It’s 4:30am. Someone’s alarm is going off. Oh, it’s mine. Right. I remember now. There’s only one thing that gets me out of the tent at this hour. WIND!
In the excitement of heading to Vegas we overlooked the fact that we would be heading due west again. How quickly we forget. All will be quiet until about 9am. They’ll hit an an angle, slightly to our left, which has the effect of pushing the bike and I off the road in a strong gust.
To complicate matters, I have a Springtime cold. My head is in a fog, my throat is sore and my nose has turned into a double barrel snot gun. If it wasn’t for this dump of a town we rolled into last night, I’d tell the guys we’re taking the day off. Instead, I pop some ibuprofen and a benadryl and hope I can sweat this thing out.
We’re riding on the historic Route 66. Established in the 1920s, the highway ran 2500 miles uniting Chicago and Los Angeles, via Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
It became one of the most famous roads in the US with thriving business along the route. It was a major trucking route, it carried people west looking for better times during the 1930s, and became the main highway for those looking for the great American road trip experience. It’s been the focus of a TV series, has its own song, and was the inspiration behind the Pixar/Disney movie Cars.
We’ve passed a number of recreations of the roadside Burma-Shave advertising signs seen from the 1920s-60s.
US Route 66 began a steady decline in the 1950s due to the development of the Interstate Highway System, which bypassed many of the original towns. It was officially removed from the US Highway System in 1985 when it had been replaced in its entirety by interstates. It’s great to be on something so iconically American. Some of the towns have been able to maintain their economy, luring people off the interstates with food, lodging and Route 66 tchotchke, but others are little more than ghost towns.
We were on some pretty desolate parts today. I could turn in a 360 and not see any sign of human existence, except for some distant power lines and fencing. I find it comforting that there are still places in the US that have not been overtaken by subdivisions and strip malls.
Elliot is treating us to a night in the Hualapai Lodge. It even has a hot tub! I could get used to this.