The international fascination with Route 66 is just one of the many facets of this old road that never ceases to amaze me. Today’s reminder that this iconic highway has become a larger than life icon with fans in every corner of the world came from Zdnek Jurasek of the Czech Republic.
He has been spearheading development of the Route 66 association in that country. He is also working to develop a Route 66 house for visitors, which is step one in the goal of creating Europe’s first Route 66 Museum.
|Zdnek Jurasek of the Czech Route 66 Association, and
his wife, Ava
I am quite honored to have been asked to contribute photographic work for display at the Route 66 house. Even more humbling is the fact that our work will be displayed along side that of acclaimed artists such as Bob Waldmire and Chris Robleski.
We first met Zdnek at the International Route 66 Festival in Victorville, California this past August. His enthusiasm for the old road, and as a result his zeal in seeing it promoted in Europe were infectious and I immediately offered our assistance in regard to his efforts to create the Route 66 Museum in his country.
My dearest friend and I were privileged to have an opportunity for another visit latter in the summer when Zdnek led a tour through Kingman. This time it was over breakfast at Dora’s Beale Street Deli, a great little restaurant just one block off of Route 66.
It is encounters such as these that give Route 66 a dream like quality. It is also one of the many things that make a Route 66 adventure such an addictive pleasure.
Another aspect of the old double six that fascinates me is that the quest to unravel its history is also international in scope. You are just as likely to meet someone from Amsterdam or Tokyo at a remote ruin on a long forgotten alignment of the highway, such as the Painted Desert Trading Post or Endee, as you are an American. Even better, if you do meet a traveler from foreign shores barriers of language and culture seem to vanish with the shared enthusiasm of discoveries made on America’s most famous highway.
In our travels I have encountered French tourists, in the middle of summer, in Amboy, California at midnight, Norwegians savoring pie and coffee at the Midpoint Cafe in Texas (a restaurant we enjoy so much there was once a detour of over 100 miles just for lunch), and Chinese visitors enjoying an evening of karaoke in Needles, California. In each and every encounter there has been a friendly smile, a wave, and quite often, lively conversations about their homelands. On occasion these conversations have taken place over the most memorable dinners or breakfast at one of the road side treasures that dot Route 66, such as Missouri Hick’s or Shelly’s in Cuba, Missouri, the Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, Illinois, the Palms Grill Cafe in Atlanta, Illinois, Emma Jeans Holland Burger in Victorville, or Redneck’s Barbecue in Kingman.
With this in mind we look toward 2013 with eager anticipation. I am quite sure it will be another year of grand adventure filled visits from old friends, friends yet met, and delightful time outs from the crazy, sterile world of the 21st century at places such as the Globetrotter Lodge in Holbrook, Pine Country Restaurant in Williams, or the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico.