The time was approaching for some serious time off and as an extension of our 25th anniversary we decided to make this a vacation to remember.
Over the last year or so we considered a good many options and along the way a few magazine features and a love for nostalgia gave this idea wings. Early in 2012 we set to work planning this trip, collecting references, reading books, scouring websites and even watching the movie "Cars". Each step of the way the fascination grew and the research became an extension of the journey.
The plan: To fly from home in Maine to Chicago, Illinois the eastern terminus of Route 66, rent a car and over 25 days tour to the western end in Santa Monica, California then fly home.
I'm sure that in a few all too short weeks I will have a new perspective of this trip but for now the history, evolution and rebirth of this byway are intriguing. The roads that came to be known as Route 66 were made part of the US Highway system in 1927. The road already had a long history of travelers, hardship and hope as people flocked to southern California. Long roads, brutal deserts and treacherous mountain passes ended more than one traveler's journey prematurely. Driven by the migration to California and inspired by the American love of auto travel this route evolved to serve the traveler. Service stations, motor courts, restaurants and an endless array of attractions each hoping to skim some business from the endless parade were built.
Over the years Route 66 became known as America's Main street, the Mother Road, The Great Diagonal Way and even the Will Rogers Highway. It was immortalized by a 1960's television show of the same name and a hit song, The route was not immune to the march of progress and in 1985 after section after section were bypassed by modern alternative routes the federal government decommissioned Route 66.
But the Mother Road still had spirit and the entrepreneurs a will to survive. Just 2 years latter in 1987 several states had formed official Historic Route 66 agencies to preserve the road and it's attractions as a living history museum. Today over 25 years latter many rundown establishments have been lovingly restored by communities and owners, each looking to share a piece of a bygone era and of course conduct some commerce along the way. Some sections of the retired roadway are no longer passable, some have become pedestrian attractions though the woods and farm fields that have enveloped them. Some towns are firmly rooted in the past and the mystique so thick it borders on time travel.
Our goal, after a few days in Chicago is to hit the road and see what this route has to offer. We'll see parts of the nation we have never visited and see many new sights for sure. We only need to average headway of about 100 miles a day so we expect to have plenty of time to get to know the communities as we find lodging on a daily basis. We hope to come back with a mother lode of memories, pictures and experiences. When we travel we often find the most memorable moments happen out of the blue. We have a saying that, "If you hear Serendipity knocking to let her in".
It's time to pack a few changes of clothes and see what Serendipity and Route 66 have waiting for us.
WiFi permitting we hope to make daily updates to this blog.