There are parts of Route 66 where the road is straight as an arrow. Conversely, there are parts of Route 66 that wind and twist. You’ll see both on Route 66.
Oatman, Arizona is an example of one twisty, dangerous, stretch of road. Several locations along Route 66 leading up to Oatman have cars that have gone over the side. It’s part of the attraction of Route 66.
Route 66 Leading Up to Oatman
Yet, the road leading up to Oatman from the west side is long and straight until you hit the base of the mountain. (By the way, note in the above photo the condition of the road. Let me remind you, much of Route 66 is maintained by local businesses and people.)
A Straight Section of Route 66
Speaking of winding roads, here’s Sheryl Crow singing Every day is a Winding Road.
Route 66 is a decommissioned U.S. Highway. Decommissioning a highway means it will no longer receive Federal funds for its maintenance. This is exactly what happened to Route 66 piece by piece.
It was known as the Will Rogers Highway. Kingman, Arizona, (a city on Route 66) was home to actor Andy Devine. This was a very popular stretch of highway.
When they decommissioned it, some sections became “business loops” along Interstates. Some were abandoned and left to decay. Others were adopted by local states and counties. For example, one section is California became State Route (SR) 66. All of this makes it literally impossible to drive Route 66 from Chicago to L.A. as one contiguous section of road.
It is common to find abandoned equipment, buildings and automobiles along Route 66. It is the Ghost Town of roads.
Used To Be
It is what used to be. Along Route 66 are abandoned buildings too. You can’t tell what some are, while others may be obvious. Because of this, be respectful and do not remove anything. If you do, there will be nothing left for others to enjoy.
As we drive Route 66 we hope to identify what those buildings were. If we find old pictures of before they were abandoned, we’ll see if we can use them.
Whenever I think of Route 66 I will remember dancing with my daughter, Natalie, in the middle of Route 66 just outside Cool Springs, Arizona, on the way to Oatman. Nobody was on the road. It was off season, and we had people keeping their eyes out for cars coming.
Natalie and Me Dancing (John Kidd in the background)
I wouldn’t advise dancing in the middle of the street unless you take safety precautions. (Which we did.) The nice thing about Route 66 in off seasons is it is empty!
For safety reasons, whenever someone steps in to the street, make sure someone else is spotting. Consequently, the spotter should give clear instructions to get off the road well in advance. (And, I would NEVER do it on a multi-lane highway or boulevard. )
Another thing to do is put your flashers on. You might have people stop and ask, “Do you need help”, to which you simply smile and say, “Just taking a few pictures.”
The section where we stopped was in the Arizona desert just east of Pahrump, Nevada. This is a beautiful section. A winding road takes you to the top of a mountain where Oatman, Arizona, is situated. This little mining town is a delightful place to visit, but most of all, it is a blast to the past.
Outside Oatman, Arizona
Oatman, Arizona, Main Street
For Your Entertainment
Who doesn’t like George Benson? Here’s his rendition… time to get mellow…
When someone mentions Route 66, do you immediately think, “Get your kicks on Route 66”?
If you do, you’re not alone. A lot of people think that.
What’s on Route 66 that justifies the lyrics, “Get your kicks on Route 66”?
Today it is mostly iconic diners and businesses, many of which have been restored. Then, in big cities, like Pasadena, California, there are modern businesses that didn’t exist when Route 66 was in its prime.
Back in the pre-Interstate highway days, Route 66 hosted many gas stations, motels and restaurants. It wasn’t unusual for your car to overheat on Route 66 in California, Arizona or other southwestern states. For that reason, there were service stations and garages along the way.
Abandoned Gas Station
More Than Just Ghost Towns
Route 66 is more than just ghost towns. There are small communities that have survived the I-40 devastation. (When Interstate 40 was opened, many businesses and communities died.) These communities benefit from the tourist traffic. They host gift shops, restaurants, and other delights for the Route 66 travelers today.
Diner in San Bernadino
Once you hit the L.A. basin, those portions of Route 66 are thriving as they are surface streets in cities like Pasadena and Santa Monica, for example. It is when you get out of town that Route 66 becomes a piece of Americana from the past.
Here’s Bobby Troup…
For your entertainment, here’s Bobby Troup’s version of the Route 66 theme song. Bobby Troup WROTE the song, and then Nat King Cole brought it to the top of the Billboard hits that same year. (click here for the Wikipedia story) Since then at least 50 artists have covered the Route 66 Song.
What does remembering Glenn Frey have to do with Route 66?
Many may not realize it, but Route 66 goes through Winslow, Arizona. For those not old enough to know, Glenn Frey was in a band called the Eagles. They sung a song named Take It Easy that is about a young man standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. Yup, on Route 66.
In my generation, every young man dreamed of standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, waiting for that cute girl to drive by. I think any young man back then who claims he didn’t have that fantasy is lying. The song was epic and on everyone’s lips.
Glenn died this earlier this year. A few years earlier he recorded the Route 66 Theme Song.
When we get to Winslow, Arizona, we will be photographing that very corner. Perhaps we’ll find a girl in a flatbed Ford to photograph. (We’ll take volunteers if you want to meet us there.)
Winslow, Arizona – A Girl and a Flatbed Ford
Sponsoring us can be specific as saying, “I want to sponsor your Winslow, Arizona, portion of the trip.” We can talk about what that means and what it will require. The nice thing about these sponsorships is we’re flexible.