In his book "Ghost Towns Of Route 66," Jim Hinckley says it this way: "The old highway is more than a 2,291 mile (according to a 1936 map) ribbon of asphalt line with dusty remnants, ghostly vestiges, and polished gems manifesting more than eighty years of American societal evolution. To drive Route 66 is to follow the path of a new nation on its journey of westward expansion." As I rode along the mostly deserted highway, I thought about all the people who got in their cars in Chicago and made their way to Santa Monica. Especially the families taking the obligatory summer "road trip," which probably took around three weeks (both ways including a week at Disneyland). The peak of such unhurried vacations would have been the late 1940's and most of the 1950's. Post-war prosperity had put roomy station wagons in garages and money in people's pockets. What better way to put both to good use than to pile the family in the Ford Country Squire and head West.
But as I rode along, I also thought about how different travel was back then. Much of Route 66 in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California goes through a very desolate and hot part of our country. Cars were not air conditioned. Cell phones were still 40 years away. Credit cards were nonexistent. The 2,300 mile journey took a week of driving in sweltering air with cranky kids in the back seat asking "are we there yet?" I'm not sure how those people did it.
If you want to know what Route 66 was like in 1955, go to Williams. It was the last town to be bypassed by I-40 (construction of I-40 began in 1957 was completed at Williams in 1984). Besides lots of Route 66 nostalgia around, Williams prides itself on being the gateway to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon railway takes visitors there every morning. Our group spent the night at a very cool motel called The Lodge On Route 66. The property was a condemned vintage motor court when the current owner bought and renovated it. Guests can still park in front of their rooms in the classic motor-court tradition (which is exactly what we did!). There was even a vintage car show in town for the weekend which added an extra touch of nostalgia, not that Williams needs it.
Perhaps telling you about the coolest stop we made on Route 66 should be reserved for its very own post. Here's a hint . . . "Hey, you got a room?" Proprietor turns and exits back into office. "Hey, man! you gotta room?" Another neon light goes on over the first "Vacancy" sign - it reads: "NO" Wyatt exits as he backs the cycle. Billy gives "the finger."
No biker deserves to be bored . . .