Route 66 is the iconic road trip highway in America. It’s been written about, sung about and almost driven into the ground. So much of it doesn’t exist as a stand alone road anymore as it has been consumed by sections of the interstates. Enough of it exists in enough towns that it still lives in the hearts of those who drive it and live on it.
We travelled many sections of Route 66, first in Flagstaff, Arizona and again in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. We stopped in towns like Grants, Santa Rosa and Amarillo to take it the atmosphere created by the legend this road evokes. Sadly many of these towns are now run down and a shadow of their former glory.
In Santa Rosa they held a classic car and bike rally to try and generate interest in the town. Only 8 people brought cars and not many more brought their hotted up bikes. Bands were playing free concerts to less than 20 people and businesses were closing early due to lack of people.
Of course we did not see all towns on the whole road and can only write about what we did see. We drove through Weatherford, Oklahoma and noticed a really well preserved town and I’m sure there are many others.
The thing that fascinated me was not so much driving on the road but to seeing what downtown USA looked like in the heyday of the road’s use. Old style gas stations, diners and motels line 66 and I can imagine the bustling life and robust economies that existed back then.
There is a romanticism about that and a sadness that it all came to an end. The creation of interstate highways that bypassed these towns is called progress where I’m sure some people and places had a win. Unfortunately in most case where there is a winner there is also a loser.
And please don’t think I am only pointing the finger at America here. Everything I have written is as true in Australia as it is in the USA. The difficulty is finding the win/win.
To the people who try and make a living on this highway I salute you. Keep painting the murals and running the museums, diners and motels. The road and you deserve every visitor you get so celebrate the wins when they come. It was a buzz to drive this road and sing along to Chuck Berry every few hours.
We parted ways with Route 66 in Oklahoma City (oh so pretty) as it turned northwards to its final destination of Chicago. If you feel so inclined put on your favourite version of the song as you view the photos taken in various places along the route and sing loud and proud.