Hey, we're back! And good heavens, y'all have been busy while we were gone! Ken and I spent a couple of hours going through all your nice comments and your new entries. It will take me a while to get caught up, so bear with me if I don't make any comments right away.
I hope everyone enjoyed my Guest Editor picks. I really had fun doing it, and there are plenty of great journals out there that I enjoy, so it really was hard to pick a few.
We had a great time seeing Ken's mom and stepdad over the weekend. I'm really glad we went down. We also had a nice evening Saturday with Ken's stepsister and her husband, and a couple of their kids (and a grandkid, too!). They were wonderful hosts, and we hope to return the favor when they come up to the Chicago area for a wedding in July. They made a deep-fried turkey, and that was one of the tastiest things I've ever had. YUM!
We had a great drive, both going and returning. On the way down, I slept for about 45 minutes, but once we hit the area where Route 66 starts, I was awake and stayed awake for the rest of the trip. (I didn't take the picture included in this entry, but I got plenty, and even a few videos...more to come tomorrow. Or tonight...I'm not sure I can stand to not get them edited and up here!) One of the kind of cool things about Route 66 is that it's not always easy to follow, and not always well-marked, although Illinois and Missouri have done a pretty good job. It's almost a game, or a challenge, to try and figure out where it is. Maps help, and while there are plenty of Route 66 guidebooks, I didn't take any with me--I was kicking myself! A while back, I bought a 1953 road atlas on eBay, and that should help with finding the alignments in place at that time (the alignments changed over the years).
Cousin Shane gave me some great clues when we took our trip back in 2001. First of all, Route 66 was often "repurposed" as a frontage road, and you sometimes see it paralleling I-55 and I-44. It will run right there by you, and other times it pulls away, only to rejoin you on the other side of the town. I enjoyed watching for it and seeing it come back to the highway, but I also felt a little bit of yearning, as in "I wish I was on you, Route 66!" (I know Ken would have driven on part of it for a while if I'd asked--and he even volunteered to do so a couple of times--but that's not what this trip was for.) As a frontage road, it's usually straight as a stick, but when it veers off into the countryside in twists and turns, it makes me wish I were veering off with it. Another clue Shane told me about is that Route 66 often follows the railroad tracks, and sure enough, that happened fairly often, sometimes even with the other two lanes faintly visible under the overgrowth. The main power lines often run along the railroad, so sometimes if you look for the lines, you'll see the road also.
When it comes to figuring out if you're on actual Route 66 pavement, especially the alignments from 1926-1930, you can look to see if there has been pavement added to the edges of the road. In the earliest alignments, I believe the lanes were a mere 7-feet wide (correct me if I'm wrong, Shane), so they started adding a foot or so as they worked on the highway. Following the road in the cities can be a lot harder, as it is often completely paved over. But in the small towns, Route 66 is usually the main street (and often called exactly that), and they welcome the visitors from all over the world that Route 66 brings to them.
Road trips are a blast. While they're fun no matter what the roadway, Route 66 holds a special fascination for me. The places along the highway are each fascinating in their own right, but the entire length of the Road is an abandoned place, haunted by those who have traveled it before. But not entirely abandoned...as long as it grips the imagination of people like me and Shane, and so many others around the world, Route 66 will never die.
Coming soon: pictures of John's Modern Cabins and a googie sign or two. Oh, and an explanation of googie.