Sunday, June 20
Barstow, CA – Kingman, AZ
We left Barstow around 8 AM and drove just a few miles East on I-15 to eat breakfast at Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner, built in 1954.
The food was delicious and had really large portions but the atmosphere and decor of the place was the most memorable. Pictures of old Hollywood stars and visitors of the restaurant adorned the walls. Out back, behind the restaurant was a garden-like area with a man made pond with several dinosaur statues.
Across from the diner was a large military installation and we spent a few minutes watching them load tanks up onto railroad cars.
From there we took Ghost Town Road North to the Calico Ghost Town Regional Park. And I have to say, this place is amazing! It’s an entire Old West mining town set at the foothills of a mountain range where they did the actual mining. Calico was started in 1881 and was famous for silver mining.
Inside the old buildings are a number of gift shops, cafes, candy stores, and they even have an old school. There was hardly anyone else at the town so it really did feel like we were in an old West ghost town.
They have a Mystery Shack, which I won’t spoil, but is great fun and if you visit Calico, you have to do it. There is also a short train ride around a large hill that highlights and showcases some of the history of the old mining days. Calico also has a self-guided mine tour through a real mine, which was also a lot of fun and highly recommended.
Next we drove South on Ghost Town Road, back down past Peggy Sue’s to connect with I-40 again.
A few miles further East down I-40, at Daggett, we explored the old airport and saw the large wooden hangar there. The last of four, quarter mile long, open sided wooden hangars; it was used to refit Douglas A-20 Havoc’s to give to the Soviets prior to our entry in WWII.
And just outside the airport is the old state inspection station that California used to inspect incoming travelers and make sure they didn’t bring in any fruit flies or unwanted fruits and vegetables. It was also in the late 30’s where they turned away Dust Bowl migrants that they didn’t want entering California.
Continuing down Route 66, between Newberry Springs and Ludlow is the Bagdad cafe, which was used in the movie Bagdad Cafe. We stopped by and visited with the woman that owns the place. She didn’t have any food or drinks, and it looked like she hadn’t served food in quite a while, but we had a nice visit with her. We had wanted to sit and have a cup of coffee with her and chat for a while, but with eight people just standing around her it was a bit crowded and awkward so we cut the visit short and hit the road again. It’s hard to imagine how a cafe like that could exist out in the desert.
Further down the road we paid a visit to the Amboy Crater and Lava field. You can see the extinct volcano from the road and there is a parking area with a scenic overlook and a trail that leads to the volcano. We stopped in the parking lot to take some photos, and the temperature gauge said 120 degrees. The hike to the volcano was 3 miles round trip and unfortunately we didn’t have time for that so we continued on down Route 66.
Next up on our trip was the famous ghost town of Amboy, where the iconic Roy’s Motel and Cafe sits. It is no longer a motel or cafe but the old motel and lobby are there along with a gift shop. It’s a great place to take photos. They kept the old motel lobby looking just like it did in the 50s/60s and it is beautiful to look at.
While we were walking around the temperature was still 120 degrees and the wind was blowing steadily. It felt like I was standing in front of an open oven. The wind was so hot it was hard to keep my eyes open half the time.
The whole time we were at Roy’s, there was always at least one person stopping to take photos of the sign and motel.
We then followed the old Route 66 East for a bit but we got to a point before Cadiz where the road was closed so we had to turn North and get back on I-40. The drive North was very scenic though, so not a total loss.
We took I-40 to Needles and stopped at a gas station to fill up. This gas station also had a Subway inside and inside the Subway was a large statue of Spike, from the Peanuts comic strip. Spike is Snoopy’s brother and apparently he lives around Needles, so that’s why they have his statue inside. That was a fun discovery to stumble across.
We kept moving until we reached the Arizona state line and stopped to take some photos at the welcome sign. The sign is right next to the Colorado river which is pretty blue and in stark contrast to all the brown landscape around it.
At Topock, outside Needles, we got back on 66 and headed North to Oatman. We passed a dusty city park that had a large, rather worn down Route 66 sign that you could drive a car through; so of course we did just that.
On the way to Oatman, we saw some of the famous wild burros off the side of the road. Closer to town one of them even came up to our window and put his head inside, looking for food. My daughter rolled up the window but he wouldn’t give up until just his lips were inside the rolled up window, still smacking, trying to get some food. I can’t really describe it well so here is a picture:
Unfortunately when we arrived in Oatman everything was closed and the entire town was empty. We walked the main street anyway, the only people in sight and it seemed like we’d found another ghost town. There were several wild burros around and we pet a few of them. One got angry and chased my wife and tried to bite her.
But since everything was closed we didn’t have a reason to linger and got back on the Mother Road.
Route 66 goes through and over the Black Mountains, with many sharp turns and steep ascents and descents. It was a very scenic and hair-raising drive, and we were the only ones on the road which made it very enjoyable and stress free. Outside Oatman we passed a working mine and stopped to watch it for a few minutes.
After Sitgreaves Pass we came to the iconic Cool Springs Station gift shop, which was also closed but we stopped to admire the stone building and the views of the surrounding mountains.
Back on the road, we arrived in Kingman around 7:00 PM or so and went straight to Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner for dinner. The building has a neat sign and is painted turquoise and pink with a few old cars parked out front. You can’t miss it if you drive by.
After dinner we headed to the Ramada hotel for the night. The hotel has a lot of Route 66 and old Hollywood themed murals painted on the outside of the hotel. They also have a pool with the Route 66 logo painted on the bottom.
It’s hard to say if I would do anything different on this day, every stop we made was enjoyable and interesting. If we had really wanted to see Oatman, then we would have had to spend a lot less time at the Calico ghost town, other than that I can’t suggest anything different for this day.