Before you start reading, here’s a link to a version of this story that makes it easier to see the pictures and scroll the story: Mother Road Visions. This version is ok for phones but not so good for computers…
Route 66, the mother road, runs alongside highway 40 as it crosses the country east to west. In the sixties, 66 was the road I traveled back and forth between Chicago and LA, making my way by car, bus and thumb. It was two lanes of asphalt, making its way through miles of farmland interrupted by the occasional sleepy town, then endless hours droning across desert spaces with the occasional glimpse of old west culture, finally crawling up the mountains to Oatman before coasting down to the Colorado river and the palm tree’d wonders of California.
The first time I made the journey I was eighteen, traveling with two other guys in a beat-up old car filled with all our things. The trip was sweaty hot, shivering cold, scary new and totally amazing. I can still conjure up the feeling of that ride, driving forever, seeing it all fresh eyed through rolled down windows, four days and nights of slow travel, two thousand miles of road. It was a journey filled with sights and sounds, adventures and discovery.
Recently, I drove from LA to Santa Fe with my longtime friend Bob Harvey. We traveled on US 40 but got off often to see the old bones of 66, stopping where we liked and enjoying our time on the road. We listened to old music and ate the great bad road food of small town cafes, I made pictures to help me understand what I was seeing.