My new home sits on a section of historic Route 66, a highway from Chicago to Los Angeles built in the 1920’s. As one of the first cross-country highways, it inspired generations of pop-culture, including the 1946 Bobby Troup song (updated and re-recorded by the Rolling Stones).

I took a weekend road trip across sections of the Route 66 in New Mexico and Arizona and tried to imagine driving there in 1930. Only sturdy travelers would have enjoyed the trip.

 

In the early days, the route cut through every small town, passing rubber tomahawk shops, motor lodges, and gas stations with glass bowls on the tops of the pumps.

Now every town has a museum and modern hotel in addition to the gift shops. Pictures of town history cover the museum walls and displays might be minimal. Just enough to bring people in.

I’ve never seen so many antique cars in various states of disrepair.

Like the typical tourist. I wanted a picture “standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona”, from the popular Eagles song. Apparently, everyone wants their picture on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. Most were our age or older. My husband suggested sending a picture to the kids and I said they wouldn’t understand. My daughter said, “I don’t think I know that Eagles song.”

The old cars and tourist shops reminded me of all the road trips my family took as I was growing up. . . before air conditioning in every car, seat belt laws, and child car seats. As babies, my mother bundled us up and put us in a box or dresser drawer on the floor of the passeneger seat. She would be right there if we needed anything.

In the late seventies, my parents could fit all four of us kids in the backseat and hatchback of the little Datsun B210. They put a shade on the hatch so that the kid in the back didn’t roast – usually my brother. He was the smallest.

We drove with the windows down and put our hair in ponytails to keep it from blowing into our mouths. No one had better spit their chewing gum out the front window. It would either end up stuck to the back window or in someone’s hair.

We would return home happy and hoarse from shouting over the wind blowing through the car. We didn’t know any different. A road trip is a road trip.