Most of our driving was on the service roads paralleling Interstate 40. Kyle and I knew where we were landing today—Holbrook, Arizona, home to the Wigwam Motel, one of only 7 Wigwam Villages in the United States. Holbrook’s teepees are known as #6. We made a few turn-offs into Indian souvenir stands, but I was more in a hurry to get to the motel than spend our time on the road, and Kyle just wanted to get the hell off the road.
Our distance today was pre-planned—287 miles from Amarillo, Texas, to Albuquerque, New Mexico. This part of the trip started a fire under both Kyle and I to get to the west coast as quick as possible. Albuquerque’s fire also burned me.
Upon waking in Chicago to head west on Route 66, the weather was perfect. Not one cloud in the sky and a cool breeze broke through the 78 degree temperatures. It didn’t take long to hit our first Rt. 66 landmark—one that has since been moved. Bunyon’s Hotdogs in Cicero had a fiberglass roadside giant standing on the side of its joint. The square-jawed Paul was cradling a giant hotdog, paint faded and peeling in the heat. Bunyon’s closed down and the giant moved to Atlanta, Illinois, greeting Route 66ers in the quiet downtown where not much happens anymore. However, it’s a better home for him because he is well taken care of.
Kyle and I knew our destination for July 7th was Clyde, Ohio, a small town made famous by Sherwood Anderson’s novel Winesburg, Ohio. this was my first visit to the prototypical American town where big dreams die fast when the idea of being different makes you an outcast. The town where, if Sherwood Anderson had stayed, American literature would never have given birth to Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or William Faulkner. Most of the people we met in town were a little stand-offish, and everything on Main Street was closed, but at least most of the businesses were actually all still going. Clyde can’t say the same today, 13 years later.
John’s Modern Cabins is one of the most famous road relics on Route 66. The buildings have been allowed to decay for over 30 years, with most of the cabins on the verge of no longer being salvageable. Some of the cabins, ironically the newer ones, are piles of rubble with energy inefficient refrigerators and random piles of rusting metal collapsed in junkyard forts. The “main” cabin that holds the neon sign with its brains blown out still stands with the red paint chipping off, the metal crumbling into detritus and remnants of glass tubes hanging off the face of the sign like old scars.
The main cabin with the remains of the neon sign.
The first time I went to John’s Modern Cabins, in 2005, the main cabin was in a good enough condition that it could have been picked up and shipped to the Smithsonian. Now, it’s head has been bashed in and the walls left to rot in the Ozark rains. Continue reading →
The building has been abandoned for over seven years. The Tropics used to be the area’s hottest tiki bar, built by a post-WWII vet who served double-pattied burgers, but the fad of the Atomic Era-inspired South Pacific craze quickly came and went and The Tropics went from a simple coffee shop/diner to a diner to closed.