small town with one. It strikes me as looking for a problem. Or who knows, maybe he is just making a point of his second amendment rights – more power to him.
The vibe in this town was just a little bit off. All of the events of the day, and our stays in other small towns such as Victorville and Needles, let us know that maybe we’ve seen enough small town USA for a while. We are going to stay mostly in the bigger cities where we feel more comfortable. We’re not giving up on Route 66; just changing our tactics a bit.
Again it’s us, not them.
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