I woke up to the wonderful voice of the fortune teller mechanical "indian" saying something I couldn't make out ... We parked in front of a gas station that had the obligatory trading post attached to it. The man working the gas station last night was very nice, we asked him about the potential of showers, and after determining that our options were too far to reach tonight in the dark, he suggested we sleep here, parked closed to the door. I guess being two girls makes people uneasy about us sleeping in a car.
Hitting the road again, we were excited to start the "longest remaining section of route 66" which hasn't been converted to a highway. Because of its length on a map, Jack believed we could only make it Kingman by sunset, where we were just told by the nice man was our next truck stop with showers. My shower will have to wait until tonight, apparently. Turns out, the Arizona desert doesn't have too many towns along it's route... I was at Kingman by noon, just in time for a mid-day shower. This shower, at the Flying J, was wonderful! Much like our last experience at the Flying J, we payed for one shower, 12$, no time limit, and we both headed in. The first time, the lady at the cash actually offered us to only take the one shower, and then radio'd the cleaner to bring us an extra towel, she was great. This time, the cleaner was in front of our little shower room, and offered us this second towel as he saw us heading in. I found myself wondering - is this what gendered privilege feels like? I highly doubt two men, walking into the Flying J, get offered two towels and one shower. Just some thoughts. In this line of thought, I'm amazed that I have yet to be mis-gendered ! I wore my baseball cap for the last 2 days, a hoodie, and lose jeans, and I'm still not being mis-gendered. I don't get it. I got so used to having both genders thrown at me that this girl only thing is throwing me off... The only people to have argued over my gender in front of me on this trip were tourists in St-Louis. What is different here vs back in Ottawa? Or everywhere else in the world where if I want to pass as a girl I puff my chest and speak in a higher voice...
We passed desert, and more desert, lined with magnificent mountains with pointy peaks and shadows of even larger peaks. As non existent the towns were, it was beautiful. We passed some ghost towns, what I would consider looked more like a single abandoned gas station or a motel, was apparently once thriving towns along 66. This route has shown us what the true rural, decaying America looks like when off the main highways. Forgotten old towns, left with populations of the 3 or 4 people braving the dry isolation. Amongst these forgotten towns was the not-so-forgotten Seligman. Two men in this town apparently refused to see it die with the traffic almost entirely disappearing after the construction of the I-40. They fought to start and founded the Arizona Route 66 Association (first of its kind) and lobbied for their section of route 66 to be recognized as a historic byway. One of these men was Angel Delgadillo. He spent most of his older life fighting to promote his town from his barbershop / 66 museum. This town had at least 7 or 8 main street establishments fully embracing the route 66 idea of old 40s charm and nik-naks. I can't really describe this town, but check out the photos. Diners with yards full of completely random things like a phone booth with a scarecrow inside, and old cars with cutouts of Elvis in them, or mannequins hanging out on the roof tops of the bar... My kind of place. Loved it.
Having made it to Kingman so early, we suddenly got really excited at the possibility of making it to Oatman for a gun show, which according to our guide book, is at 1.30pm. So we sped through Kingman, a relatively large town with plenty of neon signs, old motels and cool looking diners to make it for the gun show! Quick stop over to get Jack a milkshake that she's been craving for days now, best coffee milkshake ever out of a really cool 50s looking diner. The road ahead was twisting and turning around cliffs edges, in the incredible peaks from early. I quickly realized I could not make good timing on this, so we gave up the idea of the gun show and just enjoyed the ride. Stopped at a few view points to stare at incredible views. The landscape isn't like anything I've ever seen, dry sand ground with green scrubs and tiny cacti.
Making it to Oatman past 1.30pm, I had all given up on my gun show... that is until I saw a sign saying it was 2.15pm. I kid you not - I looked at the sign, then looked at my phone for the time, and my phone said 2.16pm. The excitement I felt at that point in time was unmeasurable! This is the funniest town yet, a town that was a ghost town for a few years until they decided fuck it, let's do something that will attract the randoms of 66. So they transformed whatever was left of the main street buildings and created new ones, all in the theme of the wild west. Saloons, cowboys, wild donkeys roaming the streets (legit, wild donkeys). And of course - a gun show. Two grown men, who go out in the middle of the street, dressed like cowboys (I really think this is their everyday look, but who knows), one pretended to be a sheriff, the other an outlaw. Sheriff brings money to the bank as a trap for the outlaw. Outlaw steals the money. At this point the outlaw is killing time in the street because the sheriff isn't showing up, starts making jokes about the sheriff not doing his job, or getting lost along the way. Finally the sheriff shows back up, obviously confused that he had missed his cue to re-enter the scene. They have a stand off in the street, and POW POW! Sheriff shoots the outlaw. Blanks of course. So terrible, so hilarious. The final shot that was supposed to kill the outlaw was kind of weak, not loud, so the outlaw goes "that wasn't loud enough", shoots his gun into the air for a louder bang, then falls to the ground. Too good. Probably my favorite experience so far. The only downside were the amount of tourists in the town. So far, we've crossed a few route 66 tourists here and there, obviously crossing many at the Grand Canyon yesterday. Here, the streets were full of them. The next "town" with a suggested stop, Hackberry, had a gas station and general store along the main, and only that. Their gas station was overflowing with tourists - bikers on old harleys, tour buses, you name it, stopped at this old gas station taking photos of their old classic cars. Seeing as we've seen plenty just like this in the east end of the route, we skipped it. Where did they all come from?
We managed to get so much road done today, not because we skipped anything, but because that's all there was, road. No towns, no stores, no funny museums, just road. The tourists that filled Oatman and Hackberry are no longer in sight. We crossed into California! Our last state... Bitter sweet moment. I'm happy and proud we made it this far. Jack and I haven't killed each other yet, although we've come close a couple times. When you decide to spend a month in a car, sleeping, spending most of your day in this car, 2 feet away from your partner, you are bound to have some not so pleasant moments. I must say, with the exception of a rougher 4 day stint, we found our grove and are having a blast! Our "disagreements" often stem from us getting lost, or commenting on each other's driving skills. Route 66 no longer actually exists as a road, therefore following written out directions or a map leads to many wrong turns and "I think this is it" moments. We've managed to avoid using the internet or electronics for the most part. One of us drives, the other directs, and we switch the next day. At the end of a day driving, I'm ready to take the passenger seat and direct, which has its own challenges and annoyances, which makes me ready to drive the day after! Even setting up the car, we found our system which works. I grab the garbage on my front seat, she gets the cooler and goodies box. She then helps me bring the plywood board forward, and goes to the trunk to set up the box there while I hang the drapes up. The system is the same every night, and we're getting incredibly efficient with it! The car is doing great and continues to feel like home. I haven't felt too rushed or pushed for time, and here we are, crossing our last state line before the end of Route 66.
The road is entirely empty. It's just us and the mountains and the dry land. The "towns" suggested by our guide book quite literally only had one thing running, be it the closed-at-the-time museum in Goff or Ray's gas station in Amboy. The travel guide even suggested a stop in Essex, what he calls an establishment: It consisted of 5 abandoned mobile homes and a closed gas station. After all this road, we stopped our journey in Ludlow today, or just before it. Who knows, we stopped at the first gas station we saw that was open, but considering today, this might be the town! As far as I remember from my readings, it is legal to sleep in your car in the state of California, so it doesn't really matter where we sleep, but this gas station with our now friends the Truck Drivers, seems like the safest choice. Good night.Read more