Rolling Down Route 66

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Get your kicks on Route 66…

What is it about going on a road trip that fills us with excitement and anticipation of a memorable vacation?

What is it about Route 66 that invites us to cruise along its historic path?

I am not exactly sure of the answers.

As baby boomers, we have all sung along to the words of the iconic song about travelling thousands of miles across the USA from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. We watched the TV show in the 60s with the two good-looking bachelors speeding along in their Corvette convertible.

Methinks, it is all about nostalgia and looking back to our youth and innocence which we now perceive to be a gentler time.

It could be that as we age, all too rapidly it seems, it is preferable to reminisce rather than look forward to the future and our inevitable demise.

Whatever the reason, it is fun to travel back in time.

In a Lincoln.

Although I only did a part of it from Arizona to California, it was a blast reliving experiences of our adolescence.

Like drinking homemade root beer in a mug at Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner in Kingman, Arizona, where I started up a conversation with Edwin, an 80 year old retired firefighter who sported a baseball cap which read Vietnam Veteran. He told me about reluctantly giving up his pilot’s license and his beloved Piper Warrior 2 airplane. He told me about how he met his wife. And he told me who he voted for in the last presidential election, although I never asked, as politics is a subject I am loathe to discuss when I am in America.

I think you can guess who his choice was!

And sitting at the table next to me were two Korean sisters from Seoul exploring the Grand Canyon and Utah on their way to Los Angeles.

Hyo Sun, 31 is a Phys Ed teacher and her sister, Yang Sun, 26 is pursuing her Masters degree in Music.

Surrounded by photos and illustrations of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley and James Dean, we sat at our chrome and Formica tables slurping away and diving into our Route 66 cheeseburgers with endless fries.

It was hard to leave but it was time to move on to California.

Essex, Amboy, Bagdad and Ludlow and San Bernadino on our way to LA.

Ghost towns with one café or store still operating. Or not. We spotted a motel sign with no motel. It offered free TV. A delapitated gas station. A derelict house.

Relics of the past with such a rich history tracing the homesteaders and railroad builders and titans as they headed west to open up the country and settle. We traced the steps of Tom Joad and his famiy from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath as they struggled to find a better life in California during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The lumber barons and the gold prospectors. The ordinary merchants and families now departed with the intrusion of Interstate 40 usurping their livelihood.

And then there it was across a desolate part of the old highway…a telephone pole covered with garbage from passing tourists, everything from beer cans to condoms; American flags to underwear; plastic bottles to Star Wars souvenirs.

A collection of junk which speaks to the turmoil of postmodern America. I call it The Detritus of Life and added my two bits worth: my Lovingly Arrogant business card!

Back in the car with the radio blaring…well not exactly the radio. Sirius 60s music.

Roy’s Motel and Café with a Vacancy sign. .

The Magic Lamp Inn from the 1950s and the Sycamore Inn dating back to 1848.

And one of the original classic McDonalds restaurants.

I could go on and on but I won’t. I shall save my memories for the next leg of my trip down memory lane starting perhaps in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Or maybe Amarillo, Texas.

Wherever my youthful spirit leads me as I continue to get my kicks on Route 66.





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