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DHS Grads Take a Ride Down Route 66
During my formative years (the 50s and 60s), in East Walker County, my escape was through television. In the 50s, my heroes were the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Hopalong Cassidy, Stony Burke and Gene Autry. With the help of my parents, living out my childhood fantasies became a reality. Each Christmas, Santa Claus would bring me essential gifts like Fanner Fifties, cowboy outfits complete with boots and yes--Red Rider B.B. guns.
By the early 60s, television had become much more sophisticated. It had evolved from the rudimentary cowboy stuff to detective shows. These programs were 77 Sunset Strip, Surfside 6,and in my opinion, the best one of all, “Route 66”. I remember that we all envied the stars of the first two shows; anyone remember Cookie and his comb? Those two shows were good, but Route 66 was different.


Dee Brasfield and Greg Phillips on
Their Excellent Adventure

Route 66 was about two detectives and a car cruising a two lane highway solving all kinds of mysteries. Appropriately called, “The Mother Road”, Route 66 was the first real superhighway from Chicago to Los Angeles. There was something that seemed captivating about cruising the Mother Road in at great convertible; the car was a corvette. Millions of teenagers watched and dreamed of cruising Route 66.
I dreamed for 30 years about traveling Route 66. There always seemed to be something standing in my way. Finally, my friend of 42 years, Walker County Legend and Ace Photographer, Dee Brasfield, hatched a plan for a road trip to Arizona. In Arizona, we could cruise Route 66 and attend the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale. During the next few months we enlisted our friend, Dee Hutsler, and a friend of mine from Atlanta, Harris Pruitt (“Dirty Harry”), to accompany us on our “Road Trip”. Our foursome was comprised of old guys in their fifties who love old cars.
On January 25, 2005, we all met at the Birmingham Airport and about seven hours later we were in Phoenix renting a two-door Mustang Convertible. After careful discussion we realized that four old guys in a small car for four days with luggage was a stupid move. Instead, we opted for a four door car. I will never tell what kind of car it was and if anyone ever finds out, our Ace Photographer, Devoe Brasfield was to blame for the selection.
We checked into the Best Western hotel that was only two miles from the Barrett-Jackson Auction.
Expecting a suite of several rooms, we were surprised when we opened the door to find two beds in one room and a queen size sofa bed in the other room.

Three Million Dollar Olds
On January 25, 2005, we all met at the Birmingham Airport and about seven hours later we were in Phoenix renting a two-door Mustang Convertible. After careful discussion we realized that four old guys in a small car for four days with luggage was a stupid move. Instead, we opted for a four door car. I will never tell what kind of car it was and if anyone ever finds out, our Ace Photographer, Devoe Brasfield was to blame for the selection.
We checked into the Best Western hotel that was only two miles from the Barrett-Jackson Auction.
Expecting a suite of several rooms, we were surprised when we opened the door to find two beds in one room and a queen size sofa bed in the other room.

Three Million Dollar Olds
This was a problem. I called the front desk to inquire about another room and was told that the hotel had been booked solid for two months. In hotel terms, this meant I had to go to the front desk and bribe the clerk into finding another suite for us. Guess what? The clerk suddenly had another room available. Fortunately, this took the worry out of two of us sharing that Queen-sized sofa bed!

After a restful night, we began our adventure the next morning. Our first stop on Route 66 was the Grand Canyon. I have flown over this natural wonder countless times in my life, but for some reason had never visited it. In fact, none of us had visited it and we all have traveled extensively in our careers. It was absolutely breathtaking! The weather was cold and foggy, but Dee Brasfield was able to take several spectacular pictures. I wish we could have explored the Canyon longer, but Route 66 was calling.
We made our way out of Grand Canyon National Park to the East toward New Mexico. On our way, we had the opportunity to visit Little River Canyon. If you’ll recall, this is the place that Evel Knievel attempted to jump on a Rocket Motorcycle. He failed in his attempt and now, after having seen the Little River Canyon, I have one thing to say about Old Evel—He’s a Fool!
Our next stop was Holbrook, Arizona and the beginning of our Route 66 trek toward California. We explored Holbrook, bought Route 66 T-Shirts, Route 66 road signs, you name it we bought it. The highlight of our stay in Holbrook was our hotel for the evening. It was called the Wigwam Hotel! Yes,
we actually stayed in a hotel room shaped like an Indian teepee. The owner’s father built these teepees in 1947. This motel was once part of a nationwide chain of motels including one in the Birmingham area.
It was like stepping back in time when we walked into the rooms. The rooms featured twin beds, space heaters, shag carpet, cheap lamps with red shades, and bathroom with the bare essentials--sink, commode, and a very small shower stall.
Our evening meal in Holbrook was at the only Mexican restaurant in the city, Holbrook was at the
only Mexican restaurant in the city, Romo’s Café. It was a real deal-- Food, beverage and atmosphere for only $65.00 for all four of us. Later, back at the Wigwam, we checked in with the wives, watched some television and went to sleep. Experienced traveler’s hint: if have two guys sharing a tiny room, the trick to a good night’s sleep is to fall asleep first. I roomed with Dirty Harry and I am happy to report that I beat the old boy to sleep.
Other facts: If you are 6 feet tall, it is difficult to shave in a teepee. The mirror was of course attached to the wall and the wall was slanted inward since this was a teepee. I had to shave with my knees bent looking upward and my head bent backward. I got it done but am not certain how.
When we were ready to depart our teepee, not a soul was in the motel lobby, so we were unable to buy souvenirs. More importantly, we wanted to get a group photo in front of the motel, but nobody was around. After going across the street to an auto supply store, we were able to get the owner to take the photo.
On the second day of our adventure, our first stop was Winslow, Arizona. I am sure everyone remembers the phrase “Standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona”. Well, we stood on the corner in Winslow, Arizona and yes we also saw the girl in the flatbed Ford. The fine people of Winslow have gone to great effort to keep their town like it was in the middle of the last century for the tourists. Our next stop was the Meteor Crater. About 50,000 years ago, a
meteor crashed to earth doing about 40,000 miles per hour. The crater was about 150 feet in diameter and weighed several hundred thousand pounds. This crater was featured in an 80s movie titled “Star Man”. It starred Jeff Bridges as an alien. It cost us $12.00 each to gain entry into to the area. This was a rip off, but we had come a long way to see it and felt like since we were here--why not?
The next stop on Route 66 was Winona .Winona was made famous by Bobby Troup in his song, “Get your kicks on Route 66”. As you might imagine, we were playing this song when we toured Winona. After Winona, we blazed through a snowy Flagstaff, the highest elevation in Arizona. Our next stop was Seligman and we lunched at the “Road Kill 66 Café”. Once again, the folks in Seligman have gone to great lengths to keep their town much like it was in the 50s & 60s. “Road Kill” was a real treat with stuffed animals, six guns, rifles and some really great food at an affordable price. Once we finished our lunch, we imposed on the hostess to take a picture of our group in front of the Road Kill Sign. We each had cameras and so the poor lady spent at least 10 minutes taking a picture with each camera.
Finally, we were now on the longest and final stretch of Route 66 prior to heading back to Scottsdale for the Barrett-Jackson. The total mileage for this portion of the trip was approximately 350 miles. We traveled through the towns of Peach Springs, Truxton, Valentine, Kingman, Goldroad and Oatman. This part of our trip was most enjoyable. It was like stepping back in time. We passed numerous abandoned motels, service stations, homes and general stores that were just rotting away on this stretch of road. It appeared that the places were locked one day and the owners had just walked away. There were also numerous places that were still open and looking for tourists. The neatest place was Bob’s General Store in Valentine. Everything on the outside of the store was vintage 1950s.We spent at least an hour here taking pictures and having a grand old time.
Just before we were to depart, I spotted a strange looking bird standing beside our car. Being from Walker County, I’ve seen lots of crows, quail, dove, and even plain ole buzzards, but nothing like this bird. This was a real Road Runner—the same type that you see in the cartoons! It was a sight to behold—not the bird, but for the people who saw us four old men scrambling to get a picture of this bird. Dee Brasfield, the professional photographer in the group actually chased the poor bird into the desert before he got a decent picture. We were all thrilled that we had seen this Road Runner!
When we told Arizona natives at Barrett-Jackson of this encounter, they all looked at us like we were crazy since these birds are a common site in their state. We didn’t care, it was still a treat to us. We went through the last few towns on the Route in a hurry and then turned South toward Scottsdale and the Barrett-Jackson Auction.
The only person that I haven’t discussed in detail was Dee Hutsler. He is my neighbor and a good friend of Dee Brasfield and mine. Hutsler is the one that mapped out this trip and he did a really great job of it. Hutsler spends his days as an attorney , but he is really a Karaoke singer in disguise. When we got back to Scottsdale he advised us that he had picked a restaurant for us to dine in that evening. When we arrived at the restaurant, we realized that it was combination Restaurant and Karaoke Bar. What a coincidence (wink)!!!
We sat in the restaurant and listened to folks trying to sing during our meal. I have never heard so many bad singers in one place in my life. It was sad that some of these folks actually thought they could sing. When it was our attorney’s time in the box he actually did an outstanding job and was the favorite in the building. He did such a good job that we had to stay for one more round.

The final days of our road trip were spent at the Auto Auction. What an auction it was to attend—900 yards of cars! Cars ranged in price from several thousand dollars to the most ever paid for a car--Three million dollars. My wife, Krystal , called to make sure none of us bought it. We assured her that we couldn’t have pulled together a thousand dollars let alone three million. She let us know that she was just kidding and couldn’t believe that someone had actually paid that much for a car.
The next morning, we headed back to Alabama having had one of the best road trips a bunch of old men have ever had.

If any of you want to have a great trip, try touring Route 66. I promise you will not be disappointed. You too can, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”.


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