Bernhard, Sylvia, and Maja – dear friends with a well honed sense of adventure.
I have some Route 66 related thoughts and insight garnered during the recent Germany to share. First, however, I need to vent, just a little.
To the best of my ability, I have refrained from commenting on the unfolding comedy/tragedy that is the current American presidential campaign. As a result, there is a very good chance that my tongue will most likely be a stump before November.
However, resultant of the tenor of some recent political tirades, the hostility and embittered rancor in conversation as well as correspondence, and the occasionally venomous social media discourse that threatens to do irreparable damage to friendships, I felt the need to speak out.
One, be it America, Germany, or anyplace in between, the words of Will Rogers ring true – we have the best politicians money can buy. Two, politics, regardless of country, is a great deal like cleaning stables. It comes in different colors but it all smells about the same.
Members of the Route 66 family from the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, and France. Courtesy Sylvie Toullec
Now, with that said, please, don’t say things you will latter regret.
Can you name the presidential contenders in 1970, 1966, 1960, or 1950? These once divisive political campaigns have come and gone but there are friendships that outlasted each of them.
Speaking of friendships, one of the most memorable things, aside from photos that bring a smile of remembrance, that I will take from the recent adventure to Germany and the first European Route 66 festival are reflections on the unique nature of the Route 66 community in the era of the highways renaissance. Simply put, the friendships my dearest friend and I have made on Route 66, and because of that storied highway are unlike anything previously experienced.
There is a sense of family and of camaraderie that transcends barriers of language, of culture, and of distance. It even transcends Route 66 as the pleasure derived from memory making adventures shared with friends on that iconic highway can be found in shared explorations on lost highways in Arizona, on narrow streets in Dittelsheim, or over a cold stein of beer at a festival in Dinkelsbuhl.
Friends and comrades from the Netherlands.
The friendships may begin on Route 66, but as with the magic of this amazing highway itself, they can not be confined. The recent festival in Germany with its vintage American pick up trucks and cars rolling on flashy chrome wheels, the laughter, vendors, motorcycles washed by bikini clad girls, as well as the food, music, laughter, and shared stories from travels on Route 66 could have easily taken place in Kingman, Tucumcari, or Joliet.
Likewise with German adventures shared with friends. Dutch and American friends working, with laughter, to decipher a German menu in a century old restaurant is a scene that plays out every day at Lucille’s in Weatherford or at the Dambar in Kingman.
A backyard barbecue at sunset shared with friends, with farm fields stretching toward the distant horizon and a garage festooned with Route 66 shields as a backdrop, is a common sight in Oklahoma, Illinois, or Missouri. This was in Germany.
Friends and memory making adventures shared with friends, that is the essence of the Route 66 experience in the modern era, even if those adventures take place in Germany, Arizona, or the Netherlands.