*This a retrospective post about a trip I took in summer 2015*
Excuse me whilst I try not to squeal and burst over the excitement of reliving this road trip I went on that I thought I would never get to do- not even in my wildest dreams!
At first we didn’t know we were on the famous route 66; it was just an extension of the grey road we’d been following through the wilderness for the best part of the day. Then, all of a sudden, we pulled up outside the Hackberry General Store, which was complete with a group of big butch guys on motorcycles outside who had stopped to get gas- it was all very Sons of Anarchy.
We hopped out to admire, take photos, and obviously chat to bikers who seemed very interested in our English accents.
The store itself was no more than a rusty metal shack, which was obviously part of its appeal. Most of the reminders of days gone by outside were rusting- old time cars, gas pumps, old vending machines, and Coca-Cola adverts. However, there was a red convertible old-style car, parked out on the porch, which looked in much better condition than everything else. Another thing I noticed is that no matter where you looked there was no forgetting where you were. Badge after badge, sign after sign had ‘route 66’ written on it somewhere.
It’s either a very well preserved general store or a very good mock up- I still can’t tell which! I think it’s a bit of both.
Before stepping inside you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just a museum now, but it’s still a shop-mainly a gift shop but a shop none-the-less, complete with lone shop assistant! The front sells postcards and keyrings- the usual gift shop tat- the middle has a mock-up of an old American diner, and the back is an apparel section. There were also toilets in there full of life-size Marilyn Monroe mannequins. I’m not gonna lie, trying to wee with Marilyn Monroe watching you is hella creepy!
After the Hackberry store we ended up at a route 66 road-marking (one of the last remaining ones I believe, although I have no clue which town it was in!). I know this will sound awfully cheesy but the way I felt standing next to the road-marking was unbelievable. I don’t know about you guys, but I associate route 66 with the old America and getting the chance to experience even a tiny bit of that was absolutely amazing. We became typical tourists and took a few (hundred) photos before hitting the road again.
Next we ended up in the little town on Seligman, Arizona. I’m absolutely terrible with all things geography so I have no idea how long it took us, or how far it was from our last stop. I don’t think it took us long… Anyway! According to my good friend Wikipedia, Seligman was on the original Route 66 until 1978, and is now a popular tourist destination, which might have something to do with it being the first stop on the longest uninterrupted stretch of route 66 heading west.
This place was everything you’d expect from Route 66, and it was amazing. There’s no way you could simply drive through this town without getting out of your car to explore further. In these surroundings it’s easy to imagine and old time America and the fun that was had on Route 66 in its glory days. This was highlighted by the humour that the area has not lost- dead chicken from the roadkill café anyone? How about some good old-fashioned teasing from the Snow Cap drive in?
We walked around admiring more rusty cars, life-sized mannequins, billboards, and a wooden outdoor toilet which looked like it would collapse at any moment (yes, I used it but very quickly and I’m sure people could easily see through the huge gap where the door didn’t meet the frame when it closed!). It felt like walking around a movie set.
There were more gift shops in this place, so we wandered around those for a while. I bought some stuff that I would never ordinarily buy because I thought I might regret not buying it once I got home. Note to self: you will never regret not buying a gift shop pen! After that we went to the world famous Snow Cap drive in for lunch and were teased by extremely sarcastic servers. We loved it! And, yes, I did fall prey to the door which said push on the side attached to the wall. Oops, I should have known! Whilst the wonderful staff and the fame of the place is the big attraction, the food deserves some recognition too; I had an amazing veggie burger and a chocolate malt shake that I’m still salivating about now!
All-in-all, although we didn’t do much of the road and only did it in a day, it was still the absolute road trip of a lifetime and a day that I’ll never forget.
If you’re ever wanting to do an all American road trip and are wondering if Route 66 is worth it: it is absolutely worth it!