The Pine Breeze Inn is the first famous Icon from the movie Easy Rider. This is where after leaving Ballarat California, Wyatt and Billy Rode till dark, almost to flagstaff where they asked for room at the pine breeze, and the proprietor immediately walked back in and turned on the no vacancy sign. They left, and billy shouted “you asshole!”, to head down route 66 a little further and camp by the road at some old ruined shacks. The pine breeze inn is still somewhat famous. For years bikers we’re still allowed to camp there, where the hero’s of easy rider we’re denied. It’s still alive, and in Bellemont Arizona. The famous NO VACANCY Sign has been altered somewhat since 1969 when Easy Rider was made, and it’s hanging at the entrance of the bar just a short distance down the street, still flashing no more rooms for hippies.
I’ve had quite a few questions via email about the route that Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda rode in the 1969 Movie Easy Rider, and for the last couple of years I’ve ridden and researched it. The movie cemented me as a rider for life at a young age. Anyway, here it is. Since it’s a movie, it hops around a bit, but here’s the route:
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If you do this trip, do it right. A couple of tips: First off, Don’t sell coke to finance your trip. If you do, don’t tell anyone. Definitely don’t put coke money in your gas tank, because It’ll lower your gas mileage. If you want to go to Mexico and pretend to buy coke in an old truck, knock yourself out. Put it in 2 motorcycle batteries and go sell it to Someone who looks like Phil Spector in front of the runway at LAX. Phil would probably still buy it from you, but he’s busy now with his murder trial. Don’t be offended if he fails to calls you back. That’s how Phil rolls.
(Special thanks to Wild Bill Carr for taking time to take the “today” shots and info)
Technically, you could start at LAX, but the real riding started in Death Valley. They we’re caging it in LAX. If you know the whole story of Billy and Wyatt they we’re headliners, baby. They had a stunt riding side show and decided to bust out, make a run for the big cash and go looking for America.
Start out by going to Death Valley. Ballarat, Specifically. Ballarat is a pretty cool place, with it’s own bit of history like the gravestone of Seldom Seen Slim, and the Barker Ranch where Charles Manson family laid low after the nights they made the history books. Tex Watson’s truck is still there. Supposedly there’s hippie graffiti still inside, but I didn’t look that close. There’s a house in Ballarat where Captain America put the dollar bills in a tube in the tank, and where you can ditch your watch.
Be sure to take your watch and chuck it by the side of the road because if you’re going on this ride, You need to disregard time. It’s Easy Rider man, don’t screw this up. Find the house, and you’ll know what to do.
Ok, Watch this. It’s gonna set the tone for this whole run you’re gonna make:
Fire all of your guns at once and explode into space brother. Lets go.
Ride on out of Ballarat and head down through Boron California (Home of 20 Mule Team Borax and the Movie Erin Brockovich). Be sure and stop at the museum there in Boron, it’s actually pretty cool. Then head to Barstow. From Barstow, head east on 1-40, staying on as much of Route 66 as possible, because that would be the route they took since 1-40 wasn’t officially designated until 1984. In 1969, it was all route 66 baby! It’s pretty well marked and If you need more mappage of what the road was like in the route 66 heyday, there’s quite a bit here. I ride it at least 3 to 5 times a year, and it’s pretty well documented on this site. Kick the tires and look around.
Anyway, head toward Amboy. Stop at Roy’s and get gas, because you know they stopped there with 2 gallon Peanut gas tanks. Roy’s is one of the coolest places on the mother road. Take some pictures of the 50′s retro sign and head on down the road. Roy’s is a route 66 original and is in the process of getting resurrected to it’s former glory. Roy’s is the Shit.
Keep riding through Route 66, stay to your right and get back on Interstate 40. head up through downtown needles and back onto 40.
If you want to check out a cool scene from the movie get off past needles at Park Moabi. All the buildings are gone now, but you’ll recognize this scene: Ride it.
Get back on 1-40 (Route 66 from 1966 to 1974) and cross the Mighty Colorado river at the state line. You’ll notice the bridges there even though theyve changed a bit since 1969. If you don’t, rewatch the credits of the movie again. You should recognize it immediately if you’re paying attention. This was the part of the movie that I knew I was an Easy Rider fan for life. Bust out your Steppenwolf, and dig where you are going. You’re an Easy Rider.
Keep going on 1-40. At Kingman, get off the freeway and follow the signs to ride the longest un-interrupted stretch of Route 66 that still remains today. It ran from the 1920′s untill 1979. It’s well marked, just follow the signs.
The place where Billy and Wyatt fixed their bike tire and had lunch was supposedly in Valentine Arizona. I’ve found no evidence of this, but it makes sense, since Valentine is an Indian Reservation (“my wife’s a catholic, ya know” – Remember that scene?) Granted, this was on Day two of the movie, and you still haven’t gotten through the movie credit part of the ride, but that’s how movies go. Valentine is on the Hualapai Indian Reservation and is on route 66. The terrain also looks the same. I’m a bettin’ man, and I bet it was there.
Head through Valentine, stop at the Grand Canyon Caverns (its cool), then go into Seligman. Stop at the Snow Cap at the edge of town and eat the best hamburger with the best service you’ve ever had. The Snow Cap has been there since the 50′s. It’s another route 66 icon. Don’t get on the freeway yet at Seligman, ask any local where Crookton road is and head down that instead to stay on what was route 66 until 1979. You’ll squeeze out another 16 miles of route 66 on a great road if you do it my way, when the signs told you to get back on the interstate. It’s what Captain America and Billy would have done.
Get off the freeway and ride through Williams Arizona when you see the signs. Williams is the last town to be officially bypassed in 1984 by interstate 40, so you gotta see it. It’s still got the flavor of how it was in 1969. You’ll dig it. Get back on Interstate 40 East when you’re done, and head on down the highway…
By the time you hit Bellemont, pull off. Get some free coffee at the Harley dealership, stop at the bar and grille next door and see the original No Vacancy Sign hanging as you walk into the bar. Since I’m giving you this information completely free of charge, I think it would be a nice touch for you to order a Guinness in the name of Mr Zip, flirt with the bartender and head a quarter mile up the road to the Pine Breeze Motel to see where billy and Wyatt we’re denied a room their first night. The bartender gal there is a sweetheart, and I’m fairly short and reasonably ugly. You’ll do better than I did.
Ask the bartender if you can pull out a sleeping bag at the Pine Breeze, or ask the current proprietor at the Pine Breeze if he’s there. If you want to be hardcore you’ll sleep a few miles up the road by a campfire; If you want to stay where Dennis and Peter stayed, get back on the freeway and head the 10 miles into flagstaff and stay at the Americana Inn. You have a choice: Stay whereBilly and Wyatt camped in the movie, or stay where actors and crew in real life slept. Either way, I don’t care. If you’ve come this far, you’re obviously a biker I’d love to ride with. It’s ALL good. You’re goin’ down to Mardi Gras to get you a Mardi Gras Queen. Start yourself a fire and kick back.
500 biker points if you sleep by the side of the road. If you’re a rich urban biker in your new Harley leathers, playing easy rider for the weekend, stay at the Americana Inn. This is an easy Rider Journey, man up and sleep under the stars. When you get to New Orleans you can get a real room and bust out some of that cash and get a groovy dinner. Right now, you gotta start this out right.
Funny story. Peter Fonda told the story of staying the night at the Americana Inn and his arms we’re so stiff from ape hanging on a hard tail all day, that he couldn’t pull his beer up to his mouth. He’d also put his leathers in the bathtub and soaked them down to give them a more weathered look, so at the end of the day his legs we’re black from the dye.
Route 66 ends where Interstate 40 cuts it off not far past the Pine Breeze inn, so double back and head East on 1-40 towards Flagstaff. Get off at Deer Farm exit and road and ride up through Parks Arizona to get back on old 66 and ride down the main street in Flagstaff a few miles later if you really want to stay true to route. Turn North on highway 89 at Flag. When you see the sign for Sunset Crater, head east there and Ride up through Waputki National Monument, Pick up a hippie (there may be one, I don’t know for sure). Queue “I wasn’t born to follow” on your ipod for the full effect.
You’ll need to ride clear through Waputki, double back and get back on 89 and head south to stop at the Sacred Mountain Gas Station. It used to be a gas station, but now it’s the home of someone. He’s a pretty cool guy. He will more than likely tell you some good stories. He may not. Not many people notice his house nowadays, and you may get shot. I don’t know. Either way, you’re on an adventure. Tell the hippie on your bitch saddle he owes you a tank of gas.
From Sacred Mountain, head north. Hit “the weight” by the band and listen to it as you ride. Its a great song. Turn at hwy 16o and ride through Monument valley at dusk if you time it right. In the movie, that road ends up at Wupatki, but in real life it’s doesn’t. You’re probably not riding a hard tail chopper, so keep going until you hit Farmington New Mexico and crash for the night. Drink beer, laugh, do whatever. At this point you’re well into your easy rider trip.
If you want to be hardcore and drop off the hippie, you’ll have to swing a bit wide and head into the Malibu hills in California and look for a commune. Mulholland to be exact. Good luck finding one. Dennis Hopper wanted to film at the New Buffalo Commune, but Wavy Gravy and his people weren’t into it, so the re-created the commune in Malibu. Look for Dan Haggerty. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you haven’t watched the movie Easy rider and you’re a pussy. Put your Mike’s Hard lemonade down, Turn your bike around, and head back to LA. Go eat sushi and buy yourself a Vespa.
Head into Taos. There’s several scenes in Taos, including the scene where they head into the commune, as well as the location where they shot the inside jail scenes. I’m not sure of the jail location. The opening scene where they bought the drugs in the truck at the cantina was shot here as well (not in Mexico). Lots of Easy Rider in Taos.
From Taos, head into Las Vegas New Mexico. You’ll see the jail if you’re looking. Parade without a license here, because thats where that scene was shot. The outside of the jail, and the spot where Jack Nicholson (George) took his first drink of the day was here as well.
Take some Jim Beam With you, for obvious reasons. Toast to ol’ D.H. Lawrence (the crew supposedly slept on his grave the night before in Taos) NIC NIC NIC FUT FUT FUT!…… INDIANS! That’s right, you know what I’m talking about. Dream of the finest whorehouse in the south at Madam Tinkertoys House of Blue Lights. These are no porkchops, these are Grade A Prime…
The “If you wanna be a bird” sequence by the Holy Modal Rounders was filmed through Coyote New Mexico.
Remember, stop somewhere while listening to “don’t bogart that Joint” and pee on the side of the road. Anyplace will work. Also: You better not be wearing fingerless gloves and assless chaps man, not on this trip.
The rest of the route is a bit Hazy until you hit Morganza Louisiana. In 1969, the film crew was advised against being a long hair in the South, but Dennis Hopper was determined to do whatever he wanted film wise, so they went anyway. Not much is filmed in Texas as far as I can see, so head toward Morganza. If you can find the Cafe in Morganza where the young girls and the sheriff and rednecks we’re, you’re a better man than me, because the locals who knew the place said it got torn down a couple of years ago. In October 2010 they put up a plaque at the site of Melanchon’s Cafe to commemorate the making of the movie and the locals that were involved. Keep riding, it’s pretty easy to get a feel of 1969 Morganza.
The rednecks in Morganza were real locals. Dennis told the crew to tell them that he, Jack and Peter had raped a girl outside of town before they started filming to get a real reaction of hate from them. One thing to remember, is other that a loose premise, Easy Rider wasn’t scripted. They made it up as they went, and most of the cast would tell you that Dennis Hopper was generally insane in those days. Dennis later said when they rode off from the Cafe scene that was the one time they were scared and wondered if they pushed it too far. They’d heard stories of long hairs getting whacked in Texas and Louisiana. You shouldn’t have the same problem, unless you get way out of line. Head south.
Head south out of Morganza, Hit the 190 and then west till you hit Opelousas, then south. If you’re ready, you’ll have Jimi Hendrix Queued as you hit Franklin Louisiana. Remember the song? Thats right old-schoolers, if a six became a nine. Find the bridge, stop, and queue that puppy for proper listening.
I want to thank my Cajun Friend Johnny for the modern day pictures of Franklin. You sir, are the man. I owe you a round of beers Man.
One more Shot.
Then head on into New Orleans. Go to where Mardi Gras is. Now its time for Madam Tinkertoy and Groovy Dinners. Its Mecca man! You’ve reached the Glory Hole. Party like a rockstar, do whatever you do, because tomorrow you’re going to get shot by a short redneck with a Goiter on his neck. I’m not trying to be a downer, I’m just sayin’. It could happen. You’re almost there.
The scenes in Mardis Gras we’re filmed a month after Mardis Gras had ended. The parade scenes they shot with friends and some stock footage. Watch the movie again and you’ll notice. They also shot these scenes first. You may have better luck with Mardi Gras then they did if you time it right.
While you’re in Nawlins, pull out your 80′s CD of Tony Basil singing “mickey”. C’mon, you know you have one. In 1969 she played a prostitute in Easy Rider. In the 80′s, she was a one hit wonder with fat cheerleaders. Hey Mickey!
Once you had your fill of New Orleans, Double back and head towards Krotz Springs Louisiana. You’ll notice the Levees on LA 105. That’s where this great movie ends, only you’ll survive. Now’s the time to bust out a cigar if you have one, because you made it to the end of the movie. Call a loved one and tell em you’re coming home. Queue the ballad of easy rider and head on out of town. You’re gonna retire in Florida Mister! If a man with a goiter shows, get the hell out of there.
This thread is over. Im going to end it all of a sudden, just like my favorite Movie, Easy Rider. Don’t blow it.
And Now, a word from our sponsors:
By the time I hit Crozier canyon/Hackberry I knew I had one more picture in me and I knew what I wanted. Unfortunately, the winds were picking up, my shutters on my camera apparantly were hanging, and I just knew I needed to get home. I could see heavy clouds forming in the direction of Kingman and Las vegas, and I had 5 hours ahead of me without rain gear. I took the last 2 pictures of my trip haphazardly and then opened it up to get home.
From Hackberry, I rode into kingman feeling confident I’d make it home dry so I went into Denny’s on Route 66 and ordered me a superbird and several cups of coffee. In that 45 minutes, the clouds became dark and heavy and I questioned whether I should get a room in Kingman for the night. I need to buy rain gear. The fact that it was cold and I knew rain would freeze me to my bike faster than the movie Dumb and Dumber, I had second thoughts. I said screw it, I’d deal with it as it happened.
It rained all around me. In front of me, and behind me, and I only got a little wet. Spring break traffic was rough near hoover Dam, but at the end I made it home dry and ahead of Robyn.
I’m so freaking glad to have my Street Glide back. I love it like one of my kids.
I passed through Peach springs and Valentine to get to the cool neon warmth of The Frontier Cafe in Truxton Arizona. Truxton is a pretty new route 66 town by most standards. It came about as a hotel and cafe in 1951 when Donald Dilts built it to take advantage of the traffic that passed by this part of the highway. The name of the town comes from the Beale Camel Expedition when Lieutennant Ned Beale stopped at the spring here in 1857 and named the town after one of his relatives. After the Motel and Cafe was built, other businesses started to spring up.
I’ve seen the sign have better days, but not long ago a route 66 preservation fund of one sort or another raised some money to get it painted, and cleaned it up. I tried to wait for the hanging signs to swing horizontally for a picture, but 45 degrees was better than 90 so thats all I could get from the wind Gods who were in force today.
I was hoping to get some breakfast here as well, but soon realized route 66 doesn’t wake up in this neck of the woods till noon. It was getting windier, cumulous clouds were forming, and I knew I needed to get to Kingman so I could start to head north and have the 35 mile per hour winds to my back. I was riding sideways by this point.
I have always passed Truxton and not spent alot of time here, which is a shame. I’m usually done with waiting from visiting the grand Canyons and ready to make miles and haven’t stopped to appreciate this cool route 66 town. I’d have loved to see it in its heyday. I can imagine with a stream of steady 50′s, 60′s and 70′s traffic this place could sling hash and pour coffee not to mention keep its rooms full. If it we’re ever open when I was there, I’d book a room and enjoy some time here because I’d imagine it would be a cool experience.
I’ve been going to the grand canyon caverns since 1991, but had never eaten there. I left Seligman thinking I’d get breakfast there, and the signs on the way up the road to the caverns sayd they’d have it there for me. Not so, not untill 10, and it was 9. I took a couple pictures and headed down the road. I understand. I’m just glad they serve food at all, and stay in business. They’ll do what they have to do. Someday I’ll actually have food there.
As I rode past williams, got Gas in Ash Fork (which I wanted to ride a little more but will next run), I headed down crookton road and into seligman. The music sounded sweet, my hands were cold and the wind was gusting. The sun was also setting and I didn’t really care because I knew where I was spending the night, and it was at a place I’d visited 20 years earlier. The heart of route 66 Arizona, and the place where the revival of the mother road started: Seligman Arizona.
I’d passed by the KOA in Seligman for years, and it just looked stark and treeless. I knew I had to stay there, because I’d packed a tent and it would just make sense. So I did. I knew beforehand from reading the KOA site that the proprietor was a hockey fan, but when I showed up this sat prominently on her desk:
I knew she was quality people. We immediately hit it off. We talked about the penguins and the steelers seasons. She was awesome, and moved from the Burgh’ to Florida, then came here on a visit and bought the Seligman KOA. She’d cleaned it up a bunch, the bathrooms were straight up immaculate. After we bitched about the old coach, cheered on the Pittsburgh Steelers defense and talked about how theres a terrible towel in the Snow Cap, I went out set up my tent just as the sun set. Ahhh, It felt good to know where I was sleeping.
After I got the tent set up and I was situated, I rode the 2 miles to the other end of town to get me some chicken fried steak and I slowly rode through town to get some night pictures of the neon signs, just like I’d pictured when I first thought of this trip. Not a ton of neon, but I got what I could:
That night, I sat in my tent and had intended to post on my blog, but forgot the password for the wi-fi, so I watched a few episodes of Sons Of Anarchy on my laptop and fell asleep by midnight, assisted by a few snoots of Tennessee whiskey I’d bought at the Jack Rabbit Trading Post. My first day in 3 months with the street glide kicked pure ass. It was smooth, and quite honestly I couldn’t be happier to ride again. I knew tomorrow was going to be colder than a witches tit in a brass bra, but what the hell. I’d figure it out. I just had to beat the storms that we’re coming inveitably and get home.
With the exception of the wigwam motel in Holbrook, the thing that was most on my mind this entire trip was stopping to take pictures of Two Guns. I’ve seen it before, but only from the freeway and the off ramp. For years and years, there was a caretaker there with a buck knife and a shotgun that would speed up in his 4 wheeler if you got anywhere close to Two Guns ruins he’d show up and yell you off the property. He was pretty well known for being efficient and serious about what he does. Two guns has been bought and sold several times and my information tells me he was hired to protect the property from vandals. As of 2008, I’d heard he was gone, so I’ve always wanted to come back here.
Two guns has an impressive history and to the casual, modern passer by, you’d never know it. From the Indian wars between the Apache and the Navajo (it was then known as Canyon Diablo, or Devil’s Canyon, to the Early days of National Trails Highway (pre-Route 66) to Today. Many people believe it is cursed, and for good reason. Lots of battles here, and it held the distinction of being the roughest town in the west, let alone Arizona. Murder, Prostitution, At least a punch in the face for looking at someone wrong. Two Guns is the shit. If you want the complete history of two guns, I’d highly suggest reading this link here.
I had a chance to FINALLY cross the bridge that I’d seen for years, and even as I type this I regret not driving it down the dirt road further, because as I passed it all down 1-40 I realized there was much more I missed. I was able to see the more modern abandoned gas station, and the slightly older KOA campground, as well as the other ruins. There is also a very deep cave that factored into its rich history of a cowboy town. Pat, are you reading this??? We need to go back to two guns and spend a day.
I hope no jackasses out there vandalize Two Guns, because it really needs to be preserved. It’s cool that we can visit two guns now, But please if you visit it leave it as it is. There’s not many people I hate worse than a Vandal. This town burned down TWICE and survived history like no other, and is now just a side glance to people heading to Flagstaff and Albuquerque. I think we all need to help keep it alive as long as possible. Theres enough route 66 out there thats rotting, we don’t need this one to rot anymore than what nature throws at it.
There is also a huge railroad trellis around two guns somewhere that crossed the canyon. It’s clear I need to go back untill I know ALL the stories associated with this great historic spot in the road. Two Guns. read that link. This may be one of my favorite Route 66 spots yet. It’s full of history and full of questions to be answered.
I knew I had things I wanted to see on this trip, particularly Two Guns and Twin Arrows, so after Joseph City I opened up and headed toward winslow. I’ll admit my knowledge of route 66 winslow is pretty meager, and I found myself just passing it altogether to head toward Two Guns. I totally forgot about meteor city, so I pulled over to see it. Meteor City is the home of the worlds longest map of route 66, and thats the trading posts biggest claim to fame.
The original trading post was built in 1938 and was made out of stucco. The current geo-dome was built in 1979. I’m a bit resistant to moccassins and native american blankets, but the histories on the walls are alot more interesting.
The orignal mural was painted by Bob Waldmire, if you know who he is. He’s a famous wandering resident of route 66 and unofficially its favorite artist. The original mural eventually weathered away, and in 2002 it was repainted. Not alot to see here, and after 10 minutes I headed west to Two Guns.
Most of Interstate 40 covers up old route 66 pavements, but when the frontage road doesn’t exactly parallel the freeway, much of the time you can bet it’s old 66. Joseph city is one of those alignments, and I was looking foward to seeing Joseph City before it ended in Gravel and disappeared under the super slab of Interstate 40.
I had suspicions that joseph city was named after Joseph Smith, the founder of the mormon religion, and turns out I was right. I didn’t see a whole lot there that was interesting, other than on the far edge of town on the old route: Ella’s Frontier:
I’d never seen Ellas Frontier on any of my route 66 books, or at least I hadn’t noticed them. I’d love to know the story of when it was opened and when it closed. ANYTHING. A few web sites state that Ellas frontier was the first trading post on route 66, but that seems pretty unlikely to me. Who knows, I’ve been wrong before. Either way, it was a pretty cool old building. In the back next to the freeway it had what looked like cabins, and had an old Camping spot next door that looked somewhat newer, but still abandoned. Ellas is the kind of place that I’ll want to go back and take a closer look on my next trip. Theres definately stories in those walls. Please, if you know anything about this place, please post or email me.
From Ellas I doubled back and got onto the freeway to head down to the next exit to see the Jack Rabbit Trading post. I love the old signs and have been here once before. The place was clean, the owner friendly and the prices were great. Most people sell T-shirts for 20 bucks. He sells his for 10, and has a ton. He even sells Jack Rabbit Underwear. Awesome. It was good to see such an old road icon doing well. I’d read that it was gone, but I saw no signs of anything other than a trading post that was doing well.
Jack Rabbit Trading Post was started in 1949 by Jim Taylor and his wife. He leased the business for most of the years he had it. Cindy’s granddad, Glenn Blansett, leased the store in 1961 and then bought it in 1967. He was just getting out of the senate so we were lucky for that because he helped to get the access ramps off I-40. In 1969, Cindy’s parents, Phil and Pat Blansett bought the Jack Rabbit from Cindy’s granddad. They had the store for 26 years. Until Tony and Cindy bought it from them in 1995.
I bought a half pint of tennesee whisky from him for 3 bucks for later and headed down the road. It was noon. I had half the state to cross yet.
Joseph City Gallery:
Jack Rabbit Trading Post Gallery: