TRACKING ROUTE 66 – ON ROAD CAN BE FUN TOO
Story/Photo: Jeff Simons, Editor: E. Bewley
The Mother Road, USA – My vacation was coming up and we’re taking the “new” Tracker. Check the build of the Tracker here. This was a going to be a cross country adventure with the plan of driving Route 66 in its entirety. I’ve seen sections and crossed it a number of times over the years, but this year, we’re going from one end to the other.
Living a few hours from Chicago, we will be driving the Mother Road in its traditional, Chicago to LA, westward direction. Having researched 66 and armed with Route 66 based books, maps, and a trusty GPS, we started out in Chicago Excited and Curious. Of course the route has changed, deteriorated, redirected, and such, but that wasn’t going to stop me. Our intention is to follow it as closely as possible and see as many of the historic points of interest as we can.
As you’d imagine, you will encounter big city traffic, wide open country, lonely roads, and roadside attractions. All of which have their own place and tie in together across the 2,000 plus miles. At times we feel like we’re living the American Dream, going to a better place, making a big move. Other times it feels like work. Just driving, looking through the windshield, counting mile markers. But that too, makes it what it is.
We had an idea of what to expect, but even so, the road surprised us. It is difficult at times to follow signage. The large amounts of redirection makes staying on the original path challenging. The pitch: It’s rewarding crossing a state border, it’s different scenery in each state, some states you pass through slowly, others as you go on pass quickly, there are times you’re in a Downtown Big City, there are areas that you are the only one on the road, AND from Bumper to Bumper traffic, wide open country, two lanes, four lanes, one horse towns, and abandoned establishments, you’ll see it all.
Like notes of our emotions in brief sentence structure the following came to mind: It will take you through historic locations, buildings and monuments. You’ll be close to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. You’ll share the road with wild donkeys in Oatman AZ. You’ll see more old weathered locations like gas stations, motor courts, broken roads, and towns left behind for progress and you’ll wonder what all of them would have looked like during their glory. I found myself saying “I’ll bet this was something else, all lit up and bustling with people.” It will make you Happy, it will make you Sad. It will be an accomplishment and you will appreciate the nice new roads we have today, that shoot you straight to your destination. You’ll wonder how you could have driven all that distance in a vehicle packed with the family, luggage, dog, and more, tearing down the highway at 35 miles per hour and enjoyed every minute of it.
Even with my Tracker having air conditioning and cruise control, these were some long days to only get a few hundred miles. I’m certain that 200 miles a day back then would be a feat on its own. My Tracker was just what we wanted for this trip. We had everything we could need. Air conditioning, removable top, 4 wheel drive, cruise control, decent mileage and some music. As you just don’t know what you may encounter or what kind of side trip would pop up.
Once I completed the Route, this put me in LA area. I spent the next day in Anaheim, then headed home, but not directly home….
If you have plans on taking this trip too, my only advice is ‘just do it!’ It was a great time and a bucket list check off for us.
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