The brilliant orange sun painted the western horizon as we pulled out of Williams, Arizona and began the eastward journey to Winslow. We reminisced about the lovely day we had spent at the Grand Canyon, marveling at its majestic beauty, chuckling at the humorous remarks of Thomas, our tour guide and conversing with the four other couples on the tour.
Dusk arrived swiftly, but was soon overtaken by night as darkness descended over the desert landscape and cloaked the beautiful scenery in blackness. The blazing sun was now behind us and the chill of the desert evening was upon us.
Despite the gloomy night, we were still in high spirits as our thoughts turned to our next destination—Winslow Arizona, a town made popular by the Eagles’ song “Take it Easy.” As we contemplated our pilgrimage to visit “The Corner” in Winslow, we began humming the song, and then broke into a duet. The song had a laid-back feel about it that we both enjoyed. What would Winslow be like, we wondered? Nestled between the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest, Hubby imagined it would be a pretty little southwestern town, with glimpses of mountains in the distance. Daughter and I both envisioned a small town, Mainstreet USA setting.
The journey seemed long and the desolate darkness was punctured only by pairs of headlights from cars and trucks on the highly traveled road. But finally we arrived in Winslow and located a Pizza Hut where we enjoyed a good meal. As we headed back to the car, we noticed a nearby Wal-Mart store. “Pizza Hut and Wal-Mart--makes you feel right at home, doesn’t it?” I asked. Daughter, Sunshine, agreed and noted that we should stop at Wal-Mart in the morning so she could purchase a memory stick for her camera.
After a good night’s rest, we arose early for some sunrise pictures. We packed the car, enjoyed some breakfast muffins and were ready to start the day. Sunshine had planned our trip beforehand and I had printed MapQuest directions to all the places we intended to visit. All the MapQuest pages were slipped in sheet protectors and placed in a vinyl notebook which I kept in the front seat at all times. We also had our trusty GPS Unit, Gabriella Poppadopolous Smith, whom we affectionately referred to as “Gabby,” so we should have no problem locating “The Corner.”
Confidently, we left the motel and pulled onto Route 66. Yes, we were actually traveling on the famous road, the Mother Road, the ultimate symbol of freedom and independence. But, the scenery was not exactly what we had imagined. The buildings were old and run down and the area looked like a desert ghost town. Suddenly the fresh innocence of early morning gave way to an inexplicable sense of foreboding. Was “The Corner” just an evil scheme masterminded by some diabolical being to lure unsuspecting tourists into the town for God only knows what wicked purpose? I almost expected Rod Serling to materialize at any moment, announcing we had just entered the Twilight Zone.
Undaunted by the bleak surroundings, however, we continued driving and, happily, soon reentered civilization. Our hearts began to beat a little faster—it appeared we were approaching the downtown area. Surely our destination could only be around “the corner.”
“Just look for Kinsey Ave.,” I said to Sunshine, all the while watching the street signs myself. I just knew we must be very close by now. The directions were so simple—take I-40 exit 252, then east on Route 66 (Second St.) to Kinsey Ave. Apparently we were already on Second Street, so all we had to do was locate Kinsey Ave. and turn left. Easy street! Well, it should have been easy to locate had we not encountered the dreaded road work sign. As we approached the next intersection, we saw the street was blocked off for repairs.
“No problem-we’ll just take an alternate route,” I said while turning the only direction possible without going the wrong way on a one way street. “It can’t be too hard to find.” Winslow seemed like a fairly small town and, besides, Sunshine and I had always prided ourselves for our keen sense of direction. We would simply try to go a couple blocks south, turn right and continue westward until we reached Kinsey Ave., which would now be to our right.
We had driven only a short distance, however, when we once again encountered the unwelcome street closed for repairs sign. It's nice that Winslow wants to maintian the streets, we mused, but why couldn’t the town wait until we had visited “The Corner.” Then, once we were happily motoring down the road again, Winslow could have begun its street repair project.
We continued driving around town, but were never able to locate “The Corner.” We either came across another street closed sign or found ourselves back where we had started. Our quest for the fabled corner now seemed an increasingly difficult mission if not an outright impossibility. When we found ourselves in a rather seedy-looking part of town, I suggested we try and find that Wal-Mart store we had seen last night. Sunshine could purchase the memory stick and we could ask an associate for directions to “The Corner.”
Fortunately, we located the Wal-Mart store with little difficulty. Sunshine purchased her memory stick and the kind lady in the camera department gave us directions. Soon we were winding through a pleasant residential area. But there was no sight of downtown or “The Corner." We were both concerned that these directions might also lead to yet another dead end. Finally, I verbalized what we both already knew. “Sunshine, if we don’t find it this time, I’m afraid we’ll have to head on to the Petrified Forest.” Our tight schedule had left us little time for cruising the streets of Winslow. But, even if we couldn’t visit “The Corner,” I reasoned, we had already had a great time and there was the promise of more exciting things to come. “Yeah, I know,” she said. We each tried to keep a stiff upper lip and hide our disappointment from the other. But in reality, we were both quite discouraged at the thought of coming over a thousand miles and being so close, yet not being able to actually visit the site.
It was at this instant we looked up and saw THE SIGN—the beautiful green sign which read “Kinsey Ave.” Our gloom turned to joy! Rays of sunlight broke through the clouds and from the heavens we heard the majestic strains of “The Hallelujah Chorus.” (Well, it may not have happened quite like that, but we were really excited and simultaneously shouted in exuberance, “There’s Kinsey Ave!”).
We found a parking spot and approached the hallowed ground. There was time for pictures and even for a short visit to the corner gift shop across the street. Soon we were back on the road, elated that we had been able to visit the “shrine.” Now we could sign with gusto “Well I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see.” Happily, we pulled onto I-40 and headed east toward the Petrified Forest.