Two years ago, I had an opportunity to do one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ trips. My brother was moving from Santa Monica, CA, to Brooklyn, NY. He had some belongings that couldn’t easily be carried in a flight or shipped, so he thought of renting a car for one-way drive from West Coast to East Coast and asked if I would like to join him in this road trip. While I had been to many places between the two coasts of the United States, this trip sounded interesting simply because it’s going from one end to another in one trip. There were many routes that we considered, until finally we decided to take one that partly going through a legendary route, Route 66.
Route 66 was an old route connecting Chicago, IL, in the Midwest to Los Angeles, CA, in the West, back in the early days of automobiles before the Interstate Highway system was built. There were many little towns within the route that made their living from providing services to travelers. For many of the travelers, the journey in itself was the attraction as back then not many people traveled extensively from their homes. Today with the emphasis on efficiency and going to the destinations, most people would focus on getting to their destination in the shortest amount of time possible (thus, the invention of the Interstate Highway system which is intended to provide a high-speed route that connects major cities in the United States). This contrast between then and now was portrayed well in the Pixar animated movie Cars. The movie’s story, its characters, and even some of the places and landmarks were based on real-life places and characters that the Pixar crew met along the Route 66 when they did research prior to making the movie. Prior to our trip, I did some research on these locations, and made them part of our road trip’s route.
The result was a memorable experience of seeing places that otherwise we would’ve ignored or skipped. The photo below was taken in Arizona on the old road that was part of the original Route 66. Today the Interstate Highway cut through the area and made the distance shorter for those traveling east-west. At the same time, it pretty much ‘killed’ the original route that went through the mountains. Now you only find ghost towns and places selling memorabilias from the old days on this route. If you’re reading this post and are interested in doing the trip of your own, you can take a look at my photo album on flickr to give you some ideas on places to visit along the way. There is also a list of resources to plan for the trip at the end of the photo album.