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Historic Route 66 and Interstate 40: Traveling Across Western States

Updated on March 12, 2018
aliciaharrell profile image

Alicia has been an Author, Columnist, and Reviewer for 8 years. Her success came from perseverance plus organized goal setting.

Driving to California

August 2009, my husband and I decided to visit my family in California by driving westward on Interstate 40 which replaced the historic Route 66. Traveling west, Interstate 40 is in excellent condition, however, there was some roadwork in Albuquerque, New Mexico that slowed us to 45 mph. Our dachshund Fritz liked all but the desert between the Arizona/California border and Tehachapi, California. He prefers high desert, and places with trees and grass.

We did notice that Route 66 cannot be driven in its entirety. There are sections that have not been preserved. One section begins in Albuquerque, but ends in a dead end at the western city limits, causing it to break up instead of rejoin Interstate 40 like it used to do. Sad to see, but this was not the only place it did that between Albuquerque, New Mexico and Barstow, California.

For our first night, we stayed at the Motel 6 in Gallup, New Mexico. Very pleasant and comfortable room. Free coffee served in the morning before 10 a.m. Only one drawback and that was all non-smoking rooms were upstairs. This made our stay a little awkward with our dachshund Fritz. Personally, I felt they should have had some non-smoking rooms downstairs for Seniors or others who like us prefer not to climb stairs with our pets. While walking Fritz around the Motel 6, I noticed a family, who were non-smokers, putting their bags in a smoking room. They had taken it because they had 2 dogs and 2 children. Felt they needed a first floor room. The mother of this family mentioned to me that the room was uncomfortable because it stank like an ashtray. She said even the sheets smelled. This made me glad we decided to take one of the non-smoking rooms in spite of the stairs.

The Interstate 40 bypasses past all of the towns and cities, unlike Historic Route 66 (takes you through them). There are very nice Rest Areas in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The further west we traveled, the closer they were a part. These states keep theirs very clean and hospitable. Loved the pet areas and pet walks for my dachshund.

We did get some rain in New Mexico between Santa Rosa and Edgewood on the way to California. It was the only inclement weather we experienced. Rest was sunny and perfect traveling weather. Kingman, Arizona and Needles, California were not as hot as expected, but close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Both now are large cities. Needles is now a green belt next to the Colorado River. Great seeing the river full, bank to bank.

We found a great restaurant in Holbrook, Arizona. An independently owned Denny's. Their fare was better than any Denny's I have ate in and I have been a Denny's fan most of my life. The service was great too. Friendly waitresses and hostess. Clean restroom facilities. Highly recommend stopping there. (We did twice, traveling West and returning East.) Holbrook's Motel 6, next door to this particular Denny's, we stayed there for one night during our return Eastward (not wanting to stay at Gallup's). This Motel 6 had first floor non-smoking rooms, a coin laundry room, a pool, microwave and refrigerator in the hotel rooms including free coffee served in the morning. Their office had two laptops giving guests free Internet access. There is a $1.00 fee per page if you wish to use their printer. More friendly and accommodating than the Motel 6 in Gallup, New Mexico. We were delightfully surprised by all of the amenities. Enjoyed our stay in Holbrook, Arizona. We plan to stop there each time we head West and East when visiting family in California.

Our stay in California was pleasant. Even managed to visit Morro Bay (see Morro Rock and wade in Pacific Ocean at Morro Beach). We had a great time in Paso Robles, Central California area with my family. It was great to see that section of California again; very pretty.

New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Mexico, along I-40
New Mexico, along I-40

Arizona

Flagstaff area
Flagstaff area
Holbrook, AZ
Holbrook, AZ
Kingman, AZ
Kingman, AZ

California (Central and South-Eastern)

Needles, CA
Needles, CA
Needles, CA
Needles, CA
Barstow, CA
Barstow, CA
Morro Rock and Morro Bay, CA
Morro Rock and Morro Bay, CA
Paso Robles area
Paso Robles area

And then back to Oklahoma

We drove all the way back by retracing our steps via Interstate 40. Visited my husband's cousins in Edgewood, New Mexico (drove on a section of Historic Route 66 to get to their home). On the way back to Oklahoma experienced more construction on our side of the interstate (including around Flagstaff, Arizona, in Texas, and Texas/Oklahoma Border to Yukon, Oklahoma where we said goodbye to the Interstate 40). In spite of the construction slowing us down to 60, 55, or 45 mph depending upon the stretch under construction, the way back went without a hitch.

We even managed to stop at a Dairy Queen before crossing the Oklahoma/Texas border. We do not have a Dairy Queen close to our home in Oklahoma, the only one in our state we know of is on the South-East side of Oklahoma City near Choctaw and the I-35 and I-240 junction. My husband regards dining at a Dairy Queen a treat. He enjoys their ice cream Blizzards the most.

We enjoyed our "for real" vacation even though exhausted from all the driving, but glad we did. Better to see the states this way; able to stop when we wanted. Just the way we like to travel.

There were more things to see, that we did not take the time to visit like the Petrified Forest and the Meteor Crater in Arizona. Easy access off of the Interstate 40 and do recommend seeing them. I have during past trips, did not have the time on this one. Maybe next time.....great excuse to plan another trip.

Texas

Shamrock, Texas
Shamrock, Texas
Along the I-40 Texas
Along the I-40 Texas

© 2009 Alicia Rose Harrell

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    • aliciaharrell profile image
      Author

      Alicia Rose Harrell 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Thank you and delighted. Yes, there were many political decisions for Route 66 and Interstate 40 upon the building of I-40. Today, we see those decisions impact; especially along Historic Route 66.

    • WesternHistory profile image

      WesternHistory 6 years ago from California

      Enjoyed reading your hub. Also nice pictures. There's an interesting story how the route was changed, eliminating Santa Fe in around 1937. Had to do with a lot of politics.

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