Monday, April 17, 2006

April 16-17, 2006
Kathy and I had a great road trip to Winslow over the weekend. Took off Saturday morning at 8:30 and met the Hawkins: Mike, Phyllis, Adam and Rachel at Carefree Highway and I-17 and took off for Flag. Tried to have lunch at Martan’s but they were slammed, so we walked over to Kathy’s Cafe, also on San Francisco and had lunch. Downtown Flag was full of tourists and locals with dogs, a bustling scene on a brisk Saturday.

From Flag the tour began, as Phyllis and Mike told stories of their courtship (driving from Winslow to Flag on their first date and eating at Miz Zips, a classic drive-in burger joint on old Route 66). Mike also told a funny story about his parents often taking him and his brother to Williams for dinner at Rod’s Steakhouse and how the parent’s would have two, stiff drinks before they left Winslow, then two more at Rod’s, then drive back to Winslow (it’s about 100 miles) on the narrow, always crowded, Highway 66, with no seat belts and plenty of dashboard buttons shaped like spears. And they survived!

We cruised by Two Guns, Twin Arrows, Meteor Crater, Leupp (which elicited a story about an Indian kid who kept running away from school in Winslow and running out to Leupp where his relatives were and the truant officers kept rounding him up and the principal kept punishing him, but then one day when they brought the kid back, the principal was out of town and the guy who was subbing for him was also the track coach. When he heard how far the kid was running every day he allegedly said, “This is not a problem, this is a good thing. “ The Navajo kid joined the track team and went on to several state records and almost broke the four minute mile, to boot.

We got into Winslow at about two and tried to check into La Posada but our rooms weren’t ready. The girls and I then took off for Rock Art Ranch while Mike and Adam took the father-son tour. After a 12 mile run out across the red dirt tundra we landed at the ranch spread Rock Art Ranch and met cowboys Brantley Baird and oldtimer Clem Rogers (85). Both cowboys knew my cousin Billy Hamilton, when Billy had a ranch near Joseph City. Clem commented, “Oh, we remember Billy. I never met a cowboy that loved to rope more than that boy.” That would be my cousin. After a tour of the ranch we caravaned out to Chevelon Canyon to see the “finest stands of Anasazi petroglyphs in the world.” We weren’t disappointed. Indian drawings stacked hundreds of feet high, dating thousands of years ago, filled the walls on both sides of the canyon, featuring turtles, antelope, deer and even a woman giving birth. Really a stunning site and here’s the kicker: Mike and Phyllis grew up in Winslow and had never been out to it, or heard of it.

At about five we checked into the rambling, magnificent La Posada (“The Last Great Railroad Hotel”). This is an old Harvey House from the 1930s that has totally been renovated by Allan Affeldt and his wife, Tina, whose paintings grace the walls of the lobby and alcoves.

Allan originally wanted to renovate the Harvey House in Seligman, which is supposedly the grandest of the Harvey Houses designed by the legendary Mary Colter, but the town fathers in Seligman supposedly told Mr. Affeldt they liked their Harvey House the way is is (shuttered and empty). Affeldt is currently renovating the El Garces Hotel in Needles, California. Also a railroad hotel located in the heart of downtown Needles at Front and G Streets, and the train tracks. It was long shuttered when I was a kid, but it’s expected to reopen in 2008.

Here’s the shocker: there was no railroad noise at La Posada! Several years ago Kathy and I stayed at a renovated hotel in Kingman and the trains kept us up all night. Every fifteen minutes the horns blasted and the trains rumbled by, shaking the bed and furniture. The La Posada is even closer to the tracks than the Kingman hotel, but we never heard the trains! For one thing, there were no horn blasts, but evidently the thick walls of the hotel absorb the train noise. I don’t know why exactly, but it was a profound difference, and it’s the same trains that run through Kingman.

After a great meal in the Turquoise Room and a good night’s sleep we met for breakfast and then got a walking tour of Winslow and all the Hawkins’ old haunts. We saw where Mike shot Jesus (he was aiming his brother's .22 at the Catholic Church across the street from their house, specifically at the crucifiction statue on the front of the church when the gun discharged), we saw the oil ditch that ruined many an outfit, we saw the Indian dorms where the Navajos and Hopi kids ran to for lunch, we saw the little league dugout where I sat for the entire tournament in 1957 (it had been 49 years since I had stood there!). And we saw where Mike’s father’s gas stations sat and where Phyllis’ house was (her father was a doctor for the Santa Fe Railroad). We heard about all the Winslow sports legends, like basketball great Issac Bonds who averaged 40 points a game in 1964 (I saw him play in Phoenix that year), Pepsi Davis and many others. Winslow always had great sports teams.

We took off at eleven and after a leisurely drive back through Strawberry, Pine and Payson, we got back to Cave Creek at about three. Great trip and great people. Fun was had by all.

“Life has to be in the moment, spontaneous and venerable. There isn't any winning or losing. Life itself, as it flowers in depth and subtlety, is the reward, and it isn't always an easy or fun process. We must learn to see that the issue of happiness is irrelevant. The relevant quest is the expansion of consciousness.”
—Richard Moss

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