Road Trip Guide - Page 13 - Open road, open plans continued (3)

Road Trip Guide
- Page 13
Open road, open plans continued (3)
When I got to Seligman, I experienced the biggest highlight of the road trip: a haircut from a 90-year-old barber named Angel Delgadillo, a storyteller with a comedian’s timing. His Original Route 66 Gift Shop, a major stop for any Route 66 pilgrimage, includes a small barber shop in the front corner of the store.

As Delgadillo will tell you, in a nearly nonstop monologue interrupted only by the constant stream of tourists snapping his photo, he helped establish the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona in 1987, and his family is mentioned in the “America on the Move” permanent exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

“This town is really the America of yesterday,” Delgadillo said.

Grand Canyon
I raced out of Seligman in hopes of making it to Grand Canyon National Park, just north of Route 66, in time to catch the sunset —but missed it by five minutes. I caught a spectacular twilight, however, and vowed to wake early the next morning for sunrise.

Then I had to find a hotel room, knowing that my “no plans” strategy would be put to the test. I tried all the hotels inside the national park, looking for a last-minute cancellation. The answer was the same everywhere: Rooms were sold out for months.

I did, however, find a room at my fallback hotel, the Red Feather Lodge (redfeatherlodge.com, doubles from $152 a night plus tax), about a mile from the South Rim entrance.

Because I couldn’t stay at the majestic El Tovar Hotel in the park, I figured I’d eat a pre-sunrise breakfast there the next morning in preparation for my hike into the canyon. The steep descent on the Bright Angel Trail concerned me, knowing every step into the canyon would be twice as difficult on the way out.

All the huffing and puffing hikers heading up the trail had the same look on their face. I wondered if I might turn back before I had anticipated.

But the farther I descended, the more my perspective of the canyon changed. The intermittent sunlight and shadows brought out a breathtaking array of colors in the layers of rock.

After about an hour, I reversed course and began my ascent. And I followed the advice of the guy in front of me: I took it slow.

Holbrook and Snowflake, Ariz.
As I drove east, I called the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Ariz., about two dozen times trying to book a room for the night, getting no answer and leaving countless messages. (Turns out the motel office didn’t open until 3 p.m.)