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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Route 66

Returning from Utah to the Twin Cities, we took the southern route, mostly via Interstate 40. I-40 largely follows the old U.S. Route 66, celebrated in song (check out the Nat King Cole version from 1946) and a popular television series of the early 1960s. Named "The Mother Road" by John Steinbeck in Grapes of Wrath, there remain a multitude of landmarks and reminders of "motoring west" in the 1950 era.

To do a decent "Route 66 tour" would take weeks. There are websites and detailed maps available if you want to give it a try. Just visiting the Route 66 museums that we stumbled upon would have added three more days to our trip.

The first Route 66 city we hit was Gallup, New Mexico. As we left the Interstate and drove into town in the evening we noticed the signs.

Route 66 was really about gas stations, motels and restaurants. There are plenty of them on the preserved sections.

Even the modern gas stations and convenience stores want to grab a bit of the nostalgia.

Moving along to the east the next morning, we pulled off at Santa Rosa and saw a couple of reminders of the association of cars with The Mother Road.

Later we pulled into Tucumcari.

Here the chrome of 1950s cars has been stylized and memorialized.

A series of murals can be found on several buildings. The Blue Swallow motel hasn't changed much in fifty years. Oh, sure, they have high-speed internet now. But it is still the same basic place built in 1939. "The Friendliest Motel on Route 66."

And how about staying at the Motel Safari? It's a relative youngster, built in 1959. When I saw that Trailways Flexible Clipper painted on the side, I flashed back to John Steinbeck's The Wayward Bus. Or maybe it was to Jayne Mansfield and Joan Collins in the movie version.

I only spotted that bus on the wall of the Safari because I had driven around the block to get a picture of this shop. Nails done on one side, Loans made on the other.

Say, is that a 1956 Dodge on the wall by the cowboy?

Why yes, it is!

I'll bet it was inspired by the 56 Dodge Owner's Manual.

That car is getting its own post - it was my first car!


Historic Gas Stations?

They are all here.

Some of the nostalgia is a bit worn.

But even if you are in a hurry, plan to devote an extra day or two just to chasing the Mother Road sights.

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