All good things come to an end, so it was time to get back to San Diego and fly home. That meant driving for at least 8 hours, so we decided to make the trip a little more fun. A part of Route 66 runs parallel to the modern highway, so it's easy to go in and out if you need a change of scenery. Some of the towns that are on Route 66 have been touristified and some others are simply scary in a ghost-town kind of way.
U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System. Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926—with road signs erected the following year. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in America, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending at Santa Monica, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km).
We stopped to take pictures at Ash Fork, AZ as we hadn't seen anything like it before. Everything seemed abandoned and it reminded me of a horror movie set.
Ash Fork's convenient location along the railway and later famous U.S. Route 66 made it recognizable to many cross-country travelers, as evidenced by its fleeting mention in several films from the era of Classical Hollywood cinema, such as 1947's Dark Passage starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
U.S. Route 66 provided a slight boost to the town's economy in the 1950s, but construction of the divided highway through the town resulted in the destruction of many of the storefronts, sidewalks, and residential streets, forever altering the aesthetic qualities of the downtown area. When the Santa Fe Railroad moved its main line north and away from the town in 1960, Ash Fork lost nearly half its population, as most families employed by the railway were forced to leave the area.
Another large fire, known locally as the "Big Fire", devastated the community on November 20, 1977, destroying most of the downtown businesses. When I-40 bypassed the town soon after, drastically reducing traffic on U.S. Route 66, the local economy never fully recovered. The community's last major fire occurred on October 7, 1987, destroying nearly all the remaining buildings along the two block business district located on the south side of Route 66.
Then back on the road...
That day I kept thinking of this song:
We arrived at San Diego at around 9pm and flew home the next day. When we were planning our itinerary, we hadn't realized how many places we would see and how much time we would spend driving. It was a lot of fun!