Facing the future with head held high and without flinching is not for the weak at heart. However, if one has a properly balanced perspective that is derived from accurate historic knowledge and an open mind, the job is made much easier.
One of my favorite books for providing perspective on the “good old days” as a comparative study to the rapidly changing world we reside in today is By Motor to the Golden Gate http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1150545259&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrwritten by Emily Post and published in 1916.
Fortunately the book has been reprinted. Fortunately we live in the era of the Internet and as a result obtaining a copy is as easy as the click of the mouse, a process that exemplifies one of the great blessings of the modern era.
When I wanted a copy it took years to find. It also took lots of phone calls and endless hours in old book stores.
For the Route 66 enthusiast consider this, before the 1936 realignment in New Mexico, the stretch of road between Santa Fe and Albuquerque was a dreaded experience, largely because of the grades and curves of La Bajada Hill. Emily Post noted, “The Bajada Hill, which for days Celia and I dreaded so much that we did not dare speak of it for fear of making E.M. nervous, was magnificently built. There is no difficulty in going down it, even in a very long car that has to back and fill at corners; there are low stone curbs at bad elbows, and the turns are well banked so that you feel no tendency to plunge off.”
This section of road saw a great deal of improvement between 1916 and 1936. So, why was it dreaded by motorist on Route 66 but praised by motoring pioneers? Perspective.
Think how bad the roads must have been in 1916 for this to seem like a nice road. Think how much roads had changed by 1936 for drivers to see an improved version of Bajada Hill as a rough road.
In 1936, it was quite feasible for a motorist to drive from New York to Los Angeles in five or six days. Emily post noted her trip from New York to San Francisco via San Diego required 4,250 miles of driving and that a person should plan on at least four weeks for the trip! It should be noted that on her trip the car was in such need of repair by the time they arrived in Winslow the vehicle was shipped by rail to California.
The driver on Emily Post’s trip was E.M.Post Jr. In one of the final chapters he details what is needed for anyone planning to drive across the nation.
“Two spare ties should be sufficient. I only had five punctures all the way.” Other items suggested included a small shovel, African water bags, one hundred feet of rope, extra spark plugs, extra valves and valve springs, fan belt, links if the car is chain drive, tire chains, complete tool chest, spare rim, extra tubes, and a tire pump.
One aspect of this book I found quite frustrating was the absence of any indication about make or model other than it was built by a European manufacturer. This was doubly frustrating when I read the car had traveled more than 30,000 miles before making this arduous trip.  
In the back of the book is a breakdown on expenses and daily schedule. This was most interesting.
“Third Day’s Run, Utica to Buffalo.” “Eighteenth Day’s Run, Albuquerque to Winslow.” “Omaha – Hotel Fontanelle 3 single rooms with baths at $3.50 each.” “20 gallons of gas – $4.40.” “Albuquerque – Coleman Blank Garage – 2 men, 4 hours each (nigh labor, double rate), mending leak in radiator, taking off exhaust, filling grease cups, etc. $6.00”
Perspective. That is how we know a road trip today is much better than a road trip in 1916. That is how we know a road trip today, even on Route 66, is almost sterile. That is how we know these are the best of times and the worst of times.
Pick up a copy of Emily post’s book before your next road trip. My guarantee is you will never see the road traveled in the same way ever again.

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