SOMEWHERE EAST OF LA AND WEST OF AMARILLO

If I were limited in my choice of what section of Route 66 to explore it would have to be the segment east of Los Angeles but west of Amarillo. This is not say the alignments in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, or Oklahoma, or even in Los Angeles itself, are without charm. 
On our recent excursion along the old double six the vibrant fall colors that framed every view of the Ozark country in Missouri was absolutely breathtaking. Still there was a sense of something missing and that something was the vast landscapes of the American southwest punctuated by weathered spires of stone, Technicolor sunsets casting a surreal glow over ancient adobes that predate certification of Route 66 by centuries, and endless seas of multicolored stone that stretch to the far horizon. 
In Illinois the course of Route 66 is through more than two centuries of American history. Its course in Missouri is tinged with the sorrows and blood of a nation divided. Through Kansas it is a road of faded glories. As it sweeps onto the plains of Oklahoma the imagination is stirred to a feverish pitch as thoughts of the tragic clash of cultures that unfolded here in the 19th century. 
Then, shortly after coursing through the empty streets of Texola, and passing the Will Rogers memorial and little sign that proclaims you have crossed into Texas, an eager sense of anticipation that is difficult to describe stirs the spirit. At the west end of the state, after a stop for pie and coffee at the Midpoint Cafe, and a quick cruise through the fast fading vestiges of Glenrio and Endee, the highway drops into the broken cap rock country of New Mexico.
With each trip east along the old double six we savor the adventure, the opportunity to visit with old friends, and the ever changing landscapes of the American heartland. Still it is only on the return trip, when we drop from Texas into New Mexico, it is only when we feel the embrace of the desert breeze, that there is the comforting sense of being welcomed home after a long absence. 
Only in this country do I feel a sense of timelessness as the old road twists and turns its way westward over the weathered stone, through forests of wind gnarled trees, and villages where the dawn of America is considered a current event. To detour into old Las Vegas, stroll the historic plaza, and, after a long day on the road, savor a cold one in the in the saloon at the Plaza Hotel once frequented by Doc Holiday is to feel at home once more. 
In looking back over the years toward the time when these raw and wild lands filled a scrawny kid from the woodlands of the Midwest with a sense of foreboding, of dread,  I am often surprised by the depth of my passion for it now. Now, I find it difficult to imagine a life lived in a land without snow covered peaks framed by a sky of piercing blue, a landscape where the accomplishments of man are dwarfed, a place where each day is played out against the awe inspiring wonders of God’s finest handiwork. 
The time is at hand for a road trip, for an excursion into the wild places. There is a need for the empty places where the soul can be replenished and renewed. And so, it is with eager anticipation that I look toward the new year and our annual tradition of new beginnings from a vantage point on high that allows us to look back over the year, and across the desert wilderness toward the future that looms on the horizon.  

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