Those who travel the old double six are well aware that the road is a living, breathing time capsule of near epic proportions. Scattered along its course, a course that on occasion changed more often than the seasons, are incredible links to the past. A few are obvious – the Blue Swallow Motel, the Motel Safari, Gay Parita – but others are far more subtle.
West of Kingman, Arizona there is a truncated alignment of the road that was bypassed in 1937. A hint of what makes this segment of U.S. 66 truly unique is found on page 82 of Legendary Route 66 by Karl Witzel.
This section of highway, with the exception of the fact that the road is now paved, is as it was in 1920 when this was the National Old Trails Highway. Here we have an unchanged snapshot of the American landscape from almost a century ago. The railroad bridge, the canyon, and the towering spires of stone are the same as in the circa 1920 photograph.
In Kingman, along the earliest alignment of the road that was also the course of the National Old Trails Highway, the time capsules are in the form of links to several decades of American automotive history. In one yard alone milestones from several decades of history bask in the Arizona sun as silent monuments to automotive evolution.
From end to end the now iconic Route 66 is a battered time capsule but with a very unique attribute. The international fascination with the old road is leading to the resurrection of dusty gems, tarnished treasures, and long bypassed landmarks.
It is also a 2,000 plus mile amusement park for those who dream of being an explorer cut from the cloth of Indiana Jones. From the almost vanished remnants of Bagdad in the vast wilderness of the Mojave Desert to the crumbling ruins of John’s Modern Cabins framed by Missouri over growth there is something to explore that will unleash the hidden adventurer.
Even better, it always seems as though there are a legion of like minded explorers who will revel in your discoveries and share in your poison ivy induced discomfort, even if it is just vicariously. This is but another manifestation of the international fellowship that is one of the perks of being a part of the Route 66 community.
High on our list of favorite discoveries was an adventure to the ruins of the Beacon Hill Motel led by intrepid explorer Rich Dinkella. Accompanying us on this odyssey of discovery was Joe Sonderman and Dean Kennedy. The motel may be gone but the memories and the camaraderie will stay with us forever.
This is the essence of the Route 66 experience. This is how the old road intoxicates and entrances. This is how the double six is able to transcend often insurmountable boundaries of culture and language.
The most famous highway in America is not driven, it is experienced. America’s longest attraction is not a road, it is a village of dreams where the imagination is unfettered.