Friday Flashback: AZ Route 66

Odometer (ILX):  14,765

I love roads and maps as much as I love cars.  I could (and do) stare at the huge US map in my cubicle at work for hours daydreaming about the places I’d love to visit.  I remember as a kid riding with my grandpa in his silver Buick Park Avenue with digital speedometer and seeing him set the cruise control exactly at 65 miles per hour on Interstate 15 in Utah.  It took a very long time to get to our destination 400 miles away at the other end of the state.

My friend Tony from Toronto sent me a link discussing some of the “World’s Fastest Roads.”  I found it fitting that the Bonneville Salt Flats were included in the list.  I first visited the Bonneville Salt Flats in November 2005 when my Legend (at the time, sporting 2004 Acura TL wheels) had 195,000 miles on it.

For the most part, I’m a very conservative driver and that’s one of the reasons why I think my Legend has lasted as long as it has.  However, every once in awhile I do get the need for speed.  I’ve raced the car twice in competitive events.  I’ve already shared before that there’s a stretch of Interstate 15 in central Utah that has sections posted at 80 mph.  As many may know, Texas recently raised the speed limit to 85 miles per hour on a 41-mile stretch of a toll road between Austin and San Antonio.   That’s quick!  What does the future hold for our speed limits?

My friend Tyler shared the following video with me this week.  I love Depeche Mode and I love Route 66, so I figured it was worth sharing!  Many of the scene locations shown in this video are familiar to me.

Many of you who followed my travels in July to Milwaukee and back will remember that I visited a bunch of Route 66 destinations along the way in my ILX, like this National Route 66 museum in Elk City, Oklahoma.

However, this was far from the first time I’ve retraced this historic road’s route.  So thanks, Tyler, for inspiring today’s Friday Flashback.  Here is a look at a road trip that I took in March 2007 when my 1994 Legend had about 280,000 miles on it.  My friend Kevin came along for the ride (and in fact played the role of tour guide most of the way).

A coworker and I decided to take a road trip today to the northwestern part of the state to hit up some old touristy destinations off Historic Route 66.  The main goal was to visit a small old mining town called Oatman, which was made largely obsolete with the construction of I-40 to the south.  With the freeway, no longer did people have to go through Oatman to get to California, and the town has been mostly unchanged for several decades.

One of the first stops, just outside Bouse, Arizona, was Ma & Pa’s.  They really did have almost anything!

Then we stopped in Lake Havasu City, where the London Bridge is now located.

Then it was off to Needles, California – a quiet railroad town that didn’t have much to offer.

Finally we headed toward Oatman on old Route 66.  It’s a windy two-laner and the routing has been unchanged since the road was first put through in the 1920’s.

You can tell these guardrails are ancient.

Starting to go up the hill toward Oatman.

Oatman is where I put the red dot in the western part of the state, in the middle of the “U” that I-40 makes.

Here is some basic background history on the town.  They still to this day have wild donkeys walking all over the streets (you really have to watch your step or you’ll end up with a mess on your shoes).  People buy carrots at the souvenir shops to feed them.  There was a gunfight reenactment while we were there!  You can see in some of the pictures that there are people dressed up like cowboys.

Pulling up to main street.

We went inside the Oatman Hotel (1902) to check it out.  The building looks like it’s straight out of 1910 inside, old and run down but it’s awesome to see how the old hotels were.  This particular hotel had a lot of history since Clark Gable spent his honeymoon there.  Here’s the view going upstairs to the rooms.

Hotel history.

View from inside the hotel looking out toward main street.

The bar in the hotel has walls and ceilings COVERED with $1 bills.  I would guess several thousand $ worth.

Here’s a look at main street Oatman.  The hotel you see pictured there is the one we went inside.

Since there are so many wild burros around town, there are a lot of shops with “ass” incorporated into the title.  This was one of my faves:

Leaving Oatman, the road starts up some very serious grades.  Back in the 1940’s and 50’s, the cars had difficulty making it up.  In fact, I picked up a reprint of a 1946 Guide Book to Highway 66, and it has the following quote about the steep grades:

“For eastbound cars which cannot make the Gold Hill Grade, a filling station in Goldroad offers a tow truck which will haul your car to the summit.  At last inquiry their charge was $3.50, but may be higher.  Cars with trailers may need this service.”

I thought that was funny… People would pay $3.50 to have their cars towed to the top of this summit.  Luckily the Legend crested the hill just fine.

This is part of Route 66 from a viewpoint.  There were some very tight hairpins and switchbacks but we were never able to pull off to get a photograph of those.

Route 66 here in the background behind the coupe.

Just after Sitgraves Summit, 66 drops down sharply in elevation and the next noteworthy roadside attraction is Cool Springs.  This little gas station actually burned down in 1968.  All that was left of it for about the next 30 years were the front rock pillars.  Then in 2003, it was rebuilt.  They no longer sell gas but they do sell a lot of souvenirs.

Hope you enjoyed the drive!  It was about 12 hours worth today.

OH – and one more thing…

I’ll give you one guess why I bought this postcard in Oatman!!  🙂

Those with a keen eye for Acuras will notice the blue 1986-1988 Acura Legend sedan parked behind the yellow pickup truck.  That was a great drive!  It’s one that I’d like to take again soon in the ILX so see if any of the infrastructure has changed in the last 5 years.

ILX News – Top Safety Pick

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has awarded the 2013 ILX its top rating of GOOD for its ability to  protect vehicle occupants involved in front, side and rear crashes, plus rollover performance.  Awesome!

I’d like to know if there are any updates to the Project Acura ILX being built for competition by Team Honda Racing – West at the Honda Performance Development HQ in Santa Clarita, CA.  I’ve been watching the THR-W blog but haven’t seen anything since the announcement in July.

This week, my ILX got its 3rd oil change on 0W20 synthetic oil.  At the time when I took it in, the oil life remaining still read 60% on the Maintenance Minder display, but it had been 5,173 miles since my last appointment on August 7th.  Acura of Tempe took care of it in short order.

Whilst enjoying amenities of the customer lounge, I took a look at the ILX that’s currently sitting where my Legend coupe was a couple of weeks ago.  It happened to be a Crystal Black Pearl 2.0 automatic with the Tech package.  The VIN ended in 000096, so this car rolled off the Indiana production line just 14 cars after mine did!  This car may very well have been transported to Arizona on the same truck that mine was.

And Lastly

I decided to check on my rooftop durability test fleet.  Just over a month ago, I sprayed the 6 test vehicles with a concentrated salt spray solution to see how the finishes stand up to the ultimate corrosion evaluation.  See for yourself!

The Maserati 3200 GT has turned pink.

The Aston Marton’s lenses and windows have further deteriorated.

And the 1957 Nomad’s hood and roof are peeling.

For reference, here’s what the Nomad looked like 18 months ago.

This diecast car experiment is more fun than I had ever anticipated when I put these cars on my rooftop a couple of years ago.

Have a great weekend!

4 Responses to “Friday Flashback: AZ Route 66”

  1. Oatman. I think my Uncle took me there years ago. Something about the $1.00 bills all over the place.

    I LOL’d at the “diecast car experiment.”

    Keep on keeping on Ty!

    • Dave, I can’t believe you’ve been to Oatman! Small world. I ‘d like to go back again and see what’s changed in the last 5 years, but I have a feeling that town is stuck in a time warp of 50 years ago! Enjoy the weekend.

  2. Love this, of course! Naturally, Route 66 is on my list of trips to make one of these days. So lemme know if you need a copilot for the ILX adventure when you head that way, haha!

    Additionally, the phrase “rooftop durability test fleet.” What a well crafted project name.

    Thanks for the excellent reading, as always. Have a good week, my friend!

    • Mr. Stoker, I’m glad you enjoy the updates on the 1:18 scale test fleet! I suppose I could just shorten the name of this effort to “Project RDTF”! I’ve got some more Route 66 goodness coming up in my next post this week, so stay tuned! And thanks for following along the journey.

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