This was the biggest day on the old Route 66 because it captured the towns that really embrace the history of this legendary road.

You have to hit Williams outside of Flagstaff because that’s a town with a solid appreciation of its connection to the Mother Road. Every business in town celebrates the Route 66 heritage with old cars, old signs, and old buildings that keep the road’s heritage alive. The old Plymouth was finally in its own time zone.

The thing I liked about Williams was how it handled its history because it wasn’t taken over the top. They stopped at the point where a town in the 30s to 50s would have been instead of taking it to the next level where it would look fake.

The next stop was Seligman. This is a smaller place, but it had the same let’s celebrate old Route 66 attitude.

Seligman was definitely well-known because I talked to a Swiss guy at the gas station who was riding Route 66 on a Harley. He was 60 and he had just retired so he was on a dream of a lifetime.

There was a large group of Japanese women in the gas station, and I swear I heard Czechoslovakian or Polish there too. Call it a multicultural gas stop. I made the Swiss guy take a MyStar business card—I hope he reads this.

The last stop was the ultimate stop. Oatman, AZ is a mandatory destination on a Route 66 odyssey.

There are many reasons for this. The first reason is you drive on Route 66 to Oatman so you can truthfully say you took ‘66 to Oatman. That’s like saying you just travelled back in time and a ’63 Plymouth was your time machine.

There’s a 20-mile series of corkscrew turns on the road to Oatman. It’s up and down with big drop-offs on a very narrow road and a million blind curves. It’s a slow pace but it’s still a life-affirming experience. Don’t bring your elderly mom on this run—she’ll cut you out of the will.  

Oatman surprised me. I expected a half-dead-on-life-support town, but it was packed. I’m pretty sure most of the people came in the other way from Nevada and the rest came in from the south on Harleys via I-40.

The big attraction are the wild donkeys. They’re the biggest mooches I’ve ever seen and yes—they do bite. Only lady didn’t heed the warning and found out about truth in advertising.

I had a few takeaways from this part of the trip.

One is the amazing changes in scenery from mountain to desert in a few miles. Another one is the relentless wind because it makes truckers rigs dance around like a frog in a frying pan. Plus, they cut off everybody from SUVs to cops.

The other thing is I-40 itself. I’ll never complain about Highway 2 between Edmonton and Calgary again because the deep potholes really ganged up on the 61-year-old Plymouth’s suspension.

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.