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.
Upon waking in Chicago to head west on Route 66, the weather was perfect. Not one cloud in the sky and a cool breeze broke through the 78 degree temperatures. It didn’t take long to hit our first Rt. 66 landmark—one that has since been moved. Bunyon’s Hotdogs in Cicero had a fiberglass roadside giant standing on the side of its joint. The square-jawed Paul was cradling a giant hotdog, paint faded and peeling in the heat. Bunyon’s closed down and the giant moved to Atlanta, Illinois, greeting Route 66ers in the quiet downtown where not much happens anymore. However, it’s a better home for him because he is well taken care of.
Kyle and I knew our destination for July 7th was Clyde, Ohio, a small town made famous by Sherwood Anderson’s novel Winesburg, Ohio. this was my first visit to the prototypical American town where big dreams die fast when the idea of being different makes you an outcast. The town where, if Sherwood Anderson had stayed, American literature would never have given birth to Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or William Faulkner. Most of the people we met in town were a little stand-offish, and everything on Main Street was closed, but at least most of the businesses were actually all still going. Clyde can’t say the same today, 13 years later.