After six days on the road, I’d seen a lot of fantastic things. I also had a lot of conversations with folks. I love to drive, and Route 66 is a passion of mine, so it’s a fulfilling and enjoyable experience all around. That being said, it was nice to stay in the same place for a day! I felt like my body really needed the rest. Not that I just sat around all day, though…
I stayed at a place in Holbrook called the Globetrotter Lodge. It had been highly recommended by a few roadies and it was easy to see why. The motel is run by a couple that immigrated from Austria several years ago and the rooms are simple, yet updated nicely. It had the best wi-fi I’ve had my entire trip (which includes the fancy La Posada in Winslow) and you really get the feeling that you are appreciated as a guest. When I checked in on Friday, I was told that they serve a continental breakfast. When I went up to the small dining area off of the lobby on Saturday morning, I was pleasantly surprised by a little Oklahoma flag with my room number on it sitting at one of the place settings. Peter, one of the owners, came in and welcomed me. As I enjoyed a delicious croissant and coffee, we had a conversation about his choice of Holbrook and the property. He actually got lucky with the fact it was on Route 66; he wanted to move to Arizona so he could be so close to the numerous National Parks in this part of the country. He also talked about the kindness and generosity of the roadie community, something I have also come to understand and appreciate.
After breakfast, I drove a few blocks to downtown Holbrook to see how things were going. Saturday was the 2nd annual ‘Holbrook Days’ Route 66 festival, complete with car show, vendor booths, and various competitions. It was early yet (about 9:30) and things were still spinning up, though they were showing ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ at the Navajo County Courthouse. I weighed my options and decided to take a quick drive to a bridge that was casually mentioned by travel author Jim Hinckley. Jim has been high on my ‘must meet’ list since I was welcomed into the roadie community earlier this year. Jim has written a dozen or so books that chronicle his travels and gathering of knowledge over the last four decades. He has a great sense of humor and always has an amusing story to tell. When he mentioned taking a gravel back road out of town on Sunday to check out an old truss bridge, I became VERY interested. Since I would be driving all the way to San Bernardino that day, I decided to check it out for myself while the festival was getting going.
Jim had remarked that he found it odd that a pony truss bridge, in the middle of rural nowhere Arizona, was recently restored. I, too, was curious. It turns out that the bridge was the first truss bridge commissioned by the brand-new State of Arizona in 1912. Until an alignment change sometime in the early 1920s, it carried main traffic along the Santa Fe Highway (predating Route 66) across Chevelon Creek. It’s even on the National Register of Historic Places. So, I was excited before I got there…which only took about half an hour from town. When I arrived, my excitement evolved into euphoria; the location of the bridge was GORGEOUS! (gorge, get it?)
It sits atop a canyon, surrounded by desert landscape. The creek, far below, was deep blue and reflective. The bridge restoral had removed all of the old lead-based paint and the truss was now black, which provided a nice contrast from the yellow-and-brown canyon walls, the green scrub brush, the blue sky, and the reflective water. It was one of the most beautiful sites I’ve ever photographed a bridge. Once I was satisfied, I sat on one of the rocky outcroppings and just existed in the space. There were no cars the entire time I was out there, no other noise than that of hidden desert nature. I saw a few lizards darting about, but that was the extent of it. It was a settling moment of peace amid a day of rest.
The bridge is located between Winslow and Holbrook, so I continued on the gravel county road to Winslow before heading back. When I rejoined the festival, it was in full swing. Music was going, families were out, and there were a few more classic cars parked around for people to explore. I ran into a few of my roadie buddies, talked a little bit, and then made my way to the courthouse. The movie was over, but now both Jim and my friend Mike Ward had displays up in the auditorium. Jim, as I mentioned earlier, has authored many books on the Route and his other travels, whereas Mike has an EXTENSIVE collection of vintage Route 66 postcards and road maps. It was neat to see representations of Route 66 stops that I only knew today, as well as quite a few places that are lost to history. In addition to all this, several members of the roadie community stopped by (including a few folks that had been on the Relics Tour the previous day) and we all just sat and gabbed for who knows how long.
When I rejoined the outside world, I noticed a significant amount of dark clouds heading our way. The wind had picked up and the vendor tents were threatening to blow away. I took my leave as the rain started up and waited for dinner, where I met up with a whole host of roadies. We had a lovely dinner with great conversation, the latter spilling out onto the sidewalk and the patio at the Globetrotter Motel. By the time I went to bed, I was fully satisfied with my visit. The eight hour drive back to San Bernardino the next morning, well, that’s the sacrifice for all the fun I guess!