Travel Route 66 in the comfort of our minibus!

minibus tour on route 66
15 passenger Chevrolet Express
- our minibus

Dates:

 minibus tour route 66 Jun 02, 2018 - Jun 14, 2018

Prices for minibus tours (per person):

Double room occupancy (2 people per room): US$2,850.00 (£2,109.00, AU$3,562.00, NZ$3,876.00,R 37 706,00, 2.366,00 €)

Single room occupancy: US$3,990.00 (£2,953.00, AU$4,988.00, NZ$5,426.00,R 52 788,00, 3.312,00 €)

Itinerary

Day 1: Meet you in Chicago

Welcome to Chicago the 'Windy City'. Meet you downtown at our hotel where we enjoy a great Welcome Dinner and celebration with the other members of the little group. Before that you may want to visit some of the highlights Chicago has got to offer: a river sightseeing tour, Willis Tower, Navy Pier, Sphere, some blues or jazz clubs - just to name a few.

Day 2: Chicago - Springfield (Illinois, Miles: 187, Kilometers: 300)

riding usa america route 66 gemini giant

Big day today: We start driving Route 66! One hour out of town is Wilmington. For many this is the spot where Route 66 really begins. It’s here that you’ll find that kitsch classic, the Gemini giant. It’s a 30 foot tall fiberglass "muffler man" from the 1960s. Back in those days these giant colossal men were all over the good old US of A. They typically held "tools" in their hands from mufflers, to hot dogs, to axes, and more. In this case, the Gemini Giant holds a rocket ship, a reminder of the 1960s space race. As the American landscape changed most of these enormous men were eventually retired. But here in Wilmington, the large green man holds on.

Continuing on IL 53 to Braidwood, the next photo opportunity is the Polka Dot Drive-In at 222 N. Front St with its Elvis, Marilyn, James Dean and Betty Boop statues. A great place for a little break!

driving usa america route 66

At 400 S. West St. in Odell, there is a restored Depression-era gas station, which happens to be very cool. It was built in 1932 and served travelers on Route 66 until the 1960s. Then it became a body shop - until that eventually closed its doors in 1975. Years of neglect took their toll on this old Standard station, which is still here today thanks entirely to the preservation efforts of the Illinois Route 66 Association and their Preservation Committee. Check out the glass visible register type pump, in which the amount of gas you wanted to purchase was pumped into the glass tank, and gravity fed it into the fuel tank.

Just a block away from the old Mobil station, an old Catholic Church stands along Route 66. During what might be called the golden days of Route 66 there was a tunnel which ran underneath Route 66 at this very spot, directly between the school and this church. The tunnel was constructed to give children and adults alike safe passage to and from the church. It was eventually filled in after Route 66 and Odell was bypassed by the Interstate.

Further south and before arriving in Pontiac, we stop for a look at number 18700 Old Rt. 66. This is the intersection of Pontiac Rd. (2 lane 66) and the 4 lane Route 66 on the north side of town. Check out the Old Log Cabin Inn. It may look like it’s always been there – but in actual fact it originally faced the much older Route 66 alignment. When the alignment changed the whole building was lifted and turned around 180 degrees.

Pontiac is the home of a great little Route 66 museum and Packard showroom that we visit. We will not forget to take a picture of the mural on the wall of the museum!

In Towanda at Route 66’s 1954 alignment, an abandoned piece of asphalt with a painted map created by volunteers just reinforces the fact that our journey has only just begun.

driving usa america route 66

About four miles beyond Shirley, Illinois, we will arrive to Funks Grove Road. This is a secret place that many people miss on their way. We may stop at the Maple Sirup Shop if they can accommodate us.

Soon our van arrives to Atlanta IL to check out another huge fibreglass man – this one named Tall Paul. This particular "Muffler Man" stood for many years in front of Bunyon's across town in Cicero, Illinois along Ogden Ave. When Bunyon's closed the owners were offered $10,000 for Tall Paul but decided instead to "permanently loan" it to the City of Atlanta as one of their Route 66 Heritage Exhibits. Tall Paul is accessible 24 hours a day.

Across the street it is Coffee time! We not only have a chance to enjoy espresso shots but we also meet Angel in 'The Palms Grill Cafe' - a great little place with faithfully restored small tables and vinyl-covered chairs that has been serving Route 66 travelers since the 1934!

Day 3: Springfield - Lebanon (Missouri, Miles: 260, Kilometers: 416)

2 lane brick road

We continue our way to the rare still drivable brick-paved 2 lane roads from 1931!

When the original route 66 concrete was laid around Virden IL in 1926 a turkey came out of the wild, did a little walking on the fresh surface and made his marks for the next millennium. Now there is a sign we stop at and take a picture!

In Carlinville, the old folks still get to talking about the legend of Angus Bailey. The man in question was a loner who rode into town on a cold, windy night way back in 1890. He wanted a nice, juicy steak and some fine sipping whiskey, so Bailey walked into a saloon on this spot and sat down to enjoy his meal. Just then a fight broke out. Well it turned out that Angus Bailey was the cause of it, as he was falsely accused of cattle rustling by an ornery individual known as Old Man Merriweather. Before he knew it, Angus was swinging from a rope on the north side of the town square. As the snow fell that night, the quiet loner was buried in a shallow grave on the edge of town. So far so tragic but here’s where it gets strange. The story goes that the very next night Angus Bailey walked back into the saloon to finish his meal. The saloon owner, though terrified, prepared one of his finest cuts of beef and opened his best bottle of whiskey. When he finished, Angus was seen to ride back out of town, the same way he had come in. With the wind blowing and the snow falling he never once looked back. Legend has it, the ghost of Angus Bailey can still be seen north side of the square in Carlinville on nights when the weather is foul, enjoying the best food and drink in all the county.

Next stop is Mt. Olive, and the Soulsby's gas station. Open from 1926 until the early 90s this was one of the longest operating gas stations on the old Mother Road. Henry Soulsby built it in order to have a business to pass on to his son Russell, and the landmark filling station would continue pumping gas for another fifty years after the Route 66 designation had been removed from the pavement outside. Russell Soulsby was trained in the Army as an electronics repairman and used the north side of the station to run a second business - of servicing the community's radios and televisions.

driving usa america route 66

Along with the bright reds and yellows of the recent restoration, the most striking feature of Soulsby's Station is on the south side of the property where the repair rack shares space - quite intimately - with an old oak tree. With no room inside for automobile service, repairs were all made on the steel ramp outside. Over the years a tree began to spring up between the tire rails on the rack. It’s still there, rising up out of the middle, preventing modern automobiles from venturing up onto it. This Mount Olive landmark gives Route 66 another signature quirk.

Next stop is the Country Classic Cars - a dealer that has about 600 classic cars for sale in sheds we can visit. This sight is too much to absorb...

Staunton has another special treat for true Route 66 aficionados. We can't pass through Staunton without a stop at Henry's Rabbit Ranch. Look out for the bright "Hare It Is" sign located on the old 1930 - 1940 alignment of Route 66. This sign is actually a riff on the renowned "Here It Is" sign at the Jackrabbit Trading Post on Old Route 66 in Arizona.

driving usa america route 66

The Chain of Rocks Bridge was, for a time, the path used by Route 66 to cross over the Mississippi river, carried Route 66 traffic across the Mississippi from Illinois to Missouri from 1929 through 1967. It’s most notable feature is the 22-degree bend occurring at the middle. This peculiarity was necessary to establish sound footings in the treacherous channel. The bridge now only carries walking and biking trails over the river.

CORB was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

driving usa america route 66
driving usa america route 66

Today we will not only drive on Route 66's finest roads, but stop at the Fanning 66 Outpost. Stocked with a goodly selection of Route 66 souvenirs and collectibles including a taxidermy shop, archery range and the world’s largest rocking chair, according to the Guinness Book of Records. At 46 inches tall and weighing some 26,500 pounds it could hardly be anything else!

Devil’s Elbow is a famous or should we say infamous stretch of Missouri Route 66 legend - and the Big Cut area of the Mother Road. It used to be considered one of the most dangerous sections of old Route 66. Today it is an agreeable break in a pleasant, park-like setting.

Devil's Elbow was a popular resort town in the 1930s and 40s. With the picturesque Big Piney River’s and the beautiful Ozark Hills as a backdrop it’s easy to see why.

Day 4: Lebanon - Tulsa (Oklahoma, Miles: 238, Kilometers: 380)

driving usa america route 66
Our classic Route 66 motel in Lebanon

We visit “Gay Parita Service Station” in the morning. This is a must stop in a wonderful world of Route 66 attractions. We could easily spend hours just going through all the treasures there.

Welcome to Kansas! Kansas has got the shortest stretch of Route 66 asphalt: only 13 beautiful miles. In Galena there is a chance we meet “Tow Mater” from the movie CARS – the original 1951 International boom truck next to the old garage on the old Route 66 where we have lunch.

On our way to Baxter Springs, Kansas and just few miles west of Riverton we come to the Marsh Arch "Rainbow Bridge" on the old alignment of Route 66. This is one elegant old bridge, though it is far smaller than the old Spring River Bridge, which did not survive the "new is better" ethos so evident during the 1970s and 80s.

As we drive through Miami (and we are starving) we won’t miss Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger with its giant Cuckoo Clock outside. This little fast food restaurant with a cuckoo bird popping out of its cuckoo clock roof has been a Route 66 icon for decades.

Route 66 Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum is located on the Mother Road in downtown Miami. The museum includes a 2,000 sq. ft. motorcycle and Route 66 gift shop and is home to an incredible collection of motorcycles and memorabilia. There are over 40 vintage motorcycles on display at the museum, including a 1917 Harley Davidson, 1972 Yamaha World Record Jump Bike, 2004 Honda world record jump bike, 1949 Indian Scout, 1949 AJS, 1957 Ariel, and many more.

In Afton Oklahoma you stop by the Station Packard Museum (restored 1930s Eagle D-X filling station), a privately owned automotive museum on U.S. Route 66. It houses a showroom, 18 Packards & other vintage automobiles plus a collection of Route 66 memorabilia, including items from the now-demolished Buffalo Ranch Trading Post. A restored set of historic D-X fuel pumps stands in the old station's forecourt and the red and white on blue "Approved Packard Service" dealership logo is proudly displayed atop a signpost.

driving usa america route 66
driving usa america route 66

Then, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the appropriately named Totem Pole park is home to the World’s Largest Concrete Totem Pole, a 90 foot totem pole that towers over the park in an astonishing array of folk art colors, with the four nine-foot Indians near the top each representing a different tribe.

Between 1937 and 1948, one Ed Galloway built the totem pole utilizing some 28 tons of cement, six tons of steel, and 100 tons of sand and rock. Ed’s personal tribute to the American Indian features a collection of some 200 carved pictures.

One of the most recognizable attractions on old Route 66 in Oklahoma must be The Blue Whale. Constructed in the early 1970s by Hugh Davis as an anniversary gift to his wife Zelta, The Blue Whale and its pond quickly became a favorite rest area and swimming spot for both locals and passers by.

Day 5: Tulsa - Clinton (Oklahoma, Miles: 217, Kilometers: 350)

Seaba Filling Station: listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this Route 66 landmark is now filled with over 65 vintage motorcycles from 1908 to present. The Seaba Station was built in 1921, five years before historic Route 66 was certified as a national highway. Let us pay a visit to browse through motorcycle displays, antiques, souvenirs and more.

At Arcadia, Travelers frequently pause to consider the statue of Washington Irving, and all his works and deeds. Then there’s the iconic Round Barn, according to many the most photographed spot of all on Route 66. These days there is yet another reason to stop in Arcadia: POP'S, a somewhat futuristic looking restaurant on Route 66 that’s bound to become one of the many instantly recognizable landmarks on “America’s Main Street”!

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum on Oklahoma City features a superb collection of classic and contemporary western art. The exhibition wing houses a turn-of-the-century town and interactive history galleries that focus on the American cowboy, rodeos, Native American culture, Victorian firearms, frontier military and western performers.

driving usa america route 66

We will have our lunch however at a great little place called Sid's Diner. The burgers are fantastic, but if you have a special request it may be to ask the (Elvis impersonator) owner not to sing. He has the voice of …Kevin Costner plus his guitar is out of tune. All in good fun, but we continue our trip West reaching the interestingly named South Canadian River and the 38-arch bridge which traverses it. This bridge was indeed constructed using 38 low-rise truss arches, some 19 on each side. These arches are also known as "ponies": they are painted yellow and visible from some distance. Take a quick look at our little video of crossing the bridge, which happens to be gateway to one of the most pleasant drives on all of Route 66. It’s here you get the authentic feeling that comes from riding on a two-lane cement road which hugs the very contours of the earth, and rises and falls gently with the hills. Going down this road you get a sense of what it must’ve been like crossing Route 66 back in the 1930s ... except that you're almost certainly going much faster than they did back then!

driving usa america route 66

The seams in the cement reverberate with a gentle rhythm on the drive up to the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum. Largely due to Jim Ross and Shellee Graham's many fine Route 66 photographs, probably this is the best out of the many museums on Route 66.

Day 6: Clinton - Amarillo (Texas, Miles: 193, Kilometers: 311)

As befits its name, The National Route 66 Museum in Eric celebrates Route 66, not just in the state of Oklahoma, but all eight Route 66 states. The museum features a walk through scale model of all eight states focusing on the ordinary folk who lived, worked and traveled the old Mother Road. The murals are quite realistic and the exhibits include vintage automobiles and antiques from the bygone hey-day of Route 66.

driving usa america route 66
One of the loneliest sections of Route 66, Erick OK

There was a time when everything west of Eric was considered to be the “Great American Desert”. This is also explained by the fact that until it was realigned, Erick used to be right on the Texas border.

We go just one block south of Roger Miller Boulevard and check Bonebrake Hardware "Museum". In the 1960s the owners retired: just locked the doors for the night and left. Nobody has ever seen them after. Today you can look in the store windows to see dusty counters and inventory, otherwise unchanged.

There was a time, the 1930s to be precise, when Shamrock was a prosperous oil town. A conspicuous reminder that the old Route 66 ran through Shamrock, is the Tower Service Station and U-Drop Inn Conoco, since 1936 it’s been a Texas Route 66 milestone. The U-Drop Inn Cafe, named by a local schoolboy in a contest that awarded him $50.00 for his idea. To this day, it is still one of the most upscale eateries on U.S. Highway 66 between Oklahoma City and Amarillo.

driving usa america route 66

Oozing old time atmosphere, the small Panhandle town of McLean is a trip back in time to a true Route 66 experience.

McLean’s Devil's Rope Museum is dedicated to barbed wire, or the Devil's rope as it’s sometimes called around these parts. The Museum features the history of barbed wire, and artifacts which are a reminder of the significance of this invention, and its impact on the Old West’s development.

driving usa america route 66

The restored Phillips 66 Gas Station – Now this is truly history. Not only was it the first Phillips 66 Service Station in Texas, built as it was in 1927, but the gas pumps show the price of gas at a mere 19¢ a gallon!

On we drive, to another historic railroad town, this one dating back to 1902, Groom, Texas. Arguably its chief attraction is the neck-turning "Leaning Tower of Texas” actually just a water tank tipping perilously to one side. One leg of the Britten USA water reservoir is actually shorter than the others. It was built this way just to catch the tourist's eye and get them to stop for a while in Groom. Another attraction for the Interstate traveler is the Groom Cross. With a height of 190 feet, the Groom Cross is reported as being the 2nd biggest cross in the northern hemisphere. Built on private property it is visible for miles as you approach this panhandle town. Though it doesn't date back to the very first days of Route 66 it’s definitely in the spirit of the old Mother Road.

driving usa america route 66

Then, you can’t miss them and why would you want to? We mean ten graffiti-covered cars that are half-buried, nose-down and rise up out the desert terrain, and collectively known as The Cadillac Ranch. Built in 1974 by Stanley Marsh and The Ant Farm, a San Francisco Art Collective, the ranch is located along the fringes of historic Route 66 facing west "at the same angle as the Cheops' pyramids." The Cadillacs are all emblematic of the "Golden Age" in American Automobiles (1949 through 1963). The line-up of cars and their position all the way out in a field allows for some atmospheric photography. Their distance from any watchful eye of authority also encourages ever-changing layers of painted graffiti, which Marsh has never had much of a problem with. Interesting to note however, that in 1997 encroaching development forced Marsh to pick up and move the whole Caddy farm that much further West.

When Amarillo and the 66 come to mind, one of the first places you probably think of would be the Big Texan Steak Ranch, and if not, it should be. Open since 1960, The Big Texan has become world-renowned for its 72oz steak eating challenge. If you can eat a shrimp cocktail, salad, baked potato with fixin's, and a 72oz steak (about 2 kg) within 60 minutes your meal is free! But if you can’t quite make it, you’ll have to foot a bill of around $70 plus tip. Only around 1 in 6 customers are successful, according to the Big Texan website.

Day 7: Amarillo - Santa Fe (New Mexico, Miles: 301, Kilometers: 485)

storm on route 66 road
route 66 holiday half way adrian texas

We have officially reached the halfway mark when we arrive at the town of Adrian, Texas. This little Route 66 town’s claim to fame is that it’s the midpoint of the 2,278 miles between Chicago, IL and Santa Monica, CA. Some pictures under the halfway sign are a photo opportunity too good to miss.

On the border of Texas and New Mexico we visit the 'Ghost Town' of Glenrio built in 1926. Current population now is 2.

Onto to New Mexico and a full day of both riding and sightseeing, we drive through Tucumcari, where the neon lights of the archetypal motel The Blue Swallow have been a beacon for road weary travelers since 1939. Lunch at a Mexican restaurant fortifies us for the afternoon in Tucumcari

Day 8: Santa Fe - Gallup (New Mexico, Miles: 239, Kilometers: 383)

driving usa america route 66

When Wild Hogs Came to Madrid... If you have always been curious about what it would be like to be living in the midst of a major movie production while it’s being shot, than this site should be right up your street. It chronicles the shoot of the Disney movie Wild Hogs as it in took place in Madrid, New Mexico. The film is about ageing suburban bikers who face down a serious gang and starred John Travolta and Tim Allen. For an entirely different kind of experience, it’s interesting to note that Madrid and the area surrounding it, is reputed to be haunted. There has been many a ghost sighting around the town, in the old church and the cemetery, but perhaps most of all the Mine Shaft Tavern. Both guests and staff have reported seeing doors pushed open by unseen hands, doors that then swing eerily in the breeze. Glasses fall from shelves and smash on the floor, mysterious sounds are heard through the six inch abode walls, furniture is moved about in the middle of the night, and perhaps strangest of all, employees at the Mine Shaft tell of looking in the mirror to see a ghost staring back at them. Spooky!

Next stop is The 66 Diner which looks, feels and even tastes like a Mother Road classic. Uniformed waitresses work the dining area to the beat of 1950s era rock-and-roll blasting from an old time juke box. Bright red ceiling lamps are suspended over aqua-blue counter stools. There’s a hopscotch game built into the black and white tiled floor. But best of all you can chow down on traditional Route 66 roadside fare. Try their hamburger or a sloppy Joe with French fries and a world beater milk shake, or a pounded-tender chicken-fried steak coated in gravy with a side of mashed potatoes. Check out their daily blue-plate specials, such as Tuesday’s chicken pot pie and Saturday’s hot turkey sandwiches.

Next, let’s check out a real slice of the Old West, Hollywood style. Gallup's El Rancho Hotel was built in 1937 on historic Route 66, and is now protected and cared for by preservationists. Well, back in the olden days of the Western, the Gallup rented rooms to literally 1000s of movie stars while they were in town making movies. And it sure looks the part, with its sweeping staircase and huge stone fireplace, plus old Hollywood star portraits and Navajo art filling the two story lobby of this rustic hotel. There’s also a fine selection of Southwestern and Mexican cuisine available in the "Old West" 49er Lounge.

If it’s Native American pottery, baskets, beaded items, artifacts you’re after, you will certainly find them at Richardson's Trading Company located in Gallup’s downtown area. It’s a great place to select some one-of-a-kind Native American artwork.

Day 9: Gallup - Flagstaff (Arizona, Miles: 224, Kilometers: 358)

driving usa america route 66

Some of the most outstanding geologic and fossil records of the Late Triassic period anywhere can be found at our next destination, Petrified Forest National Park. Driving through the park takes all of 45 minutes but if the riders are keen, we can stay a little longer for a prehistoric history lesson. Research conducted in the park turns up new evidence all the time, ranging from petrified wood to dinosaur bones.

driving_route_66_holiday

Old time trading posts and motels straight out of 1950s Americana still line Route 66 in Holbrook. The area around Holbrook is a nirvana for rock hounds, as the so-called Painted Desert is still fertile ground for discovering dinosaur remains.

There are of course many attractions along Route 66, some of which might best be described as curiosities. We can’t stop for all of them, but who could resist the charms of a 10 foot high jackrabbit with a saddle across its back? This is a great, tongue-in-cheek photo opportunity. There’s not much else to do at this spot on the I-40 in the middle of the desert, aside from a visit to the Jack Rabbit Trading Post that is.

It’s certainly curious that despite being in the proverbial middle of nowhere, the Jack Rabbit Trading Post has its own on and off ramps for I-40. The story behind them is this: Back in 1967 an Arizona state senator named Glenn Blansett purchased the Trading Post. One of his last acts as a Senator was to see that the I-40 ramps were put in place here. The Jack Rabbit Trading Post is still in the Blansett family, but these days it’s his granddaughter Cindy who runs the show.

driving usa america route 66

You may wonder how these far flung trading outposts ever attracted customers, especially in the days before the mass communications. Typically the owners of these establishments would take a road trip themselves, all 1,000 miles to Springfield, MO. On the way back, they dotted the roadside with billboards. The cumulative effect was such that by the time travelers arrived at a place like Joseph City their curiosity was so piqued they couldn't help but stop. Pioneers in their own way, the proprietors brought customers to their stores, and didn’t let being “in the middle of nowhere” stand in their way. Good for them.

Up until the 1960s, Winslow was the biggest town in northern Arizona, but it’s a familiar story, when the town was bypassed by the I-40 in the 1970s, shops and businesses began closing down and the population declined. In 1972 however, “Take it Easy”, the first hit single for those California rockers The Eagles came out, and immortalized the town in pop/rock consciousness with the lyric, “standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona”.

driving usa america route 66

About six miles south of I-40 exit 233 and three miles east of the evocatively named Two Guns we arrive at Meteor Crater, another one of Arizona’s remarkable holes in the ground. It’s the result of an asteroid crashing to earth at a speed of 26,000 miles, some 50,000 years ago. Some 550 feet deep and almost a mile in diameter, these days the crater is actually a privately owned tourist attraction. Its “Astronauts Hall of Fame” plays up the crater’s likeness to the moon, not without justification when you learn that Apollo astronauts used to practice their moon-walk at Meteor Crater.

We drive on through the dense forestland southeast of Flagstaff, passing by the small seasonal stream of Walnut Creek, which over 1000s of years has engraved a 600 foot deep canyon into the local Kaibab limestone. As it flows east, it eventually joins with the Little Colorado River en route to the Grand Canyon. Over time, shallow caves were formed in the canyon walls. Way back in the 12th to 13th centuries the Sinagua Indians constructed many cave-dwellings high above the canyon floor, along the steep, easily defensible ledges.

Day 10: Flagstaff - Grand Canyon - Williams (Arizona, Miles: 161, Kilometers: 259)

driving usa america route 66
driving usa america route 66

However sky-high your expectations, there’s nothing that really prepares you for the awesome reality of The Grand Canyon. There’s something humbling and transcendent about seeing it for the first time. You will be overawed by both its beauty and size. Its great age stands in stark relief to our relatively short time on Earth, and in its vast space, travelers can seek a respite from hectic 21st century life.

This enormous chasm was etched into the Colorado Plateau landscape over several millennia. Today it is enjoyed by those who come to explore its roads, hike its trails, or brave the Colorado River’s surging currents.

We will book a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, and experience the world famous IMAX movie Grand Canyon: 'The Hidden Secrets' at the park entrance.

Overnight in the town of Williams, with its quant downtown which is on the National Register of Historic Places. To this day, Williams the town is a perfectly preserved piece of small-town America, with its virtually unchanged main street and what’s more, a kind of small town life you just don’t find much anymore. They still hold a local beauty pageant in Williams, and store clerks will happily give you tips on where best to eat.

Day 11: Williams - Las Vegas (Nevada, Miles: , Kilometers: 480)

driving usa america road tour route 66

About an hour's drive away we arrive onto Seligman, which is a great little town, with clean streets and friendly people and super espresso shots! There are, it has to be said, gift shops galore, most of them focused on Route 66 and American memorabilia, but there’s also a fine selection of biking clothing and accessories such as boots and leather jackets. Out on the street, there are vintage cars, colorfully dressed mannequins, and funny little street signs galore. We make a stop for a hearty breakfast at Frank's place. As you’ll see, it’s a one of a kind.

Grand Canyon Caverns have been a must-see Route 66 tourist spot ever since the 1930s. A maze of limestone caves some 21 stories underground that wend their way all the way to the Grand Canyon, these caverns were formed over the course of 35 million years. You could fit 3 football fields inside the parts of the caverns where we can take our tour.

On a smaller scale but interesting in its own way, is the old gas station at Hackberry. This former gas station and general store doesn't sell gas these days, but it does sell practically anything and everything associated with Old Route 66. Run by John and Kerry Pritchard, we recommend a walk behind the store, where they keep the really interesting memorabilia. That means old cars, sheds, garages, cactus, signs and more than we can list here. You can even take a carrot or two and feed the mules beyond the water garden.

Then if you like root beer, may we recommend Mr. D’z Kingman Route 66 Diner, proudly serving the finest root beer in the world. Root beer is in fact a kind of soda.

Beginning at the town of Kingman, Oatman Road is a winding two-lane road traversing 42 miles of Arizona's striking desert terrain. In combination with the byway's stirring Western history, the scenery creates an atmosphere that is unmistakably “Old West”. In the surprisingly lively ghost town of Oatman, we’ll come across free-roaming burros (wild donkeys), the occasional gunfight (staged for your enjoyment), and a collection of scenic storefronts straight out of an old John Wayne movie.

Day 12: Las Vegas - rest day

Let's see what the Sin City has got to offer! There are various programs you can choose from - or just enjoy our day off by the pool.

Day 13: Las Vegas - Los Angeles (Santa Monica Pier, California, Miles: 281, Kilometers: 450)

driving usa america route 66

Calico is an old West mining town that has been around since 1881 during the largest silver strike in California. With its 500 mines, Calico produced over $20 million in silver ore over a 12-year span. When silver lost its value in the mid-1890's, Calico lost its population. The miner's packed up, loaded their mules and moved away abandoning the town that once gave them a good living. It became a "ghost town."

Bottle farm: Elmer has filled his yard with sculptures that resemble trees covered with bottles. They're actually pieces of pipe welded together, with hundreds of bottles loosely slipped over the ends so that they tinkle in the wind. There are lots of other odds and ends mixed in, including old signs, wheels, mechanical junk, all in all: a great stop, again!

On a palm-lined cliff at the edge of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, only a few blocks away from the city’s landmark pier, old Route 66 came to its western terminus. The pier supports a small amusement park and a charmingly quaint carousel. There’s a beachfront walkway which goes from the pier to Venice Beach, the heart of hippy trippy L.A. But keep your eyes peeled, for right where Santa Monica Boulevard dead-ends at Ocean Boulevard, there’s a brass plaque which denotes the official end of the “Main Street of America”. Your Route 66 tour finishes right on Santa Monica Pier under the sign “End of the Trail”. It’s time to say good-bye and make your way back home, unless you'd like to spend a few more days in Los Angeles in which case just let us know so we can arrange extended accommodation and car hire.

driving usa america route 66

Other optional local programs (per person):

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum US$13.00 (£10.00, AU$16.00, NZ$18.00,R 172,00, 11,00 €)

IMAX Theater at Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets US$13.00 (£10.00, AU$16.00, NZ$18.00,R 172,00, 11,00 €)

Dinner at Big Texan Steakhouse, Amarillo, TX US$40.00 (£30.00, AU$50.00, NZ$54.00,R 529,00, 33,00 €)

Willis Tower Skydeck, Chicago IL US$23.00 (£17.00, AU$29.00, NZ$31.00,R 304,00, 19,00 €)

Meramec Caverns, Meramec State Park, MO US$21.00 (£16.00, AU$26.00, NZ$29.00,R 278,00, 17,00 €)

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, Clinton, OK US$7.00 (£5.00, AU$9.00, NZ$10.00,R 93,00, 6,00 €)

National Route 66 Museum, Elk City, OK US$5.00 (£4.00, AU$6.00, NZ$7.00,R 66,00, 4,00 €)

Petrified Forest National Park, Holbrook, AZ FREE

Meteor Crater, Meteor City, AZ US$18.00 (£13.00, AU$22.00, NZ$24.00,R 238,00, 15,00 €)

Bandera's Ice Cave & Volcano, Grants, NM US$12.00 (£9.00, AU$15.00, NZ$16.00,R 159,00, 10,00 €)

Meals, airfares not included, however, complimentary breakfast is served at most places

Number of passengers: 6-8

Tour deposit: $1,000 per room

Please note: do not purchase international airline tickets until tour is confirmed by us!

Panam Holidays Inc., 2942 N 24th Street, Suite 114-407, Phoenix, AZ 85016. Phone: 1.602.354.9292.
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