Day 12 Miles: 128

Gallup, New Mexico to Winslow, Arizona

I stopped at the Jackrabbit Trading Post in Joseph City, Arizona after crossing the border. Yup, this is the famous Jackrabbit seen on Route 66 icon souvenirs.

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I chatted with the proprietor, who is a third-generation owner. Being the end of the season, there were no diet sodas in the cold case, and there wouldn’t be until spring. I was the only customer there. I settled on buying a keychain and an iced tea just so I wouldn’t leave empty-handed.

Things really didn’t get interesting until Winslow, which owes a huge debt of gratitude to the Eagles – the Eagles even more so than Route 66. The town has made an industry out of a song lyric, and people flock to stand on a corner. It’s fun!

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I snapped my usual neon and decrepit motel signs in Winslow, then visited La Posada hotel. What a treat!

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La Posada (“The Resting Place”) was a Harvey Hotel, built along the Santa Fe line for hungry and weary train travelers. It was the last Harvey House, built in 1929-30. Winslow was chosen because it was the Arizona headquarters for the Santa Fe Railway. Passenger trains from Los Angeles to Chicago stopped at La Posada. Everyone stayed there, from Howard Hughes to John Wayne, Bob Hope to Dorothy L’Amour, and Albert Einstein. Until the 1950s, Winslow was a bigger town that even Flagstaff or Sedona.

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When Route 66 was bypassed and abandoned, La Posada closed in 1957. In 1959 all of the fabulous furniture was sold at auction (ACK!). In the 1960s the Santa Fe Railway turned the hotel into offices. In 1993 the building was slated for tear-down; that’s when the current owners found it, remodeling a little at a time, room by room.

Condé Nast voted La Posada number one in Arizona for design and dining. National Geographic traveler has listed it as one of “Hotels We Love.”

I had lunch in The Turquoise Room, the restaurant in La Posada, but I got a Harvey BOY as my waitperson. Many of you may know about “Harvey Girls” because of Judy Garland movie:

But if you have a chance to watch the whole thing, I highly recommend the documentary. Here’s a preview:

100,000 women traveled west to work in Harvey Houses, and Harvey was one of the first major employers of women in the country. At its peak there were 84 Harvey Houses. Here is an excellent website about Fred Harvey.

A woman dressed as a Harvey Girl gave a tour through the dining room as I had lunch. I overheard her explain that 3,000 passengers traveled through La Posada every day during World War II, and when the restaurant was full, the Harvey Girls served ham sandwiches on the lawn.

I had every intention of making it to Flagstaff today, but I stopped for the night at Meteor Crater RV Park outside of Winslow. (Their motto: “We have three seasons – wind, wind, and wind.”) I am five miles from Meteor Crater, which I will visit in the morning. After Winona, Flagstaff, and Williams, I will spend two nights at the Grand Canyon. They are predicting snow on Tuesday – wish me luck!