A short tour on The Mother Road

Hoover DamAs we are not gamblers we only stayed in Las Vegas for one night before continuing. Our next stop were to be Williams in northern Arizona. Williams was be to the starting point for our visit to Grand Canyon. From Las Vegas to Williams is only a 220 miles or so, which meant that we didn't leave the hotel until 9.30 am, and had time to enjoy breakfast in another of the 14 restaurants on the Hilton premises. Finally though we got underway and headed southeast to our first stop at the the Hoover Dam, located on the border between Nevada and Arizona.

When we got to the dam, we discovered that we were not the only ones who had chosen this Sunday for a visit, but as more than 10 millions visits every year, it adds up to an everage of 27,000 per day, and probably with most visiting in the summer. Despite the crowds, we found a space in a parking garage where we parked the car for a modest amount, and then we went out to look at the dam, which is pretty impressive. When there was no more to see, we returned to the car and tried to continue, which we did after being delayed for about 15 minutes by cars on the main road, that weren't to willing to let us out from the garage.

We crossed the dam and also the border between Nevada and Arizona. Here you also change from Pacific time to Mountain time, so we thought that we had to adjust our watches, but we got wiser as Arizona did not observe Daylight Saving Time (DST), so the time was exactly the same as it had been in Nevada.* So in stead of "loosing" and hour, we just continued through the mountains and later through desert landscapes to the town of Kingman. Here Route 93 intersects with Interstate 40 which runs from Barstow, California to Wilmington in North Carolina. We had previously used this interstate in North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas. In 2010 we drove on I-40 once more, and so we will in the summer of 2012. And also in 2006, we would use the interstate, but not until some hours later and only for a relatively short distance, but for some reason, we always end up on I-40, except in 2008, when we only visited New England. First of all we made a stop in Kingman for a little lunch, and to replenish the cooling box with ice and water (we drank incredible amounts of water on this trip, as it was really warm weather most of the time).

* A funny thing is, that the Navajo Reservation does observe Daylight Saving Time, while the Hopi Reservation, which is entirely within the boundarys of the Navajo Reservation doesn't. So if you enter the Navajo Reservation, you must adjust your watch, and then once more if you enter the Hopi reservation. Leaving again you have to adjust it twice more.

Route 66 between Kingman and SeligmanFrom Kingman, we chose to take the road of many names! Among the names applied to this particular road are "Will Rogers Highway", "The Main Street of America", "The Mother Road", or just plain "Route 66". The official name was U.S. Highway 66, but today the road has no official highway designation, and U.S. 66 is no longer a part of the U.S. Highway System. Large parts of the road still exists though, and is now designated as a historic road, with the picturesque name of Historic Route 66, and the road has its very own signs. The road is not equally well preserved everywhere, but one of the best preserved sections is the stretch from Kingman to Seligman, Arizona, and it was exactly this stretch we had decided to take. From Kingman Route 66 arcs to the north and east before it again turns south and returns to Seligman. The road led through a very varied landscape. Just after Kingman were cultivated fields, but the landscape soon changed to prairie-like vegetation, which then turned to desert. From the desert it turned to steep, rocky mountains, and as we approached Seligman where we left Route 66, the mountains had become grassy and wooded. We made several stops along the way, to take pictures and to enjoy the surroundings. We refueled the car in the Hualapai Indian Reservation, but except for the guy at the gas station and some children playing outside, we didn't meet any hualapais. As we continued down the road we could see that dark clouds were rising above the mountains to the north, and we could also see that it rained in that direction, but where we was, it was sunny and nice weather.

From Seligman we took I-40 the last 40 miles to Williams. Along the way it actually started to rain, but no more than a few drops and not enough to make the road wet. We reached Williams around 4 pm and started to look for the hotel that we had booked from home. We found it easily enough, or rather we thought we did. When we entered the hotel, and told that we had booked a room in the name of "Kronsell", the clerk couldn't find our name in the system, although he tried several different spellings. So I located our reservation voucher in the car and showed it to him, causing him to smile and announce that we were at the wrong hotel! His hotel was called the "Grand Canyon Country Inn", while the hotel we had booked a room at, was just the "Canyon Country Inn" and it was half a mile further along the road. We excued ourselves and then we had no trouble in locating the hotel, which actually turned out to be a Bed & Breakfast and that was not so bad :-)

Main Street, Williams, ArizonaWhen we entered the B&B, it had in a very small lobby. Here we were received by the host and was shown our room, which was upstairs from the lobby. There were two rooms upstairs, and then there was another 6 rooms with entrance directly from the street. Finally, there was five rooms in an annexe, so this B & B was bigger than the place we stayed at in Union Grove in 2004 when there was only five rooms in total. The stairs up to our room was lined with teddy bears, and so were our beds when we entered the room, and on a shelf outside the room stood books on dinosaurs. We unpacked and then took a relaxing nap before we again went down to the lobby to ask for a place to eat. The host began by telling us about some of the places we should avoid, and finally recommended a few other places.

We headed out into the city, which was quite nice. Originally, Route 66 was the town's main street, and it still carries the Route 66 signs everywhere, and the main street held in a mixture of Wild West and '50s style, with raised walkways, false facades, neon signs of all kinds etc., and even a horse-drawn stagecoach were taking tourists around town. For some reason we didn't take such a tour, but merely walked around and among other things, looked at a display of tractors of all ages and some of the many shops with Route 66 souvenirs. Since we left Los Angeles, we had been going to still higher altitudes, and in Las Vegas we were about 2,000 feet above sea level. Since then we had gained even more altitude and Williams is in just over 6,500 feet. And at least I could tell that it was not quite so easy to breathe (I suffer from asthma) and that I quickly became strained. At least the first day. The very next day, I had gotten used to it.

When we got tired of walking, we would have something to eat, and we started  to look for one of the restaurants that the hotel manager had recommended. I will not mention it's name, but we had a little difficulty locating it, and when we finally did, it was not that great. The most positive thing to say about the place is that it is the restaurant in Arizona, which has had it's liquor license for the longest time, namely from as soon as the ban was repealed in 1933. Except from that, they were not very speedy. When we had been seated, we had to wait quite a while before we got a menu. We ordered our food and something to drink, and soon after the waiter returned with the beers we had ordered, but then he seemed to forget us. Around 20 minutes later, he returned, just to tell me, that were out of meat for the filet mignon I had ordered, so I had to chose something else from the menu. Five minutes later he arrived with the salads we had ordered as a starter, and there was nothing to complain about here. Later the main courses arrived or at least some of it. Dorte had ordered a baked potato with sour cream from the menu, but unfortunately they were out of sour cream so they had poured melted margarine on the  potato instead - and it's not quite the same. When Dorte was almost done with the potato, the waiter came running with a cup of sour cream, which he had been down to buy at the nearest supermarket, but at the time it didn't matter much. At the same time another waiter announced that the kitchen was about to close (it was 8 pm), so we gave up ordering dessert and coffee, and just paid the bill, and then continued our walk around town, promising ourselves to find another place to eat the next evening.

When we left the restaurant it had gotten dark outside and as it was again beginning to rain a bit, so we walked back toward the hotel. Along the way we visited a shop where we bought a belt for Tim. Here I also got a Route 66 T-shirt, so I had something to brag about at home. In a neighboring shop, were sold Indian handicrafts to not quite cheap prices, but on the other hand they were really nice. Here Dorte bought a necklace of silver and turquoise and related earrings to go with it. The necklace was signed by the navajo artist who had made it. And it was actually quite nice but unfortunately it was stolen when someone burgled our house, some years later.

When we got back to the B&B the landlady helped us buy tickets for the Grand Canyon Railroad, that we would take the next day, in stead of using our car.

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