What to See Along Route 66
Route 66 is a frequently traveled and well-known highway that begins in the north eastern part of the United State in Chicago, Illinois and works its way to the southwestern Pacific Ocean shores, ending in Santa Monica, California. Route 66 winds through eight different states, spanning across a total of 2,451 miles. It was first established in 1926 and since its existence, it has gone through a series of changes, one of which included an extension of the route whereas it originally ended in the heart of downtown Los Angeles but in 1936 was lengthened to Santa Monica.
Additionally, over time with population growth and connecting roads being broken up, there have been different versions of the route that included loops and bypasses. While the route was decommissioned in the 1980s, the nostalgia of Route 66 still lives on and many parts of it are still widely traveled, as a memory making trip that is equivalent to a trip through time, as travelers experience an array of landmarks and points of interest. Because much of the route is not regularly maintained, preplanning the trip during the warmer months definitely advised; being sure you have a full tank of gas and plenty of snacks as you enjoy awe inspiring views of nature, larger than life statues and remnants of how life used to be for small town America.
Landmarks Along Route 66
Given the age of the well-known route and its length, it should not be surprising that there are a number of landmarks, National Parks, uniquely designed buildings and neon signs, as well as places long forgotten that are no more than ghost towns now. From the beginning of Route 66 to the end, it meanders through twenty-nine different cities.
The official beginning of Route 66, is marked with one of the famous brown landmark signs to mark its place of origination, and that goes for the end of the historic route as well, traveling from Chicago to Santa Monica. As the route continues through Illinois, there is the Gemini Giant, which islocated in Wilmington, Illinois. You can’t miss the 30-foot GeminiGiant statue that holds a rocket in his hands and is named in honor of the Gemini space program.
Missouri is not without its own notorious landmark along the famous route. While it makes for a good opportunity to stretch your legs, the phrase “sit down for a spell,” may be easier said than done in the famous 42-foot tall Rocking Chair that is located in Fanning, Missouri. Once the largest rocking chair in the entire world, as of 1985, this rocking chair lost its title as number one when its successor was built for the Guinness Book of World Records. The original largest rocking chair actually rocked when it was first constructed, but due to safety hazards was made stationary.
As you venture along the route, one of the most eye-catching famous attractions is the Blue Whale of Catoosa in Catoosa, Oklahoma. This famous blue whale was originally built by Hugh Davis as an anniversary gift to his wife, who collected whale figurines. At the time of its origination, there was a small pond that the whale sat upon, but as popularity of this landmark grew, Mr. Davis added picnic tables and a swimming area, opening it up to the public for families to enjoy.
If you veer off of Route 66 a bit, you can enjoy the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, where almost a dozen Cadillacs are partially buried nose-end along the way, each bearing graffiti. Each and every passerby is encouraged to add their personal mark to the painted icons. Then, traveling into Arizona are some of the most picturesque places of beauty that paint the landscape with the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. Even as you travel along the more remote parts of Route 66, the tour is one of enjoyment, as you experience the journey rather than focusing on a specific destination.
From the classic cars to the oversized statues, the roadside features quirky and bigger than life memorabilia reminiscent of days gone by. Whether you notice the forgotten gas stations, the crumbling neon signs or the everlasting beauty of nature, there is something for everyone along Route 66; from its Illinois beginning to the end of the road in Santa Monica, California with the famous brown landmark sign located just a few blocks from the Santa Monica Pier.
So, if you are planning a road trip, be sure you are prepared well-prepared.
For decades long road trips have been celebrated by many; and for many Americans the term road trip conjures up the thoughts of Route 66. The thirty plus hour long drive has a lot of meanings for a multitude of people; from being the road of escape during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl to a journey for vacationing families, there is no lack of culture along the way. Route 66 has been called “the Mother Road,” because of all the history that it encompasses.
Although the route has endured many changes since the 1920s with parts of it being forgotten, it is still an adventure that is on the bucket list for many. If you are planning on traveling the famous Route 66, the warmer months are best. As previously mentioned, much of the route is no longer maintained, therefore a trip along Route 66 will be best enjoyed during the warmer months between May and October.
Preparing for a Road Trip
While you may not be planning to experience the famous Route 66 during the winter months, perhaps you will still be taking to the roads for some form of travel. Truck drivers are on the road year round, making it a way of life to support themselves and their families. When driving multiple hours each day to reach a destination, during the winter months, extra precautions should be taken. Prior to heading out, pack a winter supply box with hand warmers, winter clothes, non-perishable food, water, fluids for your vehicle and flares. Also, have the coolant and antifreeze levels checked, as well as your tire tread and air pressure. Verify headlights are in good working order and keep your windshields clean. For your safety allow yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, so you are not tempted to drive haphazardly on icy roads or snowy weather. Many make the mistake of thinking if snow is not sticking then roads are okay, but the falling snow can result in low visibility even when the roads are not slick. There are many travelers on the roads, both for pleasure and business, and while you cannot predict the actions of others, by exercising patience and caution you will help make the roads safer.
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