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Don’t worry, we won’t forget Winona

Route 66 SignRobbie Coltrane is to blame for my Route 66 obsession

Who? (Ask all the Americans)this guy. Yes – the fat bloke from Cracker – as everyone remembers him from England, or of course now better known for his Harry Potter role.

Coltrane in a Cadillac‘ is what the TV series was called, and I’m quite quite sure that I’ll have dissenters in the comments telling me that they remember that TV series from 1991 as well, and it was just a classic West-to-East coast roadtrip going another way, but for me … I’m pretty sure he stuck to Route 66 and did Los Angeles to Chicago, winding his way along the classic mother road in a classic car and seeing the fantastic sights – and that’s what I’ll now be doing for the next two weeks.

Oh, and why is Route 66 such a ‘thing’ to do, you may ask? It’s best summed here from the excellent book & website

The romance of Route 66 continues to captivate people around the world. Running between Chicago and Los Angeles, “over two thousand miles all the way” in the words of the popular R&B anthem, this legendary old road passes through the heart of the United States on a diagonal trip that takes in some of the country’s most archetypal roadside scenes. If you’re looking for great displays of neon signs, rusty middle-of-nowhere truck stops, or kitschy Americana, do as the song says and “get your kicks on Route 66.”

Route 66 passes through a marvelous cross-section of American scenes, from the golden sands and sunshine of Los Angeles, past the Grand Canyon and the Native American communities of the desert Southwest, to the gritty streets of St. Louis and Chicago. Whether you are motivated by an interest in its history, feel a nostalgic yearning for the good old days the route has come to represent, or simply want to experience firsthand the amazing diversity of people and landscapes that line its path, Route 66 offers an unforgettable journey into America, then and now.

I should make no secret of the fact now that really this is the part of the trip that I’ve been looking forward to the most out of all it – the home straight – west to California – and when I planned my route back at Christmas, I deliberately set it up so that this would be the last part I did.

The motorway I-40 has now totally taken over most of the road, but enough of the old route still exists that you can come off the interstate and be thrown back into a world fifty years previously when Cadillacs did motor along and art deco diners with big neon signs were strewn along the way.

So upon leaving Amarillo yesterday (and buying some ‘Route Beer’ in a shop – geddit?) we got off the interstate and onto the remains of the mother road instead, which bizarrely for long stretches runs adjacent and parallel to to I-40. We drove along at near-interstate speeds, whilst just a short stretch away to our left, the big trucks rumbled along, weaving in and out of other trucks, whilst we had Route 66 all to ourselves, and it was brilliant.

We stopped at Adrian – the midway point – and met an Italian couple that had rented a bike for a month and had started in Chicago and we driving down the whole length of it. In about ten years time, when I’ve got gray hair, and maybe finally have become man enough to grow a whispy beard and/or mustache myself, I think I’d like to get on a Harley and so the same thing – the whole thing – from start to finish.

I’m spending money that I don’t really have in gift shops. Already I’ve bought a metal plate ’66’ sign to hang on my wall, a mug, a pin-badge, license plate and CD full of ‘road trip’ music. I’m starting to wonder if I can hire out ‘Cars’ again on DVD and watch it on the road along the way to really get in the mood.

Most of the points that I’m going to see between now and the end in California are all going to be on, or just a little way off the old Mother Road, and i’m thoroughly looking forward to it.

I’ve even started a new – separate – Facebook photo album for it here, so that I can overload that with Route 66 related photos, and not clog-up the general Underground USA one. Fear not! There are still three more ‘same name’ places to go (New Mexico, Arizona and California), but they’re all just off ’66! Sorted …

3 responses to “Don’t worry, we won’t forget Winona”

  1. Michael says:

    I remember the Rolling Stones singing about it. Back in 2001 I finally got to see it in Chicago and later in California. Enjoy it Geoff the memories will stay with you for years.

  2. Sean says:

    Geoff, please get some shots showing the old R66 and new i-state side by side.

  3. geofftech says:

    i *do* need to get some pics of old rd VS new rd, yes! good call.

    Depeche Mode is the version of the song that i enjoy the most!

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