With a deadline for the Route 66 historic atlas looming on the not so distant horizon, and a New Mexico road trip in the wings, I decided to devote most of the past weekend to work. So, for at least five hours each day, I transformed my notes on murder, mayhem, disaster, and good times on the old double six into something coherent.
I am feeling quite confident that this work will really add depth and context to the Route 66 experience. My hope is also that, as with the Route 66 Encyclopedia, it will spark conversation that leads to new discoveries, will encourage exploration, and that it will solve a few mysteries.
This weekends work focused on Texas and Oklahoma, and going blurry eyed over reading old newspaper accounts that chronicled flooding near Hydro that washed away cars, buses, and trucks in 1946, the string of robberies in Wildorado between 1926 and 1930, and the daring escape of a German POW. Of course it wasn’t all doom and gloom. After all, this is Route 66.
One article that I found particularly interesting was from 1959. It appeared in an Albuquerque newspaper as a reprint from a London, England paper.
It chronicled the travels of an English visitor who drove U.S. 66 from St. Louis to Los Angeles. Everything he found “tasteless,” “garish,” and “pathetic” is, ironically what fans of the double six seek today.
Through his eyes the neon corridors, the fake trading posts with made in Japan Indian trinkets, and motels that presented the illusion of being tepees or bunkhouses were examples of the shallow, culture less American society that transformed the roadway into a circus sideshow with each vendor trying an innovative way to take the rubes hard earned dollar.
The rest of the weekend was spent in a most unusual way. According to my dearest friend the term for this fascinating endeavor is relaxation.
What an odd and interesting concept – just spending a couple of hours without taking notes, blogging, making phone calls, pouring over maps, fixing something, planning on fixing something, planning what to blog or write, organizing or editing photo files, reading a book related to research, organizing the schedule, organizing tours, giving tours, or being called into the office. The way our version of “relaxation” worked was simply sitting on the back porch next to my dearest friends herb garden and enjoying each others company, watching a movie, and having a few quiet and simple dinners together. I could really get used to this!
Now, however, its back to the real world. That means the usual after holiday mess at the office, finalizing arrangements for New Mexico, ensuring the caretaker has everything they need, confirming reservations and appearances, organizational meetings to move things forward for the proposed 2014 International Route 66 Festival in Kingman, more research, and more time on the treadmill i an effort to afford more time to enjoy this thing called relaxation.