Photography by Larry Lindahl
“If the Grand Canyon is the heart of Arizona, then Route 66 is the main artery…” Writer and frequent Arizona Highways contributor Roger Naylor couldn’t have said it better… and now you can read about his love affair with Route 66 (and his thing for homemade pie) in the book, Arizona Kicks On Route 66… Of course, this project could not have been done without another Arizona Highways contributor, photographer Larry Lindahl. Larry’s photos are beautiful and rich in detail… there’s a real sense of nostalgia… you’ll want to hit the Mother Road after checking out some of his images below:
This dynamic duo traveled the longest intact portion of Route 66 (we’re talking 158 miles) to create this stunning book — a 9×12 masterpiece, showcasing the magic that is Route 66… it’s truly a slice of Americana.
Below, Roger talks about the book, his obsession with pie and working with his pal and colleague, Larry:
Why did you decide to focus on Route 66?
If the Grand Canyon is the heart of Arizona, then Route 66 is the main artery. A pulsing and vital link feeding the towns that stretch across the northern half of the state. There’s such a blend of history and scenery, of small towns and wide open spaces, of Wild West and mid-century Americana that I just found irresistible. I’ve always loved road trips and Route 66 Arizona is the ultimate. It rambles across stark badlands, cloud-swept plateaus and a desert painted in scandalous hues. The road explores forests of tall pines and forests where trees have turned to stone. It brushes past volcanoes, craters and the ruins of ancient civilizations. It’s a beautiful, bewitching drive, plus there are burgers and pie. What else do you need?
What can readers expect from this book?
They can expect a love letter to Route 66 and Arizona. Visually, it’s a stunning book. It’s a big 9 x 12, which is a great showcase for the spectacular photographs of Larry Lindahl. And I kept it a fun, breezy read. There’s plenty of information—where to eat, where to sleep, what to see and do, including some side trips—but there’s also a rhythm to the book, a sense of movement. So many Route 66 books feel static because the narrative is viewed through a kind of historic prism, lamenting what’s no longer there. I touched on the history of the road because it’s fascinating but I focused on what’s still going gangbusters. Route 66 exudes a timeless quality but it’s vibrant and vivid and alive as new businesses open and additional restorations salvage existing ones. I believe Route 66 is about to undergo another renaissance and it’s great to be part of that. It’s a book that will make you want to jump in your car and GO!
Route 66 is a very popular “destination,” will readers find anything unexpected in your book?
There are no other Route 66 books devoted solely to Arizona so I was able to go into a lot more depth. And I give readers truly important information, like the joints that serve homemade pie. I have Pie Alerts throughout the book because there are two places where you should always be able to find homemade pie—cooling on Grandma’s windowsill and in cafes and diners along Route 66. In the interest of journalistic integrity I should admit, I like pie.
A lot of smaller attractions that often get overlooked are included in the book like the Native American dances on the lawn of the Navajo County Courthouse during the summer, a mystical, beautiful experience. Great little museums like Old Trails in Winslow, Ash Fork Museum and Kingman Army Airfield Museum. And there are some oddities, like Giganticus Headicus, a 14-foot-tall tiki head in the Mojave Desert and the “Trail of the Whispering Giants,” which is a completely different giant noggin. There are also lots of natural attractions that readers may not know like Shaffer Fish Bowl Springs, Mesa Trail in Cool Springs, the Boundary Cone formation and lots more.
Did you learn anything new about the Mother Road, if so, what?
It wasn’t something I didn’t already know but it still startled me to discover how widespread the passion for Route 66 is around the globe. I knew it was an international icon but it was so much bigger than I realized. I’ve met tour groups from France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Australia, Norway, Japan and at least a dozen other countries. Larry and I have a Route 66 Arizona Facebook page and every day we hear from fans from all over the world. That wavy ribbon of road symbolizes freedom and a sense of adventure that resonates with people no matter what language they speak. They come to Arizona because this is holy ground for Route 66ers. The preservation movement began right here in Seligman, led by Angel Delgadillo, the town barber who decided to save this road. And he did!
That’s something else I learned: Route 66 exists today because of a few determined people who decided they could make the world better. La Posada, Wigwam Motel, Cool Springs, Hackberry General Store and so many others are all just stories of people that decided to save a piece of our heritage. How cool is that?
You collaborated with photographer Larry Lindahl…how did you guys work together?
Larry and I first met while working on an Arizona Highways story several years ago. We took a balloon ride over Sedona, which was a blast. For the book, we traveled Route 66 together once or twice but for the most part operated independently. Like all great photographers, Larry pursues the magical light of early morning and late evening. For my purposes, I needed to visit places when they were open and bustling. We kept in contact as we crafted the book so we knew what ground each of us was covering. At the end we were thrilled at how perfectly the text and images fit together. But I don’t think we were surprised. We both have a passion for the subject matter and just tried to capture it in our own way. It was an honor for me to see my words so beautifully illustrated.
What was your favorite part of the book?
I included a series of vignettes called Route 66 Arizona Moments throughout the book. They’re small personal stories from my travels—watching a sunset and moonrise in Painted Desert, listening to a kid play piano at La Posada, spending the night underground at Grand Canyon Caverns and more. These are my favorite memories of traveling the Mother Road. Because I think that’s what stays with us from a journey, intimate moments. It’s great to have the big experiences and see the sights but what we cherish afterwards are the times we stop at a diner in the middle of nowhere and have an amazing burger and piece of pie. Or we pull off the road to watch horses graze in meadows drenched with sunflowers. Or we step out of store to see fierce thunderclouds bruising the sky above sandstone cliffs. Life is all about moments. And I hope the book encourages folks to go out and gather a few more of their own. When Mother Road calls, you have to answer.
Details: The book is available in stores and visitor centers all along Route 66 Arizona. It can also be ordered from Amazon. For more information, check out Roger and Larry’s Facebook page.
For Even More Details: Roger and Larry will be discussing the book and signing copies at Well Red Coyote in Sedona on June 2. 928-282-2284, http://www.wellredcoyote.com.