Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 13 - Williams, Arizona to Needles, California

I knew that we would be headed into the desert today, so I did my best to get us on the road early. When we awoke in Williams, it was about 76° F. As the sun got higher in the sky and we descended from an elevation of 6,700 feet to 495 feet, the mercury rose. By the time we reached Needles, we were enjoying 114° and a mere 15% humidity. We have only run the A/C in the car for about an hour on this trip and not at all since Oklahoma. The nice thing about the desert is that it is a dry heat. That makes all the difference, as far as I am concerned.

On the way there, we stopped at the Hackberry General Store. This was Bob Waldmire's place from 1992 to 1998. Back in the spring of 1995, our mutual friend Bob Hanie died. Bob and another friend, Bill Crook, telephoned me from the roof of the store to share their condolences since they could not attend Hanie's memorial service. I remember wondering what on Earth this place in the desert could be. Now I know.

Onward and downward, Adrian and I were both excited to head into Needles. The road itself is a wild ride as Adrian will describe. It is also home to Snoopy's brother, Spike. You will probably be interested to know that Spike debuted in the Peanuts strip on my 10th birthday. I remember wondering what on Earth this "Needles" place in the desert could be. Now I know this, too.

- Seth!

Making our way through the forested hills of Arizona, we puttered along to Crookton Road, the gateway to the longest, most pristine section of 66 in the country. We took this stretch through Seligman and Peach Springs, past Burma-Shave signs and through Hackberry. In Kingman, the Black Mountains began to loom ominously large as we approached the deadly pass. We could see the steep beginning as we crawled towards the windy road. We were met by sharp hairpin turns, steep mountain grades, and nerve-racking drops and dips.

As we reached the top of the pass, we remembered that what goes up must come down, so we prepared for the roller coaster ride down to Goldroad, then Oatman. In Oatman, where wild burros live, we were stopped by a literal tourist trap. There is one road through town and it was blocked by a mock gunfight right smack dab in the middle of it. After descending from the Black Mountains, we curved through Golden Shores and crossed the Colorado into Needles, California. In Needles, it was a cool 115 degrees. Refreshing.

Below: Oatman Road winds through the desert
Bottom: The pool at River Valley Inn, Needles, California

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