I would be willing to bet that more ink (in the era before the dawn of electronic pen and paper) has been used to try and describe the wonder of Route 66 and than asphalt was used to pave it. I too have tried to find an adequate descriptor for the captivating magic that is an adventure on legendary Route 66.
The best I can offer to those unfamiliar with its charm is that it is a multifaceted time capsule with an overlay of Disneyland. It is an oddly magical place where the past and present blend almost seamlessly. As an example, on our recent trip we were driving through Carthage when I noticed a sign at the end of an old garage.
Was it still 2012? Had I somehow slipped through time to 1958 and the year of the Edsel and tail fins?
All along Route 66 there are moments when it is difficult to discern the year, a brief opportunity to leave the cares of the modern world behind. You find yourself moving slower, stopping to visit with people and loosing track of time, lingering over pie and coffee to chat with the locals or tourists from Spain, France, Australia, or Germany, or just simply enjoying a stunning sunset over the empty streets of Glenrio.
To be honest, when the resurgent interest in Route 66 kicked off just over twenty years ago my assumption was that it was a fad. For several years I expected the popularity to wane or fade as people moved on to the next big thing.
With all honesty I can say that is not going to happen. In fact the international popularity for this road and all that it represents is growing. As a result, the illusion is being presented that the time capsule is still being unveiled with new treasures brought to light every day.
|My dearest friend at the Palms Grill
Cafe in Atlanta, Illinois.
Grand old motels once relegated to the status of flop house are again offering weary travelers a haven for the night under a neon glow. Blue plate specials are still offered at the Palms Grill Cafe. Zany attractions still lure the traveler to make a stop.
At its heart the road has always been about the people and that too remains unchanged. Spend just one evening basking in the hospitality of the Mueller’s at the iconic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari or of Connie Echols at the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba and your addiction to the charms of this old road will begin.
After a restful night at the Monterey Non Smokers Motel in Albuquerque or the Motel Safari in Tucumcari the world can easily be seen through rose colored glasses. As you motor east or west on the double six it is easy to keep that view of life alive with lunch at the Midpoint Cafe or dinner at Joe and Aggie’s in Holbrook, and a stop at Harley and Annabelle’s in Erick.
That in a nut shell is what separates Route 66 from the history and majesty of the Lincoln Highway. This is why there are Route 66 associations in more than twenty countries but the Dixie Highway remains an obscurity.
Everyone that is drawn to the wonder of Route 66 plays a role in writing its history, in ensuring it remains America’s most famous highway, and in preserving its legacy for another generation. From Dries Bessels to Dale Butel, from Zdnek Jurasek to Rich Henry, each and everyone who travels this old road contribute to the continuation of its legacy.
My contributions are the books, the photography, working to utilize the resurgent interest in the road to transform my community, and lending support to those who strive to preserve the time capsules. To say I am honored to be able to play a small role in promoting and preserving the essence of the highway would be a gross understatement. Likewise with how humbled I am when notes of praise are received about my work and how it encouraged someone to discover the wonder of Route 66 for themselves.
On that note it is time to close for the day. But first, I would like to say thank you to everyone who works so hard to fuel the wonder of iconic Route 66 and to preserve its legacy.