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Thursday, June 18, 2009



"Well, I'm standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and its such a fine sight to see.....take it easy, take it easy....
If you don't know the Eagles
song, you are just from the wrong generation. This corner tells you all you need to know about the lyrics. Its like Graceland. You either know it or you don't.

This trip took place in September of 2008. Winslow has fallen on hard times, but two places are really not to be missed here, this corner and another site that is in a class by itself.

"La Posada" or "the resting place", is the last great railroad hotel. Time forgot La Posada for over 40 years until restoration began in l997. We can all breathe a sigh of relief. If this hotel had been left to the ravages of time, the nation would have lost part of it's soul.

Fortunately for us and with a lot of help, this lady picked herself up, dusted herself off and opened for business. There are no pools, no tennis courts or evening shows. La Posada is a work in progress. But, the Turquoise Room, among Arizona's top 25 restaurants, is here. Southwestern "cucina" based on Navajo and Hopi ingredients make this an unforgettable dining experience. Conde Nast Traveler, folks who know a thing or two about hotels and ambiance, rated this hotel as one of "the best places to stay in the world".

And yet, there are no elevators, few ice machines and little cable television. The rooms are not luxurious. If you want food, you will have to go to the restaurant. What could Conde Nast have been thinking! This is my take on their comments. I think authenticity is so rare that people trip all over themselves when they see it.

There are pictures of famous guests everywhere, all the rooms bear their names. Art hangs in abundance, most of it and the furniture is original. You can feel history hang in the air.

The "Harvey Girls" came to civilize the west by staffing hotels with starched linens, sterling silver, china and distinguished table service. They brought with them refinements from the east, the excitement of a new adventure and the hope of finding a husband.
One of the last Harvey Girls was at the hotel for lunch, meeting other women who had come west looking for excitement all those years ago. She was accommodating, cheerful and wonderful fun.
I can't say how much their influence was received and assimilated in the old west, but when we came down later, we dressed for dinner.

There are quite little nooks and water sliding down old fountain walls. The doors and windows in season are open to the breezes with birdsong and flowers
perfuming the air. So many corners are available for reading or drinks before dinner. You feel as if you are walking around a place you owned, one worth having, following some older footsteps that came before you. You can hear heels clicking on the tile floors, the echos diminishing in the distance as new ones come closer. In ways hard to describe, it is easy to feel intimately connected with this place.

I left the peaceful confines of La Posada energized. Having connected with a simpler, more gracious time, new insight was gained on the present. Not all of it was welcome. Our world has become so bland, as if some aluminum manufacturer just sided the whole country.
So, I tried to hang on to the peace offered here. Where I look at the pictures, I can remember how it felt. And, I'm close enough to return for a weekend now and again.

Trains no longer stop at La Posada. They don't stop anywhere. People have given up train travel and it has disappeared from both our physical and mental landscapes.

"Do you hear that whistle down the line?
I figure that its Engine 49.
Its the only one that'll sound that way.
On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe."

When those of us who go into the back roads leaving the mind numbing sameness of the interstates behind, this is what we are looking for.

The Real Deal.

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