Where the Freeways Don’t Go – Portland to Cottonwood

September 9-13, 2015

If you want to see many of the great sites in this country you have to get off the freeways and onto the old US highways and backroads. We had itchy feet and headed out for the great American Southwest – a favorite area of ours.

The biggest problem with this trip is getting down to Arizona; driving down I5 through California is the fastest route, but we are soooo tired of driving down that valley between Sacramento and the Grape Vine. One morning at our post-yoga coffee klatch I talked with Dianne (recently arrived from Maine) who was planning a trip to Phoenix with her husband. I asked about her route, thinking I could give a tip or two. When she told me they were going through Twin Falls, Idaho then down through Las Vegas, I blurted out “no, that’s a terrible, crazy way.” But then, as we drank coffee, I looked at the map on my phone and realized it wasn’t terrible at all – in fact it’s a nice straight shot south through eastern Nevada and we figured we’d give it a try as well.

Overview map

Overview map

We drove the 576 miles to Twin Falls in a little under 10 hours. We’ve tried using Yelp and other services to find nice diners to eat in and were led to a little spot in Pendleton, Oregon for lunch. UGH! The air was filled with flies and the heavy smell of overused and under-changed oil in the fryers. Carla had a tuna fish sandwich which was mostly mayonnaise on white bread. I had a cheeseburger that had so much special sauce that the bun was soggy. We didn’t eat much and headed out on the road.

Our second day was a 557 mile trip straight down US Highway 93 through Wells, and Ely Nevada until you reach Las Vegas about 500 miles later. This is part of the Great Basin and the road passes through some very open, desolate areas. In Ely, Nevada US 93 crosses US 50, the Loneliest Road in America. Someday I hope to drive The Loneliest Highway through Nevada, but in the meantime US 93 is lonely enough. As Carla drove I started to count the time between cars passing in the other direction. In a 30 minute stretch we usually encountered cars every minute or two but had a stretch of 8 minutes and two stretches of 5 minutes between encounters. That is some open road. It’s a bit of an adjustment when you reach Interstate 15 heading into Las Vegas.

We only had to drive 325 miles to get to my Uncle and Aunt’s home in Cottonwood. Of course we had to take Route 66 from Kingman to Seligman; this is my favorite stretch of the Mother Road.

I’ve written before about the allure of Seligman – the town the Delgadillo brothers resurrected after the little Route 66 town was bypassed by the freeway. I’ve linked one post on this great town; but I encourage you to use the search function on my blog to find my other posts. School may be back in session but tourists were out in full force; five large tour busses were parked in town hauling mostly Europeans and Asians along this part of Route 66.

Tour Buss unloading in Seligman, Arizona

Tour Busses in Seligman, Arizona

Supai Motel - Seligman, Arizona

Supai Motel – Seligman, Arizona

One of the treats of this stretch of road are the Burma Shave signs. Burma Shave was a company that sold brushless shaving cream starting back in the 1920’s. They relied on some clever roadside verse on panels over a quarter mile or so. Check out burma-shave.org for nice coverage of the signs and their history.

Some of the verses touted their shaving cream and some verses were driving warnings. The Cattle Crossing signs on the left show how the signs appear along the road.

Burma Shave signs

Burma Shave signs – http://www.blackbucketbrew.com

Burma Shave Sign 2

Burma Shave Sign 2

Burma Shave sign

Burma Shave sign

We stopped in Flagstaff to get a pecan pie for my Aunt and Uncle; if we are in Flagstaff, we HAVE to stop at the depot to get some train pictures, right?

Eastbound BNSF coming around the corner to the station in Flagstaff, Arizona

Eastbound BNSF coming around the corner to the station in Flagstaff, Arizona

West and eastbound trains in Flagstaff, Arizona

West and eastbound trains in Flagstaff, Arizona

We arrived in Cottonwood and spent a nice couple of days visiting.

About howardwthompson

I'm a person who likes to travel, read, cook, and eat
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