I really appreciate each of you traveling with me along Route 66 toward the Grand Canyon in Arizona, U.S.A. Our journey continues as I highlight just a few things. There is so much to post but I’ll let this website provide the details. https://grandcanyon.com/
There is no doubt some people disagree with the origin and timeline of the Grand Canyon. However, I’m not here to argue the point. Let’s just enjoy the beauty and learn a little about it based on what the National Park Service states, and our own eyes.
For those who have not seen the Grand Canyon in Arizona firsthand, you will be amazed and will stand there in awe.
How can one take in such beauty and peacefulness? It’s certainly worth a trip.
We drove from Flagstaff, Arizona to the South Rim of the Canyon. One can catch the tour train dedicated for the canyon as well. I think the drive itself was fairly peaceful and picturesque – sort of like driving on the plains and wondering where the Canyon begins. You won’t notice it until arriving and then you see the beauty unfold below you.
The National Park Service mentions a “unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size.” The park service has excellent information at https://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm.
The South Rim is open all year but the North Rim is seasonal.
There are many other sites to explore while in the Grand Canyon region so if one has time it’s a great opportunity.
I appreciate your riding along. I’ll provide more photos in my next post.
While continuing to drive westward in Arizona toward the Grand Canyon it becomes obvious the open terrain that is combined with the natural beauty.
Coming from a populated area in Florida, along with the heavy foliage, I enjoyed seeing the openness where you can see for miles.
The long trains looked so lonely as they regularly covered their routes going west and east. I’m sure the train engineers appreciate the rails where they can “cruise” and not encounter so many crossings in metropolitan and rural locations.
I didn’t research the impact of rail to the rural towns as compared to the Interstates but I think the rail actually helped the smaller towns.
I published an earlier post about a town in Louisiana and the impact of Interstate 10. The train’s running through the town were eventually negatively affected by the Interstate expansion as well as the town.
Even as the trains continue to run through rural routes I doubt you’ll find one stopping in the towns as compared to years past when passengers would travel on them. Many towns now don’t rely on trains for their individual supplies neither.
What about Native Americans? We still don’t recognize the impact of our progress and growth to their lives.
Progress happens. It’s what we do with it that makes the major difference.
I still enjoy the remaining beauty though; and I’m thankful for efforts of our society to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us.
Just as we traveled west of Holbrook, Arizona along Interstate 40 (and along old Route 66) we came upon the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest.
Wow! It was surprising and quite amazing.
I did a little review of the history of this forest (although it’s like a desert) while on location but I think it’s better to use some previous, documented research to provide some background.
How Petrified Wood Was Formed
According to ArizonaLeisure.com, when trees were toppled by volcanic eruptions, they were swept away by flowing water and deposited in marshes and covered with mud and volcanic ash. Buried under layers of sediment, the logs remained buried for millions of years undergoing a extremely slow process of petrification which essentially turned the logs to colorful stone. (How does this compare to eruptions in Hawaii and elsewhere?)
The logs were also covered with even more sediment from the ocean. Millions of years ago the ocean disappeared and was replaced with flowing rivers that gradually eroded over 2,600 feet of sediment depth slowly exposing the petrified wood that litters the landscape at the Petrified Forest National Park.
The petrification process began with tree burial. The volcanic ash and mud released chemicals during decomposition. The chemicals reacted with wood to form quartz crystals which by themselves are colorless. Minerals in the water such as iron or manganese gave the quartz red and pinkish hues. Over millions of years, the quartz crystals “cocooned” the logs slowly turning them to stone.
National Geographic: See the Enchanting, Ancient Forest in the Middle of a Desert
“Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park is a can’t-miss destination for those looking for otherworldly landscapes.”
According to National Geographic the Painted Desert (part of the Petrified Forest National Park) draws more than 600,000 visitors each year. “While most come to see one of the world’s largest concentrations of brilliantly colored petrified wood, many leave having glimpsed something more.” The current 346 square miles of Petrified Forest open a window on an environment that was once far more drastic than today’s grassland. more than 200 million years old, one radically different from today’s grassland.
Where you now see ravens soaring over a stark landscape, leathery-winged pterosaurs once glided over rivers teeming with armor-scaled fish and giant, spatula-headed amphibians. Nearby ran herds of some of the earliest dinosaurs. Scientists have identified several hundred species of fossil plants and animals in Petrified Forest.
Much of the quartz that replaced the wood tissue 200 million years ago is tinted in rainbow hues. Many visitors cannot resist taking rocks, despite strict regulations and stiff fines against removing any material. To see if the petrified wood was actually disappearing at an alarming rate, resource managers established survey plots with a specific number of pieces of wood; some were nearly barren in less than a week.
The problem is not new. Military survey parties passing through the region in the 1850s filled their saddlebags with the petrified wood. As word of these remarkable deposits spread, fossil logs were hauled off by the wagonload for tabletops, lamps, and mantels. In the 1890s gem collectors began dynamiting logs searching for amethyst and quartz crystals. To prevent further destruction of its unique bounty, the area was designated a national monument in 1906 and a national park more than a half century later. (More details are at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/national-parks/petrified-forest-national-park/
Isn’t it interesting that humans can’t resist leaving beauty behind for others to behold. This aspect of history doesn’t change. We all want to take a little piece with us. You’ll even notice some local businesses selling pieces of the artifacts. I resisted though and rely on photography along with memories.
USA Today tips for visiting the Petrified Forest
One of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world is found at Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona, about 110 miles east of Flagstaff and 210 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Add to that dramatic, colorful geological formations and ancient art and you’ll quickly see why Petrified Forest National Park is a must-visit.
Stop along the way
Visit the museum
Take a hike
Go old school – really old (archeology style)
Watch for birds
Stop by the inn (Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark)
Route 66 has been an interesting ride in this series. There is so much to see and interpret. I can’t do it justice with the few posts I provided – only tidbits. I’ll close out my focus on Route 66 with this post by providing a little history; although the next few posts will still be along Route 66 (I-40) in Arizona.
After being intrigued about Route 66’s origin, I found out its birth was long before the development of cars.
According to https://www.theroute-66.com/history.html, the history of Route 66 began shortly after the U.S. incorporated the southwestern territories it had acquired from Mexico after the 1846 -1848 War.
The U.S. Congress commissioned Amiel Weeks Whipple (1817 – 1863), a Captain of the Army Topographical Corps, to survey a proposed transcontinental railroad, resulting in development of wagon trails in the far west.
“Four years later, Congress instructed Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale to mark a route between New Mexico and California. His expedition charted a route which would be used by thousands of migrants on their way to California. And was the basis for the roads which would later cross the region, like Route 66.” https://www.theroute-66.com/history.html
Although automobiles had been around since the late 1800s, they began to become more popular toward the end of the first decade of the twentieth century.
The automobile experienced a boom in the early 1920s passing from 180,000 registered vehicles in 1910 to 17 million in 1920. The increase in cars led to a growing demand for better roads and a coherent network of highways. (Route66.com)
No doubt the increase in travels westward triggered the first legislation being passed in 1916, the “Federal Aid Road Act”, which was the beginning of federal government assistance for state highway costs. It was meant to improve any rural road over which the U.S. mail was carried. It obliged the states to have highway departments to design, build and upkeep the roads. (https://www.theroute-66.com/history.html)
The Federal Highway Act of 1921 set up a multi-year plan of federal funding for the program. Congress passed this Act to create a National highway system funded by the Federal government. It was to be an interstate network linking the country.
As the automobile became more popular, the masses took to the roads, and what was once an adventure for the wealthy (and the brave), became commonplace. Americans could now roam across America, free and unchallenged.
Who would think that a person certified to be a school teacher in 1893 in Missouri, and moving to Oklahoma City around 1897 to be an insurance agent, would become the father of Route 66? Yet that is what Cyrus Avery did. You can read more of his story at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_Avery.
Avery was impressed with the Good Roads Movement going on in Missouri and became involved with various commissions and associations to learn more about these endeavors – pushing toward a federal level of roadways.
Because of the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains, Avery argued that the new route requested by Congress from Virginia to California (U.S. Highway 60) should go through Tulsa and Oklahoma City, continue west across the Texas Panhandle, New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California. Apparently his argument had merit and was adopted. It was also beneficial to commercial development.
After the highways were routed, a decision was made not to name the highways but instead follow the pattern of numbering them as established in Wisconsin and Missouri.
The east-west routes would be even numbers, and the north-south would be odd. Major routes would be one or two-digit numbers ending in either “1” or “0” depending on the route.
Route 66 was almost named Route 60.
To avoid a “U.S. 0”, U.S. Highway 2 was treated as a “0” highway and U.S. Route 101 would be treated as a two-digit highway to expand the number of available routes north-south. Avery, arguing that the Chicago to Los Angeles route would be a major highway, numbered the highway US 60.
U.S. 60 vs. U.S. 62
The Virginia Beach–Springfield route had been designated as U.S. 62 and actually terminated south of Ozark, Missouri at U.S. Highway 65. Kentucky would be the only state without a “0” highway. They countered Avery’s US route by pushing for US 60 to run between Virginia Beach and Los Angeles; the Springfield to Chicago section could be “U.S. 60 North”. Avery returned with “U.S. 60 South” for the Springfield–Virginia Beach alignment. Kentucky threatened to walk completely out of the new highway system (individual states could not be forced to participate in it).
Finally, Kentucky offered a compromise: connect their highway with Avery’s in Springfield and give their highway the number 60. Avery could have his Chicago–Los Angeles highway if he would accept the number 62 which was originally assigned to their road.
Avery disliked the number 62, found out 66 was not used, and designated the Chicago–Los Angeles highway as U.S. 66.
Route 66 was launched as the nation’s first Federal highway system. It was intertwined with local, state and national roads.
I believe these changes began an every-increasing growth out west as people began falling in love with their automobiles and traveling farther distances. The territories along Route 66 increased with travelers exploring the vast homeland. The Petrified Forest was one of the popular landmarks.
Well, I finally get the chance to follow up with my “Cars” connection along Route 66.
As I was saying, the Route 66 influence for the movie “Cars” shows up in various places as the movie researchers traveled through the small towns in the whole region. Following the movie the influence is worldwide.
Remember Radiator Springs in the movie? It is actually a fictional place but is influenced by a number of actual places along Route 66 from Kansas to Arizona.
I can’t describe these locations sufficiently since I couldn’t visit all of them so I’ll resort to online research and use some of their material.
Wikipedia mentioned the village is a composite of multiple locations. Pixar sent out a group of artists with the Carburetor County Sheriff and Oklahoma historian Michael Wallis as a guide to take photos, talk with Route 66 residents and learn the history of the small towns. I’m sure that was a fun assignment.
Another location along Route 66 that is interesting is Seligman, Arizona. There are unique little shops and stores that represent the era when Route 66 was a bustling route. The town became innovative to compete with change caused by the Interstate.
Local residents petitioned the State of Arizona to name Seligman the “Birthplace of Historic Route 66,” arguing that the town is the first stop West along the “longest uninterrupted stretch of historic route 66.” According to showrunner, John Lasseter, “Radiator Springs”, the fictional key location in the hugely-successful Pixar animated film Cars, was “loosely base on Seligman.”
When you see some of the images in Roadtrippers website they too remind you of the influence of the entire area toward creating the Cars movie.
Today, Seligman is a popular spot for those traveling the practically vanished Route 66 trail. At least some of the towns are still proud of their heritage and remain active.
The Seligman Chamber of Commerce states: “Whether you are looking for good food, friendly people, interesting photo opportunities, or just a little fun you’ll find it in Seligman.”
According to the Chamber, many visitors refer to Seligman as “a delightful town”, “a step back in time”, “eclectic”, “a really cool pit-stop” and “one of the high spots of the Route 66 trip”.
“Seligman is a favorite stop for tour buses as well as individuals on road trips traveling the longest stretch of Route 66 or taking I-40 to the Grand Canyon.”
As I researched the influence along Route 66, I’m reminded of the extent creators of movies go to in order to build their story line. I’m impressed.
As we “happened” to travel through Holbrook, Arizona we were surprised to see Route 66 influence there as well.
Since it was time to eat we stopped at a restaurant that looked like a typical Route 66-themed place.
Wow! We had no clue about the connection of the restaurant and the town of Holbrook and the entire area toward creation of the movie “Cars.”
If you haven’t seen the movie “Cars” it is funny, entertaining and highlights a little of the historic changes along Route 66. Check out the Historic66.com webiste for a movie trailer and additional information. “Route 66 inspired the movie Cars, produced by Pixar and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. The working title for the movie was in fact “Route 66″. The crew traveled the old Mother Road quite a few times for their research. Route 66 experts acting as consultants guided some of these trips. Evidence of the research trips is found both in the movie itself and in several Route 66 businesses that were visited by the crewmembers.”
The town Radiator Springs is fictional. According to Historic66.com “There is no town anywhere along Route 66 called Radiator Springs. And yet, many a small town resembles it a lot.” One can readily see that then the Interstate opened towns and businesses were significantly impacted.
“If you want to see Radiator Springs, you can either head to Disneyland and visit the fictional recreation Cars Land, or you can go for the real life version on Route 66.”
As we left Joe and Aggies, we were elated to see the influence in Holbrook alone. Since it was later in the evening we didn’t get to travel around the other towns but I enjoyed seeing some of the “flavor” before heading back to the Interstate.
Before wrapping up the “Cars” impact and Route 66 I wanted to add a little modern day twist to racing. Lightning McQueen was heading to a big race in California (Route 66 ends in California) when he rolled out of the back of the tractor/trailer and was lost as he rode to Radiator Springs.
Lightning McQueen eventually made it to the race which makes me think of Daytona in Florida, closer to home. Daytona has one of its major races as part of the 4th of July celebration. The race in 2018 is July 7 and is Coke Zero Sugar 400. http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/ ,
I’m not there but here are a few photos of the raceway. Are you a race fan? I enjoy attending when I can or at least watching on TV.
I wonder if Lightning McQueen will show at the race today if he was able to divert from Route 66?
All the best,
(All photos except as otherwise noted are by RonLin Photography for Tittle Thoughts.)