I left Lake Havasu City and headed toward California. The road was long and the day was hot. But you knew that.
As I drove along Route 66 would be mentioned on signs. I thought about what that road once meant. It had a sense of adventure and exploration about it and it was very much a bridge between the beat generation and the Woodstock generation.
There was the television show called Route 66 with Martin Milner and George Maharis (replaced by Glenn Corbett for the last season) where two guys travelled around in a Corvette exploring the US. The odd thing is, I don’t think they ever traveled the real Route 66.
It was a time not long after Jack Kerouac had written On the Road. A novel of a very different kind for the US, it raised eyebrows as it raised consciousness’.
Bobby Troup wrote a hit song (Get Your Kicks) on Route 66. He wrote it while traveling across the route heading to California with his first wife. He wrote many songs, but that one is probably his biggest hit.
He later starred on a Jack Webb produced show in the early 1970’s called Emergency. His wife, Julie London, also starred in it. She was once married to Jack Webb. I think Jack had four different wives.
A lot has changed since those days. The baby boomers are aging out rapidly. There was a time that they were such a huge part of the population that it allowed them to make changes and explore issues that had been off the radar of the parents that brought them into the world.
Back then Route 66 was a symbol of the kind of life the younger generation was going to lead the country through, and at the time, no other country was as powerful as America. Not only in military and economic might, but in its exploration of itself.
The spirit of Route 66 has gone by the wayside. Much like the road itself. I40 passes sort of parallel to it but the old road itself has lost its continuity.
When I reached Barstow I dropped by the Route 66 Museum there. I guess I was hoping to see a representation of the road that I knew as it was decades ago.
It does represent the road – as it is now. A dusty relic that is not quite sure what it has to say any longer in this day and age. It is now just a reason to sell stickers, coffee cups, and t-shirts.
If you want to understand what route 66 was and will never be again you will need to read some of the books of the time. Maybe even the TV show has some semblance of the spirit of the old route 66.