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Route 66 Caravan Road Log:
May 10, 2003


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Painted Desert

Between Holbrook and the  Arizona - New Mexico state line there are small pockets of Route 66 history everywhere in the Painted Desert. The small towns of Navaho, Chambers, Sanders, Houck, Allantown and Lupton  all have the feel of the old road. These small settlements were railroad sidings, trading posts, and pioneer communities. When Route 66 came through business picked up. Gas stations, motor courts, and a plethora of tourist shops and trading posts sprang up to service the traveler. There are a score of great trading posts along the Interstate still here; most of them are left over from Route 66 too.

     

Stewart's Petrified Wood

Driving down the I-40 from either direction you will notice many billboards advertising free petrified wood and meteorites 50% off. You are now approaching Stewart's Trading Post. This establishment is pure Route 66 funky. Strange and bizarre dinosaurs and a cacophony of colors, sights and just plain craziness assault your eyes as you drive in.

  Stewarts Trading Post

Dinosaur under construction.

Just one of many animated and still creatures you will see here. When we got here Dave Elliston was building a new dinosaur for the trading post.

Route 66 Caravan (sans photographer) at Stewarts. L-R Dennis, Dave Elliston - dinosaur sculptor supreme, Charles Stewart, Jim and Kevin.

Stewarts Gang

Gazell & Charles Stewart

Gazell and Charles Stewart welcome you to their Trading Post. Of course Charles claims that the real boss is Gazell. If you are looking for unique rocks, gemstones and fossils you are in the right place.

     

Stewarts Post Card
Stewart's Post Card Says it All!

 

Old Painted Desert Trading Post

Lost Road in the Painted Desert Pinta Road is just a lonely exit out in the desert a few miles east of Petrified Forest National Park. There are no services here and most Interstate travelers pass it by without giving it a second glance- Holbrook is just down the road. But it is in this area that Route 66 can be seen as a true ghost.
  I had mentioned to my companions that I knew how to get to a very interesting relic of old Route 66. They were game for the adventure. Kevin, Dennis and I drove north of the Pinta Road exit down a dirt road almost a mile where we came to the crumbling asphalt of a once major highway. Jim stayed back to guard the RV, which really means he took a nap J. Route 66 cuts through the Painted Desert here, a forgotten line of dark gray against the desert shrubbery, a ghost road winding its way to an even ghostlier destination.
  Lonely Painted Desert Trading Post

Painted Desert Trading Post

     
Route 66 is pitted and rough but passable along this stretch. We continued on for about two and a half miles and came to one of the loneliest ghosts on Route 66 I think I've ever seen. All alone, surrounded by the vast desert, stood the shell of the once great Painted Desert Trading Post. Indeed, this place is haunted! It is haunted with the memories of a thousand vacations, a thousand relocations and a thousand stories of America on the move down old Route 66. These lonely reminders of the Mother Road are as much a part of the Route 66 Experience as the vintage mom and pops and new Route 66 businesses.
   
  Dead River

Route 66 Dead River Bridge

 

Just west of the Painted Desert Trading Post one can see another ghostly reminder of the Mother Road, the remains of an old concrete bridge over the Dead River. Fitting name isn't it? Lonely evidence that this abandoned road once carried a nation west.

 

Route 66 on the Arizona~New Mexico Stateline

Route 66 approaches the border of New Mexico and Arizona from Holbrook through the Painted Desert into the colorful Navaho Sandstone country to Lupton, Arizona. Route 66 at the Stateline can be taken all the way into Gallup, thought the road was a little uneven for our 66 Caravan RV in some places. It is a scenic winding road that epitomizes the romance of the great southwest; the adventure in the journey. This is the romantic land of Spanish explorers, nomadic native herdsmen, rowdy cowboys and brazen outlaws. Kit Carson, Ned Beale, Peg Leg Smith, among other great or infamous characters all passed this way once. We all felt the history of the land come alive as we traveled Route 66 through the beautiful southwestern scenery. Sometimes I think this is my favorite part of Route 66.
  Tee Pee Trading Post
 

There are many interesting trading posts at Lupton, perhaps one of my favorites is the giant teepee. It is right on old Route 66 and dates back to the hey day of the Mother Road. You know it's even possible I stopped here with my parents as a kid. One thing I know for sure, I must have said something like this: "Can we stop, please."

 


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