Memories are funny things. They add seasoning to life, and they can be made fresh and vibrant by a song, a smell, a touch, an empty old highway baking under a desert sky, or even an old truck. Such was the case with the drive home from Needles, California after a day spent with the Nissan Canada Route 66 Road Trip.
For the most part I was cruising on auto pilot with a head full of thoughts about the recent project developed for Nissan Canada, a speaking engagement in Needles scheduled for next February that I had arranged earlier that morning, and how a stunning sunrise had filled me with a longing to get home to my dearest friend. Traffic was light but I reigned in the hunger to make time and instead kept the speed in check. Then I saw it, a ’46 GMC out to pasture.
In an instant I was flooded with memories. As I pulled onto the shoulder of the highway there was a brief moment when the line between past and present seemed to blur. The battered old workhorse looked identical to the truck I owned when my dearest friend and I were courting. My ’46 GMC was the truck I drove on our first date. It was the truck that I drove back to the ranch after my last rodeo ride. Most every weekend, to see my dearest friend, I cruised into Kingman from Ash Fork on old Route 66 behind the wheel of that faithful old truck. For a time I was working on a project in the remote old town of Drake, Arizona and that GMC was the only vehicle that could negotiate the quagmire that was the Perksinville Road after a rain.
Once, after a winters storm, I about froze my backside off on a drive to Kingman as the truck didn’t have a heater. It was a challenge to keep the windshield clear of frost on the inside as well as the outside. I can still feel the warmth of the coffee cup in my hand and the taste of a hot bowl of chili at the Truxton Cafe as the chill was chased from my bones.
In all honesty the sunrise had most likely set me in a reflective mood. Finding that old truck kicked it into high gear. The drive home on old Route 66 through the Black Mountains and over Sitgreaves Pass kicked it into overdrive. I have shared a bit of these memories as well as some of the colorful history found along this highway on the Patreon based crowdfunding site where exclusive content is now being posted.
Suffice to say it was quite an emotional day. Mingled among the smile inducing thoughts were those that cast dark shadows. I can’t drive this old highway and not think of my pa as it was on this road that he taught me to ride a bike, to drive (behind the wheel of a ’53 Chevy pick up truck) and to drive heavy trucks (a WWII deuce and a half tanker truck). It was along this road that he taught me a bit of carpentry as we built a garage and house. And it was on this road that my dearest friend and I had some of our first double dates as we traveled to events in Oatman. It was on a drive to Needles with my dearest friend that the idea for Jim Hinckley’s America was birthed.
Memories are funny things.