Route 66 State Road Signs

Route 66 From Chicago To Santa Monica… And Beyond

“If you plan to motor west

Travel my way, take the highway that is best

Get your kicks on Route 66″

Route 66, written by Bobby Troup

Mid-September 2019. I arrive in Chicago to drive Route 66 all the way to Santa Monica in California. I’m doing it by what most folks believe is the ‘proper’ direction, that is East to West. Just as the original Okies travelled it.

In John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, the author called Route 66 the “Mother Road” because it enticed people to flee the Dust Bowl and move west in search of jobs in the 1930s. But in the years after the Depression, the highway also became America’s road for adventure. In the 1950s for instance it was the main highway for vacationers heading to Los Angeles. It was The Main Street of America.

I shall also be following the original route, or what’s left of it. The consensus seems to be that there’s about 80% of the original road that is driveable today. As most know, Route 66 was decommissioned many years ago and does not ‘exist’ as such anymore. The sections of the original road that remain are now all officially renamed as other State Routes, Highways or Interstates. Which makes it a bit tricky to know where to drive if you want to do the ‘original’ route. Plus there are still debates today about some sections where the original route disappeared and no maps remain. Another problem is that when it did exist, the road got re-aligned a number of times. So there are actually a variety of ‘routes’ to actually drive what was known as “Route 66”.

The ‘bible’ of the written word for the road is Jerry McClanahan’s ‘EZ66 Guide For Travellers’, of which I have a copy. But the main way I shall find my way West is via an Android app, Route 66 Navigation. This offers turn-by-turn navigation for the journey. It’s got mostly good reviews, so we shall see… I also used the guide book ‘Route 66 Road Trip‘ by Candacy Taylor to help plan my route and stops, which turned out to be very helpful. Plus there are various websites related to The Mother Road that Mr Google can help you find.

There will be a couple of off-66 diversions along the way, plus a few days added on at the end to go and see the San Francisco 49ers. So without further ado, let’s hit the road…

But wait just a minute. Once I’d seen the 49ers and returned home to the UK in early October, little did I know at the time that my American travel adventures during this football season were not over yet. So whilst not road trips by car, I have included details of my further trips to the USA after Route 66. Including the Trip of a Lifetime…

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