Saturday, September 12, 2015 : Route 66


This day is entirely devoted to Route 66, or whatever remains of it. In fact, considering sections that were forgotten, given back to nature, paved over by the Interstate or simply abandoned, not much remains of the original Mother Road.

 

Historic Route 66

Historic Route 66

 

Arizona is probably the state that keeps the most traces of Route 66. There are a few sections east of Flagstaff, the section across Williams, and a long stretch between Exit 139 on the Interstate (which has become mythical in its own right) and Needles, on the California state line. We are spending the day between Exit 139 and Kingman.

 

The game consists in finding as many traces as you can of the Main Street of America. By the way, why this nickname ? Because, unlike the Interstate, which goes around them, Route 66 crossed every city, large and small, every town, every village on its path, of this Deep America I love so much. It is this proximity with human beings that has bred the unique culture of this unique road.

 

In Seligman, it is not hard. In fact, the whole city seems to thrive on Route 66 tourism. And who cares if authenticity occasionally gives way to blatant business. The game mutates and consists in sorting out the good and bad apples.

 

Service station in Hackberry, on Route 66

Service station in Hackberry, on Route 66

 

We gladly indulge in this game. I have many conversations with people who have known Route 66 firsthand, radio hosts in Williams, a general store owner who came from Switzerland in Seligman, the owner of the service station and general store in Hackberry.

 

In fact, I, too, have experienced Route 66 firsthand. I had driven the whole section between Needles and Flagstaff in 1980. At that time, the Interstate was not yet complete, and the town of Williams was still crossed by Route 66. Too bad, I have kept absolutely no memory of that.

 

We finish the trip by an in-depth visit of Route 66 museum in Kingman, which includes a film telling the story of Mother Road in Arizona. We then take the road again to Sedona, where I re-unite with a friend I had not seen for 25 years.