Culture & Heritage

Flagstaff Character: Gene Shoemaker

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Flagstaff knows a thing or two about scientists. For a century and a half, astronomers, botanists, geologists, biologists, paleontologists, meteorologists, and about any other ‘ologist that comes to mind have ventured here to study the area’s abundance of natural resources. So when one of them is singled out as the cream of this very rich crop, one that would find a place on the Mount Rushmore of Flagstaff scientists, that is saying something. Gene Shoemaker is that person, and his era-defining legacy of research is first-rate for any scientist in the world, let alone one who called Flagstaff home for three decades.

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Six Flagstaff Kicks on Route 66

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Six Flagstaff Kicks on Route 66

You’ll Kick Yourself if you miss these Route 66 Secrets

Since all you Flagstaff Route 66 aficionados are so well-versed on the Mother Road’s “Must-See” spots – like the Museum Club, Galaxy Diner and the Flagstaff Visitor Center – I’m here to tell you about lesser-known gems that you’d kick yourself if you missed. As a travel writer, I’m always looking for hideaways that earn bragging rights, and I want to slap myself silly if I learn about one AFTER I’ve left the place. With the following six insider secrets, you’ll score impressive photo ops, backstories and much to crow about.

Mother Road Brewing Company

Stationed on a lost portion of Route 66, this locally-owned craft brewery is off the beaten path. The original Route 66 followed the railroad spur (Mikes Pike) that serviced Flagstaff’s Riordan Lumber Mill. The reroute took place when an underpass was constructed to facilitate congestion caused by families moving west during the Dust Bowl at what is now Milton Road.

Discover that original alignment of Route 66 by walking or driving south on Beaver Street from the Flagstaff Visitor Center to Phoenix Avenue. Follow Phoenix Avenue west to Mikes Pike, and you’ll be tracing the original route of the Mother Road, John Steinbeck’s name for Route 66. Turn left onto Mikes Pike and go one block to Mother Road Brewing Company. The family-friendly taproom, located in the 1920s Milum Building, serves beer with Route 66 inspired names such as “Lost Highway Black IPA’ and “Gold Road Kölsch Style Ale.

Mother Road Brewing Company

Route 66 Passport: Get Stamped Along the Mother Road

Not many peeps are aware of the 90th Anniversary edition of the Arizona Historic Route 66 Passport, but you’ll be “in the know” when you ask for one at the Flagstaff Visitor Center in historic downtown. The commemorative document reveals where in Arizona you can collect stamps for your secret Route 66 passport.

Dog Haus: Undercover Backstory

Just when you thought that the Eagles hit “Take it Easy” was inspired by songwriter Jackson Brown’s experience on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, here comes the backstory. According to an interview with local entertainment producer Matthew Ziegler, Brown revealed, “The image of that girl driving a truck was an image that came from east Flag(staff). … It wasn’t really a flatbed Ford. It was a Toyota truck, and it was pulling out of Weinerschnitzel.” The drive-thru has since changed its name to Dog Haus, but you could reenact your own version of the hush-hush story by checking out who’s slowin’ down to take a look at you while you wait for your dogs or breakfast burritos. In case you don’t know them by heart, here’s the words to that iconic road trippin’ song penned by Brown and Glenn Frey:

Well, I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona,
Such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me

Miz Zip’s: Serving Route 66 Motorists Since Elvis was a Teenager

This Route 66 roadside diner has been in the family since 1952. There’s a selfie photo op with the sign outside that flaunts a Route 66 crest. Inside, historic memorabilia and western bric-and-brac adorn the walls. Miz Zip’s clientele is mostly locals, many sporting cowboy hats and boots. So you’ll experience a slice of cowboy life served up with that slice of homemade pie, a specialty. Bring cash or check since this hole-in-the-wall does not accept credit cards.

Western Hills Motel Neon Sign

This is my favorite neon sign along all of Arizona Route 66. The feet on the team of horses trot as they pull the covered wagon, which, of course, makes the spoked wheels go round and round. How fun is that? Get out of your car to make the most of this photo op and try out the video mode on your camera to capture the motion. The sign shares the address, 1580 E Route 66, Flagstaff with Agave Mexican Restaurant, which gets dos thumbs up from this travel correspondent.

Route 66 Neon

Phoenix Avenue Route 66 Mural

If you don’t know where this almost block-long mural is located, you could easily drive right past it. Decorating the south wall of the Lumberyard Brewery at 5 South San Francisco Street, it is worth the stop to get out and view the detailed mural. The mural depicting classic cars, Flagstaff’s historic Indian Pow Wow and local Route 66 icons, makes this a great selfie backdrop to document your Route 66 exploits. After capturing your selfie, turn around and get a shot of the historic Downtowner Motel sign across the street.

If you’re not so well-versed on the more familiar “Must See” Flagstaff Route 66 spots, then check out the mountain town’s 66 Kicks on Route 66.

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