After winding down 3000 feet the evergreens around me were replaced by an everbrown desert. I had reached the The Great Plains. Can you make out that that thin line at the roof line of my van? Ten minutes later I was on that asphalt ribbon leading to the fabled transcontinental highway, Route 66.
66 was once the popular, south central, east-west route with teepee motels, neon-lit diners, and other kitschy stops. All that ended in the 1980's when Interstate 40 barrelled over it with super-highway efficiency.
There are still pieces of 66 left that parallel I-40. Many signs tempt you to slow down, veer off and "Enjoy Historic Route 66". I did this many times
heading back to Florida.
Here are a few photos from those excursions,
You can buy lotaburgers as you enter Gallop, NM.
Holbrook, Arizona, is the middle of a "petrified forest", chucks of wood-turned-rock that lay hidden in the desert scrub. Locals gather it and sell it to tourists. While I-40 soars over the town, Route 66 weaves around and through it.
I was tempted to bunk at the Buckaroo Motel.
Gallop, New Mexico had my kind of doughnut shop.
While I passed on the doughnuts and caramel macchiatos, the scrambled eggs were delicious.
I've owned six VW's. When I saw Kester's Volkswagenwerks in Gallop, New Mexico, I had to take a closer look.
By the time I had packed up and headed for the door, a driving rainstorm was pounding outside. A half-hour later it had lightened up and I made my way to what had seemed to be the perfect end to a hot afternoon.
It was cooler now, still raining, and the blue hole had turned shades of grey.
The once inviting water matched the gloomy sky. I moved on.
If you want a taste of Route 66 in South Florida, head north on Highway 27 (it starts, appropriately, in Hialeah). You'll find diners, funky motels, and "Gatorama" along the way.
The next day I visiting relatives in Texas. Cousin Lori told me, "You've got to stop at "Buc-ee's!" The next day I did and like Texas, it was big.
There were sixty gas pumps outside
and twenty-eight urinals inside.
All this and gas at $1.68 per gallon. Obviously, it was hard to leave this Texas-style filling station. When my gas gauge ran low the next day in Louisiana, I was tempted to drive back
for a fill up.