To prove how haunting a trip along the southwest stretch of Route 66 could be, just this morning, almost two weeks to the very hour my girlfriend and I embarked on the journey, I sat down in Starbucks to chronicle the creepy places we encountered when "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" began to play in the store. When the song was composed and originally recorded, it celebrated the rife culture along America's Mother Road, but considering some of its more abandoned and dilapidated areas now, the tune has become a spooky echo from the past. I experienced some of these spectres firsthand, and I dare journal them for public consumption, lest these ghosts haunt me forever!
Of course, one needn't hear a "boo" to feel a place is haunted, if only by its own once-glorious past. Places like the McDonald's museum in San Bernandino, where the McDonald brothers opened their first hamburger stand, or Roy's Motel and Cafe in Amboy are actually still inhabited by moderate business and infrequent tourism, but they are by no means the attractions they once were. Consider these signs I found behind the McDonald's museum (pic above), or the sheer desolate desert behind my beautiful girlfriend and me at Roy's. If these places were haunted, even the ghosts would get bored.
The Ellas Frontier Trading Post (with its adjacent Red Arrows Camp) is a similar gaping hole to the past, less protected and revered but equally interesting in its ruin.
The grand finale for anyone ghost hunting in northern Arizona lingers in the Holbrook Courthouse, which also features a museum and the original prison cell that once housed some sixteen inmates at a time. With sentences that could've lasted as long as 20 years, these guys had plenty of time to draw some of the murals my girlfriend dutifully captured on camera. Further, according to our impromptu tour guide Randy, the courthouse is still home to seven ghosts, one of whom, Mary, was a prostitute sentenced to hang for killing an abusive john. In solitary, she hastened her fate and hung herself; now she has her own bedroom in the museum, where Randy apparently engages her in conversation. Free accommodations and friendship? Who says crime doesn't pay?
To conclude, I'm compelled to distinguish between my first Route 66 post and this second installment, as both ghosts and dinosaurs are creatures from the past. The difference is, the faux dinosaurs we encountered along Route 66 were present as an homage to something long gone. These spooky places still exist in this perpetual stage of epilogue to their former glory, the desert wind that blows through the cracks in their boarded windows a last gasp of life. They're prisoners to the past, students of isolation, traded away for paved progress. You don't have to believe in ghosts to feel that these attractions are still haunted -- if only by the lives they lived.