Route 66 Revisited
We drove back to Williams, Az., then on to Grants, NM, where we’re staying tonight. This day was spent in the car, and we made frequent stops along old Route 66. Tonight and last night we have stayed in typical 66 motels, which I am liking very much. They have all the amenities, but they are also comfortably real and each has a distinct character.
Many of the 66 motels have a 1950-60’s classic car parked in their lot as a draw. These old cars, the neon signs, the faded color facades – all evoke that nostalgic 66 experience. The grassroots attempts to keep this bit of our culture alive is endemic to the entire route. It sometimes feels as if we are traveling along a museum that stretches 2300 miles between Chicago and LA. It can be cloying, and it can be too cute, but I like it. And I appreciate the attempt to keep it alive. But I’m the perfect target audience, born in 1957.
I wonder if this will all fade away for good once our generation is gone. Perhaps the sons and daughters of the Route 66 club will sustain the culture, but, like all other historical relics, eventually the stories will have holes that will be filled with misinformation, and the whole thing may be skewed. I would be so curious to see what this stretch of road looks like in 2112.
Traveling along this stretch of road with its collection of vintage cars takes me right back to all those cross country trips growing up. I have often said that I fell as if i did much of my growing up in the backseat of a car driving from coast to coast. Looking out at the landscape, the other travelers; sleeping in motels night after night – all these memories have been flooding back. Being able to capture on “film” the images from my memory is cathartic. These are the memories that have informed my photography for all these years – why I gravitate toward brilliant color. It’s all here on this highway; it feels as if I’ve gone back to the source, just as I had hoped.