Grand Canyon, South Rim, Arizona

It’s the Grand Canyon, South Rim… it’s a classic! Rather than drive here, however, I took the train ride from Williams, AZ (on Route 66) where I was spending the night.

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To be honest, the three hours the Train service allowed me was ENOUGH, in large part because my pinky toe on my right foot was seriously unhappy with me (I had sprained it and rather than let it rest and keeping it elevated, I had been driving cross-country and doing a load of walking.) As such, rather than walk I first took the shuttle bus for invalids (organized by the train company) from the train to

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I LOVE the fact that an old-fashioned station wagon drove up just then, haven’t seen one of those since the 1970’s

El Tovar.. in order to get some lunch, and to see it because … HARVEY HOUSE!!!

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On the train I had asked the girl to suggest which of the restaurants had the best food, and she said the main restaurant at the El Tovar for sure… but I had done so much snacking on the way over that, while looking over their lunch menu, I found I wasn’t actually all that hungry, so I opted for the Onion Soup

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It was VERY good (definitely a cut above the average), and every person I spoke to at the surrounding tables was also extremely happy with their food. Let’s face it, you don’t expect food at restaurants like this actually be good, especially when the food prices are relatively reasonable. (You’re paying for the location, ambiance and view).IMG_0588

That said, the room is also quite spectacular…. both its interior and decorations,

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And of course if you’re very lucky (I wasn’t) you’ll be placed next to a widow with an amazing view.

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The bottom right image was from my table… I was WAY in the back but that said, ….Heh, my table was RIGHT next to the electric plug and my iPhone’s battery was down to 20% after the train ride.

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A bar, that also has a wonderful view

I wandered around the building a bit afterwards, cause it was gorgeous (and a Hardy House that had been kept authentic over time)… ‘

IMG_0597Directly adjacent to the El Tovar is Hopi House, which is also a historic landmark, that is used as store for mostly high-end Native American goods. It was designed by Mary Colter, the same woman who designed almost all of the Harvey Houses. IMG_0598IMG_8096IMG_0601After checking it out, I went to look at the rim…. pictures don’t do it justice, there’s something unreal about it.IMG_8107.jpgThat said, I was in AWE of how clear the view was. I kept saying to people, “do you realize that a few years ago you wouldn’t have seen this? That there was a horrible haze mucking it up? That its only because of the Clean air act, and the recent closing of some near by coal-burning power stations that you can see this so clearly” Apparently nobody did… Not only that but some Trump supporters actually started yelling at me (I’m shitting you not.)IMG_0602IMG_8114.jpg

IMG_8119.jpgMy weather karma is continuing— like I said it was supposed to be raining today…

IMG_8129IMG_0606IMG_0605IMG_8216At the other end of the part of the southern rim that I had walked along, is the Bright Angel Lodge which was also designed by Mary Colter, and this one has a very famous fireplace (that the one behind me in the images below)…. which again has amazing views at its restaurant… only the girl on the train told me the food isn’t quite as good.

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Adjacent to it is an ice-cream place that also serves sandwiches, and pretzels and snacks (all the food you’d eat while standing outside)… although while I was there mostly all people were buying was the ice cream.

IMG_0604 As they warned us on the train, there’s a HUGE fine, like $500 if they catch you feeding a squirrel… and that they will try to steal your food if you don’t watch out… what they neglected to mention is the little buggers bite, and will infect you with the plague!!!!

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After this I took an un-scenic shortcut back to the train station, because it was about time to go back to Williams, and if you miss the train you’re kind of screwed.

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Grand Canyon Railway experience; Williams, Arizona

The Grand Canyon Railway experience is essentially a two-hour train ride from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon… if you return the same day (another two hours) you will have gotten to stay there for about three hours (so a taste). OR — if you are the hiking type, you can opt to stay at a hotel at the Canyon and return a different day.  The “experience” includes a cute little show before the ride, and then some entertainment while on the train, and concludes with a “faux” train robbery on the way back. All in all, when you add up the prices, IF you’re doing route 66 and just want to pop over to the Grand Canyon, to see it… this actually works out to be a pretty good deal money wise.

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The CHEAPEST ticket, which is what I got, was $62.86. This was for the Pullman car, their most historic car (No air-conditioning) and did not include the park entrance fee (as I have been buying the National Park’s yearly pass since I first started traveling… I have yet to not get my money’s worth — when you buy the ticket you tell you have it, when you pick up the tickets you show them the pass and they write down its ID number to submit to the park officials). IF you consider the cost of gas (maybe 3 hours there and back — the train does it slower), wear and tear on your car, finding parking, etc etc…. and the fact that the train includes live entertainment … I think it’s worth it to do it once.

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A lot of the people who do this opted to stay at their hotel as well, but this is not necessary and not what I did. (There is a Harvey House at that location, but its not where you’ll be staying… and you don’t have to stay at the hotel to see it. Essentially, its been replaced by a fairly generic building that looks like pretty much every other 3 star hotel along our highways)… I stayed at the Howard Johnson located about 2 blocks north, for substantially less money. (That said the hotel is OK, but the owners … an Indian couple… just don’t get it. The rooms are clean and comfortable, the WiFi was BLAZING fast… but the security is suspiciously lax. IF You go to this hotel make sure you check in early enough that you can change rooms if you need to. The hotel has no elevators, and they won’t help you with your bags if you have mobility issues like I do. The room I ultimately got did NOT have a chain on the door, or any sort of way for me to keep hotel staff out while I was sleeping. By the time I realized this — after dinner — it was too late to change rooms. The next day the woman who works for them — MUCH better at customer service than they are — and I looked for a suitable room, and we had to go through THREE before we found one with a working chain.)

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So… I checked the weather report for the next day at the Grand Canyon the night I arrived, and it said rain… eek… then checked again the day of, this time specifying the South Rim (which is where the train goes) and it said no rain… phew!! NOTE: It’s important to remember the Grand Canyon is a VERY big place, so when checking the weather, be specific for which part.

With the Train Ride, come a whole package of entertainments. The first happens BEFORE the ride and is cute… I THINK the whole point of it is actually a ploy to make sure customers are on site and ready to go a good 45 minutes before the train leaves… but still…it adds to the ‘ambiance’

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Looking around at the audience, I at first thought there may be one person in this whole crowd under the age of 40, But then I took that back … I just spotted a baby. That said, it was late September and most kids were in school, so the crowd consisted mostly of retirees who prefer to come to places like this when they are LESS crowded. It’s a cute show, funny even, more than a few good laughs. You can tell the actors have done this may be 1000 times but they’re not phoning it in

After seeing the show myself, and many days later… I watched this video and I guess the attitude of the organizers is, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” because in spite of the fact that I saw the show almost six years after this YouTube video was posted — this is almost word for word the same show I saw, just with different actors.

The actors do a bit of improve around what the audience does or does not do, and the audience member roped into the skit, but otherwise, I saw the exact same show. (They even found a guy wearing shorts who had a bag… albeit this bag was backpack)

IMG_3008And after the show, that’s when you’re led by the actors to the train, and you line up by the car you’re assigned to…IMG_7977.jpg

And this is where things got wonky. So the deal is this…. APPARENTLY if you sign up for the Pullman (which is the most affordable ticket) they tell you to show up at 8:30 like everybody else, for what you think will be a 9:15 departure…  but you won’t actually Leave until 10:00. IF they get a lot of people showing up, they’re going to break it up into two trains (according to the manager this is on behest of the park which doesn’t want a boat load of people showing up at once. He said they could easily put everyone on one train). Everybody who bought a ticket on the expensive cars — the ones with the observation bubbles on top of the train for better viewing…. and the MOST expensive cars which are old-fashioned luxury (but with air-conditioning), have a buffet and dedicated performers who are there just for you  — THOSE trains… they’ll leave on time … Those of us with tickets that have air-conditioning but no bubble up top, or those like me who purchased a Pullman car with no air-con…. they’ll leave you standing around and waiting for the second train (and there was NOTHING on my tickets denoting that).

GRRRRRR……

You do however get the same amount of time at the park because your return train also leaves later. That said, once we were on the train, it was actually very pleasant… first a guy comes on, and makes sure you understand all the thing you need to know

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Then we were introduced to our carriage’s aid, the girl in the blue and white outfit, and the photographer (the guy in the red shirt with the massive camera, whose job it is to wander between carriages taking photos on first leg of the trip, and then he tries to sell you your photos on our return one).

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While the downsides of being in the cheap Pullman car is that it goes last (leaving the station) and has no air-conditioning, the upsides are that one, it’s always placed directly adjacent to the dining car (they told me this when I was booking the trip)

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Although this also means everyone in the cars behind us has to pass through us to get to said dining car… for their drinks, snacks and ice-cream

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The other benefit… and this is the more important one I think… is that sitting in an old-fashioned Pullman with no aircon traveling through almost wild country it’s really easy to almost feel like you’ve drifted back in time to when train, horse or foot were your only options for getting out west … a mental fantasy that the more modern trains don’t really support.

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On the way to the Canyon we were serenaded by this young musician, who wasn’t bad

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And then on the way back (when we were all really pooped) we were played at by this guy

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Who was trying just a bit too hard to get us to be clapping our hand and tapping our feet, when all we really wanted to do was rest…

Towards the end of the ride to the Canyon we passed an area that had clearly had a forest fire, which made me wonder how it’d happened and if it were the fault of the train, or the people on it.

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And then right as we were approaching the park, our carriage’s aide (the gal in the blue and white outfit) began to tell us things like, that the red ponderosa pines that grown in the park have a scent. If you smell vanilla, than the tree is a female but if you smell butterscotch, the tree is male. (I never managed to get close enough to one to test it) That, and there’s a $500 fine for feeding the animals … even if it’s a squirrel who stole it from you .. and that we should all beware because they WILL steal your food if you let them.

And then we got to the park….

IMG_3023(I’m talking about the Park in a separate blog post, click here to see it)

And THIS is what you get to avoid by taking the train

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That said, the ride back was also very pretty,

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and the rain that the first weather report I had looked at promised, could be seen approaching us in the distance

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But it included rainbows, which made me happy….

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(and in fact greeted us as with a very light rain just as we arrived back in Williams, which got more intense later in the evening).

 

Towards the very end of the ride, we had a last bit of excitement…  there’s a train heist… it’s actually kind of cute

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(My video this time… Note how the train obligingly stops for the 2 riders )

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But somehow, even though there were TWO riders attacking the train, and TWO gunmen stealing from us… somehow one of them managed to be in two places at the same time (note: two horses carrying two gunmen, two gunmen stealing from us… yet one left over to take care of the horses… this happened how?)

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And then you’re ever so politely robbed. (They threaten to take your stuff, but never do.) We were instructed (by our conductor lady in the blue outfit) that if we wanted to we were supposed to take any money we wanted them to actually rob, and fold it and hold it out for them to take, which a few of the customers did… tips in other-words.

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And then a little later (after the thieves have had time to get all the way to the back of the train, where apparently the guy who plays the sheriff was waiting to arrest them (it’s a shame that only THAT car gets to see the arrest) he waltzes them back through the train to the front, and we all get to laugh about how law and order triumphs.

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Before I got someone to take our photo, the guy with the long white hair, who plays the sheriff, turns out he’s actually Dutch, has spent some time living in Japan, and speaks 9 languages at least a enough to get by… I didn’t get around to finding out how it ended up here doing this.

One thing to beware of… on the train, while you’re close to town WiFi is pretty decent, and from time to time it’ll pop back up…. but at the park and for most of the ride you can forget about connectivity. As such, save your battery and just put you phone on airplane mode to save the battery. This is especially true at the Park… Even though there is signal, you just can’t connect to it because TOO many people are also trying.

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Williams Arizona vs Kingman: THIS a is very cute little town that’s worth a few days, while Kingman is NOT.

The town of Williams, Arizona is very upscale compared to Kingman AZ, where I stayed for a few days — to the extent that it’s almost like a different world. Where everyone in Kingman seemed to hate their jobs and took it out on the customers, here in Williams I received nothing but decent customer service, i.e., at least they were trying to be nice to you while screwing up their jobs. Where in Kingman you’d be hard pressed to find a decent meal, Williams has more than a few chef driven restaurants. Both cities serve the SAME tourism group (both are on 66, both are gateways to different parts of the Grand Canyon, and Kingman is also an access point to Hoover damn)  but each has completely different attention to details and attitudes. For a restful vacation, choose Williams.

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I have a theory…Kingman is in the desert where its hot and dry and that makes people cranky…  while in Williams it’s a higher elevation and they’re surrounded by trees Williams, like a lot of the Route 66 cities puts a great deal of effort into celebrating its history in that regard, but unlike Kingman, or some of the other cities in Arizona, there’s something about how they opt to go about it that is just a lot more classy… IMG_0930.JPG

This historic gas-station has been converted into gift shop, and the contents of the shop weren’t the usual low-cost mugs and magnets (although some of that was there) but rather it was goods aimed at much more affluent clientele; some of it even appeared to be from local artists, and it included things like potted cactuses in cute western style pots. After a quick investigation of the store, I headed to my hotel.

I stayed two night here, spending the full day on a train ride to and from the Grand Canyon (spending about 3 hours there).

Rather than stay at train stations hotel that was built in replacement for the town’s Harvey House (it’s still there, but now it’s their gift shop & offices and is no longer used as a hotel, and there’s really nothing there of the old grandeur), I opted to stay at the Howard Johnson that is one block away from there (and two blocks from Williams’ downtown area). I was really happy to discover that the WiFi at the hotel was quite reasonable… 4 Mbps download and about 1 upload… which almost made me wish I’d booked for an extra day to spend blogging about day at the grand Canyon. It was fast enough that I was able to upload video to YouTube at a decent rate… and rather than picking up WiFi that’s coming through walls from somewhere else in the building, like at most big chain hotels, this place had a server in the room! Your wifi is your wifi, that speed isn’t shared. That said, all was not perfect. The chain that should have been on the interior of the door in order to lock hotel staff out while I was in, was broken … AND there was no card of the sort you hang on the door to tell the staff not to clean the room in your absence.

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The night I arrived I walked around the downtown a little (my right pinky toe had been sprained when I fell off a bed in LA so walking was a bit painful). For dinner I opted for the Red Raven Restaurant which had VERY good reviews on Yelp was suggested for the best option if what you did not want was a steak dinner. (NONE of the steak places in this town served Bison, I was very sad.) For dinner I had Salmon Cilantro (Char broiled salmon fillet topped with a cilantro pesto. Served on a bed of Southwest mashed potatoes with grilled asparagus, and for my soup opted for the Tomato Gazpacho (cold) $22 Both of these were as good as they looked. I forget exactly what the desert was, but it was deeply chocolate and a little bit of heaven in my mouth

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After I walked around the downtown some more. The place is LOADED with really high-end shops selling Native American Jewelry, art, clothes, etc. NOTHING in this town in cheap, but the quality is all very high end.

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And then headed back to my hotel to rest up for the next day. The Train I was going to be taking required I be at the station at 8:30 am, and I normally wake up at 10. (For dinner of the day after the train ride, I opted for McD’s and an Egg McMuffin — I love those things). The day AFTER the train ride, I checked out the town a little bit more while heading east to my next stay.

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A 2nd renovated historic gas station. The museum was closed when I arrived.

Got a love it, instead of having wooden Indians (which are offensive) they have wooden white people and bears… which the woman working inside told me represented the animal spirits of the tribespeople… like I said, classy

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I admit, I didn’t come here to eat while I was in town because they didn’t have a single thing on the menu that I could eat and keep my diet … Everything was either beef or something fried… that said, EVERYONE of my friends who has been to Williams told me that if you do want a steak… well one friend said it was the best steak she’d ever had in her entire life.

IMG_093366 as it runs through downtown Williams is a one way street, so if you can see their sign from the vantage the lower picture, you are in fact driving the wrong way. (Got to love their sense of humor)

Lunch and a tour: Grand Canyon Caverns;Peach Springs, Arizona

Located just off of Route 66 in either Peach Springs Arizona (according to their website) or Seligman, Arizona (according to Google) is a rather unique tourist trap that’s kind of hard to explain because it can’t really make up its mind what it is.

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The first thing you’ll encounter is a gas station/laundromat and gift store that calls itself Radiator Springs and claims to be the inspiration for Pixar Movie of the same name. (I have NOT found any external verification of that claim)

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what I was interested in was NOT the gas station, although it was a little cute, what I had come for was about a mile behind the building, via a private road

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there, above ground, you’ll find a restaurant, motel called the Caverns Inn & RV park, Restaurant and gift-store… but I didn’t take a lot of pictures of that cause it wasn’t what I was there for…

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Read the transcription below

In 1927, Walter Peck, a cowboy and woodcutter was walking through this area on his way to a poker game, when he nearly fell into a hole in the ground. The next morning Peck and his friends returned to the hole with lanterns and ropes. Peck was lowered into the hole. He purchased the property and began making preparations for a gold mining operation. Once the assay reports were completed, he learned that his potential mother load was iron oxide. Peck, being an entrepreneur then began charging 25 cents to lower early travelers and explorers down into the caverns. Today travelers worldwide come to visit these dry caverns

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The offerings, and the elevator you take to get down there… yes it’s an official fallout shelter

What I was there for, were the aforementioned underground caverns… and more specifically, to eat in the underground restaurant and see the motel (but no I did not stay the night, it costs $975/night. Too rich for my tastes.)

 

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The view of the restaurant from the path to it
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A view of the restaurant from my table, I managed to get a booking at the last minute

 

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So there I sat, in the Grand Canyon caverns eating one very expensive grilled chicken sandwich, which was at best, ok… I asked around and pretty much everyone was underwhelmed with their food.

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But, of course what you’re paying for is the view, and the experience

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The view of the cavern from my table, and a group of four people who were touring

I suppose it would have been cheaper if I drank cause you can have 2 glasses of wine, and it comes with all-you-can-eat dessert. But I don’t drink, and I’ve finally managed to lower my blood sugar, and I had places to be later that day… so I must definitely did NOT get my money’s worth in terms of the cost of lunch… in my own opinion. But it was worth doing once… and after lunch came the tour

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At this point we ran into a 2nd family which was doing the more “challenging” tour. They were actually climbing through tunnels in the walls, and we ran into them as they were climbing up through one of these deep gaps. (They were wearing helmets with built-in lamps, like what miners wear.)

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And then we watched them climbing UP a staircase that later in the tour we’d be going down (we would ultimately be going up to that same point, but via a gentle twisting slope so that you barely notice it), … in other words our tour was negotiated so as to limit our level of physical effort, while this other group was being made to do it in the most demanding ways possible

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This is when we got to see the hotel room in the Cavern….

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Two double beds, a bathroom, and a big screen TV, and along side it a stone dog to protect you

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This is a location where they hold weddings, it is up the slope from the hotel room (a little stage and rows of seating; if you look past the stage area you see the big screen TV very clearly, and the wall that it’s held up by is for privacy in the bathroom…

Much Later, after we finally came back DOWN the stairway the others had gone up, (I’m jumping forward, but will cut back after) we were led to the opposite side of this same ‘auditorium’ where we saw these…

IMG_0252.JPGThe chairs used for 60 years in the American Film Institute in Hollywood and when they replaced, the caverns bought them. So your guests at your wedding can sit in chairs that MAY have had very famous movie stars and directors sitting in them at one point.

So, back to the tour…. After we first saw the hotel room and the wedding venue, we walked along the path to the Fall-out Shelter storage area of the cavern.

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We walked through the winding paths of the cavern, and came to a low ceiling point where everyone but me had to stoop to pass it… the d

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The mystery room (upper right corner, above) is called as such because fresh air comes into the cave, but scientists have not been able to verify how. They do know it is coming in from there… but not how it’s getting into there… hence the mystery. There are apparently special tours you can take that take like 5 hours, where you can go spelunking into that part of the cave…. but it’s only for serious caving people

Once we got up to the top we began to going down, via a path that took us OVER the stored supplies for the fall-out shelter

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Apparently when they brought in the pallets, they forgot to measure the size of the pallets versus the size of the entrances… and found they had to take all the supplies OFF them, bring them in, then reload them back on to them.

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I particularly loved the giant sloth figure, apparently they found the bones of one in the cave

At the end of the tour, which took a little over an hour …. the Dutch visitors who were in my tour group started telling me how much they loved Trump, and how they’d have voted for them if they were Americans…
no words

 

 

 

 

The Road Kill cafe and bar in Seligman, Arizona on Route 66

After my post about Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse in Paxton, Nebraska, off of I-80, one of my friends on Facebook said that if was doing Route 66 on my return trip, I should check out the Road Kill Cafe and bar in Seligman, Arizona, that I’d love it. But I’m afraid that after Ole’s it was HIGHLY unimpressive.

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Located half way (1 hour in either direction) between the larger towns of Kingman and Flagstaff, Seligman Arizona takes its place on route 66 VERY seriously… it sort of has to, it’s really got not much else going for it. (even if you needed gas, odd are you filled up Kingman or Flagstaff). It’s initial claim to fame was as a stop on Beale’s Wagon Road, a trade route from Fort SmithArkansas to Los AngelesCalifornia … and then as a stage-coach stop. When the railroads replaced the stage coaches, it was lucky enough to be chosen to be a railroad town, complete with a Harvey House (closed in 1955, demolished 2008), but in 1984 passenger trains discontinued service to the town entirely, and now just pass it by. Cars don’t really stop there much either, as while it had been on route 66 (obviously), when I-40 came through in 1978, it by-passed the town by a few miles — and like I said, most I-40 travelers are far more likely to pit stop at Flagstaff or Kingman, than they are Seligman. As such, all traffic in the town virtually disappeared on that day, according to Angel Delgadillo, a local businessman. To its credit however (you’ve got to work with what you’ve got) the town earned itself the name of “Birthplace of Historic Route 66” ten years later, when through their successful lobbying efforts they managed to convince the State of Arizona to make 66 a “Historic Highway” — and hence spend money on creating the signs that line the 66, and the big printed out 66 symbols in the middle of it.

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From the outside, the Roadkill Cafe (above) is way more about shtick than Ole’s was.

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While on the inside, the road kill cafe (above) comes in a sad second to the festival of death that could be found in Ole’s (below)…  because Pretty much everything in the photos from Road Kill is in the gift store section of the restaurant, with the eating area looking just like your average diner — it was SO mundane looking that I didn’t even bother to photograph it …. while at Ole’s there’s way more of it and it is in every spare nook and cranny the restaurant had to offer

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The Rusty Bolt, a really good store on 66 in Seligman, Arizona

The Rusty bolt is an exception among the collection of stores that line 66 in Seligman that for the most part only sell the obligatory (along route 66) mass-produced stuff that glorifies the road itself.

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These tend to include T-shirts, stickers, mugs, patches (mostly purchased by motorcyclists) that says Route 66, or that glorify the post WWII/50’s time period… and offer up various impulse purchases of that sort (most of it probably made in China), most of which could, at this point, probably found easier by shopping on Amazon.  Of ALL the stores it was the ONLY one I found that actually bothers to sell art produced by local artists that isn’t a trading post (most of whom essentially make their livings by taking advantage of the local native American populations). Although they sell some of that too, because it’s what the customer expects.

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Located half way (1 hour in either direction) between the larger towns of Kingman and Flagstaff, Seligman Arizona takes its place on route 66 VERY seriously… it sort of has to, it’s really got not much else going for it. (even if you needed gas, odd are you filled up Kingman or Flagstaff). It’s initial claim to fame was as a stop on Beale’s Wagon Road, a trade route from Fort SmithArkansas to Los AngelesCalifornia … and then as a stage-coach stop. When the railroads replaced the stage coaches, it was lucky enough to be chosen to be a railroad town, complete with a Harvey House (closed in 1955, demolished 2008), but in 1984 passenger trains discontinued service to the town entirely, and now just pass it by. Cars don’t really stop there much either, as while it had been on route 66 (obviously), when I-40 came through in 1978, it by-passed the town by a few miles — and like I said, most I-40 travelers are far more likely to pit stop at Flagstaff or Kingman, than they are Seligman. As such, all traffic in the town virtually disappeared on that day, according to Angel Delgadillo, a local businessman. To its credit however (you’ve got to work with what you’ve got) the town earned itself the name of “Birthplace of Historic Route 66” ten years later, when through their successful lobbying efforts they managed to convince the State of Arizona to make 66 a “Historic Highway” — and hence spend money on creating the signs that line the 66, and the big printed out 66 symbols in the middle of it.

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Walking around Seligman I was starting to get kind of annoyed at the sheer rapidity of the goods for sale, and extreme tourist trap sensibility of the place. That was until I walked into the Rusty Bolt, which while it has some of the same, there’s actually MORE to it, even though the shelves aren’t as packed full as some of the other stores.

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Walking around I immediately spotted these little sculptures which in my opinion cross the line to art — they have such a feeling of movement to them, and then when I saw the price (they were selling for $26.75 each), I HAD to have them.

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I learned later that at the Rusty Bolt the price includes the tax!!!

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Not only that but, I was slightly amused by the coin descriptor the owner has taped to her checkout counter (see above photo bottom right). You can tell from it that she gets a lot of foreign visitors who aren’t familiar with our currency.

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The bottom right one is made with a tea strainer, and you can open the mouth

They are all made by a guy who lives in Golden Valley and just sits around making stuff by the name of Frank McKee. I looked for him on-line afterwards but couldn’t find him. According to the woman who owns the shop, he shows up from time to time at a nearby flea market that she goes to looking for merchandise for her shop. He’ll usually approach her first, sell her enough to be able to afford his hotel room for the night, and then he sells the rest at the market the next day.

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I went a little bit overboard in the shopping — I bought five of them…  I think they sort of look like a baseball team. The little route 66 magnets are removable. She had added them after the fact thinking they’d sell better if she did that.

Navajo Nation, Central Government; Window Rock, AZ

One of the Native American Reservations that Route 66 passes though is the Navajo Nation. This rock formation (known in Navajo as: tségháhoodzání or, the rock-with-hole-through-it), lies the city’s Memorial Navajo Tribal park, and it is what gave Window Rock, Arizona, the nation’s capitol city, its name.

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In the park there is a stature dedicated to the tribe’s veterans (Native Americans take their citizenship and military service VERY seriously — as part of being modern-day warriors) and in particular the statue commemorates the Navajo Code talkers who were instrumental during WWII. IMG_0062.JPG

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Adjacent to the park are MOST of the buildings that constitute the government of the Navajo Nation.

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For those who don’t know, the tribes are Dependent Sovereigns with the right to govern themselves, to a point (and that point has varied). This part of the town is where you’ll find the Navajo Nation’s Counsel Chambers,

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The offices of President and Vice President

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the tribal courts (Each tribal nation has its own Supreme and District courts), and the central location for the Nation’s police force (tribes are controlled by Federal laws but not State).

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Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise

The Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise is located in Window Rock, Arizona, and is for anyone visiting the Southwest in search of Native American Jewelry who gives a shit about their rights and/or disenfranchisement …and all that good shit.

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This is a store run by the Navajo nation that sells the work of some of their best artists– who are insured proper payment for said work. In other words, this is NOT where you come to get the “best prices” (which are often obtained by taking advantage of artists who don’t under stand pricing) but rather some of the best work, guilt free. Everything from jewelry to Navajo rugs, all of the highest quality … where you know for sure it was made by a Navajo and with the best locally sourced stores and wool, etc. (no Chinese crap pretending to be Navajo, etc.)

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If I had a friend who was a Native American Doctor or nurse, I’d buy this for them

The Store also sells Navajo raw products (locally mined stones, wool, etc.) to other Navajo looking to turn them into products for sale to the public.

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They’ve gotten much bigger and much more bureaucratic/professional since i was last here (20 odd yeas ago). In the building they used to not only sell stuff but also have workmen on staff who could repair it for you on the spot. Now they’ve got a second building mile away where they do storage and they keep the repair men hidden away, and you have to drop off and wait a week or so to get the repairs done.

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I had been saving up some stuff I needed fixed for when I next passed through the area, but it appears that was for naught. I even went to the second building hoping I could find somebody who would fix my ring ASAP, as I was only in town for two days… but they said they don’t do that anymore

Route 66 near Navajo Army Depot is red not black; Bellemont, AZ

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Just west of the Navajo Army Depot in Bellemont, Arizona, where Route 66 officially rejoins I-40, there is an old neglected piece of Road 66 that you can’t really transverse because it no longer all connects (and has been renamed Bellemont Camp Road).

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This is what one of them looks like, it is mostly unused because it dead ends, and is no longer kept up by the government. But because of that we get to see the OLD pavement, and for some reason it’s RED instead of black …

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I had noticed this particular feature of the “OLD 66” before in Oro Grande⁩, ⁨California, this time on a road that had been kept up,  so I couldn’t really get a good look at it. What it looked like was a red road had black top placed over it… but the red was a bit wider so it sort of leaked out the sides

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Personally I’d love to know why

 

 

Western Hills Motel; Flagstaff, AZ

Western Hills Motel is on Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona, and has a very nice sign which is supposed to be especially impressive at night (but of course I was there at around noon)… that’s about all I can tell you. (I’m guessing the horses are animated to look like they’re walking?)

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This place was supposed to have award winning greek food in addition to some pretty impressive neon, but apparently five years ago they switched from Greek to Mexican ……because (and I say this sarcastically) what Flagstaff really needed was YET another Mexican restaurant…

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When I stopped here I was REALLY looking forward to some good Greek food. Sigh

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