It’s easy to check in at the Blue Swallow Motel on Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico, but folks find it hard to leave the classic roadside inn. Dale Bakke bought the motel and is currently making restorations. “Would you like to see a room?” the innkeeper asked us. The motel features rooms with “refrigerated air” and garages for vehicles. A kitty sleeps on a pillow in the office. “He just came here one night and never left,” said Bakke. “We took him in and now he’s ours. He’s part of the family…” Clients can also purchase souvenir T-shirts and post cards from the authentic landmark motel at www.blueswallowmotel.com
Most of the time you take a trip to get somewhere.
To see new places, to aim a camera at folks and what they do for a living.
Traveling is about discovering the different and occasionally the bizarre—about finding something adventurous, daring, and even romantic in yourself.
Old Route 66 was never meant to be ordinary—from its beginning in 1926, it was something entirely special.
The highway crossed the rivers, plains, mountains,deserts, and canyons of eight states and several Native American nations before ending 2,448 miles on the corner of the Pacific.
The road became Main Street America.
And by the mid-1930s, the highway began to create its own myth; it grew larger than life. It became the way West; it became the Mother Road, the road of neon and dreams.
As I traveled along I-40, which parallels much of the old Route 66, I saw the change that had come to the old American two-lane track. The Mother Road was abandoned in many places, reduced to merely side roads and fragments and weeds in others.
Still, her magic held firm, even though her double-digit markers and historic shields had often been lifted by those craving a piece of yesterday.
Her job had been taken over by the fast-food freeways. But there is a saying that you can’t keep a good road down.
You can’t keep old Route 66 out of the hearts and minds of three generations of blue-blood Americans.
There’s still a lot of fire and warmth in that old gal, and you can certainly catch a glimpse of her along the fleet I-40 from golden Oklahoma City to candle-laden Albuquerque, her embers glowing in the dusk like fireflies.
From the beginning of our sojourn, our destination was the road itself.
To be part of the highway hip, the big riggers and romantics, the poetry of Main Street.
Route 66 doesn’t exist on any map, but for most of us it remains the rhythm that ties America together.
It’s a highway of adventure, spanning eight states and three time zones.
It was the gateway to the American Dream—one mile at a time.
Family owned, one-pump filling stations. Home of the cozy dog on a stick.
Route 66 is more than blacktop and detours; it belongs to the whole world, the life blood of America, the ribbon that binds it together.
Even today there’s more than enough nostalgia to go around: country music, jazz, and oldies; old bowling alleys; the Wagon Wheel Motel.
Spook lights and specters, haunted theaters and antique shops, barber shops and mom-and-pop diners, souvenir shops and trading posts, chaparraland road runners, billboards and totems, flea markets and ice cream parlors, hot-plate lunches,and picnic parks.
Take on the Texas Panhandle and cruise 180 miles across endless earth.
America at its best, the land of yesterday: snappy comebacks from greasy-spoon chefs, old-timers and dreamers, cattle ranches, and drilling rigs.
Motel towns and cow towns, pickups and hay wagons, highlands and lowlands, rivers, and arroyos, combines and painted-roof barns, tattered and varicose concrete and verisimilitude.
What would 66 be without four wheels and eight cylinders? Get your kicks on Route 66, the honeymoon road…Where the car was king and the hot dog ruled.
Leaving all these places behind was like putting your own children up for adoption, I heard somebody say.
But leave we must.
And as we left Oklahoma City heading east, it was time to say goodbye to our old friend: Route 66.
Bidding farewell to the legendary highway, after a stint of nine days and nights close to its asphalt ribbon, wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
Somehow, I just hated to let go of the fabled thoroughfare, not knowing if I’d ever be back this way again.
I felt a twinge of sadness, even melancholy. And I thought of those we’d left behind, doing their jobs, living their lives.
My heart ached a little; I wanted to recall the faces, feel the warmth and comfort of the open road.
Our Western neighbors had touched our hearts. They had greeted us with open arms, made us feel part of their family.
Goodbye Mother Road, I heard myself saying as I drove along I-40. Goodbye, and if we meet again, then we shall smile…and this parting is only a temporary route, a momentary byway until our lanes shall cross again…
I will dream of you often, hear the voices that lie beneath your blacktop as the tires hum your melody.
Until then, my friend, forever and forever farewell…
Top o’ the morning!