After I shot my Kodak EasyShare Z730 recently I found a couple folders on the SD card that I didn’t recognize. They turned out to contain a whole bunch of photographs my older son made. I forgot that I had given him the camera! When he grew up and moved out he gave the camera back to me. What young adult has any use for an old digital camera?
I was thrilled to find all of his photos from our 2013 trip down Route 66 on that SD card. It was wonderful to relive that memory and see it through my son’s eyes. I am amused to find a number of photographs clearly made from a few feet to the left or right of me while I was making a similar photo.
Let’s begin in Wilmington, Illinois, with the Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad restaurant. I wrote about the giants of Route 66 here.
We stopped at the old jail in Gardner, Illinois. It was wide open; we just walked in. Somewhere around here I have a photo of my boys behind these bars.
We lingered for a long time at this restored Standard station in Odell, Illinois. I wrote about it here. Our trip had only begun and every new sight was exciting. That would wear off after a couple more states!
I’m an old-road infrastructure geek, and I just loved this stretch of restored brick pavement near Auburn, Illinois. Except for a recent “single frame” post, I’m surprised I haven’t written more about it. I’ll have to fix that.
We stopped to photograph this sign near Villa Ridge, Missouri. The hotel didn’t appear to be operating, but the sign looked fresh.
We stayed the night at this motel in Cuba, Missouri. It is several clusters of stone buildings each with several rooms, all of which have been very nicely restored.
This was easily the best place we stayed on the whole trip. I shared a photo of the little stone building we stayed in here. This is a different building on the property.
John’s Modern Cabins was surprisingly hard to find, as it is on an abandoned and nearly cut off section of the road near Doolittle, Missouri. But find it we did, and my son made a photo that bested any of the ones I made here.
There isn’t much to Spencer, Missouri; you’re looking at a great deal of it here. This onetime service station was partially restored just to be a Route 66 attraction.
I was pleased to find this image of me in Spencer. There are precious few photos of me from the times I shared with my sons. I made the lion’s share of the photographs, and I didn’t have a smartphone yet to make selfies. That’s my trusty Canon S95 in my right hand.
We paused just to make a photo of this iconic scene in Carthage, Missouri. If I remember right, it was spitting rain. It was the only bad weather we encountered on the trip.
The four women who operated 4 Women on the Route had closed things down when we visited their shop near Galena, Kansas. They reconfigured things and this place is now called Cars on the Route, after the Pixar movie Cars. Apparently, a tow truck with eyes in the windshield was the inspiration for the Tow Mater character in the film.
Near Miami, Oklahoma, we stopped to photograph this nine-foot-wide strip of pavement known as the Sidewalk Highway or the Ribbon Road. This pavement dates to 1918; it wouldn’t become Route 66 until 1926. In the early days of highways, there were some experiments with one-lane roads like this. As you can see, the pavement has been augmented with gravel on either side to make it wide enough for two oncoming cars.
In Catoosa, Oklahoma, we stopped to see the Blue Whale. This is a swimming hole, and you can jump into the water out of the whale’s tail.
We were starting to run out of steam as we reached the middle of Oklahoma. We were headed toward Oklahoma City where I looked to grab lunch when Pops swung into view. It was great fun, we had a lovely lunch, and we got a boost that pushed us through the rest of our planned trip.
It was a good thing, because Oklahoma had some wonderful old-road infrastructure to share with us yet. This concrete was poured in the early 1930s. It’s part of a long section of concrete that begins its westbound journey at El Reno and runs most of the rest of the way to Texas.
I am thrilled to have this photograph of the William H. Murray Bridge, which my son made from the front seat as I drove. This bridge carries US 281 today and was quite busy when we visited, so it’s not like I was going to step out onto it for a photo. It was challenging enough to get the photos I did make from its south end.
Route 66 was the last major Spring Break trip we made together. After the divorce, my sons spent every other Spring Break with me and we always traveled. The first trip was the Indiana History Tour to a whole bunch of historic and scenic sites around our state. Two years later we traveled to Washington, D.C. for a few days, and drove the National Road home (until we totaled our car in Ohio). Two years after that, we rented a cabin in the central Tennessee woods, where we hiked a lot and rested a lot. Then two years later came Route 66. We made it almost to Texas before we ran out of time and had to double back. Two years later my older son was a senior in high school and because he was busy and involved he asked for an abbreviated Spring Break trip. We spent a couple days in Kentucky to see Mammoth Cave. Then two years later my younger son was a senior in high school and he, too, wanted a short trip. We spent a few days in Cincinnati together.
When my boys look back, they talk most fondly about the Washington, D.C., trip. I liked the Route 66 trip best by far, but the boys’ chief memory of it is spending far too much time in the car.
To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe!