Relive the era of train travel on a weekend escape to Winslow, Ariz.
“Well, I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona…”
That phrase sets me and many of my generation singing the familiar 1970s tune “Take It Easy” — while my bemused children stare. So on a recent road trip, my husband, Paul, and I stopped to take photos on that Winslow corner, then spent the night in town. We stepped back in time to La Posada, a terrifically redone 1930s Harvey House, and discovered a train-travel era we never knew. The tab: $129 for a king room upstairs (away from the railroad tracks), excluding taxes and fees, and $40 for meals. No charge for the ambience.
At the rescued-from-ruin La Posada, our room was a throwback with modern touches. Bookshelves in our second-floor spot were filled with, yes, books. The handcrafted furniture and accents evoked the lodging originally designed by famed architect Mary Colter, who used Hopi, Zuni, Navajo and Mexican motifs. Today, the hotel brims with nooks for game-playing or reading, gentle fountains, green gardens and brightly tiled floors and stairs (but no elevators).
The hotel’s Turquoise Room, lined with Navajo rugs and arty touches, welcomed us with coffee and a homemade blueberry muffin. Before our Corn Maiden’s Delight arrived (polenta topped with eggs, tomatoes, spinach, jalapeño jack cheese and corn salsa), I found myself staring at the endless freight trains outside. And watching the wait staff. I wondered about my busboy/kitchen-hand grandfather, who clawed his way to California in the early 1900s by working rail and Harvey House jobs. Did he stop at this one?
La Posada is a gem sparkling way out on the high plateau country of northern Arizona. It’s not a boutique hotel, not part of a hotel chain, but a genuine period piece.
Our original plan for this trek had been to explore the nearby Homolovi ruins as well as the otherworldly colors and shapes of the ancient Painted Desert and red-hued Petrified Forest an hour away. But to our surprise, it was hard to leave La Posada.
We followed the self-guided walking tour of this eye-candy hotel, residence and private museum. Every corner told a story of its art, architecture, history and celebrity visitors. Later, windows wide open to a bracing breeze, we settled in for a quiet evening. No phones in the rooms, and Wi-Fi worked best in the ballroom.
The next morning I relished the back-in-time feel as I strolled outdoors with coffee in hand. I wasn’t alone; a group of strangers had gathered. We swapped travel stories until the whistling Amtrak Southwest Chief roared in, just as it did in my grandfather’s day.
THE LESSON LEARNED
This old Route 66 spot between the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest deserves more than just an overnight. On our next visit we’ll leave ourselves time to play Scrabble in the 2,000-square-foot ballroom or have a drink in the Sunken Garden with travelers-turned-friends. And, of course, we’ll make time to watch the trains.
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