Our sixth day on Route 66 with Nissan was long but rich in exciting moments - not surprising given that the Grand Canyon was one of the scheduled stops. We actually got dragged out of bed for an unholy pre-dawn start to the day, and when we finally pulled into our haven for the night the sun was disappearing below the horizon.
The up side is that when we crossed into California, we gained back another hour with the change to Pacific time. Tomorrow we reach our final destination: Santa Monica, California. But first, here’s what we were up to today:
1 — Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon needs no introduction. I should point out Route 66 doesn’t actually come into contact with any part of it, in fact the only road that does is the one that goes to the town named Grand Canyon and to the National Park in which the Canyon is located.
What a spectacular place it is – pictures simply don’t do it justice. You have to be standing looking out on it to really experience it; you’ll have your breath taken away. So if you’re heading along Route 66 or are anywhere in the area, make sure to find time to visit. You won’t regret it.
2 — Snow Cap, Seligman, Arizona
The town of Seligman is in many ways the heart and soul of Route 66. Smack in the middle of the town is the Snow Cap snack bar, one of the most-visited places on the Mother Road.
People don’t flock there for its beauty, or for any five-star service they get there. They go because it’s a monument on Route 66. The history of this establishment perfectly mirrors the one that tells the story of the birth, glory years and fall from grace of the route itself.
Even better, it also reflects the rebirth of Route 66 today. The current owner of the Snow Cap, and brother of its founder, is Angel Delgadillo, who led the campaign in 1987 to have signs posted at certain places along the route, then in its last throes before being decertified, so that it wouldn’t be forgotten. Much later, he was tapped as a consultant by Pixar studios for the film Cars.
3 — Powerhouse Visitor Center, Kingman, Arizona
Once you leave Seligman and head back out on Route 66, the next town on your in-car nav system is Kingman, still in the state of Arizona. Here you find multitude of old-style motels, many of which have been rising anew from the ashes in recent years.
On the outskirts of town, you can stop at the Powerhouse Visiter Center, a museum that offers up a history of the route and of transportation in general in Arizona. The building it’s in, which housed a power station in the early 1900s, was restored and reopened its doors in 1997 as a visitor centre. The place even has an impressive collection of electric cars.
4 — Oatman, Arizona
Our day ended with another highlight, a stop in the former mining town of Oatman, Arizona. This is a place for surreal little moments, mainly because of the presence, at any and all times, of free-ranging donkeys that populate the main part of the town. These animals are part of the furniture, you might say.
How did that come to be? The miners that populated the town in its original heyday commonly used donkeys to carry equipment. With the onset of the Second World War, mining came to a stop in Oatman, the government being in urgent need of other metals besides gold. The miners left, leaving their donkeys behind. And these never left. Today their descendants roam freely around on Main Street and mingle with townsfolk and visitors. Now who, traveling Route 66, wouldn’t want to stop here and say hello to them?