Seligman, Arizona is a prime example of a town that is locked in a Route 66 time warp. Most travelers on Interstate Highway 40 just mindlessly breeze by the Seligman exit ramp signs on their way to a distant destination without even wondering what this place is all about. In fact, some modern travelers do not even have a clue as to what the big deal is about old Route 66.The Interstate Freeway mind set can be compared to a horse wearing blinders, because the focus is always on making good time and not straying from the center of the road.
High speed Interstate Highways are designed to be hypnotic, so a driver is lulled into a relaxed state that prevents straying from the center line. Interstate Highways also promote a false sense of security, because the mainstream corporate chain businesses located by the exit ramps make it seem like they are the only safe option in an unknown territory. By only staying at chain motels and eating at fast food restaurants a traveler will be limiting their own experience, in order to satisfy an imaginary efficiency standard. In the eyes of Route 66 fans, this is sheer madness!
For those who have sped by in the past, Seligman is not just another one horse town that has a few gas pumps way out in the middle of the desert. This little town was once a primary destination on old Route 66 shortly after WWII. Seligman was a cultural bottleneck of sorts when Route 66 tourism was at a peak. This town was the last stop before the doing the long desolate stretch of Route 66 going west through Peach Springs to Kingman, so this little dot on the map did stand out.
Roadside billboard signs stating “Last stop for food, water and gas!” sure did have a way of coaxing travelers to take a break from the road in Seligman back in the golden age of Route 66 tourism and those roadside forewarnings were not false advertisements in those days. When considering that most big family cars back in the old days only got about 8 miles per gallon when cruising, a 100 mile stretch of road was a real challenge to conquer. Keeping an eye on the gas gauge was a standard practice and there was always a tense moment when finally spotting a gas station after coasting on fumes. Seligman definitely was one of those last chance for gas kind of towns, which acted like a bottleneck that funneled all that passed through into one small place for a short time in history. For the local folk, this created an opportunity to meet and greet the entire outside world, thus opportunities to capitalize arose too.
The town of Seligman definitely arose to the occasion, as far as catering to Route 66 travelers was concerned back in the 1940s through the 1960s. There actually were enough successful local businesses in Seligman to shut out the big corporate chains. For this reason, Seligman is far from being a hypnotic modern day high speed freeway offramp accommodation experience. Route 66 Seligman truly is the real deal!
During a vacation to the Grand Canyon several years ago, I ventured off of the interstate highway every time an opportunity arose. When I saw the signs for Seligman, I had no clue what lied in store because the Arizona Route 66 scene was new to me back then. The only clue was the Historic Route 66 Emblem on the historic highway signs and that was enough to get the gumption going.
I first cruised down the Route 66 Strip through Seligman just to soak up the sights and to find a good spot to do breakfast. As I soon found out, there are plenty of historic Route 66 attractions to experience in this small town. Toward the eastern end of town where the landmark Route 66 businesses still stand, there were several tour buses that unloaded hundreds Asian tourists, senior citizens and a couple of film crews. Apparently I dropped right into the filming of some kind of a television travel show film project or something of that nature. The nostalgic Route 66 burger stands and drive-thru restaurants in east Seligman certainly were buzzing with activity that morning, so I moved on to the less busy end of the Route 66 Strip.
After flipping a u-turn, I noticed a couple of restaurants that looked like a good choice for a breakfast destination on the west end of the main drag. The Roadrunner Restaurant had a parking lot full of pickup trucks with Arizona tags, so I figured this place was a favorite of the locals. The other restaurant was more of a tourist trap in nature and it had an interesting roadkill food theme, so it was definitely Arizona roadkill for breakfast that day!
Every traveler experiences roadkill in more ways than one. Every driver wonders about the roadkill they see on the road for several more miles after passing by. Roadkill does have a way of mesmerizing travelers of the wide open highways and sometimes a few funny questions and comments from passengers arise.
Capitalizing on roadkill cuisine is not a bad idea as long as it is done with good taste. The Roadkill Café in Seligman by far is one of the best tourist trap restaurant concepts that I have ever seen put into action. This restaurant concept is simply roadkill to the max! The entire menu is loaded with tasty roadkill offerings written with roadkill terminology. The decor looks like the chef was also an aspiring taxidermist on the side, which can cause guests to look up at the stuffed animals to identify the mysterious menu items. The old saying, “You kill it … We grill it” certainly does apply in the Roadkill Café!
The Roadkill Café breakfast menu definitely is entertaining. That is unless thinking about graphic roadkill food imagery first thing in the morning is not your cup of tea. Menu offerings include “Flat Cats, A Smear Of Deer, Buzzard Bait, One Eyed Dog Hit In The Fog and the Splatter Platter.” Those roadkill menu items certainly were tempting, but I was in a mood for the “Dead Meat Treat!” The Dead Meat Treat actually is a classic Route 66 style Denver Omelet & Home Fries. The omelet portion size was huge, just like back in the old days and the Dead Meat Treat entrée literally covered the entire big oval plate. The Dead Meat Treat at the Roadkill Café was an awesome breakfast and it is well worth recommending for those who long for something fresh from the highway!
There are many famous historic Route 66 landmarks to see in Seligman and some of these places have not changed since the 1940s and 1950s. Getting a burger and a shake at the Snow Cap may be something that three or four generations of a family may have done through the years. Getting an ice cold beer at the Black Cat Bar might have been something that grandpa did when he joined a motorcycle club after getting out of the military service. Seligman truly is a place where the old Route 66 memories are very much alive in this present day and age. All it takes is breaking the hypnotic grip of the high speed Interstate Highway to rediscover historic Route 66!
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