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Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!

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When I rode my last trip down R66 I was an elected local councillor for my hometown and the local newspaper asked me for some kind of travel journal, I was too busy enjoying it to write, so I penned this when I came home....

 

What is route 66?

 

Americans call it the mother road, or main street America.In truth it is America's Ring of Kerry, but its 2300 miles long and the ends don't meet. It rambles through eight states Illinois,Kansas,Missouri,Oklahoma,Texas,Arizona,New Mexico and California, from the great lakes to the Pacific ocean.It crosses three time zones and the continental divide.Dense forests and rolling plains,high mountains and arid deserts are all split by this winding two lane concrete road.The weather and scenery change by the mile never mind by the day. It makes you wonder why Americans travel here when they have all this on their doorstep.

Traveling '66 is a journey through the last eighty years of American social ,economic and cultural history.An era when the biggest advancements in technology, transport and culture occurred.All these advancements soon made their way across the Atlantic to Ireland and Europe.Music fashion and food were all taken aboard by us, some of the reversals too..........but they're the breaks.

Route 66 was laid down at the start of the great depression and middle America in an effort to escape tough mundane lives ,headed west. Along the way they formed new communities. Cultures clashed and bonded and brought a whole new way of life, not just to America but the whole world. Along the route you get a feel for this change in the old diners and motels and the wee gift shops at the side of the road, its like traveling through a bygone era. The changing music from Woodie Guthrie to the Mamas and Papas, the food ranges from thick fried bread in Arizona to 72oz steaks in Texas. You can visit the old and dignified beauty of Sante Fe and the bright neon of Las Vegas, the vastness of the Grand Canyon, the confines of the great lakes, the emptiness of the Mojave Desert and the sheer scale of the Hoover Dam.......a monument to labor and ingenuity.All of them are dwarfed by the vast Pacific Ocean.Each has its own story its own history and route 66 picks up the threads.

Along '66 you will meet the real people of America,the people of the heartland,this is where America finds its true meaning. also its where it finds its troops, the men and women who give their lives for their country, spill their blood around the world, not for oil but because their country asks them. You may not agree with the wars and the reasons why , but you have to admire the patriotism of of these young men and women. If they realize their true potential then we will have a better world. You will also meet the native Americans,tribal people like the Pueblo and Cherokee, proud and dignified people who struggle to keep up with an advancing world which is not theirs. A people who fear a camera will take their soul, and who's to say they are wrong.......they were civilized when we were drawing pictures on cave walls.

The differing social scales and values are shocking to us. Run down trailers with new S.U.V's outside the door. The wealth of Las Vegas to the poverty of Navajo county.Small towns like Seligman and Hackberry clinging to existence on a diet of agriculture and tourism.Although route 66 is in a way, reviving some of these communities and giving them back something they had maybe lost when their towns and way of life were bypassed.Pride is being restored and another way of life is being born, so route 66 is alive and still changing the face of America.

Fellow travelers along the way all have a story to tell, everyone has his or her own reason to be there, for some its a pilgrimage for others its a journey of nostalgia or discovery. We traveled with an English couple who were doing it for fun, but also in memory of a lost friend who had ridden with them in the past. A Portuguese couple who were there in memory of a grandfather who had worked on the construction of '66.An American veteran who remembered carrying munitions during the war along '66. All of them were special and their dreams and memories will stay forever and at the end of their journey they will be proud to call themselves '66ers. Ourselves, we did it because we always knew there was a real America out there somewhere, not the drivel we get fed on T.V, we were not disappointed.

We rode on and along route 66 for 3250 miles last September and the memories will stay forever, of the people we met and the places we seen. What was the best part...........the first 3249 miles, was it worth doing.......absolutely. Chicago to L.A with some detours along the way,good company and good bikes.The destination means nothing, the journey is what counts, do it if you can before it gets McDonaldised and turned into a theme park.......do it while it's still raw.Travel the Will Rogers highway and stay ahead even when your losing, get your kicks on route 66.............. but be careful, it can kick back.!

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Took me back about 50+ years and my trip down 66 back in 1953!!! Well, written - and so true. Thanks for the memory, as the ski nose would say.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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Neil,

 

Nice job! Now we can look forward to your piece on the Lincoln.

 

It will be fun to learn how you redefine "raw" if you ride the Lincoln on its original route between Salt Lake City and Ely.

 

Irish welcome! ;)

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Wow, Neil ... that is a good piece of writing. Glad you shared it with us. :)

 

 

 

Cort | 37.m.IL.pigValve.pacemaker | 5 Monte Carlos + 1 Caprice Classic |* 06/2011.RT=us66+NW USA*

MCs.CC + CHD.models.HO.legos.RadioShows + RoadTrips.us66 = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort

"We all have a song that somehow touched our lives" ... Kenney Chesney ... 'I Go Back'

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