WE started the drive at 6 pm. Heading toward St. Louis from the Chicago area naturally brought us onto the Route formerly known as US 66. Even though Rt. 66 has been decommissioned for more than 30 years it has a more robust following than any other road in the United States. Even Europeans come to drive it, and they like trains.
You need guidebooks or an App or both in order to figure out what the sights are, and how to reach them, and where you can still drive . . . (pause to cue Heavenly Music) . . . ORIGINAL PAVEMENT! But we didn’t really do anything special except read through a guidebook while driving. In Dwight IL we neglected to buy Route 66 memorabilia, although I already own a t-shirt with logo. This is because I drove Route 66 in 2014, all by myself, so I had the shirt in my bag. If you drive the entire way (which: I highly recommend, but only if the idea has enough appeal in and of itself that no explanation is required, as there really is NO logical explanation why someone would want to drive across the country on a road that DOESN’T exist when most people don’t even want to drive that far on roads that DO exist), then you end up in California. Santa Monica to be exact, somewhat near the iconic Santa Monica Pier, which ironically does not provide public parking, so that when you actually get there, you’ll probably have to just keep driving around looking for parking. They say that 66 is the quintessential American road, so maybe that makes sense in some weird and twisted California way.
We spent a night in St. Louis, left again bright and early, and drove 1000 miles more the next day to Albuquerque. (Nobody likes to write much about Albaqwirky because it is so difficult to spell, so I’ll just say that we found a decent campus restaurant that is open to all hours of the night before limping to that night’s motel.)
The next day was bright and early again as we made our way to Stage 1 of the cycling road race Tour of the Gila. We headed straight for the finish which was projected around 12- 1 pm, and we made it just in time to be told that the access road was now closed to all vehicles. We would have to walk up.
We parked and grabbed water bottles and started trudging up the same road that the cyclists would be riding up. We walked about 45 minutes almost straight up at 6,500 ft elevation, but could not afford the luxury of feeling sorry for ourselves– after all, the racers would be riding over 100 miles to get there.
Got to a vantage point to watch the peloton climbing up and then out of sight, caught sight of our son a bit back of the field and cheered him on. After a brief hug of hello, he continued riding up toward the finish, about 2 more km, and we were lucky to catch a ride back down to the car.
Welcome to New Mexico.
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