Let me tell you there is nothing more American the spending July 4th in a town called Independence, in the shadow of Mount Whitney.
But that brings me to my reason for this post. I got a recent e-mail (Route66forFamily@gmail.com FYI) from someone reading this series who asked if I skipped Oatman, AZ for any particular reason. Basically my answer was time. Time on the way out to California, but on the way back we cuaght what we missed which is why I'm writing this final entry in the series.
We finally got out of California on July 11, 2005. My wife wanted to do some of the driving back so we stayed on I-40 till Needles and then got back on to 66 to hit what we missed on the way to. I remember hitting a town called Golden Shores for gas, and with how low we where at that point the heavenly reference made by the towns name seemed fitting. After that it was on to Oatman, and Kingman. The ride into Oatman East or Westbound is filled with curves and hills and just about require Dramamine. Having grown up in the deserts and mountains of California my wife handled the road to Outman beautifully, and despite having never driven the road before it almost seemed as if she had ESP driving it with. Her past experiences gave her the ability to anticipate every curve and hill in the road and the ability to understand when to speed up and slow down at particular times.
To be honest Oatman looks about the same in person as it does in the pictures that you will see of it. The day we visited though the town had a great deal of traffic and cars parked everywhere do to some sort of special event. So we didn't get to stay long and also didn't get a chance to see the famous Oatman Hotel. Oatman was cool and I would like to visit it again and perhaps spend a little more time.
The road out of Oatman is as winding twisting and hilly as the road into Oatman. As you climb one of the final hills leaving Oatman you will find an overlook looking out at Oatman in the valley below. But as you look towards one of the curves below you you'll see something very frightening that is the remains of a school bus and VW bug that at one point in this routes history had gone off that curve and down the cliff below. We tried the best we could to get photos of the vehicles. To say the least this site is frightening yet at the same time kind of cool.
Eventually the road begins straighten out as you come back down into the next valley as you find yourself approaching Kingman, Arizona. Kingman is connected to 66 through the famous song. But to be honest there really isn't all that much of Kingman so we found ourselves passing through Kingman rather quickly. Then we returned back to I 40 and later that day finally ended up in Winslow for stay at the La Posada.
The next day July 12 we would stop by the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest for a visit since we had also missed these two sites on the trip to California it doesn't take very long to actually run through both of these national parks. I would definitely have to say that you would want to check both these parks out if you're passing through the area I only wish that we had more time to spend in the two parks which are basically connected to each other.
After that we where back onto I-40 and I-44 a few more days until we got into Eastern Oklahoma. On July 15 we left Claremore, Oklahoma and proceeded to follow Route 66 through that area of Oklahoma through Kansas and to Joplin Missouri and back to I-44. To be honest there's really not much I'll see in these three areas in route to Joplin from Claremore is mainly through small towns and agricultural areas. Although it is part Route 66 and Route 66 experience if you should happen to miss these areas you really won't be missing much.
After that there really wasn't anything else that we missed. We decided however to stop in Springfield Illinois to see some of the sites. There is quite a bit of history in Springfield, Illinois both national or state. If you can you might want to work out a day in Springfield Illinois on your route 66 trip. There is both Abraham Lincoln history to be found in Springfield, Illinois.
Overall if you put all the things we had missed together into one day it probably would've taken us the extent of the whole day or less to cover what we missed on the way too.
If your trip gives you the ability to return the same way that you had came then you may want to consider breaking route 66 up into different sections and stopping to see some of the major sites on the way to California and the more minor sites on the way back from California. But of course that's all up to you based on the time you have and what your starting point would be.
Remember if you have any questions about planning your trip please email me and let me know also don't hesitate to post something on my blogs for an area.