La Posada – A Winslow Oasis

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.com

At $155/night (inc. taxes and pet fee), the La Posada Hotel was my big indulgence for the first leg of the trip, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was feeling sad about Route 66, American poverty, and general neglect as I drove into Winslow,  and I was afraid it would be the same as Two Guns, Twin Arrows, and Meteor City — abandoned, neglected, sad. And much of Winslow is exactly that. BUT…

The most impressive place in town, and the best reason to visit Winslow, is  The La Posada Hotel — billed as the Last Great Railroad Hotel, built in 1929 by the Santa Fe Railway, and a former Harvey House, located right on the railroad tracks. Architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter’s southwest masterpiece, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I didn’t realize when I checked in that La Posada means “Resting Place,” and that’s exactly what I did. This beautiful oasis was unexpected and very welcome, and I immediately booked a second night! And I’m so glad I did — it turned out to be the kind of place that feels instantly like home, or like visiting a good friend (with really good taste and a lot of money).

This hotel has to be a train-lovers mecca, but it’s also an art-lovers mecca. It’s the home gallery of funky, eccentric artist (and hotel owner) Tina Mion, whose work is displayed throughout the hotel — make sure you check out the second-floor gallery. I ran into her in the hall one day and enjoyed talking with her, and she gave me some great local photo recommendations — Homolovi State Park and Little Painted Desert, a county park just up the road from Homolovi.

The gardens of the hotel are gorgeous, and I’ve never been to a more pet-friendly hotel! Dogs are welcome in nearly every garden on the property, and there is a huge lawn at the back and on the side that are specifically for dogs, plus a fun hay-bale maze for human children.

You’d think that an active train station would be loud, but they roll by so slowly it just seems relaxing. There’s always a group of folks sitting out back watching the trains go by — and with an average of over 90/day, they never have to wait long. There are still 2 stops per day at La Posada — one from Los Angeles and one from Chicago. I’m thinking that my next trip to La Posada should be via Amtrak!

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Colby is not impressed…

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…and neither was I. It was starting to storm when we pulled in for a quick break before the downpour. Didn’t this used to be a big deal? I remember learning about the Continental Divide in grade school — it’s the divide separating water drainage. To the west, it drains into the Pacific Ocean; to the east it drains into the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. We stopped here in the 1970’s, on a family trip to California, and I was nerd enough to think this was cool.

Today, not even the sign is maintained, and there is nothing but weeds and abandoned buildings, including an old Stuckey’s, there. That’s sad.

Meet the Mural Mice…

While I was taking a photo of a cool old motel sign in Flagstaff, a guy on a buckskin-fringed bicycle rode up and asked me what I was doing. It’s one of the things I love about a camera…people always want to know why you’re taking a photo of whatever it’s aimed at. Sometimes they’re baffled by your interest in a commonplace sign, but mostly they’re flattered that you’re interested in something they’re interested in. That’s why artist R.E. Wall (he likes to be called R) stopped. He and Mural Mice partner Margaret Dewar (Maggie) were working on a Route 66 mural on a building across the street, and he gave me some interesting info about the area.

I didn’t know, for example, that Phoenix Avenue, where we were standing, was the original alignment for Route 66. And when it was moved a block away, to its current location, business owners on Phoenix were offered, as compensation, tall signs that could be seen from the new highway. A couple of those tall signs have survived and can, indeed, be seen from Route 66…

After years of spearheading the mural projects in Prescott, Arizona, the talented Mural Mice have been commissioned by the city of Flagstaff to create a mural of Arizona’s Route 66 attractions. They’re well into it, and should be finished by the end of the summer. Although they normally like to do community art projects, where anyone can contribute to the art, this project has more specific goals, and they’ve carefully researched their subjects. Something to look for in the finished product:  Ruby, the dog, makes an appearance in all of their works!

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Abandoned…

Photo by Stephanie Roberts, http://ObsessiveHobbyist.com

The road from Flagstaff to Winslow, Arizona is interesting, but depressing. So many of the Route 66 attractions are disintegrating into unsalvageable ruins. It all makes for great photos, but the reality is harsh. Twin Arrows, Two Guns, Meteor City…

TWO GUNS — At one time a campground and zoo where families made memories

TWIN ARROWS — This area is a dichotomy, as much of Route 66 is. The arrows have been repainted and maintained, but the buildings fall down around them. The whole area is surrounded by concrete K-rails at an exit ramp, and I might have been able to climb over them if it wasn’t pouring down rain when I got there. But somehow the rain seemed appropriate.

 

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