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Cross Country Chase Daily Update – 9/22/2022

Today, Chasers finally got to see Arizona without the rain that pounded the riders pretty much all day yesterday. Stage 7 began early this morning with a spectacular double rainbow as riders left their Holbrook hotels. Once the route digressed from the interstate, riders thoroughly enjoyed the long, straight stretches of open road through a variety of desert landscapes, including magnificent mountain peaks visible in the distance.

Our first stop took us to Winslow, Arizona, where the city welcomed us with open arms, blocking off the street for us in front of the famous “Standing on the Corner” sculpture. And Brian and Lori Law opened their store, The Motor Palace Mercantile, especially for riders, offering coffee and a chance to peruse the shop’s merchandise which reflects the owners’ love of old cars and motorcycles.

The suggested lunch locations were in Seligman, a funky little town that claims the title of “Birthplace of Route 66” due to its influence in convincing the state of Arizona to dedicate Route 66 a historic highway. It is also the first stop heading west on the longest uninterrupted stretch of Route 66—160 miles in total. Chasers also passed through Peach Springs, capital of the Hualapai nation, and one of the inspirations for Radiator Springs from the film “Cars.”

Later in the afternoon, we’d been invited to stop at the Kingman Visitor Center where the city and the Arizona Route 66 Association provided riders with snacks, cold drinks, and air conditioning. Several Motor Maids from the local area showed up to meet up with our own Motor Maids, Chase rider Vickie Hummel and staffer Cris Sommer Simmons.

Continuing along Route 66 brought riders to the Oatman Highway, which includes Sitgreaves Pass with its 11 miles of 191 steep hairpin turns and switchbacks—all with no guardrails—but the fabulous views made it all worthwhile. At the top of the highway is the city of Oatman, which in the past was an actual Wild West gold mining town and is now a hugely popular tourist attraction that features a herd of burros that wanders the streets. One mischievous burro named Mayor Walt walked up to the Chase merchandise booth and stole Chaser Chris “Possum” Sawyer’s donation box for Gateway Pet Guardians and then ran away with it!

Riders were provided with reserved parking along a stretch of Main Street, where they were served a delicious dinner hosted by the Oatman Hotel and Johnsonville Brats. The Oatman Hotel has a long, storied history. It’s the oldest two-story adobe building in Mohave County, and the #1 tourist spot on Old Route 66 for its restaurant and saloon. The interior is unique in that it’s completely papered with dollar bills, and the hotel even has its own ghost named Oatie.

Although riders were schedule to leave Oatman by 6:00 p.m., those who stayed—and that was the majority—witnessed a bank robbery and gunfight! Okay, so the whole thing was staged, but it was great fun and we all thoroughly enjoyed the entire Oatman experience.

Our lodging for tonight is the Avi Resort and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada. Although Route 66 doesn’t cross Nevada at all, the Avi is turning out to be a fabulous place to stay, with countless amenities and entertainment options such as the casino, golf course, eight-screen movie theater, kids’ arcade, food court, huge outdoor swimming pool and the hotel’s own private beach, the largest on the Colorado River. Too bad we can’t stay another day to enjoy all the hotel has to offer, but everyone is eager to get back on the road.

As we get closer to the finish, Dave Currier (#64 – Class 1), Jim Gilfoyle (#38 – Class 2), and Roger Green (#37 – Class 3) have kept the leads in their respective classes, as well as their first, second, and third-place leads for the overall score. Today, though, it’s neck and neck, with only one point between first and second place, and 3.5 points between second and third.  It’s the third day that these high achievers have maintained both their class and overall scores, but can they all keep their leads? Todd Cameron, who runs the #1 plate from earning top points in the 2021 Chase, is close behind, with only two points separating his Class 3 score from that of current Class 3 points leader Roger Green.

Stage 8 will take Chasers from our hotel in Laughlin, Nevada, 248 miles to Death Valley Harley-Davidson in Victorville, California, where the motorcycles will be on display for the public. Only three stages remain until we reach the Santa Monica Pier, but anything can—and probably will—happen in the next few days.