At some point in its colorful history, Route 66 morphed into a 2,000 plus mile linear community with the towns and cities between Chicago and Santa Monica becoming quirky neighborhoods in that time capsule village. Route 66, however, is also an international community. 
On Tuesday evening, my dearest friend and I were privileged to share a delightful dinner and an evening of laughter and stimulating conversation with Henk Kuperus of US Bikers, a Netherlands based tour company, his Route 66 tour group, and Dries and Marion Bessels, friends who also happen to be founding members of the Dutch Route 66 Association.

Author Jim Hinckley speaking with a group from
New Zealand traveling on Route 66.

Last evening it was an intimate dinner and pleasant conversation with Dries and Marion Bessels at Haualapai Mountain Resort.
Such gatherings with friends and fellow enthusiasts are always a source of inspiration as well as a reminder of how blessed we are to live on the most famous highway in the world.
It is this international sense of community and camaraderie  that made this years Route 66 International Festival a rousing success. It is also what gives the old road such a sense of vitality.
The Route 66 experience can not be adequately explained, it must be lived and experienced. 
On Tuesday evening I stood under a starry desert sky and watched the traffic roll by on Andy Devine Avenue as a warm, gentle breeze scented with a hint of creosote brushed my cheek. Sharing my corner was a charming fellow from the Netherlands celebrating his 52nd birthday. As I listened to him talk of his Route 66 adventure, how he had dreamed and saved for this trip for years, and how his daughter had learned to ride a motorcycle just so she could accompany him, a stretch of road that has played a role in my life since 1959 seemed new and fresh.

Right to left, internationally acclaimed artist Jerry
McClanahan, author and photographer Akio Takeuchi,
his daughter, Ayako, and wife Yasuko, at the 2014
Route 66 International Festival in Kingman

Route 66 has always been the rainbow to the pot of gold for almost a century of dreamers. Now, however, during the storied old roads renaissance, those who tell the tales of chasing dreams on the double six are as likely to have Japanese or Spanish,  French or German, Dutch or Australian accents as travelers of the 1930’s had accents that hinted of a rural life lived on the plains of Oklahoma or in the hills of Arkansas.
For the novice Route 66 adventurer unfamiliar with the charms of the iconic double six, at first it might seem a bit odd to stop at Gary Turners and listen to an animated group from the Netherlands share a watermelon, or sit around the fire at the Blue Swallow Motel listening to tales of the days adventures from citizens of Norway or Japan shared with a family from Ohio. 
Move beyond the odd phrases or the flurry of words you don’t understand and instead focus on the the excitement and the enthusiasm. Close your eyes and feel the sense of wonder, then open them to see America as you haven’t it in years.
With age comes distorted nostalgic longing for what never was. On Route 66 the halcyon world that never was meets the gritty truth of history and together they blend seamlessly as a place where the past and future, the myth and the reality form a rich tapestry that inspires dreams and ignites passions.
As the countdown to the centennial begins, and as the passions ignited by adventures on America’s longest attraction inspire a new generation of adventurers, could the roads best years be looming on the horizon?