We left Vegas by 8am and headed towards Hoover Dam. We had been there back in April during Clara’s Spring Break so we didn’t stop again but continued on to Kingman, AZ so we could join the Arizona section of “The Mother Road” Route 66.
Route 66 is an icon of Americana. But this particular section of it holds a special significance. Its the birthplace of Route 66 Preservation by two Italian brothers in Seligman, AZ who started the preservation society and also served as the inspiration for the two Italian cars in the Pixar Movie Cars (Guido and Luigi).
The first Route 66 stop was the very small town of Hackberry in which you could see the inspiration for Cars all around us. The mesas. The old cars. Even a ‘Mater (Nader and Sons Towing). The whole experience was like being on a movie set. We even had a huge storm brewing behind us. Dark clouds, heavy rains, thunder, lightning, and gusty winds that set the rusty roadside signs a-squeaking.
Next we drove on past little ghost towns, or glimmers of civilization such as Peach Springs and the Hualapai Indian Nation, past red rock mesas and on to the Grand Canyon Caverns which had formerly been known as the Dinosaur Caves.
The Caverns were an interesting roadside attraction started in early sixties. Its the largest dry cavern in America and this past week, with the discovery of a new attached cavern by some spelunkers, it may now be the largest dry cavern in the world. As a dry cavern it maintains a near constant temperature of 56 degrees year round and has no life in it; no bacteria, no bats, no insects, nothing at more than 200 feet underground.
For $700 you can spend the night in the cavern on a platform they’ve build in one of the grand rooms that sleeps 6. Its supposed to be the darkest and quietest nights sleep you can get.
In the past month they’ve also built a stage and about 40 movie seats from American Film Institute in Hollywood (who recently remodeled and bought new seats) and because the acoustics are so exceptional in the grand room they are expecting to host jazz and classical concerts there in the future (although the remoteness of their location and lack of local accommodations makes this seem like an unlikely pipe dream.
Another interesting factoid about the caves is the 1962/63 emergency supplies provided by the Federal Government during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Apparently, during the Crisis all caves in America were declared nuclear fallout shelters and supplied with provisions. In this case the Feds provided crackers, hard candy, water and sanitary kids for 2000 people for 2 weeks. Its cost prohibitive to move it so it has sat there untouched for the last 50 years.
After the caverns we saw some black clouds, thunder and lightning and what looked like a funnel cloud coming towards us. We turned on the radio to hear an emergency broadcast for flash flooding for the next two hours. We kept drive away from it and got a little rain but were able to outpace the storm and make our way to Seligman, AZ.