Route 66 was built for speed. Conceived as a consistently paved, wide-open thoroughfare to get you from here to there, it was about providing smooth travel, and the mythology that surrounded it was steeped in Westward expansion.
If you ever plan to motor west,
travel my way, take the highway that is best.
It’s the American dream, on slick wheels and black tar. Leave your meager life behind — there’s a better future ahead… if you can just get there. The story of the traveler was the story of the future. We’re on this road to a better place.
Not any more.
Now, if you plan to motor west, take your dreams on the 55 freeway — it’s faster, straighter, and less bumpy. You won’t get lost weaving through sleepy small towns, and you’ll be at your destination in no time.
And you’ll miss so much. Today, Route 66 is a window on the past, and every mile turns up its own unique ghosts. Somewhere along the way, those gas stations and diners turned into attractions, peddling memories along with chili cheese fries. The restored signs tell stories. Snippets of news articles, now yellowing in their plastic sleeves, speak of glory days gone by. The peeling paint is a real reminder of the reality of your trip. Your fellow travelers aren’t aiming for their future; they’re reliving their past, or a past they missed, or imagined they might have had. In any case, there are few historians shuffling along the old road, when a faster, smoother road is nearby and it leads to a shinier future.
From another vantage point, you would call it the frontage road, and you might look over as you race by on the 55 and wonder about a car on that old stretch of patched-up pavement. Where are those people going?
Not where, but when. This is our destination.