Route 66 – No Mere Highway
Here is a point to ponder. Route 66 doesn’t exist, at least not officially. It hasn’t for decades. And yet the highway is literally a destination. There are companies based in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Asia that specialize in Route 66 tours. There are active Route 66 associations in Canada, Japan, and several European countries. Route 66 festivals have been held in Germany and the Czech Republic, and guide books have been written in several languages. Route 66 Navigation, a popular and innovative app, was developed by Touch Media, a company based in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Route 66 is not America’s most scenic highway. And there are a number of American highways that link Norman Rockwell type towns where the neon still glows bright. But there is only one Route 66 infused with an infectious magic.
From its inception this highway has always had he best press and publicity. And so, long ago it morphed into something more than a mere highway that connected point “A” with point “B”. It is without a doubt more than America’s most famous highway. For legions of international enthusiasts this storied highway has become the quintessential American road trip. But it is more than a mere highway. It is America’s longest attraction. It is a living museum where the line between past, present, and future blends seamlessly. It is America’s longest small town.
And now towns, cities and villages are gearing up for the fast approaching Route 66 centennial. Festivals, public arts projects, and projects such as the innovative self guided narrated historic district walking tour in Kingman, Arizona that was developed by Kingman Main Street are addidng a new zest to the Route 66 experience. We are working to develop the Jim HInckley’s America website as the ultimate Route 66 travel planning portal, and as an important source for Route 66 centennial updates as well as news.
Still, as exciting as a Route 66 adventure is, it can be enhanced with the shortest of detours. Supai with its towering waterfalls, the most remote community in America, is just sixty miles from Route 66. In Kingman, Arizona, beating the oppressive heat of summer is as easy as scenic drive of just twelve miles to Hualapai Mountain Park. In New Mexico, Acoma, the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States is less than 20 miles from the legendary double six.
Surprisingly the least explored segments of Route 66 are those that located in major metropolitan areas. But the adventures in St. Louis, Chicago, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque or Los Angeles are not just found along the Route 66 corridor. The Peterson Automotive Museum, one of the most dynamic museums in the world is located a few miles from Route 66. And one of the most beautiful drives in America, the Angel’s Crest Highway in the mountains above Los Angeles is an awe-inspiring adventure through a wilderness wonderland accented with stunning views of the big city far below.
These detours are the subject of my latest book, Backroads of Route 66. And a fact finding expedition to find more side trips of interest will be a part of the upcoming fall Jim Hinckley’s America odyssey to the Miles of Possibility Conference in Pontiac, Illinois.
And speaking of the fall tour, don’t forget the contest that kicks off on October 1. The key will be the hashtag – #jimhinckleysamerica.