HOLIDAY GREETINGS FROM ROUTE 66

For as long as I can remember my pa and others have warned me that when you reach a certain age it will seem as though days are shortened to twelve hours and weeks to three days. Well, I must have hit that age several years ago.
It seems as though it was just last year that I suffered the slings and arrows of turning fifty from friends. Now, fifty is fast vanishing from view in the rear view mirror and sixty is looming at the top of the hill.
The upside to this is a growing awareness of just how important it is to never kill time or waste a moment. As a bonus my focus is being sharpened when it comes to determining what is important and what is not. I am also getting much better at not taking myself or my accomplishments to seriously.
To add a bit of perspective to this take a look at this photo of Fig Springs station on the pre 1953 alignment of Route 66. When this photo was taken in about 1940 the station represented the hopes and dreams of an individual or family and was a manifestation of an expenditure of time and other resources.
In 1946 when Jack Rittenhouse rolled by it was abandoned. When I first appeared on the scene in the summer of 1966 there was a concrete slab, a couple of broken concrete pillars, and a snake infested play house that was a miniature of the station. Today it is a bit of a challenge to find the slightest remnant amongst the sand and encroaching brush of the desert.

This forlorn De Soto baking under the desert sky near Hackberry on Route 66 was once someones pride and joy, their shiny new ride. Shortly before I was born this car represented the latest in automotive styling and engineering.

I do not offer these reflections to depress but to encourage. Life is a lot like a road trip down Route 66.

If you made that trip in 1940, you would have braved the desert heat with out the comfort of air conditioning. Of course that would have made an ice cold bottle of pop from Fig Springs station all the more memorable.

If you returned ten years after the trials and tribulations of World War II in your shiny new De Soto a fleeting smile of remembrance about that stop may have crossed your face as you rolled west at steady clip. Now the highway bypassed the twists and turns of the Black Mountains. This was the modern era, the highway was four lane and the heat was kept at bay with the simple flip of a switch.

Fast forward to 1970. Now your trip to the California coast is made much quicker as you don’t have to deal with the stop and go traffic in places like Victorville or Barstow. You see that as quite a blessing in light of your pressing schedule.

Now its 1980. As you roll west on another trip waves of nostalgia fueled by memories of things like that ice cold soda at Fig Springs so long ago lead you to make detours that lead you past the ruins of Cool Springs and over the summit of Sitgreaves Pass on the broken and cracked asphalt. Time has erased landmarks and the memory plays tricks. Where was Fig Springs station?

By 1990 the old road and the old ways are sorely missed. Memory softens the misery of traveling the desert in mid July without the benefit of air conditioning. It also makes that soda colder, the people friendlier, and the sounds of the bell at the station and the whirring fan that stirred the stifling air louder.

So, with these thoughts in mind I offer this. Savor life. Bad times are a part of life but they will pass. Good times are also a part of life but they too will pass. Both will be replaced with new sorrows and new joys.

This Christmas season make efforts to mend fences, to move beyond the slings and arrows. Take a moment to look beyond your circumstances to those less fortunate. Embrace the precious gift that is life, temper plans for the future with the knowledge that none of us are promised another day.

Seize the day.

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