Day 4:    Razing Arizona

Main Page > 2006 Getting our Kicks on Route 66 !!!


Mike and Bone rose early, ready to make some serious time, they intended to hit both the Petrified Forest and the Meteor Crater in the morning, and be in California,,, all in one day !!!!


"I need teepee for my Bunghole !!"

Beavis as Cornholio

On their way out of Holbrook the Boys recalled the very strange conversation they had with the Owner of the Wigwam Hotel. The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook is one of the absolute best examples of Route 66 "kitsch" still found today. Mike and Bone tried to get in the night before, but the unfortunately the motel was booked solid, and after a 10 minute conversation with the son of the builder and owner of the Wigwam Hotel, it was apparent that from a hotel proprietor, he had more in common with Norman Bates than Conrad Hilton !!! After whining in a monotone voice that he didn't know anyone in town (the town he grew up in), and what a burden the hotel was, Mike and Bone decided it was time to exit stage left or west as it turned out to be.


Bone, in the Petrified Forest, worried about petrified wood

26 miles east of Holbrook the Boys started down the road to the Petrified Forest National Park established in 1906. Right before the entrance to the Part they passed several Indian "Museums," that were really gift shops selling the precious fossilized wood. Once in the Park the Boys simply marveled at all the incredible scenery.  The Park is more than just a geologic wonder, there are sites throughout the park that tell of human history in the area for more than 2,000 years. The National Park doesn't know the entire story, but there were separate occupations, a cultural transition from wandering families to settled agricultural villages, pueblos, and trading ties with neighboring villages. Then this story of early people, told by potsherds, rubble, and pictures on the rocks, fades around 1400 AD.

In the mid-1800's US Army mappers and surveyors came into this area and carried back East stories of the remarkable "Painted Desert and its trees turned to stone." Next, farmers, ranchers, and sightseers made their ways into the area. After a period of using the wood for souvenirs and numerous commercial ventures, territorial residents recognized that the supply of petrified wood was not endless. In 1906 selected "forests" were set aside as Petrified Forest National Monument. In 1932 some 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) more of the Painted Desert were purchased and added to the monument. In 1962 the area became Petrified Forest National Park, and in 1970, 20,250 hectares (50,000 acres) were further set aside as wilderness.


Mike pondering a Nine Wood

The first historic record of petrified wood in this region came from a US Army officer who found it near today's Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. Abundant deposits were recorded south of the present Petrified Forest National Park in the 1850's. By 1900, removal of the wood led to calls for preserving areas with large deposits of it. The park exists for this purpose and there is no collecting or giving out of samples permitted. Petrified wood can be bought from commercial dealers who collect it from outside the park. The commercial wood is from the same geological deposits and of the same quality as the wood found in the park. Small pieces are sold, rough, tumbled, or polished. Artists and craftspeople work larger pieces into decorative objects. Jewelry, bookends and clocks are popular sales items. Minerals and impurities deposited while the wood was petrifying add the bright colors and interesting patterns.

The distinctive white layer interrupting the reddish base is sandstone. The cap of the Tepees is clay. Dark layers are caused by high carbon content. The darker red is iron-stained siltstone. The iron oxide is hematite. The reddish base is stained by iron oxide, to Mike and Bone, all this meant was it is kool to look at !!


Awesome desolation

This high dry tableland was once a vast floodplain crossed by many streams. To the south, tall, stately pine-like trees grew along the headwaters. Crocodile-like reptiles; giant, fish-eating amphibians; and small dinosaurs lived among a variety of ferns, cycads, and other plants and animals that are known only as fossils today. The tall trees, Araucarioxylon, Woodworthia and Schilderia, fell and were washed by swollen streams into the floodplain. There they were covered by silt, mud, and volcanic ash, and this blanket of deposits cut off oxygen and slowed the logs' decay. Gradually silica-bearing ground waters seeped through the logs, bit by bit, encased the original wood tissues with silica deposits. Slowly the process continued, the silica crystallized into the mineral quartz, and the logs were preserved as petrified wood.


Messing around the Mesas in the Petrified Forest

That was about 225 million years ago in the late Triassic. After that time, the area sank, was flooded, and was covered with freshwater sediments. Later the area was lifted far above sea level, and this uplift created stresses that cracked the giant logs. Still later, in recent geological time, wind and water wore away the gradually accumulated layers of hardened sediments. Now the petrified logs and fossilized animal and plant remains are exposed on the land's surface and the Painted Desert has its present sculpted form.

Today the ever present forces of wind and water continue to remove sediments. Erosion continues to break down the giant logs and reach for the logs and other remaining fossils still buried below the surface. In some places, up to 300 feet (90 meters) of fossil-bearing material remains. The petrified logs, and other fossils of plants and creatures that lived in the area, and the rocks locking them in places all testify to changed in the environment through millions of years.

Mike and Bone first checkout the Museum and the cute Park Ranger (or was it the other way around ?!?), then hiked around for the next hour thoroughly enjoying the brisk fall air in the high desert.


Putzing around Puerco Pueblo

One of the cool things in the Petrified Forest is the Puerco Pueblo. This large, one-story high community consisted of 100 to 125 rooms surrounding a rectangular plaza near the Puerco River. Within the plaza were three rectangular kivas, their unusual shape indicating Mogollon influence from the south. When Puerco Pueblo was unoccupied around A.D. 1400, the people may have migrated to even larger communities nearby. There was a trend throughout the region at this time to aggregate into larger communities. Puerco Pueblo is one of the few Western Pueblo IV sites managed by the National Park Service. 


American Graffiti, Indian Petroglyphs

Right by the pueblo are even older Indian petroglyphs. Ancient tribes of Crypts and Bloods roamed the desert "tagging" the rocks, or at least that is what the culturally cool Mike and Bone thought !! During their wandering, the Boys noticed that the Fall really is the best time to visit the desert, with cool temperatures, rather than blistering heat, and ABSOLUTELY no else around for miles and miles.

Despite the fact that the Boys were enjoying the landscapes and scenery, they felt the pinch of time and boogied on back to the car, and again to hit Route 66 ever west !!


Mike and Bone painting the Desert Red !

Before the Boys made it back to Route 66, they had to stop to check out the Painted Desert. which is an expanse of badland hills, flat-topped mesas and buttes, which is an arid land, sparsely vegetated and heavily eroded. The name Painted Desert refers to the rainbow of colorful sedimentary layers exposed in the austere landscape. It is represented by outcroppings of the Late Triassic Period Chinle Formation.

The Painted Desert forms a narrow, crescent shaped arc, about 160 miles long which begins about 30 miles north of Cameron near Grand Canyon, and swings southeast just beyond Petrified Forest National Park. This arc varies in width from 10 miles wide in the Cameron area to about 35 miles wide at Petrified Forest. The Little Colorado River cradles the southern edge and the tableland of Hopi Mesas and buttes make up the northern boundary.

The landforms of the Painted Desert have been described as a multicolored layer cake. The variety of hues in the sandstone and mudstone layers of the Chinle Formation is the result of the varying mineral content in the sediments and the rate at which the sediments were laid down. When sediments are deposited slowly, oxides of iron and (hematite) aluminum become concentrated in the soil. These concentrations create the red, orange, and pink colors you see at the north end of the park. During a rapid sediment buildup such as a flooding event, oxygen is removed from the soil forming the blue, gray, and lavender layers.

Mike and Bone simply gaped at the awesome splendor of the scenery. Their senses were swirling in the stillness of the morning, the deafening silence and the breath-taking scenery. Finally, after another 20 minutes, the Boys grudgingly started back on the road to look for a girl in a Flat-bed Ford.


Mike and Bone, standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona,

are such a fine sight to see !

"Here comes the Judge !". Passing through Joseph City and Manila, Mike being the Eagles fan that he is insisted on a stop in Winslow to "Take it Easy". The only good thing about the overly kitschy Town of Winslow is a little local bar that had a great green chile burrito called the Judge, which was right next door to a barbershop named after a Blues Brothers joint.


Mike and Bone, Cratered ! ! !

After lunch the Boys boogied down Route 66 to the next stop, the famous Barringer Meteorite Crater !  The Barringer Site, also known as "Meteor Crater", is a gigantic hole in the middle of the arid sandstone of the Arizona desert, with a rim of smashed and jumbled boulders, some of them the size of small houses, rises 150 feet above the level of the surrounding plain.  The crater itself is nearly a mile wide, and 570 feet deep. When Europeans first discovered the crater, the plain around it was covered with chunks of meteoritic iron - over 15 tons of it, scattered over an area 8 to 10 miles in diameter. The Boys were surprised that the Crater is privately owned, when they paid the 20 bucks to visit the Museum and Crater. The view was stupendous in the muggy mid-day sun in the desert ( that had an ominous portent later in the day).

After an hour of viewing a movie and the crater, the siren call from the west beckoned the Boys back onto Route 66 !! The flew through Winona, the place made famous for its reference in Bobby Troup's classic "Route 66" where he exclaims "Don't forget Winona !" However, there wasn't much to see so actually Winona is very forgettable ! Mike and Bone decided to just pass through Flagstaff without a visit.


Mike, Klowning around in Kingman, Arizona

Mike and Bone's next Route 66 stop was in Kingman. named after Lewis Kingman, a civil engineer with the Santa Fe Railroad in 1880. These days there is no mistaking Kingman thanks to the huge beige-coloured tower that has been painted with these words: "Welcome to Kingman, the Heart of Historic Route 66". Kingman is the hometown of the well-known character actor Andy Devine, who grew up in the Beale Hotel, which his parent used to run.  Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were married in Kingman before they ran off to honeymoon in nearby  (and weird) Oatman.


Buying Route 66 stuff

While in Kingman the Boys stopped in a Route 66 Tourist Store and stocked up on Route 66 CD's and memorabilia for the trip across the Mohave Desert. They also stopped at a very cool and kitschy Dairy Queen, where the owners would joke with all patrons and there were  business cards everywhere !!!

Around 6:00PM the skies began to darken with the threat of the rare desert rain shower, and the Boys began to consider where to stay for the night, as they left Kingman there was a fork in the road: 20 miles to the South on US-93 is the Hualapi Mountain Park where they were told there would be accommodations near an Indian Casino, 30 miles to the North was Las Vegas, 20 miles to the West along the old Route 66 trail was Oatman, where they may have a Hotel.

So with increasingly threatening clouds, Mike and Bone decided on Oatman !!!


With Threatening Skies the Boys Head into the Mountains on Route 66 west of Kingman

For most of the last two days the Boys where on a stretch of Route 66 that paralleled I-40, providing the Boys the opportunity to cruise on I-40, with its freeway conveniences. Now on the Route 66 spur to Oatman and on to Needles  California, the Boys dealt with a narrow, two lane rising up vertically into the mountain with increasingly tight (and rail-less ) switch backs.


Watching a storm in the Desert

As Mike drove higher and higher, the storms grew closer, one of the rain band were in fact sweeping across the valley were Kingman was as the Boys "thought" they were driving away from the storms and were provided a treat in seeing a rare desert Rainbow !

Despite the scary roads and threatening weather, the panorama was spectacular, with rugged mountain ranges in the high desert, was very different for the mid-western sensibilities of Mike and Bone !


Very odd Oatman

Suddenly after a particularly steep downhill switchback the Boys found themselves in Oatman Arizona. Mining was big here through the 1930's and right up to the onset of World War II. You really can't get lost in Oatman, as there is really just one road through it: Route 66. This is a true Old West mining town which went through a ghost town phase and is now clinging to life as a tourist town. There are wooden plank side walks in Oatman, and the town's most celebrated inhabitants are the burros, descendants of the forbears that were brought here in gold-mining days as beasts of burden. Mike and Bone did see a couple of burros and met a whole Bar full of Jackass's !!!

In the center of Town is the old Oatman Hotel, where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard came for their honeymoon in 1939. You can view their suite (Room 15) if you feel comfortable enough walking around a mouldering old building.

Yes Virginia, there are Zombies !!!!  Despite the rough looking environs, Bone thought it would be fun to enjoy an evening in a old Mining Town drinking a few beers. However the town seemed deserted except for one other obvious tourist car of two ladies. The skies continued to darken considerably to the point of black as it started to drizzle, wanting to find a hotel as soon as possible, Bone walked in to the Oatman Hotel, which seemed to be the only place open in town, as he entered the Bar, he noticed two interesting things: 1, all the patrons were wearing sunglasses, were tattooed, and looked extraordinarily unpleasant, 2, when Bone walked in they all stopped talking and stared at Bone. After a few uncomfortable seconds the Bar Kitchen door slammed opened to a less than charming older woman wearing a leather vest and way, way, way, too many tattoo's, glared at Bone and said "what do you want ?" Bone asked if they had rooms to rent for the evening in the Hotel, she glared for a moment, said "no", and stalked back into the kitchen. The rest of the "tourist-friendly" bar crowd continued to stare at Bone in stony silence, until Bone walked out until he heard them began to talk after he was out of the building.

On the way back to the car, Mike asked if Bone had asked if anyone knew where to get a room in the area. Bone stated that he didn't think that the locals wanted outsiders to hang around. Mike not believing Bone, walked with Bone into the Hotel Bar to the same sudden, stony silence and stares. Again the "lovely and charming" barkeep came out to provide an even more unpleasant stare. When Mike is his most charming voice asked if she knew of a hotel in the area, she again said "no" even more adamantly, and stalked back into the kitchen. Mike looked over the ghouls who were stonily staring at the Boys, and agreed with Bone that it really wouldn't be in their interest to be in that town after dark !!

Just as they got in their car the sprinkles turned into a full scale Thunderstorm.


"The Answer my friends in Blowing in the Wind"

With it raining pretty hard, the Boys decided to continue on towards Needles rather, than try to backtrack through the mountains, when they noticed a incredible cloud of smoke or dust or something very weird racing across the desert. Bone thought he saw flames and thought it was a fire, Mike thought it was Dust, whatever it was is was moving through the Mohave Valley at an incredible pace, Mike and Bone tried to outrace the cloud, but just past a little convenience store, it hit them !!


Whoa  Nelly !!!!  The storm slammed the Boys car so hard it rocked back and forth, even with the window up water was coming through the windows. Tumbleweeds, dirt, and even rocks pelted their cars in the deluge. Mike just stopped the car in the middle of the road since either side of the road was not a raging torrent of muddy water ! Starting to worry about getting washed into the torrents on either side of the road, Mike was able to do a U-turn and go back the 1/2 mile to the convenience store. By just running into the store at full speed the Boys were only soaked to the bone (no pun intended !) While waiting it out with others they noticed a pool of water that had blown in under the front door ! By sheer coincidence the  store keeps were from East Lansing, which provided Bone ample ammunition to hammer the State fans.


Whatta Mess !!!!  Eventually the storm cleared and Mike and Bone continued on with Beer in hand to settle their frayed nerves, only to find a very different landscape. There was dirt and tumbleweeds everywhere in the road. On either side of the road there was a raging torrent of water. As the approached the little town if Golden Shores-Topock, is was apparent with the debrief that the electricity was out everywhere on the Arizona side of the Colorado, after driving around for 15 - 20 minutes the Boys decided to cross into California to find a nice, clean hotel.


Route 66 in California

After traversing the Illinois prairie, the Missouri Ozark country, the Indian Territory of Oklahoma, the Panhandle of Texas, the old Spanish colony of New Mexico, and the harsh landscape of Arizona, Route 66 finally arrives at the doorstep of California.

California, the land of milk and honey; the land where dreams live, where fortunes are built and lost. Surely this is where the end of the rainbow must lie. However the Arizona desert only gives way on the other side of the Colorado River to another range of Mountains, the Mohave Desert, and to the Boy's bemusement, the not so lovely town of Needles !!


Crossing the Colorado River into California !!

Mike and Bone did find that they were very much still in the Desert, but a very soggy desert !!!


Needles does create Heroin Junkies !!

Established in 1883 as stop on the railroad, Needles is known as one of the hottest places in the United States, where temperatures frequently exceed 100 degrees !!! As the Boys were to find out, only worse than the heat, was Needles stupidity !!!


Dumpy Downtown Needles

Despite being the first town in California and the home town of Charles (Peanuts) Shultz, it would be one of the last Mike and Bone would every wish to visit again. The town is dirty, decaying, decrepit, and faded at best as were all the hotels the Boys checked out in Needles !!!!


We ain't staying Here !!!

Most of the "accommodations" in lovely Needles were dump-holes of the worst sort, Several of the places were so bad that the Boys wouldn't even check them out, and one that they did check out was so vile that you wanted to wash the heels of your shoes off before getting back in the car, much less spend the night there.  Eventually the Boys found a reasonably clean hotel and waited for 20 minutes to get the last room because of all the people pushed out of Arizona due to a lack of power, including a group of French-Canadian Bikers.


Skank-Holes in a Skank-Hole Bar, in a Skank-Hole City

After dumping their gear, an exhausted and spent Mike and Bone walked the four blocks from the hill that their hotel was on to the "Metropolitan" downtown not finding any restaurant of note, the Boys went to the only place open on a Friday Night in Needles, a really bad Pizza joint !!! Being waited on by a ditzy high school cheerleader, the Boys chomped down a loaded pie and a coupla of pitchers of ice-cold beer, while watching in growing distaste the less than stellar local citizenry of the greater Needles area.

The Boys moved on to the only bar in downtown Needles, the Red Dog Saloon while belching the bad pie. The scene in the Red Dog was bleak at best, with mostly bikers, losers, and desperate, drunken women. To ease the ennui Mike and Bone started to hammer Corona's and Tequila shots, while dickering with the fairly normal barkeep. After a few hours of 'rona and shots, the Boys were lubricated enough by mid-night (PST !) to head back to their less, than stellar accommodations to reflect on the weaken and in-bread gene pool of Needles, their desire to get the head out of Needles as soon as possible, and completing the trip the next day !!!