I successfully drove my blue VW Beetle cross-country on Route 66. It was the most amazing anthropological study of America I’ve ever experienced. I have never seen so many ghost towns and abandoned buildings in my life. Yet, I have also never seen so many communities coming together to revitalize their heritage. I now know so much more about our American culture and about the many characters that make up our nation.
My mother and I were crammed into my tiny Beetle along with all of my possessions and we motored on down the highway, stopping every chance we got to mingle with the locals and hear stories of the Route’s hay-day.
For those of you interested in traveling on Route 66, it is more difficult to stay on the Route than you would think. Missouri isn’t very interested in preserving the road, so we were lost for a few hours that day. Our guidebook gave specific mileage and directions; however, it did not help you when you took a wrong turn. We finally worked out a system using a combination of our GPS device and Google 411 to find our way back to the “Mainstreet of USA”. After a stressful day of driving and ripping our hair out trying to stay on Route 66, we stumbled upon a beautiful, old, run-down Route 66 gas station just as the sun was setting. It was a surreal moment to say the least. This was the first old building we saw on our trip and the sun was hitting the Route 66 sign just right, providing a perfect glow which gave the entire experience a sepia quality. Just behind the abandoned building was a inhabited home. Can you imagine living just behind this? We gingerly tip-toed inside the garage of the building and were astonished by the artifacts left behind….. shovels, tools, rags, and everything that a mechanic would use. It’s as if they just picked up and moved without even taking their things with them. It was humbling to say the least to think about this business closing down, most likely because of the interstate. It really put our own driving troubles into perspective.
More on the trip later…..