Route 66 is a highway that is best enjoyed when savored, not rushed. It is like a picnic with a friend or an excellent dinner to celebrate a momentous occasion (like the forthcoming date with my dearest friend to commemorate 28 years of marriage).
The interstate highway is much like the fast food restaurants that crowd around every exit. Fast, functional, generic, and relatively boring.
Our October excursion calls for a blending of both, not the ideal way to enjoy that legendary highway or for introducing my dearest friend to the wonders of the Ozarks and the friendly people who call those mountains home. But this is a business trip first and a pleasure trip second.
Item one will be to use the promotion of the latest book, Ghost Towns of Route 66, to draw attention to some wonderful museums and gift shops, as well as other authors of note and their tremendous works. Item two will be to gather the images that, with the historic images provided by Joe Sonderman and Mike Ward, will complete the latest project, a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas.
With assistance from the excellent guide books published by the National Historic Route 66 Foundation, the Route 66 Motels website created by Emily Priddy, the fine folks at AAA and Rand McNally, and notes made on previous trips, something has been created that I generally abhor, a detailed travel schedule with a daily distance factor of plus or minus fifty miles. The only things that will be set in stone are the scheduled book signings and speaking engagements.
So, for those who hope to catch me on the road during this trip for the signing of a book or a cup of coffee, here is the trip in a nut shell as it stands now. Updates will be provided as they become available.
If all goes as planned, my dearest friend will have the rental car packed, a lunch prepared, and the caretakers (my son and his family that includes 2.5 kids and a small animal that I have been informed is a dog) made comfortable by the time I arrive home from work around 12:30 on Saturday, the first. We will then close our eyes (figuratively and not literally), jump on I-40 and shoot for Albuquerque. With a later start or in the case of exhaustion, we call it a day at Gallup.
The next day we will slow the pace a bit with the destination target being Elk City in Oklahoma. Stops along the way include a visit with Vickie at Enchanted Trails Trading Post, the Mueller’s, the proud new owners of the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, and, of course, Fran at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas where we must stop for pie and coffee.
For day three we are hoping to make Lebanon, Missouri with the reward being a stay at the delightful Munger Moss Motel. In between is lots of photography, stopping at a few gift shops to sign books in inventory, and visits with Laurel Kane and the crew at Afton Station, and Melba at 4 Women on the Route in Galena, Kansas.
Our next target is Springfield, Illinois. On more than one occasion as a kid we drove past the home of Abraham Lincoln as the sun sank in the west but on this trip we stop. Also on the list is Rich Henry at the Rabbit Ranch and the crowd at the Cozy Dog Drive In.
Then we will battle our way into Chicago for a sampling of Greek Town, and a book signing in conjunction with author and historian Dave Clark the Route 66 Museum at 7003 Ogden Avenue in Berwyn. This is scheduled for 3:00 to 5:00 (Cort, are you reading this?).
It is my hope to end that day in Joliet rather than Chicago but that is dependant on a number of factors. In either case the next days drive will be delightfully short with our target being the Carlinvilla Motel in Carlinville.
At 6:00 PM, on the evening of the 7th, we will be at Connie’s Shoppe (Wagon Wheel Motel) in Cuba, Missouri with acclaimed author Joe Sonderman to sign books and talk Route 66. Connie, the proprietor is working with the local community to ensure it is an evening of fun as well as entertainment.
Somewhere between Carlinville and Cuba, we will be meeting up with Dale Butel, owner of Route 66 Tours from Australia, Kumar Patel of the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, California, Bob “Croc” Lile, John Springs of 66 The Mother Road, and several other leaders in the development of Route 66 tourism.
On Saturday the 8th, Joe Sonderman and I will be at the Route 66 Museum in Lebanon from 11:00 to 1:00. Then, I travel on to Carthage for an appearance at the Powers Museum from 3:00 to 5:00.
Aft that we again close our eyes, suck it up, and take to the interstate with occasional sanity breaks that include cruising Route 66, taking in some nourishment at a cafe or diner on the old road, and resting our head where the neon casts a soft glow. Our target after Carthage is dependant on the level of exhaustion.
For the truly weary we will try for the Desert Hills Motel in Tulsa. If we are still eager for the road, the end of the day will come somewhere between Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
As I have to be back to the office on Tuesday morning, that leaves but Sunday and Monday for the last 1,000 plus miles. Sunday night, I hope will find us somewhere between Santa Rosa and Albuquerque. From there it is a relatively short jaunt of around 500 miles to the homestead.
At the very least this will be a high speed adventure on Route 66. Still, the worst day on Route 66 beats most any day, any place else.
See you on the road?

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