Route 66: Part II
by Lynn Wienck, The Chisholm Trail Bookstore
Two books provided the jumping off point for an U.S. Route 66 search and travel trip: Route 66 The Mother Road by Michael Wallis (1990) and Searching for 66 by Tom Teague (1991). Both books were informative and entertaining, providing much history, folklore, and commentary about the road that was, is no more, but somehow lives on.
In as much as milder weather, late May, makes for wonderful travel, it was time to see the Mother Road: up close, personal, and live. Actually, any weather at all makes for wonderful travel, but this miniature trip was probably a better concept. (Conversely, traveling a logging road in the United States northwest many years past was probably not a better concept, but it made a great memory.)
The weather was hot, but cooperative – that is to say it wasn’t pouring rain. My spouse and I didn’t quite roll down the windows and strain the bugs through our teeth, but it was close. It’s the first car I think we’ve ever had with working air conditioning.
So, off we went for discovery. About a two-hour drive north, put us at El Reno, Oklahoma and the road. We headed west, but U. S. Route 66 merged into Interstate 40. We got off I-40 at the 108 exit toward Geary, did a little doubling back south on U.S. 281, and located quite by accident Route 66 again. Route 66 was absolutely unmarked, but the road went west and looked ancient. I was willing to try it which was another better concept.
What road is this, we kept asking each other? Beats me, came the answer, but we’re heading west. The route ran parallel to the interstate and when we crested hills, we could see the interstate to the south of us. I didn’t figure we were too far lost. For this stretch, the Mother Road was narrow two-lane, washboard rough-shake-your-teeth loose, no shoulder, and no center marking until the next major town. A sign marked U.S. Route 66 prior to entering Weatherford, Oklahoma. It was nice to have the sign. Finally.
The road carries with it the past; it’s like shifting time back 50 years. Although my spouse assures me that we have been on U.S. Route 66, we’ve never traveled the section between El Reno and Weatherford. It did seem that the only thing missing was my uncle’s Studebaker. If you think Studebaker is a Danish pastry, then you are younger, as opposed to Route 66 older.
Lunch was at the new Lucille’s, a retro-eatery off U.S. Route 66, in Weatherford and very close to I-40. The old Lucille’s was somewhere around Hydro, Oklahoma; Tom Teague’s Searching for 66 shows a picture of the old Lucille’s. We had passed it coming into Weatherford.
There you have it: books for the reading and for the great adventure. Someday, I have to see The Cadillac Ranch by Amarillo, Texas. Someday, I’ll have to see the road start to finish.