Sunday, 1 May 2011

Day 12: Williams to Needles

I was awoken early this morning by the bloody crows nesting in the eaves of the building I was in. Not good after the night before. I wanted to be away early-ish this morning, but not that early!. Knowing I would not get back to sleep, I got up and went for a walk around Williams, to see what it was like in daylight.

Williams was the last town on Route 66 to be bypassed by the Interstate. In 1984 the I-40 Williams section was finally opened. A year later Route 66 was finally decommissioned.

It was cold. Very cold. But the sun was out and it would warm up soon. At around 7000ft it does get very cold at night. It was close to freezing when I went out. Still it was quiet, and I took some photos while no one else was around:

My hotel, with my bike parked outside my room.

One of the many gift shops

An old Gas Station, now a Route 66 museum.
The Fun Run to Kingman was leaving this morning, but I have been given conflicting reports when that would be. One said 6 o'clock, the other 10. They both turned out to be partially right. I figured that 9 was the best time to leave, as if they had left at 6 they'd be 3 hours ahead, so unlikely that I'd catch them up before Kingman. If they were leaving at 10, then I'd be an hour ahead. What I really didn't want was to be stuck behind a convoy of 800 cars, no doubt moving slowly.

So I packed up and set off for Seligman, which I'd heard was a very biker friendly place. When I arrived I found 800 American cars forming up to begin the fun run - doh! It turned out the the run stated in Seligman, not Williams, at 10. The cars that were coming from Williams met at 6 and drove to Seligman for the 10 o'clock start.
American cars (mostly), for as far as the eye could see.

The Snow Cap Inn in Seligman is a wacky place. The door has two handles, one each side, just to confuse. The neon sign in the window says "Sorry, We're Open".Quirky in a good way though.
The Snow cap Inn's front door - note, two handles
After they'd gone it was all back to normal again.
I was now faced with a dilemma: I could follow the old Route 66 to Kingman, and spend probably a couple of hours behind the cars; or I could hop on the Interstate to Kingman, and helpfully beat them there. Reluctantly I chose the latter, as I wanted to spend some time in Oatman later today.

I arrived in Kingman as the fist of the Fun Run cars was coming into town - timed to perfection.

The road up to Oatman from the east is classed by many as one of the Top 5 biking roads in the USA. Basically it twists and turns up the side of a mountain with plenty of tight bends and switch backs. On my left was a wall of rock, and on the right, a sheer drop, with nothing stopping you going over it. Needless to say, you need to get this right, so utmost concentration is required. Which was a shame because the views are stunning, but I didn't have much time to take them in.

Oatman is just mad. It's a ghost town; no one lives there. Except for the mules - yes that's right, mules. These animals wander loose about town, and rule the road. They always have right of way so if one wanders across the road in front of you, you have to give way.
Regular visitors bring a bag of carrots with them. The mules like it.
You're not allowed to feed the baby mules though, as their mothers are still feeding them. The babies have a sticker on their forehead letting you know.
Today however it was also full of bikes and their big fat hairy bikers. Must have been a tie in with the Laughlin River Run which is just half an hour away.

I wish I'd bought my leather waistcoat and chaps!

After a good few hours looking at the bikes and the shops, and having a bit of banter with the other bikers (well, the ones that didn't look too mean), I headed out of town towards Topock and then Needles. The road out this way is different from the one I took going in - it is much faster with not so many tight bends but long sweeping curves. Both enjoyable in their own ways.

And so I enter the last state that Route 66 passes through. As far as I know, California is the only state that has border control: All vehicles have to pass though inspection points where the Interstates cross the state line. They just waived me through though - it must have been obvious that I wasn't hiding many illegals in my panniers.

Tomorrow I head back out of California and into Nevada, to Las Vegas. I will pass through Laughlin on my way, so I expect more of the same - wall to wall bikes.

My route today, and more photos are here:

Today's Mileage: 190
Total Trip Mileage: 2479

1 comment:

  1. Nigel, Good on ya Mate, looks as if you are having a blast. I shoulda hooked you up with some of our biker friends from Phoenix who were at the Laughlin River Run. Hope you made a bundle playing poker in " Lost Wages " Nevada.