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“Well if you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that’s the best.
Get your kicks … on Route 66″ – Bobby Troup
Sure. We knew the song. Everybody does. But what I didn’t know is that I-40 replaced Historic Route 66 in the 70’s. Jim was out of the loop, too. We were just looking for the most direct route to California from Tennessee.
Okay, I was in kind of a hurry. Even though we hadn’t unhitched in a week, I felt antsy to break our 4-3-2 Rule in order to arrive in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park before the once-in-a-decade Super Bloom ended. Also, we had to wring ourselves out. The sunny California desert was just what we all needed following several months in the deep, dark, moist, sticky South. Don’t get me wrong, I loves me some swamp but I’m a desert rat at heart.
So, about 10 am, just south of Nashville – on a perfect Sunday – at the end of The Trace, we turned left-coastward and crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas…
and drove straight through to Oklahoma …
“Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty”
We’d planned to stop in Oklahoma City but we were so beat by then, we pulled off at lovely, Shawnee.
After a hearty 6AM breakfast at the Cracker Barrel we continued on the I-40 – and that’s when we began to see the signs.
Inspired, but still not wise, we played several versions of the song and drove merrily along singin’ and schemin’ how we would, someday, see what’s so great about Route 66 … until we, finally, realized …
you know, that we were actually driving on it.
So, after our Madge moment, we educated ourselves, and then we agonized … Had we known this sooner we’d have planned more time. Then, Jim reminded me of our LIB mantra: No Fake Deadlines.
“Won’t you get hip to this kindly tip”
It would be a waste to blast through Historic Route 66 all the way to California without pausing to admire, explore – savor the experience. Though I longed to tiptoe through epic desert blooms, not experienced on earth for over a decade, I had to consider the thought that we may never pass this way again. I glanced toward Jim in the passenger seat – his eye wrinkles all smiley and mischievous as he researched 66 on the computer. “We’re about to throw another bright, shiny well-researched plan out the window aren’t we?” So far, turning our plans on a dime is our secret to LIB success. But this time, I knew, the decision was all mine. So, I said, “Let’s get our kicks, ok? – take our time here. Surely, we’ll miss the wildflowers but maybe, by the time we get to Borrego, the ocotillo will be in bloom.”
“Well if you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, take the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks … on Route 66″
So, Jim did his research magic while I drove for three hours through the Texas panhandle and into New Mexico.
Our first stop was the charming and scenic town of Tucumcari …
With its mid-century collection of gas stations and garages …
Vintage neon …
Tribute wall murals and …
Curio shops that make Tucumcari one of the largest museums in America.
Feeling appropriately cool and retro in our Airstream, we pulled out of Cactus RV,
…and set out for Santa Fe. On the way, we enjoyed a spontaneous Airstream Meet-up at a great truck stop – Cline’s Corners in Moriarty. Everyone exchanged cards and photos and departed hoping to meet up again. Airstream strangers are like cousins who meet for the first time.
When we arrived to Santa Fe, my sister-in-law, Sherrie, suggested we spend at least a couple of days at Ojo Caliente, NM, camping on the river beside the hot springs. Oh yeah. Great advice. We soaked in the sacred waters, enjoyed the restaurant and went hiking. We will return to Ojo.
Relaxed and ready for adventure, we went to Sante Fe to enjoy the history, nightlife, culture …
and two great breweries …
Before we left, we had to see the Loretto Chapel stairway
Then, on to Arizona …
Where we camped in the vicinity of the Homolovi Ruins near Winslow.
The clear, warm morning provided ideal light for our first viewing of Meteor Crater
Then, after a gorgeous forested mountain drive up to Flagstaff, we had lunch where snowdrifts enveloped our restaurant.
Then, descending the San Francisco mountains, into Needles we found an excellent KOA. The luscious 90 degree temperature with no wind and a clean pool made for a perfect first night in California.
Next morning, after a big breakfast at Juicy’s, we pulled off Route 66 for an exquisite desert drive with a few isolated patches of the Superbloom and gorgeous displays of flowering ocotillo – all the way to Agua Caliente State Park where we plunged into the mineral hot springs and basked in the dry desert sun and took in the peace and quiet …
… Borrego may always be my favorite place in the world – a tranquil environment to prepare for a rambunctious four-weeks of activity in San Diego visiting with family, friends, doctors, vet, and accomplishing an insane list of …
Kicks are kicks and fun is fun, but you gotta eat your peas.
If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that’s best.
Get your kicks on Route 66.
It winds from Chicago to LA,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
Now you go through Saint Louis
And Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty.
You’ll see Amarillo,
Gallup, New Mexico,
Don’t forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino.
Won’t you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66.