THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, CRYSTAL BALLS, AND THE HOUSE OF MIRRORS
Today’s post title may seem a bit odd but I can explain, honestly. Lets begin with the latter.
Ron Warnick at Route 66 News recently published a fascinating poll to determine what the top ten icons are on Route 66. Results to date are rather interesting.
First, some of the attractions are associated with Route 66 but they are not technically on that highway (Cadillac Ranch, Big Texan, Santa Monica Pier, to name a few). Still, many of these locations apparently rate quite high on the popularity scale with the Route 66 community.
In my humble opinion this is indicative of the modern incarnation of Route 66. On this old highway myth and reality are intertwined to create a perception, a romanticized vision of a magical place where adventure beckons and dreams come true. It is a state of mind loosely based on history and fact, a place where the Norman Rockwell style American experience lives on.
The second item of interest is found in the attractions that top the list at this time, and those that rank near the bottom. Again, only my opinion, but the results as of this morning verify what I have long suspected – the segments of Route 66 in the Los Angeles metropolitan area could very well be the least explored by enthusiasts.
I also see another long held concept verified in the poll. Those places that weave historical accuracy and atmosphere with sincere hospitality, and that provide special service beyond what is expected by the customer, are the very cornerstone for the growing fascination with Route 66.
Another items I see in the poll is that enthusiasts also enjoy a bit of whimsy on their journey through history and the heartland. Take the popularity of the park in Winslow or the Blue Whale as an indicator.
Now, the purist may be disturbed by what they see in the poll. However, what must be kept in mind is that historic context is crucial to the overall Route 66 experience but I don’t think many enthusiasts would really relish the idea of experiencing the road as described in The Grapes of Wrath or repairing the third flat tire of the day under a blazing desert sun.
It will be interesting to see what icons top the list when the poll closes. Meanwhile, as in Chicago, vote early and vote often.
Now, lets talk crystal ball. In 1946, Ford Motor Company launched an incredibly successful advertising campaign that centered on a crystal ball and the slogan, “There is a Ford in your future.”
I find the advertisements rather fitting for a discussion on Route 66. For the foreseeable future, there is a Route 66 in our future. The roads popularity is far from cresting. In fact, it seems as though the highways popularity is exponentially increasing with each passing year.
If for no reason other than this, Rich Dinkela’s work made manifest in the new Events on Route 66 website, and the initiative facilitated by the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and World Monuments Fund, assume a magnified sense of importance. Now, more than at any time in the highways history, there is a need for a central representative organization that connects the dots, if you will, to foster the development of a sense of unity and unified purpose within the international Route 66 community.
Assuming the role of soothsayer, I predict that this organization will begin to take shape next year. First there will be the release of information and details about the recent steering committee meeting in Albuquerque, and then there will be a series of public meetings for the presentation of the draft statement and structure proposal developed by that committee.
I will also predict that the creation of this organization will foster a new golden era along the Route 66 corridor from Chicago to Santa Monica. It will also ensure that the road remains relevant, vibrant, and of importance well into its second century.
Now, as to the last reference, in recent weeks I increasingly find myself relating to Alice as in Alice and Wonderland. At every turn something new and miraculous appears. As the adventure progresses, I also feel a growing awareness of just how far behind the times we are. Then, as each new and wondrous discovery leads me further down unfamiliar paths, there is a sense of anxiety tinged with eager anticipation. This may be encapsulated in the pending adventure to the Netherlands but this is not the only example. In fact, most every aspect of my life seems to fit within this category. The publicist is suggesting development of podcasts and a Youtube channel to a man who only recently acquired the most basic of cell phones, is making a valiant effort to decipher e-tickets, and made the first trip using GPS this fall. I am enamored with the wizardry of tablets and similar devices even though adventures with a laptop has just commenced. As I work my way through maps and atlases with a compass, pencil, and paper, fellow lost highway enthusiasts pass about what seems to be almost magical screen shots from Google earth and other sources. Yes, my friends, the title for today’s post is rather apt indeed.