I was planning on writing one post for my Route 66 adventure, but I already have too long a post for DAY 1 that I might have to create multiple posts. I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining for you to stay on the ride!
Day 1 || Los Angeles, CA ? Needles, NV ? Williams, AZ
I left at sunrise with my car packed with one duffel bag of pants/workout clothes, one duffel bag of sweaters/cardigans, one duffel bag of dresses, and one duffel bag of scarves, hats, and socks. In addition to the duffel bags of clothing and toiletries, I brought a bag of shoes (only one pair of flats which is quite frightening because they are my daily uniform), a bag of books, a typewriter, and some card-making supplies. Oh, let’s not forget my handy dandy cooler filled with Trader Joes goodies gifted by a sweet friend. These meals and snacks seriously kept me alive during my road trip. I’ve moved around quite a lot, and still I am surprised at how much STUFF I have! I think if 90% of the things I left behind were discarded, I would survive. Goodbye California sunrise. Until next time!
After driving about four and a half hours listening to Jesus music, I arrive at Needles, NV for my first little excursion! I stopped by the Wagon Wheel Restaurant and was greeted by a friendly cowboy with a bottle of moonshine to relieve my tired eyes (just kidding).
Needles was once a busy town with the railroad building and travelers going through Route 66. Today it is an “empty shell,” a museum volunteer informed me. A Bank of America closed shortly after opening because there was just too little business. There isn’t even a grocery store in town! There is roughly a population of 5,000 consisting of young folk who can’t afford to live anywhere else and residents who have been around for a long time. Most of the town residents moved right across the border into Arizona where you can find more services and resources available.
Needles Regional Museum || When I opened the door what do you know – I stumbled upon a thrift store. Uh oh, get me out of here because I found my ultimate hangout. Shortly upon entering I discover all purchases fund the museum and since there was no admission fee, I decided to buy one thing to support them (a good reason to shop). I bought a good conditioned vintage $2 jacket and walked on next door. The first thing that caught my eye was a Peanuts display! Charles Schulz lived in Needles for a few years during grade school, and Snoopy’s brother Spike displayed Schulz’s experiences in the desert making friends with coyotes and talking with the saguaro cactus.
Half the museum was filled with beadwork, ceramics, and bow and arrows made by the local Native American Tribes (mainly Mohave), and the other half of the museum was filled with railroad artifacts from the time the railroad connecting Arizona and California via the Colorado River was built. Thanks to the arrival of that railroad, the town of Needles was founded! It was fun to hear the locals and visitors share their story on what influenced their move to Needles. The main motivation seems to be job opportunity and great pay, but the way people found out about it and who recruited them was what made the stories fascinating.
The Harvey House || One of the volunteers at the museum had a grandma who worked as a waitress in the Harvey House, a popular luxury hotel attracting travelers. As one of the infamous “Harvey Girls,” she had to be between the ages of 18 and 30, single, and have good conduct. If you were going to be a Harvey Girl, you must fulfill all prerequisites, sign a yearlong contract, and you will have a hired lady sitting right outside your living quarters to ensure all rules are followed. If you’re thinking there’s a movie called “The Harvey Girls” starring Judy Garland, these are the Harvey Girls we’re talking about!
Sourced from: Roadtrippers.com
“WELCOME TO NEEDLES, CA!” Borax Wagon || I must have gone a completely different route because it was the second to last landmark I saw on my way out. I didn’t even see the “DO NOT SIT” sign because I drove in from the other side. “You are only responsible for what you know.” I think I’m okay. 😉 Fun fact: In the 1880’s, this borax wagon was used to move borax dug up from Death Valley to the railway sidings. Designed to carry 10 tons (attached to multiple wagons), it took a “twenty-mule team” consisting of eighteen mules and two horses to pull the load.
Route 66 Motel || It was popular until the I-40 bypassed Needles in the 1970’s. Since the 1990’s the six units are rented out as apartment units.
Goodbye Needles. Helloooo Williams, Arizona. Thankfully I arrived as the sun was about to set. I do prefer to explore town during daylight, and I made it juuuust in time. I dropped off my luggage in my charming teddy bear-filled bed & breakfast (Canyon Country Inn) and off I went.
Here are some scenes of downtown Williams, Arizona along Route 66.
Williams is known for their leather. Boy did it smell good in here. All the leather cowboy boots, jackets, bags, and belts, and.. lassos!
I spy Elvis. Do you?
Meet Bonnie. She is a sweet and humble lady who works at The Gallery in Williams. I asked her for recommendations on where to go for a morning at the Grand Canyon. Turns out she was the perfect person to ask because little did she know, I saw her as a celebrity because she created the map you see below! She drew in where she got married at the Grand Canyon and other personalized touches. Yup, and I made sure she autographed my copy. ♥
On the back back to my little b&b, I walked into the local coffee shop and met the sweetest barista named Tori. We probably talked for two hours. It was a refreshing and encouraging conversation in a cozy and welcoming environment. I’m glad Williams has such a gem (Brewed Awakenings) in town with the most amazing baristas.
Hello Neon Lights.
What a day. This is the first day of many days where I research a place to stay, plan my itinerary, and ready myself for the following day. My goal was to get to Michigan before Thanksgiving and decided to take my time. Innately a planner, how refreshing it was to not plan every night ahead of time but rather go with the flow.
If you made it all the way down here, thank you for joining me! Let me know if you enjoyed it, what you liked about it, what you would like to hear more about, etc. Obviously I enjoy learning and exploring – and writing about it. 🙂
Stay tuned for Day 2 || Williams, AZ ➵ Grand Canyon, AZ ➵ Flagstaff, AZ.