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Route 66: Winslow

Route 66 winds along Arizona, passing through Kingman, Flagstaff, Winslow, Holbrook, Williams, etc. This is the only state with the longest stretch of the Mother Road still in operation within its borders.

Route 66: Holbrook

There’s portions of the road in poor condition; other parts of Highway 40 simply weave in and out of the historic road.

Route 66: Winslow Route 66: Winslow

We caught up with it in Flagstaff, Winslow, Holbrook and even into the Petrified Forest, where a long-abandoned car sits near the site of the original road-tripping dream for many Americans.

Route 66: Holbrook

There’s wigwams and small motels along the roadway. We stayed at the Globetrotter Lodge, an Austrian-owned establishment (since 2010) with clean, functional rooms and lovely hand-painted sinks in the bathrooms.

Globetrotter Lodge, Holbrook Route 66: Holbrook

The Petrified Forest and Painted Desert offer gorgeous scenery and the entire loop is much smaller to take in than the Grand Canyon.

Petrified Forest-Painted Desert-1

With a car, you can spend the better part of the day and see everything along the route.

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The last few miles are the most impressive; it’s worth a visit to the Desert Inn, a national historic landmark built of petrified wood and other native stone.

Petrified Forest-Painted Desert-16

This was Herbert David Lore’s vision. For nearly 12 years, he operated the “Stone Tree House” as a tourist attraction. Water had to be hauled from nearby Adamana, 10 miles south.

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[Petrified Forest petroglyphs]

In the 1930’s, the structure was redone to repair cracks in the walls as the foundation started to shift.

It was later restored in the 40’s under the Fred Harvey Company, a business tied to the railroad and tourism industries. A Hopi artist, Fred Kabotie, was hired to paint murals on the inn’s walls. This incarnation also suffered structural damage. A public campaign surfaced to save the inn, and in 1976, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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The park tries hard to this day to preserve the inn through additional structural modernizing techniques.

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As we said goodbye to the Mother Road, we joined another scenic highway leading south to Tucson. Route 77 winds its way through two Indian reservations and the National Forest. Towards Oracle, the landscape changes to scores of huge saguaro cacti dotting the roadside. Temperatures also rise as the elevation dips down again.

Loews Ventana Canyon-4

Five hours later, Tucson unfolds along Oracle Road. We stayed at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, high above the city, where we enjoyed poolside lounging, a 50th birthday celebration, and more colourful birds and lizards than we could count. The skies are blue nearly each day, giving way to star-filled nights and balmy breezes.

There’s an outpost of El Charro close by the resort at 6910 East Sunrise. El Charro has been in business since 1922, making it the oldest continuously family-owned Mexican restaurant in the USA.

red bird in flight-1 Loews nature trail-1

This was an adventure to savour: through the hundreds of photos and maps, it will live in our memories for a long time to come.

Loews Ventana Canyon-9

Disclaimer: all tours, dining, and adventures were on our own dime. Part of our lodging was offered at a media rate, and in a couple of cases, complimentary where noted. I will add links to this post as the lodging features go live. A huge shout-out to Roam Mobility, who got us set up with a 14-day roaming package to check out while in the US. We had nearly flawless coverage our whole time there, with obvious exceptions such as the Grand Canyon and tiny spots in the canyons away from towers.

Read part one of this feature here. View my Arizona photo collection on Flickr.

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