Life is a Highway

I create feelings in others that they themselves don’t understand.”
–Lightning McQueen from Disney’s Cars, 2006

Seligman, AZ

Seligman, Arizona, on Route 66, is like that, too.

Troy, especially, had looked forward to embracing the kitsch along this lonely stretch of highway. What we didn’t anticipate was the uneasy sense of both sadness and hope we would feel when we stopped by a spruced-up road stand or walked by the deteriorated housing, formerly inhabited by railroad workers.

We stayed at the Canyon Lodge, a lovingly restored motor inn with tricked-out rooms that evoke nostalgia for a time when business boomed along this dusty road. The spirits of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne are all at home here. Troy and I stayed in the Las Vegas Room and the kids shared a tropical-themed room. We were the only guests that evening.

Owners, Chuck and Joy, told us they had moved here on a whim, leaving their former lives behind. It was a crazy thing to do, they said, but some people just fall in love with the dream of the place.

The residents of Radiator Springs in Disney’s Cars are like that, too, renovating and revising old tourist stops in hopes that if they build it we will come.Seligman, AZ Seligman, AZ

Take Delgadillo’s Snow Cap, for instance. The former owner, Juan built the place when the town buzzed with visitors. He’s gone now, but his family still carries on the tradition of serving up ice cream with a side of silliness to random sightseers and occasional tour buses.

Seligman, AZ
Seligman, AZ
Seligman, AZ
Angel Delgadillo, the town’s barber, is said to have been a consultant on Cars, so Radiator Springs is modeled on Seligman and a handful of other towns like it.

These are places where ghosts of prosperity walk the streets in poignant anticipation of whatever comes next.

Our kids enjoyed the Cars’ tie-ins around town and at Delgadillo’s, and they loved the air-conditioned room that they had all to themselves. We all slept well.

In the morning, we snapped a few photos from our motel balcony. From there, we could look out at the oddities on the Rusty Bolt, a souvenir shop across the street. Beyond that, we could see cars and tractor trailers as they sped by silently on the distant interstate, and we wondered if Lightning McQueen would arrive anytime soon to bring some folks to town.

Seligman, AZ

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