blogging kp!

some of my travels with random musings & silliness mixed in

Arizona Route 40/66 – The Wigwam Motel January 3, 2011

Have You Slept in a Wigwam Lately?

That is the slogan of one of the most beloved attractions on Route 66… The Wigwam Motel.

Built in 1950 in Holbrook, Arizona, The Wigwam Motel was opened and very quickly developed a very enthusiastic following.

The Wigwam Village concept actually began in 1935 east of Holbrook in Horse City, Kentucky. Frank A. Redford was the gentleman behind the concept. All of  the “rooms” are individual concrete wigwams… errrr…. teepees.

While visiting Cave City, Kentucky, Chester Lewis, saw his first Wigwam Village and decided he wanted to build one in Holbrook. Chester and Frank talked and hammered out a deal to make this happen. Frank would provide the building plans. Chester would build out the plans in Holbrook.

Back then the franchising concept wasn’t really around.  So, all fifteen rooms would have a radio in them. Motel guests who wanted to listen to the radio, would drop a dime in the radio for 30 minutes at a time. Chester would collect the coins from the radios and the proceeds would go to Frank. This agreement was in place for awhile.

The Holbrook Wigwam (#6) was one of seven built from Kentucky to California. Ole #6 was quite popular since it is located on Route 66. At the time, Route 66 was the only way to cross the US… it was the “Mother Road”.

Unfortunately for the Wigwam, the new highway… Interstate 40… opened in 1974 and bypassed downtown Holbrook. Business slowed and eventually, the hotel was closed. Chester’s children renovated the motel and re-opened it in 1988. In 2002, the motel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

Classic car buffs will enjoy walking around the parking lot. Fords, Buicks, Chevys all found their permanent place in the Wigwam’s parking lot.

Oprah fans might remember the Wigwam from her roadtrip across the United States with her friend Gayle. Unfortunately, Oprah couldn’t stay. The interior of the room was too small for her and her claustrophia kicked in.

While I understand claustrophobia… the inside of the wigwam can feel small and there is only one small window… I felt the editors of her show portrayed her issue in such a way that made the Motel seem subpar. I have stayed here and have always enjoyed my stay. Remember, this is a 60 year old MOTEL not a Hyatt.

Those of you with children, might recognize the motel as the “Cozy Cone Motel” from the original Disney / Pixar movie “Cars”.

Today, only three the of the original motels remain: Cave City, Kentucky; Holbrook, Arizona; and Rialto (San Bernardino), California. Now I want to stay in the other two Wigwams!

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KOA, A Missed Turn & Oakhurst May 23, 2009

KOA… the mere name invokes rundown creepy campgrounds. In the last ten years or so they have really changed for the better. Maybe it’s been longer than ten years but it’s been at least ten since they became a part of my conscience and travel plans. The Midpines KOA is no different. The campground was very clean, the people friendly and there was a little pond for fishing. The ladies behind the counter were just great. They understood my need for a beer when I arrived and directed me to the cooler in their well stocked campstore.

Truck for sale.. I have the phone #

Truck for sale.. I have the phone #

 Ford Truck EmblemThey asked me about my ride. We got to talking about my directional error back in Oakhurst. I had missed the turn for the 49 and ended all the way up at the Yosemite kiosk. Apparently, the turn is in Oakhurst proper. The turn was not signed very well. But the error turned out to be in my favor. I was riding through town and saw a great old Ford pickup for sale. So, of course I stopped to take pics.

 The truck was at the bottom of a steep driveway into a cemetary with a beautiful old church. Those of you who know me know I can’t resist old cars or churches. So, up the hill I went. I walked around for a little while, took some pictures and enjoyed the quiet.

Oakhurst Church

I left Oakhill Cemetary and The Little Church On The Hill and headed back thru town to the turn off. Stopped super quick for a bathroom break.  A woman gave me the tip to take the 49 to Triangle Road. 

I am so glad I did!!!

Triangle Road is a narrow two lane road that winds around some beautiful scenery for about 15 miles. I passed a funky lookin general store, a pasture or two with horses and great big beautiful trees. The air smelled clean and fresh and there was very little traffic… I might have seen two vehicles. At the end of Triangle Road is an old abandoned building. The porch was long, the windows were boarded up. With some time and money, I think it would make for a fabulous honky tonk / cafe. Behind it was an old red barn. I parked the bike and of course had to take pictures. The weeds were tall in the pasture and littered with rusted old artifacts. The end of the road is 1.5 miles from the Midpines KOA.

Church at the end of Triangle Road

Barn on Triangle Road

KOA Midpines closes for the winter.  They start taking reservations in November for the next year. Reserve one of the following or all for a group… Cabins 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 tent spot 75.

 

Some links:

KOA:     http://www.koa.com/where/ca/05195/ 

HWY 49/Oakhurst :  http://www.historichwy49.com/mainmap.html

My campsite next to the pond.

My KOA campsite next to the pond.