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

What Were You Doing When You Became Addicted?

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I'm sure all of us have a story about the moment we became full-fledged roadaholics.

 

Here's mine.

 

Back in the winter of 2002, I was a scorekeeper and timer for our middle school wrestling team in Round Lake, Illinois. The other team was late arriving, and then they would have to do weigh-ins and exercises before the meet started; very time-consuming. I was too lazy to walk back to my classroom so wandered back behind the main office where someone had set up a book display. One of the books was the one by Nick Freeth about Route 66.

 

I knew about Route 66, but had never really paid any attention to it. I was a full-fledged superslab guy and always really hated it whenever I got "stuck" on a two lane highway. I started reading about the places in Illinois and thought to myself that the wife and I should check it out over Spring Break since I was already too late to make reasonably-priced plane reservations to Florida, where we had been going the last ten years.

 

That spring, we drove into Chicago to the beginning of Route 66 and then out to Joliet. The next day we encountered a horrendous snowstorm that lasted until Pontiac. At one point, I was ready to turn back and go home. We drove on to St. Louis and spent a few days touring that city, then drove Route 66 back home.

 

We stopped at Rich Henry's and started really getting interested. In Springfield, we went to the Cozy Dog and bought Lenore and John Weiss's book on the road and that really increased the enjoyment of the drive.

 

The final blow came when we pulled into Bill Shea's and found him outside talking with Tom Teague. We never had a chance. Then, we were impressed when we pulled into Funk's Grove after it had closed for the day, and Glaida Funk came out and opened for us. We definitely got the best introduction anyone could possibly get.

 

So, Route 66 "Made me do it" to paraphrase Flip Wilson.

 

What is your story? Inquiring minds want to know!!!!

 

Keep on Down that two Lane Highway. RoadDog

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My reason for loving the old two lanes is actually 2 reasons: One I grew up on them since in the 1950's when I got my drivers license (1952) that's about all there was to drive on.

The other reason is I've always had a curiosity about what was on down the road a piece. I joined the Navy in 1955 - that gave me the opportunity, when traveling from one station to another on being transferred I drove mostly on 2-lane roads.

My trip with a buddy to CA and back in the summer of 1953 (I don't remember it being uncomfortably hot in that 1938 Dodge Coupe we had - today for some reason it's hotter) going out on 66 and coming back on Routes 2 and 20 after driving up the west coast on 101 added more yearning to travel.

Yes, these days I do used the interstates more often than I'd like to - but 1400 miles between Maine and Memphis was a long haul on 2-lanes, tho I did it back in 1956.

But we're planning more road day trips out of Memphis in the near future. Maybe when I get the AC recharged in my '97 Caddy Sedan.

 

Safe travelling and y'all take care, hear.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr :P

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When I was probably a teenager -- this was the early 1980s, maybe -- I saw an issue of Hot Rod with a story of somebody driving old 66. It was a mindbender to see the photos of the old segments.

 

I never forgot that. It was the first Major Event in my addiction.

 

The next was last summer when I made my first official road trip and found a short abandoned segment of US 40 west of Indianapolis. I was a goner!

 

jim

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My love of the two-lane highway started about 8 years ago. Peg and I were married about a year and our son (stepson for me) was going to play in the junior olympic volleyball nationals in New Orleans. He did not want us to go as he thought we would be in his way. In the end he wished we had gone, as the coaches would not let the kids leave the hotel and walk the streets at night without a parent, but that is a whole other story.

 

We dropped Mike and some teammates off at the Harrisburg airport, and then drove downtown to the State Capitol to start a week of travel. Our only plans were to go to Gettysburg, and to see Falling Water, and to pick the guys up in Harrisburg at the end of the week. While at the gift shop in the Capitol, I bought a copy of "Pennslvania Traveler's Guide The Lincoln Highway" by our own Brian Butko. We went on down to Gettysburg and did the normal tourist things for a day, and then used Brian's book for a good part of the trip towards Falling Water. Peg read Brian's descriptions as I drove and we periodically stopped to take a photo or walk around. The next day we went to Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece which was then in the midst of been preserved due to weakness in the cantilever structure. A visit to Pittsburgh, Butler, then State College, and finally beautiful Boalsburg completed our impromptu drive.

 

Ever since then I have tried to use the old roads when I could make it practical on a trip. I think it is also a tribute to my Mom's family, as my Grandfather was a great advocate of road travel. By the time my Mom graduated from high school in 1935, they had driven from Allentown PA to vacation in all 48 states, and then they went to Alaska the next summer. Knowing what the roads were like then, and having heard some of the stories of those trips, I feel like my adventures on the road are just a glimmer of what they did in the 20's and the 30's. At least now that I am starting to explore some of the Lehigh Valley roads in my newly acquired 1962 TR3B, I feel like the car is matching the roads a bit more accurately as I have no radio, no AC, and nearly no suspension.

 

Well the road is calling me, so I must go (okay, it really is my wife calling).

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Ah, RoadDog. 2002 indeed. Try 1948. I’ve been following the two laners since before I could drive. Of course there were only the two laners and the “suicide” laners back then.

 

When I was eight I built a small box with leather hinges out of plywood and put my roadmaps in it. Then I guided the family along the two lane roads on vacation between Los Angeles and Spokane, Washington in the summer of 1948. And no small task it was when every turn had 5 or 6 US shields and arrows on a post and the road made have a half dozen turns through every town of any size. I guess that was the beginning.

 

Then as soon as I got my drivers license (1956), I headed out for the open road in my 51 Chev..... US 99, El Camino Real, California 1, California 49, etc. Before I was 21 I had driven most of each US highway in California, and lots of state roads.. And other than in Los Angeles they were all two laners. (I set myself the goal to drive every red road on the map in the west. That was accomplished 25 or 30 years ago.) For me, being on the road was like watching a movie, and I went everywhere I could.

 

My love affair with maps started when I was 12. We lived in San Jose about three blocks from the H.M. Gousha map company. I used to regularly crawl into their huge outdoor incinerator and recover hundreds of maps and drawings before they burned them. The old covers were prepared first as sketches on velum. (No, save the question. Mom threw them all out later).

 

I can’t even remember the first old alignment I deliberately followed. It certainly was before 1960. By 1982 I was buying every old map and guide I could to follow old alignments. (Imagine what 25 years of collecting has produced. We are out of space!)

 

One of the great pleasures of the last 15 years has been to watch the interest in what was my very esoteric hobby of 1960 grow into what it has become. (Of course I was a pre publication subscriber to American Road Magazine.)

 

The future of two laneing is bright indeed.! So let’s Keep the Show on the Road!

Edited by Keep the Show on the Road!

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I've loved being a passenger since I was a child. My Dad used to take us out for a Sunday drive most wekeends. I guess it was a cheap and entertaining way to keep 4 kids quiet. He would take the "scenic route" (backroads, getting lost etc).

But I guess my first real "hit" as a driver came much later. Last year in fact when I was planing a road trip for my own family. We started in Virginia and travelled on Skyline Drive, Rtes 11 and 321 to Tennessee up to Kentucky (on country music highway 23) through West Virginia (rtes 119 and 33) and back round to Sterling mostly on backroads, only begrudgingly hitting the Interstates when we needed to make some time. (that means catching up to my Dad. Now that he's older with no kids in the backseat he's gotta get there fast, fast and even faster!!) We saw some amazing sites, suffered through my teenage daughter's never ending collection of poodle rock (you know the 80's big hair stuff) and just had a great two weeks as a family. My thoroughly British son developed an insane addiction to Mr Pibb, my teenage daughter actually smiled and my British husband got very intimate with a Rand McNally USA road atlas. And me, well I just kept on truckin'!!

:banana: (ps my Mom has us linked up with walkie talkies at one point. Every time she spoke the first thing she would say was "Banana phone" - usally something like "Banana phone, lets get off the next exit and go to the Cracker Barrel "again!!! (they just love the Cracker Barrel-my Dad's got a map of all their locations) The walkie talkies weren't inherently a bad idea except she kept it switched off otherwise so when we needed to contact her, we had to pull up beside my parents' car and gesticulate wildly)

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Is it an addiction or an obsession? Does it matter?

 

As a kid all of our family vacations were driving trips typically from our home in California north to either British Columbia or Saskatchewan. During these long trips their wasn't much for my brother and I to do except annoy each other or stare out the windows at the sights along the road. I have vague memories of driving two lanes roads alongside much larger roads that weren't yet completed and seeing the earth moving equipment at work.

 

I remember one time when I must have been 6 or 7 years old driving north on the newly built I-5 and going from the new wide section of I-5 back to US99W and back to I-5 a number of times. Of course I had no clue that the roads even had a number back then. Years later when I drove the same road and looked at the two lane road paralleling the Interstate the memories of being in the backseat of a 1967 Chrysler Town & Country Station Wagon came flooding back.

 

Fast Forward to the late 80's and my wife and I are coming back from visiting friends in Sante Fe and I spot the Historic Route 66 marker near Seligman. I take the exit and for the first time drive the stretch of road between Seligman and Kingman. I was hooked then.

 

Ever since my first drive on Route 66 I have made a conscious effort to plan road trips that require, or at least have the option of, driving on the two lane highways. Both of my children (ages 10 & 14) have gotten used to being on the backroads, in fact they look forward to it. I try to leave as much of the electronic entertainment at home as I can get away with but I do recognize that a DVD player can come in handy when you do have to drive the Interstate. I want them to see the country they are passing through, not the screen on a gameboy that looks the same no matter where you are.

 

For 11 years from the mid 80's to about 1997 I had a job as a Field Service Engineer with a territory that covered quite a bit of Central California. I drove many, many miles up and down CA 99 between Sacramento and Bakersfield. As you drive a road hundreds of times you begin to notice things like how the highway will jog one way or another before getting to a town and then jog back on the other side or the dates that an overpass was built. The more I saw the more I wondered about the evolution of the road itself, when it was built, and how it affected the towns it formerly went through.

 

This summer instead of driving the two lane highways to get to a destination I plan on driving the road for the sake of driving the road. Sometime in July my father, son, and myself will be trace the Central Pacific Railway and Victory Highway from the California\Nevada border to Promontory Point in Utah and then follow the Lincoln Highway back from Evanston to Carson City. I am hoping that the trip will be a great bonding experience between three generations as we travel together but also give my son an appreciation for the history associated with the places we will see.

 

Life is a trip, enjoy the Journey

 

Rick

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