Wow, I haven’t updated here in a year! Time flies when you’re living life. Time to put up some new stuff- like that day-by-day trip itinerary. Stay tuned!
Route 66 has a large part of my heart. Kind of silly, considering it’s just a road, huh? But I don’t think so. Route 66 is more than just a road– it’s a powerful symbol of good. Route 66 reminds us to slow down and take the scenic route, connect with folks, and care about our heritage. It reminds us that we don’t always have to be in the fast lane, darting from point A to point B. It invites us to cruise on a sunny day with the windows down on a breathtakingly beautiful stretch of two-lane highway, listening to the radio, chatting with our companion, watching the trees, telephone poles and small towns pass by. We can pull off the road at any point, to stretch our legs, grab a soda from a roadside gas station, or lay out in the grass for awhile. We can breathe deep while while we drive, and take it easy.
Route 66 isn’t the only old road — there are lots of good old two-lane classic highways left. And there are lots of great relics out there still beckoning to be discovered– the diners, the motels, drive-in movie theaters… that’s why I’ve added some new links to help you discover these gems of Americana in your own backyard in the Random Links section. And while they’re great for a little arm chair travel, the road beckons. So get on out there, and take the scenic route.
These helpful notes were compiled by Jeremy shortly after returning from our trip, and they are some useful guidelines and tips to keep in mind while traveling a beautiful old road like 66.
- MANY sections of Rt. 66 W of Oklahoma are unmaintained dirt/gravel roads in the middle of nowhere. If you plan to travel them, you should drive a 4×4 vehicle or be well-stocked with spare tires and gas. Do not travel these roads after heavy rains.
- When you budget for gas, calculate the total and then double it. Route 66 is NOT a flat Interstate.
- Yes, 66 is just as fast as the Interstate (sometimes faster). Speed limits are usually the same or within 10 mph (except in towns, of course!).
- Get an oil change, lube, and radiator check BEFORE leaving.
- Be prepared. Carry a well-stocked first aid kit, water, extra gas can, spare tire, and auto fluids.
- The last 1/4 of Rt. 66 (from Kingman AZ to LA) will be a trial on both you and your car. See #5 above.
- NEVER let your gas tank get below 1/2 a tank. You might think there’s a gas station in that next town, but that doesn’t mean its really there.
- The “high season” for Route 66 travel is the summer months from May thru early August. We traveled in late August/early September and had the road to ourselves. However, it was “monsoon season” in the Southwest, so we had about 3 sporadic days of rain.
- Guides are all well and good for keeping you on the right track, in general. However, there are MANY sections of the old road that only locals or ghosts still know about. Ask around in sleepy little 66 towns and, above all, follow your intuition.
- Allow time in your itinerary to get lost.
- Rt. 66 can be traveled in 7 days, if you’re in a hurry. However, if you plan to take a lot of side trips or make a lot of stops, allocate about 2 weeks.
- Rely on gut instincts to guide you. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
- Obviously, you’ll be carrying a road map with you. However, it doesn’t hurt to bring along a topographical map and even an older road map that lists 66.
- There are MANY ghost towns along Rt. 66. If you’d like to learn more, you can visit – http://www.ghosttowns.com/bottom.html
RULES OF THE ROAD
- You’ll pass thru several Indian reservations in your travels so keep in mind that this is PRIVATE property. You wouldn’t like people to take pictures of your backyard, so do not take ANY photos until you have been given permission by the tribe. When you meet tribal people, don’t try out your knowledge of “Injun”. Say “hello”, “thank you”, and “goodbye”. If they teach you some words, be flattered and do your best to memorize them. Above all, feel privileged that you are able to see their land.
- Take only pictures, leave only footprints. Help preserve Rt. 66 for future generations.
- Support local business. If you can, avoid chain stores and restaurants that bring no money into the community.
- If you plan on hiking (or walking thru any parks), practice the #1 rule – STAY ON THE PATH. It is there to protect the ecosystem around you (Note to the idiots at the Grand Canyon – and sometimes to protect you as well).
- Apply sunscreen everyday at higher elevations.
- If you’ve lived in the Midwest your whole life, plan on getting a little altitude sickness on your trip. You will acclimatize after a day or two.
- Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water and alternate with a salty snack. Dehydration can make you tired, nauseous, and unhappy.
We spent a total of fifteen glorious days on the road. This is the basic point-A-to-point-B of how our days went:
Day One: Chicago, IL to Springfield, MO ~511 miles
Day Two: Springfield, MO to Oklahoma City, OK ~285 miles
Day Three: Oklahoma City, OK to Shamrock, TX ~166 miles
Day Four: Shamrock, TX to Amarillo, TX ~94 miles
Day Five: Amarillo, TX to Tucumcari, NM ~113 miles
Day Six: Tucumcari, NM to Albuquerque, NM ~176 miles
Day Seven: Albuquerque, NM
Day Eight: Albuquerque, NM to Gallup, NM ~138 miles
Day Nine: Gallup, NM to Flagstaff, AZ ~185 miles
Day Ten: Flagstaff, AZ to Grand Canyon, AZ ~88 miles
Day Eleven: Grand Canyon, AZ
Day Twelve: Grand Canyon, AZ to Needles, CA ~235 miles
Day Thirteen: Needles, CA to Los Angeles, CA ~258 miles
Day Fourteen: Los Angeles, CA
Day Fifteen: Los Angeles, CA
There are tons of Route 66 guidebooks on the market, but we found 3 of them indispensible on the road. In no particular order, we liked:
Route 66 Traveler’s Guide & Roadside Companion by Tom Snyder: This book is basically divided into two sections- Traveler’s Guide and Roadside Companion. The Traveler’s Guide has turn-by-turn directions and sightseeing info. The Roadside Companion section has excellent background lore, which is great for road reading and trivia sessions. There is also a resource section and mileage guide in the back which are useful as well. There are lots of charming drawn-to-scale maps throughout, and a handful of black and white photos.
Lonely Planet Road Trip: Route 66 : This is a nice slim guide organized by state and covering all the travel guide basics– lodging, food, gas, attractions and shopping. It’s organized in turn-by-turn directions that are really helpful. It’s got fold-out color maps and no photos.
Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide : Exactly what it says it is– a barebones listing of restaurants and places to stay along the road. This is must-have, especially if you’re winging it and making things up as you go.
Something to remember when purchasing and using a guidebook is that turn-by-turn directions for an old, winding multi-state route like 66 can be pretty subjective. You also have to keep in mind which direction you’re traveling. The best approach we found to navigation was to combine the turn-by-turn info from both of the above books with a little serendipity thrown in. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the wonders you’ll find down the next wrong turn. 🙂
Hello All, welcome to our new site! Over the coming summer, we’ll be posting our trip journal and honeymoon photos from the two week trip we took on Route 66 in August-September 2005. (I know, it’s about time). You’ll also find some excellent Route 66 links and info here, so check back often.
Oh, and remember– it’s not the destination, its the journey! 🙂