Monday, December 5, 2011

Get your kicks...

Early on a chilly Tuesday morning in October 1963, the 4th day of our adventure, my friend Jerry & I were woken by an Indiana State Trooper pounding on the window of Jerry's old Rambler station wagon.  He informed us that it was illegal to not bother anybody by sleeping in the car in a State Police parking lot along side US 40. We thanked him for the wake-up call and continued our Westward journey, crossing most of Illinois before the sun came up. At about 9 am we stopped for breakfast in East St. Louis, and in an hour we crossed the Mississippi River into Missouri. There, as we made our way through morning traffic in St. Louis, we came upon the famous Route 66. The next three days we got our kicks. Westward through Springfield and Joplin we rode through small towns and farmlands spotted with more fireworks stands than Jerry & I had ever seen. Somewhere along the way we found an all night gas station that let us park and sleep. And then we hit Kansas. Grazed it actually. Route 66 cut through the Southeast corner of Kansas and at 60 miles an hour we were through with just a fading memory of roadside sunflowers and a sign that said Galena. We headed Southwest across Oklahoma past Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and into Texas. It had been a hot and dry Summer everywhere and that area was burned brown. Cactus, scrub brush and oil wells were all that grew along the road. It wasn't long before the countryside started to sprout neon and sleazy looking bars & motels. We stopped in beautiful downtown Amarillo for the night. Sleazy or not, a shower and a real bed felt good.
Thursday morning we headed West into the mountains of New Mexico. We had Buffalo Burgers in Tucumcari and pushed on through Albequerque into Arizona to the Petrified Forest, Winslow and Flagstaff where we stopped for the night. Friday was a long, busy day that began at 5 am. We headed north to the Grand Canyon, about which I will only say, "No picture can capture it. You MUST see it." Way too soon we were back on Route 66 and crossing the Great Divide at 5 mph, pushing the poor old rambler over the crest. (No, I am not kidding.) Then we crossed the Hoover Dam (Incredible!) into Nevada. We stopped for gas and played our first one-armed bandits. The gas station had a dozen five-cent machines. I won 60 cents. It was getting dark as we crossed the Mojave desert through Barstow and into Bakersfield and the end of Route 66. One more night in the car and in the Saturday morning fog we headed North through the San Joaquin Valley lettuce fields to San Francisco. 48 years ago.

1 comment:

  1. There are place-names in this story which are the stuff of legends. I will probably never visit them but they all bring memories of movies, TV shows, music, novels and personalities.

    Wonderful nostalgia.