We started our coast-to-coast road trip with a visit to the Santa Monica Pier to find the official west end of Route 66. We found the official plaque that marked the end of the road. The actual Route 66 itself now only exists in segments, so we used a couple of books on Route 66 that traces the route along today’s modern highway.
Before leaving LA area, we made a couple of stops, first in Beverly Hills area to attend a service at Mosaic, then on the way out of suburban LA we stopped in Monterey Park to eat lunch in the Chinatown area. After lunch, we’re off for our first day of the trip.
We had roughly five days to complete the journey from Santa Monica to New York City. So, on the first day, our target was to reach somewhere in northeastern part of Arizona. Along the way, we wanted to take a segment of the old Route 66 in Arizona that according to the books on Route 66 still provided good representation of what it was like in the heyday of the Mother Road. Since the route supposedly went through pretty steep incline/decline grade on the mountains, we thought it would be a good idea to try reaching the area before it gets dark.
The road we took that afternoon consisted several segment that were pretty much a straight shot drive. It could get boring after a while and I found myself keeping myself alert by listening to songs, observing what’s around, or thinking about something. The first part of the trip in the eastern California towards Arizona reminded me to the song Life is a Highway by Rascal Flatts. The first part of the song went like this:
Well, life’s like a road that you travel on
There’s one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
I did think about the lyrics of the song above and how that might be a good metaphor of what life is like as the song suggests. I think there is some good pictures there.
When driving on a highway, at times we go through straight segment where we can go fast, and then we encounter curves where we have to slow down. Life also goes like that. At times, things go well and we can progress fast. At other times, we face obstacles or challenges and we have to slow down the progress or even take a step back.
On the highway, we might pass other automobiles with people going to different destinations and with different reasons of traveling — some for leisure, others for business, and yet others for other different reasons. Some are still in the early part of their journey, others are already close to the end of theirs. Similarly, with life we encounter different people who are in the middle of life journey to achieve certain goals (studying at school, building a career, starting a family, retiring, etc.), and they might be at different stages of getting towards their goal.
Another interesting metaphor is to think about how one goes through the journey. On the highway, you can focus on getting to the destination in the shortest amount of time, and end up seeing the journey as the necessary means to reach the end (the travel experience becomes a blur or, worse, an exhausting experience you just want to get over with). Or, you can also have a destination and a plan / route to get there, but consider the journey as part of the experience to remember and even look forward to. It may not get you to the end in the fastest way possible, but you enjoy the journey more.
That was essentially the theme of Pixar’s animated movie Cars. As I did my planning before the trip, I came to learn that the inspiration for the movie was Route 66, its history, and many people who live along the road. Behind the great animation and funny characters there was a great story and message about cherishing life’s journey and the people you share it with.
I took the photo below during the drive on one of those long, straight stretches on I-40 eastbound. You can see the straight road, and other cars around us. One car in front of us had a U-Haul trailer on the back; it’s likely someone who was in the middle of a journey to move to new place, just like my brother.