THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
At first glance this photo appears to be of just another lonely, empty desert hillside with thunderheads on the horizon heralding the approach of a summer storm. Look again, click to enlarge.
This is an original alignment of Route 66, a portion of the highway bypassed in the late 1930s. The location is just west of Peach Springs, Arizona.
Just imagine, seventy-five years ago this was the future. This was the latest and greatest thing since sliced bread. Now it is a fast fading remnant, an American Appian Way.
Roads are fascinating things when we take the time to reflect upon them. They run the gamut from dusty trail to engineering marvel but all serve the same purpose, to tie point “A” with point “B”.
Walking, or driving, old roads is an opportunity to reflect on what was and to take the imagination for a walk, if you will. They are a tangible link to the past and as they represent the hopes and dreams of a previous generation they are also a sobering reminder about the importance of not taking life to seriously.
These ruts worn into the stone near Kingman, Arizona, are little more than an historical curiosity today, a small time capsule from when this represented the land of opportunity for a nation still in its adolescence. The point “A” and point “B” it once connected are both little more than historic footnotes.
Even though this small remnant of a road once as important as Route 66 is being squeezed by development on both ends there are still quiet days when walking these worn ruts provides free reign for the imagination and an almost eerie sense that this is a portal into an earlier time. On those days you can almost hear the iron tired wheels scraping on the stone and the teamsters cursing their mules as they strain to pull their load up the long grade.
As with Route 66 there is a growing fascination about these old roads. However, unlike with Route 66 these old roads are vanishing quickly and their history even faster. This particular window into our past as well as its history is being kept alive through the loving tutelage of the good folks at Old Trails Tours, www.OldTrailsTours.com
I suppose my fascination with lost highways and the road less traveled is another reason the deserts of the southwest have such a hold on me. Here there is still open range with countless miles of trails, tracks, and roads with countless surprises for those adventuresome enough to seek them.
There is an old saying that the worst day fishing is better than the best day working. My take on this is the worst day exploring the road less traveled, be it Route 66 or US 6, the Mojave Road or El Camino del Diablo, is better than the best day fishing, even if the only treasure found is a never before seen, never to be seen again, awe inspiring, breathtaking sunset.
On a final note, not all roads lead somewhere. Enlarge the photo below to see Barney on a road really less traveled, a road to solitude under clear blue skies.