Kyle and I arrived 45 minutes too early for the opening of The National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma, so I walked around taking photos while Kyle typed in his journal. The museum was O.K.—more of a museum to motor travel on the Mother Road than a museum about Rt. 66. It was underwhelming compared to what awaited us in Shamrock, Texas.
Oklahoma was infusing itself into me. The air, the scent of clay-filled dirt and pecans ready to be picked, circulated in my lungs and warmth of the people everywhere we went was welcoming. Even though the sky was overcast, I was still feeling the rays of yesterday’s sun. Our first pull-over was into the driveway of one of 66’s most famous icons—the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma.
This has been a messy summer, and due to certain events, my 2012 road trip had to be put on hold. I will not only be delaying the trip, but I’ll be chopping it up into smaller routes that will be more manageable in terms of time. All of these mini-trips are a lead up to the finishing of my creative nonfiction novel, Dispatches to America. SO, I’ll be brave and layout the times for the future trips now and cross every appendage on my body that none of these plans change.
Downtown Clyde, Ohio, a few years before the publication of Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson.
My first trip down Route 66 started in July of 2001. I traveled the Mother Road with my friend Kyle — his fictional name—who was also looking for a classic cross-country adventure. We were two guys on the open road with a crappy minivan and limited amounts of dough leaving Philadelphia in the middle of a typical swampy summer to see the sun set over the ocean. Kyle and I planned this trip about a year in advance and spent much of our time preparing by reading books about Route 66 and studying maps—I even dove into Kerouac’s On The Road.
Our adventure was not typical. In fact, Kyle and I hit town after dying town in a pre-9/11 America, each small town celebrating it’s last hurrah before the World Trade Towers disintegrated to the ground and thousands of people died, followed by hundreds more who now suffer with the health affects of all that debris and pollution.