At first we didn’t know we were on the famous route 66; it was just an extension of the grey road we’d been following through the wilderness for the best part of the day. Then, all of a sudden, we pulled up outside the Hackberry General Store, which was complete with a group of big butch guys on motorcycles outside who had stopped to get gas—it was all very Sons of Anarchy.
We hopped out to admire, take photos, and obviously chat to the bikers who seemed very interested in our English accents.
The store itself was no more than a rusty metal shack, which was obviously part of its appeal. Most of the reminders of days gone by outside were rusting- old time cars, gas pumps, old vending machines, and Coca-Cola adverts. However, there was a red convertible old-style car, parked out on the porch, which looked in much better condition than everything else. Another thing I noticed is that no matter where you looked there was no forgetting where you were. Badge after badge, sign after sign had ‘route 66’ written on it somewhere.
It’s either a very well preserved general store or a very good mock up- I still can’t tell which! I think it’s a bit of both.
Before stepping inside you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just a museum now, but it’s still a shop-mainly a gift shop but a shop none-the-less, complete with lone shop assistant! The front sells postcards and keyrings- the usual gift shop tat- the middle has a mock-up of an old American diner, and the back is an apparel section. There were also toilets in there full of life-size Marilyn Monroe mannequins. I’m not going to lie, trying to wee with Marilyn Monroe watching you is a little bit creepy!
Next we found ourselves at one of the route 66 road-markings (one of the last remaining ones I believe). I know this might sound a little cheesy but the fact that I got to experience even just this little piece of old-time America was absolutely incredible! We obviously became typical tourists and took a few (hundred) photos before hitting the road again.
Our next stop was Seligman, AZ. This place was everything you’d expect from Route 66, and it was amazing. There’s no way you could simply drive through this town without getting out of your car to explore further. In these surroundings it’s easy to imagine and old time America and the fun that was had on Route 66 in its glory days. This was highlighted by the humour that the area has not lost- dead chicken from the roadkill café anyone? How about some good old-fashioned teasing from the Snow Cap drive in?
We walked around admiring more rusty cars, life-sized mannequins, billboards, and a wooden outdoor toilet which looked like it would collapse at any moment (yes, I used it but very quickly and I’m sure people could easily see through the huge gap where the door didn’t meet the frame when it closed!). It felt like walking around a movie set.
There were more gift shops in this place, so we wandered around those for a while. I bought some stuff that I would never ordinarily buy because I thought I might regret not buying it once I got home. (Note to self: you will never regret not buying a gift shop pen!) After that we went to the famous Snow-Cap drive-in for lunch and were teased by extremely sarcastic servers. We loved it! And, yes, I did fall prey to the door which said push on the side attached to the wall. Oops, I should have known! Whilst the wonderful staff and the fame of the place is the big attraction, the food deserves some recognition too; I had an amazing veggie burger and a chocolate malt shake that I’m still salivating about now!
All-in-all, although we didn’t do much of the road and only did it in a day, it was still the absolute road-trip of a lifetime, and it was a day that I’ll never forget.