This past weekends snow is fast retreating up the slopes of the Hualapai Mountains as the temperatures race toward the seventy degree mark. Our brief interlude with winter has been replaced with the spring before the next storm.
|The historic Wigwam Motel in Rialto, California.|
For some folks the warm temperatures of spring, and the thick blossoms on the fruit trees inspire an overwhelming urge for house, office, and yard cleaning as well as gardening and similar endeavors. For me it creates an almost uncontrollable urge to bask in that great American past time, the road trip.
To be honest, every season creates that urge for me even though it is the months of spring, summer, and fall that take it to a fever pitch. There is just something so exhilarating, so soothing in these adventures that I must admit an almost hopeless addiction to the sound of tires on wet pavement, the smells of an isolated service station on a warm summers evening, the thrill of new discoveries, road side fruit stands, quirky attractions, classic motels where the neon is as a beacon casting its glow across the black pavement of the highway, and that fresh coffee in a little diner where farmers, truckers, and road warriors gather to chase away the cobwebs of sleep.
|Dead River Bridge near the Painted Desert Trading Post
Though I am chomping at the bit for a run down some lost highway or dirt track through a desert wilderness where buttresses of stone dominate the horizon, it is the highway signed with two sixes whose clarion call sounds loudest. With clarity I hear the call to join a merry band of Australians led by Dale Butel as they trek across the Mojave Desert, to motor east to Tucumcari and join in the celebration of Wheels on 66, to roll past the dazzling brilliance of fall colors on a shade dappled road that twists its course through the Ozarks on the way to Cuba Fest, and to savor some ugly crust pie at the Midpont Cafe.
With the exception of the northeast corner of the nation, most of Florida, and a large chunk of Washington state, I have traveled the highways and byways of this nation with enough regularity that a map is seldom needed (with the exception of Jerry McClanahan’s EZ 66 Guide). I have even been privileged to explore back rods from Arizona to Wisconsin, from Alabama to Nevada and I have found each to be filled with wonder and special charm but only one entrances, captivates, and fuels an insatiable appetite to explore time and again, legendary Route 66.
After more than a half century of traipsing up and down that old road it would seem that I would tire of it but this is not the case. With each journey, with each adventure I have found the road is a chameleon.
Today it is a congested source of frustration, tomorrow it is a pleasant, empty road that flows gently across the vast landscapes. Fire erases the last vestiges of the Beacon Motel in Missouri and a few miles away in Cuba, the Wagon Wheel Motel rises like a Phoenix from the ashes.
|Dan Rice and Chris Durkin|
However, the true secret to its allure, and addictive charm is not the small towns or cities, the historic sites and museums, or the landscapes through which it passes but the people who give it life and vitality. It is the people who come from the very corners of the earth to seek its wonders and the people who drive it to work, it is the people like the Mueller’s and Connie Echols, Rich Henry and Dan Rice, John and Judy Springs, the Lehman’s, Gary Turner, and Rich Dinkella that keep the legacy alive.
Spring is here. Road trip season is at hand and the road is calling.
If you need more incentive than that may I suggest perusing the latest issues of 66 The Mother Road (link at the top left column in the Route 66 information segment). And don’t forget our contest as well.
See you on the road –