Route 66 was actually one of the parts of the trip I was super excited about seeing. Well, I was excited about EVERYTHING as you can probably guess, but y’know. ROUTE 66 MAN. When I’m watching all the American TV shows and movies, the shots of classic cars and motorbikes driving down empty, stretching roads are what I’d always imagined driving in the US to be. And until we reached the famous highway, I hadn’t really experienced that.
As the van rolled onto the famous stretch with Journey blaring from the classic rock radio, I stared out of the window at the emptiness stretched every which way, and half expected to see Sam and Dean Winchester roll past in their Impala (ooh, a Supernatural reference, hey fangirling).
Unfortunately, most likely because they’re fictional characters, the Winchester brothers didn’t drive past – but instead, we hopped out of the van to snap some pictures and take everything in before heading to our lunchtime stop-off. I’d been hoping to spot some bikers all morning, and my luck was in! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to fulfil my ambition of getting one to let me hop on their bike for a photo op, but still, close enough.
One of the most famous roads in the whole of the US, Route 66 was established back in 1926 – over 2400 miles long, stretching across eight different states. To put it in perspective, Land’s End to John o’ Groats in the UK is 874 miles by road – so almost three times that. That’s a lotta road. It was a major route for those migrating West, particularly during the Dust Bowl storms of the 30s. In 1985, it was officially removed from the US Highways System, but many communities along the route have reclaimed it as ‘Historic Route 66’, capitalising on its history and popularity with visitors.
On our journey, we stopped off at Seligman – known as the birthplace of Historic Route 66, thanks to residents who convinced the state to declare Route 66 a historic highway in 1987. With a population of less than 500, it’s a tiny town – but popular as a stop-off for tourist visitors, and full of Route 66 memorabilia and souvenirs.
The thing I loved most about Seligman was the amount of classic Americana scattered all around – particularly by Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In, which was built in 1953 by Juan Delgadillo using scrap lumber. From old cars to Route 66 signage – yep, it’s all definitely been done to appease tourists just like me – the vibe was just super cool and unlike anywhere else I’d seen so far.
Our tour leader had already told us about it, and The Snow Cap was pretty much everything I’d expect from a full-on, stereotypical American roadside diner (and then some). In fact, I was so busy gazing around at everything I forgot to look at the menu, so had to make a quick decision when my turn rolled around. Stepping up to the booth to order, the staff were friendly and full of cheesy pranks and jokes while we were ordering. Just watch out for the mustard bottle…
From the menu, I ordered the Dodger John Dog – they do two varieties, a short and fat one and a long and thin one (heh). Mine was the latter, smothered in mustard, mayo, ketchup and onions. And AW LOOK POTATO SMILEYS! The hotdog itself definitely filled my hungry belly and provided exactly what you’d want from this kinda diner – classic US grub. And the HUGE Oreo milkshake I ordered was just perfect for chilling out under the blazing sun in the Snow Cap’s cute little outside dining area. I’m a BIG Oreo shake lover, and this is probably one of the greatest I’ve ever had.
After my megashake, I decided it was definitely time to pop to the loo. Not normally something I’d share so openly here, but with toilets like these, I just had to. Covered in numberplates, quirky signs and THIS CREEPY GREEN HEAD IN THE TOILET outside, it’s definitely one of the more unusual loo-based experiences I’ve ever had.
Even though we were only there for a short time, Seligman and Route 66 was the perfect stop-off to get some of the all-American experience I was expecting from the trip. The diner, memorabilia and just EVERYTHING fascinated me, and if I could I’d love to be able to do a mega Route 66 roadtrip through all eight states. One day, eh?