So sorry, gentle readers, that I have been neglecting my blog. We recently returned from what can only be described as an Expedition, and I have since been in recovery mode. I’m also apparently suffering from what the self-appointed welcome guy in the Route 66 kiosk on Santa Monica Pier termed “Route 66 Blur.” This means I have a hard time recalling, for example, which waitress in what restaurant in which town in what state on which day said what. In keeping with my current mind state, this will be the first post in my as yet uncertain number and topic Route 66 series. Perhaps writing about it will help me sort it all out.
After wending our way across the U.S. in our cherry red Traverse on Route 50, we spent about a week in Annapolis, MD, visiting our son. We then drove, via Morgantown, WV, Columbus, OH and Indianapolis, IN to Chicago, and the eastern terminus of Route 66. We spent a day sightseeing in Chicago, unintentionally crashing the annual Memorial Day Parade, and then we embarked on our westbound Route 66 expedition.
All I know for sure is the following. We left Chicago on the morning of Sunday, May 25, and we pulled into Santa Monica on the evening of Sunday, June 8. Our son was unexpectedly in Oklahoma City for summer training so we spent an exceedingly entertaining weekend somewhere in the middle with him in OKC. (We even went to an NBA Playoff Game between the Thunder and Spurs.) We traveled through eight states between Chicago and LA. I loved Santa Fe, NM, and Williams, AZ, and my husband and I had an excellent experience together on Route 66, with the expedition leaving us with a sense of accomplishment and itching for more road trips.
However, beyond that, my memory is like a super-charged kaleidoscope. I remember giant muffler men and roadrunners and lots of diners and neon signs and frontage roads and hamburgers and hotel rooms. But it is all a bit jumbled. I spent several hours this week reconstructing our actual itinerary and looking through my thousands of photos. There is still one hotel and one dinner restaurant that I cannot peg for the life of me. But I have my MasterCard bill for further research.
On our Route 50 eastbound trip, we had a travel plan pre-mapped that we largely stuck to. On Route 66, however, we quickly learned we couldn’t travel nearly as far each day due to the road conditions and the complexity of the routes, and we wanted to be flexible. Each night my husband would plan our route on the computer for the next day and then we’d both still watch like hawks to ensure we didn’t get lost. (This left little time, energy or access to the laptop to do any blogging in case you were wondering what happened to me.) Even so, we had a couple of close Stephen King-like calls, where we were temporarily lost on remote backcountry roads amongst creepy grain fields, expecting children with pitch forks to emerge and corner us.
In any event, when we arrived in Santa Monica, we already knew from our guidebooks that the official west end of Route 66 is unmarked and rather underwhelming. So we sought out the “66 to Cali” Route 66 t-shirt kiosk on the Santa Monica Pier and found Dan Rice, the self-appointed Route 66 Greeter who takes great joy in welcoming pilgrims who have just completed Route 66. He was responsible for getting an actual End of Route 66 sign installed on the Pier, and reports that he has personally traveled Route 66 twenty-nine times. We spent an hour or so (and $70 on t-shirts and Route 66 bottled soda) talking to him and his sidekick Ian, who at age 23, is already an expert. As we swapped stories about our adventures, Dan assured me that “Route 66 Blur” is common, especially for first-timers, and with a little rest and reflection it will all make sense. It was a great trip – it will be fun to remember!