From its inception in 1926, Route 66 has had excellent press. As a result it is, arguably, America’s most famous highway even though it is not the most historic, most scenic, or the longest.
|Ghosts of the lost highway|
Its popularity shows no sign of waning even though it has reverted to its original incarnation as a series of interconnected trails, county roads, state highways, and city streets. Long ago it transcended its original purpose and is today a cross between the historic preservation of Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan and the superficial glitz and illusion of Disneyland. It is a repository of American history from the 20th century and a 2,000 mile amusement park. Intermixed with the solemnity that comes from traveling hallowed ground there is the euphoria of youth revisited. It is this blending that makes a simple journey on Route 66 into a life changing odyssey.
I write about the highways history in an effort to provide context and understanding. I write about the wonders found along its storied route to encourage others to make that life changing drive and to provide the armchair adventurer with fodder for nights filled with colorful dreams.
|A vanished view of Route 66|
At the risk of seeming vain, I feel almost a scared duty in utilizing my gifts to preserve the history of the road and encouraging others to discover its charms. It is a humbling thought to consider that what I write, what I photograph, may serve these purposes for generations yet born.
I am not alone with these thoughts, with this humble awareness that my work is preserving history and chronicling history as it unfolds. Talk to people like Jerry McClanahan, Jim Ross, Dave Emerson, Dan Rice, Laurel Kane, and countless other scattered along this ribbon of asphalt that spans the nation and that serves as a bridge between the past and future.
|Chadwick Drive (Route 66) Kingman, Arizona|
The awareness that results from the writing of this highways history, and from driving its cracked and broken asphalt, provides a perspective on changing times as well as how to adapt to them. It also provides a degree of frustration when I can not find ways to manifest that perspective in ways that help my adopted hometown, Kingman, preserve its history, instill enthusiasm about its wonders, and make it a place others want to call home.
Compounding this sense of frustration is the acute realization of how fast time passes, how fleeting life can be, and how important it is to live life to the fullest. I fully realize this magnified sense of urgency in regard to time allotted for preservation, for encouraging, for promoting, and for utilizing gifts and talents, is resultant of the death of my mother and sister in December, the skin cancer surgery this morning (received a clean bill of health a half hour ago!), and walking amongst ruins that were polished dreams of stone, glass, and wood less than a half century ago.
So, rather than curse the darkness, I choose to light a candle in the form of photographs and tapestries woven of words that may inspire someone with the talents I lack. Then, perhaps, Kingman will again take its place among the many jewels that line legendary 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica. Perhaps it will then again be more than a stop along a legendary road and will instead be a destination people seek on their journey along a highway paved with dreams.
With that said, in between my doctors visit this afternoon and the one in the morning, I will again turn my attention toward chronicling the first 85 years of Route 66 history with the Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas, volume one, as well as an assignment for Dave Emerson that will appear in the next edition of his Keeping You On The Mother Road directory.
And, if time allows, I will also begin promoting Ghost Towns of Route 66, my effort to give those faded communities overlooked in the recent resurgent interest in the highwayhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760338434&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr a moment on center stage, scheduled for a debut at the international Route 66 festival in Amarillo in June.