It is the most glamorized stretch of nonexistent pavement in the world. At one time it was a dirt road and a conduit to the promised land for drought-stricken midwesterners. In it's heyday, it was the world's longest amusement park, carrying tourists, snow birds and adventure seekers between Chicago and Los Angeles. Today, it is history, replaced by super highways, its festive, brazen merchants with their gimmicks and glitz worn to the ground through decades of neglect. A multi-state revival effort is hoping to bring The Mother Road back to life, trying to remind us what life was like on Route 66.
I will be following 66 from Chicago to L.A., My guide is Historic Route 66. written by Teri Parker, of the American Automobile Association. I have decided not to follow the trail brick by brick, because I will have to find stories along the way and will not backtrack just for novelty's sake. Also, no less than one mile into this route - and I am not kidding - I got hopelessly lost and missed a few miles of the Mother $&*#%@! Road.
It took a major cold front, with severe wind, rain and lightning, to get me off Route 66. In western Oklahoma, entering the Texas panhandle, I hit such terrible weather, that I spent 5 out of 10 nights in the shelter of motel rooms. I was relieved, actually, to get off the Mother Road, as I had become pretty bored with it and fairly annoyed with the recent 66 revival, which seems to require that every city, town and gas station open their own "Route 66 Museum." I am disappointed because I saw very little that was new, fresh and exciting, and a lot of hype and folly designed, it seemed, to merely separate a tourist from his money. Which is pretty much the story of Route 66.