Friday, April 20, 2012

Hackberry & Peach Springs

Today we followed the rail line north in a looping arc. We left the interstate to go its own way. I don't know a single cyclist who was unhappy about that! But our northern path out of Kingman did have us fighting the wind for a couple of hours.

We landed at what's left of the ghost town of Hackberry. The general store, still in operation, looks across the tracks at where the town used to be. The front yard is filled with relics, some of the most original we've seen. It's a funky place with a great, friendly vibe. 
Someone put in time and effort to make new configurations.

The town of Hackberry used to be over there.

Hackberry had a gold and silver mine that was active for about 50 years, starting in 1874. The town needed a store because the trip to Kingman, under 2 hours by bike, used to take a full day or more in a Model A.

One of the other cyclists made the point that many towns along Route 66 were destined to fail anyway, as farming and transportation methods got more efficient. In other words, the interstate gets blamed for their demise, but it might just be an easy target. 25 miles from Kingman, how long would this store have survived in the era of the modern, efficient automobile? Route 66 tourism is saving it now.

In Victorville, our museum guide pointed us to some artwork by a Route 66 artist, Bob Waldmire. Bob lived on Route 66 and worked on art projects - we saw detailed pen and ink drawings, including two cartoon panels. His VW bug was the inspiration for one of the characters in the movie Cars. Tonight I found out that Bob Waldmire actually bought the Hackberry General Store in 1992 and began to restore it. The current owners bought the store from Bob.

As we left, the pet burro was braying in the side yard. Maybe he was telling us to get back on the road. With about 60 miles in front of us, we could not linger too long.

Rudy gets back on the road.
This quiet stretch of road really feels old. It takes us to Peach Springs and the Hualapei reservation. On the way, hawks circle and large mesas rise to the right (north) and left (south). It's easy to imagine that the Grand Canyon is close by. 

Our lunch stop was at Grand Canyon Caverns, a fun place with a restaurant that's about a mile off Route 66. It also has a trove of real memorabilia displayed in the yard and inside the building. It feels way off the beaten path, and that's good. I'm riding mostly solo today, so the camaraderie at meals is great for motivation.
I could live in this bus....

How did they know what we wanted to know?
Peach Springs is slightly famous now as the inspiration for Radiator Springs in the movie Cars. It's not much of a town. Not much to take a picture of. You can tell that it's vital to the Hualapei community, though. What's amazing are the surroundings. Very few buildings or human development for many, many miles. Smaller raptors circle, looking for prey. The long horizontal lines of the plateau and mesas seem ancient, eternal. It's hard to believe that this road connects with anything else.

Fabulous rocks at the summit before Seligman.
Two towns resisting the destiny of so many ghost towns. And a great, quiet day of cycling on the longest continuous stretch of Route 66. It goes around a big curve and over a hill and then connects with Seligman. A soft serve cone at the Sno Cap Drive-In. Dinner at the Roadkill Cafe. And of course, bed at the Route 66 Motel.


  1. Hi Eliane,

    I look at your blog with envy...wish I could be there having fun on Rt. 66. My life's been busy with trips to India so I could not write before but good luck with the rest of your tour...believe me the best part is yet to come - New Mexico!!

    Say hi to Lon...


    1. Hi Anurang! Veronica mentioned a couple of days ago that you got a haircut from Angel Delgadillo in Seligman, when you were here... I could totally imagine that! Wish you were on the trip.