In our rush to leave the grime of the Best Inn behind us, we forgot to eat breakfast. Not that there were many options for breakfast in Needles – most things were shut (as in: permanently), so when we spied a store called Gus’s Real Good Jerky, we veered into the parking lot and went inside to investigate.
Gus was standing behind a small counter, dressed to the nines: stetson hat, western shirt, Navajo jewellery on every finger and a neat bolo tie. He shot the breeze with us about dried meat and, after sampling quite of few of his products, we were suitably charmed into buying some of his Elk and Spicy Beef Jerky. It was, as the sign proclaimed, Real Good.
With our mouths full of jerky and a carton of iced coffee in the console, we cruised into Arizona on ol’ 66.
For the record, Route 66 goes a little something like this: most parts of it are beautiful; some parts of it are nothing special; and then there’s the parts that try way too hard to cater to tourists and have therefore lost all their credibility. A classic example is Oatman in the Black Mountains of Mohave County. It was a gold-mining town in the 1800’s. Then, in the early 1900’s, the town burnt down. The only thing left standing was the Oatman hotel (where Clark Gable later spent his honeymoon).
Anyway, to cut a long story short, Oatman has only become a tourist tackyland in recent years. There are over 40 gift shops with names like Fast Fanny’s and Bucktooth Bob’s. There are staged shoot-outs in the street every hour. But the most interesting inclusion are the incredibly aggressive burros which roam around the main street unabated, biting children who mistakenly think they’re cute and pat-able.
The whole set-up annoyed me, so we rolled on towards Hackberry which was much more pleasant:
In the beginning, we were taking photos of every old car and rusty sign we came across, but by the half-way mark we became a bit blasé about it. There’s just so much of that stuff around. We did come across some unusual relics on our travels, though. Here’s a couple of my favourites.
And the giant Tiki Head (Ok – it isnt that old. It was put there in the 90s, I think):
As evening approached, we hit Williams and weighed up our accommodation options. There were loads of standard motels along the main street. No thanks. There was the historic Little Red Caboose and Railway RV Park. Slightly better. But the best place – the place that trumped everything – was the Wild West Junction. Not only did it have rooms for rent, it had a whole wild west themed village complete with a saloon, blacksmith station and saddlery. I was INTO IT. The owner of the Junction was a tall cowboy called John, who had a magnificent southern drawl and said “dang” alot. He showed us around the different rooms and we settled on one for $80 in cash. It was a bargain. And it was clean.
The next day we hit the road early in search of Bedrock City – a Flinstones ‘theme’ park erected in the 1960’s by two die-hard fans. Cowboy John told us that it was in Williams, but we couldn’t find it. Hours later (just as depression was setting in) I spotted a giant Fred Flinstone statue in the distance. We had found Bedrock City, in all its surreal glory, constructed right next to a crummy trailer park. BEHOLD:
To enter Bedrock, you have to pay $4 and pass through a turnstile, which is right next to where the trailer park residents hover for their 5 cent coffees every morning. There was some real ‘characters’ hanging out in there when we passed through. Beyond the turnstile lies the expansive Bedrock City fun park, with all the buildings, characters, and cars scattered around the deserted and overgrown grounds. The grass may have been long and the paint peeling off, but it was still oddly beautiful; At least I thought so, anyway. I would’ve stayed longer, but Danny’s interest seemed to be waning. He said he wanted to continue on to the Grand Canyon (cheek!!).
Here’s some of my pics from the park:
So here is the Grand Canyon. Yes – it’s stunning. Infact, it’s impossible to do the Canyon justice with a photograph. The smallest difference in light alters the colours of the rocks significantly, meaning that the same view is constantly changing; particularly in the afternoon.
Although to be honest, I’m not convinced that it beats Bedrock City. That place was pretty darn groovy.