A Route 66 spring break


My sons and I are just back from our biennial spring break trip, and this time we drove old Route 66 across Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

I was a teenager when the last of Route 66 was decommissioned – that is, no longer considered part of the national highway system. At about the same time, Hot Rod magazine sent a couple guys out to follow old 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles in a vintage Corvette. They found it difficult to follow in many places because various Interstate highways had interrupted or overlaid the route. They published a story about the trip, showing photos of truncated and abandoned sections of the old highway. I was incredulous that perfectly good road would be left essentially to rot! The photos excited me, and I credit them for sparking my interest in the old roads. I chalk it up to arrested development that it took more than 20 years for me to make my first road trip, and nearly 30 years before I finally explored the Mother Road itself.

In the photo, I’m crouched on a segment of Route 66 about 30 miles west of El Reno, Oklahoma. This concrete pavement was poured in about 1930 and saw constant traffic for decades before I-40 was completed, replacing Route 66 in this part of Oklahoma. Today, it’s a very lonely road. But I was very happy to be there, imagining a time when it was choked with traffic.

In the days to come I’ll share the best sights and stories from our four-day trip along Route 66.


10 responses to “A Route 66 spring break”

  1. cjhsmith Avatar

    Wow! The photo of you is perfect with you in the middle of the lonely rioad and the long highway behind you. It sounds like a wonderful spring break! I am looking forward to reading more about your road trip.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thank you! It was actually a mixed-bag trip — the highlights were great, but there was lots of just sitting in the car clicking off the miles, too. I’m blogging about the highlights, of course!

  2. DennyG Avatar

    Now there’s something you don’t often do in downtown Indianapolis. Nice pic and the glimpses have been enticing.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Forty years ago, crouching in the middle of this road would have been like crouching in the middle of I-44 today!

  3. Dani Avatar

    Nice teaser! I will be looking forward to more pictures and highlights.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thanks! Plenty more to come.

  4. ryoko861 Avatar

    Looking forward to the stories!

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’d better get writing then!

  5. pesoto74 Avatar

    I wish you could have the experience of traveling these roads back in the days before the interstates. I remember it some from when I was a child. It seems like travel seemed like more of an adventure back then because you were more connected to the areas that you were passing through than with the interstates.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I wish so, too. The Interstate system wasn’t complete everywhere yet during my childhood, but my dad hated to travel. We started having to drive places when I was late in high school as I was sizing up colleges, but this was 1983-4 and by then the Interstate system was all sewn up out here and that was that.

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