This song is familiar to most, but what it represents is something few have had the pleasure of experiencing. “U.S. Route 66”, “The Mother Road”, “The Main Street of America”… These are the designations for the stretch of highway that runs from “pier to pier”, Chicago to Santa Monica. It was established in 1926 and sadly, due to waning westward migration, removed from the Interstate system in 1985. It does, however, remain open to travelers who want to experience the slough of ghost towns, diners, and motels along the historic road.
Since our starting point was Florida, Amarillo, home to the famous Cadillac Ranch, was where we picked up the trail. For the majority of the southern stretch from Texas to California, Route 66 is sandwiched between a railroad and I-40. Most of this portion is farmland, desert, and small, mostly abandoned, towns.
It’s like time traveling. Most of the “cities” have single digit populations, and their pride and joy is always whichever classic motel or diner they’ve preserved. The ornate landmark signs that adorn every stop are one of the best parts:
Navigating the Route was no easy task. For starters, it’s not on the map. Secondly, there was rarely a strong enough phone signal to even make accessing directions possible. Besides those complications, gas stations were few and far between and the distance from one town to another was usually unclear. If it weren’t for the Route 66 app that Mari found we never would have made it. What was nice about this too is that it marked out where there were historic locations worth visiting. One of our faves was the famed Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona, which was also the inspiration for the Disney movie Cars.
Between all the classic cars and the strange teepee shaped hotel rooms, this was a must see on 66.
Across the street was an equally as charming diner. Joe and Aggie’s cafe boasts authentic Mexican and let me tell you, they made the best enchiladas I’ve ever had.
Never mind, that their mural made for an excellent photo-op:
Along the last leg of the journey through the Mojave Desert there were sandbanks that flanked either side of the highway. For miles there were dozens of rock arrangements that represented travelers who left their mark on the historic route. Most people spelled their names out or their initials, but since neither of us felt like collecting that many rocks (It was 100 degrees out!) we left a symbol that seemed fitting: