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Remember Route 66 – The Mother Road

Have you ever wanted to take a nostalgic driving holiday along Route 66?  The song was first recorded by Nat King Cole and was subsequently covered by many others including Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones.  A whole generation grew up humming along and dreaming of throwing caution to the wind and driving this fabled highway. Originally the highway ran from Chicago to Los Angeles.

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It was America's primary east-west highway through the middle of the 20th century.  By the middle of the 50s, the car became the transport of choice for many Americans, and they took to the highways on driving “vacations” seeking fun and adventure.  Kitschy hotels and tourist attractions sprang up along Route 66 to accommodate them. Nowadays, old Route 66 does not show up on current road maps as such, however there are several  guidebooks written about the old route, which include maps.  A great place to start planning your driving holiday is the historic66 website.  
 
Today the longest remaining stretch of the original route 66 is in Arizona.  This section is about 370 miles long (595 km).  The main streets of Holbrook, Flagstaff and Williams still feature classic 1950s-style motels and diners.  Picture wigwam motels, doggie diners and emporiums like the Geronimo Trading Post, the Jack Rabbit Trading Post or tourist traps like the Tee Pee Curios shop.  Gas up in great old "filling stations".There is some of the original two lane blacktop.  Some of the road lies on old wagon trails and railroad routes.  The route may be hard to follow and frustrating to find at times, but that is part of the adventure and you can always rely on those turn-by-turn maps.
 

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This drive is about fun and an age of innocence, such as stopping in towns like Oatman were Old West gunfights are on for tourists and there are also "ghost towns" to explore like Peach Springs, Truxton, Valentine and Hackberry.  There are "wild burros" (small donkeys) roaming around, which are descendants of burros used by the miners, buttake care, they will beg for food.You will drive through the Painted Desert, a vast area of coloured sand and beautiful views.  Also see the Petrified Forest National Park.  225 million years ago, these stones were trees that were growing here.  Nearby you can see goofy looking dinosaurs that advertise a petrified wood shop.  
 
There is also a dinosaur park where more than a dozen concrete dinosaurs have been created by local artisans… just in case you wanted to drive through a herd of dinosaurs. And you must take side trips to see Sedona, Meteor Crater and especially the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
You can drive the route in either direction but going from east to west is considered the "right" way.  And since most guide books are written in that direction it is easier that way too.  You can drive this section of the highway any time of the year, but spring and autumn are best. Some areas pass through the desert, so take precautions like having plenty of water and sunscreen.  There are also stretches where fuel is not easily available, so make sure the tank is full.
 
As the song goes:

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If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, the highway that's the best.
Get your kicks on Route 66!
 
 

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