In the past, Route 66 was a bustling road. Winding its way through the small (and large) towns of America, it introduces travelers to places many would never have visited.
Bright Neon lights lit up The Mother Road, inviting visitors to linger and enjoy what the town had to offer. Bars and restaurants overflowed with laughter, food, drinks, and music. Shiny cars sparkled as they cruised up and down the route, showing off for all to see.
The streets were lined with small businesses, each vying for travelers' attention and their pocketbook. Local businesses that contributed to their community. But then the interstate came and pretty much crushed the heart of many of these small towns. Some are trying to recapture days long past, attracting a new (and old) generation of Mother Road travelers, some just let the road wither away.
Albuquerque has been successful in merging its past while creating a present that attracts young and old to enjoy Route 66 the way it is meant to be.
Neon lights brighten the skyline for miles, showing off the Route in all its glory. Bars, restaurants, small businesses, and renovated theaters, are all seeking to capture the attention of locals and tourists. Some of the motels that once lined the route have been renovated into small businesses or small apartments, keeping some of their lusters and preserving their iconic history. Gas stations no longer line the route, replaced by newer chains, but the feel of the old stations, now converted into some other form of business, still remains.
Albuquerque is a Foodie haven and Route 66 embraces its history, offering delectable dishes in true New Mexico fashion. Everywhere you go, the smells of Route 66 entice you to enjoy a good meal.
It was a Friday night in downtown Albuquerque when we visited. The historic Kimo Theatre was having a grand reopening to show off its new updates and renovations. The sides streets were closed off to crossing traffic and Route 66 turned on the lights. Cruisers slowly make their way up and down Central, just like they did in the past. The sidewalks are lined up with pedestrians, all dressed up for an evening out on The Mother Road. Music was dancing out of the bars or out of the cars cruising the avenue. The smell of New Mexico dishes captured the attention of people walking by, tickling the senses to come inside. Route 66 was ALIVE and HAPPENING, just like it used to be.
Locals said that Albuquerque had done a great job of renovating downtown and Central Ave (Route 66) bringing back its vitality for many to enjoy. They were right.
As we walked along Route 66 in Nob Hill, I could see much of its 66 nostalgia, now mixed in with hip new businesses creating a hipster vibe and an invitation for the younger generation to create the next 66 legacies.
We then visited Old Town, now surrounded by new and old, hanging onto much of its history, giving visitors a view into the past. Little Alleys draw you in to explore and shop. A variety of small businesses vying for attention line the plaza and alleyways. But it was the beauty and colors that captured my attention — and my camera.
Albuquerque embodies the past of Route 66
while retaining its history for all generations to enjoy.
I thought there would be more to see on Route 66 in Amarillo, and the surrounding area, so I booked us for a week at the RV Park — I was wrong!
Our first few days, we were pretty much stuck inside. First, high winds, then rain, then snow, then snow with high winds. It was three days before we could resume our Route 66 adventures. Three days of cold, wet, and high winds.
The winds eventually died down then the warmer weather came hitting 80 a few days later. It was hard to tell who was moodier at this point - Mother Nature or Me
On our first day on the Route, we did lunch at the Midpoint Cafe. It was…Nostalgic. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. Of course, like any other Route 66 traveler, we had to take our photo at the Mid Point Sign.
My favorite sites along Route 66 are old gas stations. Some of my best childhood memories were the summers I spent with my grandpa. He owned a Chevron in Sterling, Colorado, where I spent many a summer with him at the gas station. My main job, (probably to keep me out of trouble) was to keep the gas pumps clean. I had my rag and a bottle of Windex, and I took my job seriously. When customers would pull in, grandpa would greet them, fill their tanks, wash their windows, and send them on their merry way with a smile. Sometimes, I was allowed to help. I would clean the side view mirrors. I had access to all of the bubble gum I wanted and my little chair, where I often sat and just watched my grandpa work on cars. I treasure those times with him, and Route 66 is flooding me with memories of a time when life was so simple.
After lunch, we resumed our Route 66 drive and did the old and new of Route 66 through Amarillo. Sorry, but I was a bit disappointed. What remnants that remain are more than run-down the luster long forgotten. So many other states and towns are renovating their route 66, embracing their history, welcoming visitors, and inviting them to times past and times present, but Amarillo seems tired and forgotten. You can locate parts where they are trying. But, the draw, the magic — it just wasn’t there. At least not for me.
Oasis RV Resort was a nice RV park with big sites and clean. Over the week, I watched as RVers came in for the night, leaving early the next day for their next location. Amarillo was just a stopover, a place to rest the heads of weary travelers traversing the long miles across Texas. Another sign that Amarillo didn’t seem to have much to offer travelers.
We ventured off the Route and drove to Palo Duro Canyon for an afternoon. The Canyon is the second-largest canyon in the United States. The canyon is about 120 miles long and 20 miles wide and is up to 800 feet deep. We ventured down the canyon, stopped at the Trading Post for lunch, then met a fellow Airstreamer (Two Peas and the Pod) in one of the campgrounds. It was the most beautiful part of our week and worth the drive.
We waited until the snow melted before stopping at Cadillac Ranch. You hear about these places and you think, “I must go there, too,” this was one of those places. I expected more to it. I guess I expected them to make more of a big deal of this iconic place. But it’s just ten old Cadillacs buried in the ground. No monument, no fanfare, no parking lot. You park on the shoulder and walk in through a gate. There was a truck selling spray cans, a must for anyone planning on the full experience. Children were having a blast. What more could they want - mud to splash in, spraying cans of paint, and the freedom to deface property with full zeal.
We spent a week in Amarillo, a long week. Maybe it was the weather? Maybe it was my mood? Maybe it was the dreariness? Whatever the reason... Route 66 in Amarillo was just not as magical.
Now, time to move to New Mexico. May Route 66 in New Mexico be filled with Enchantment.
There is always this discussion on twin beds vs queen, when it comes to an Airstream.
My vote — a QUEEN!!!
Last night, a blizzard hit Amarillo, Texas. Snow and 30 mph winds wreaked havoc all night long. I woke up around 4:00 am from the howling of the wind outside. I got up to use the restroom and found out our power went out sometime before then. Luckily, (I seem to be using that word a lot lately) we upgraded our batteries last year to AGM Lifelines and Tony added a Victron battery monitor so he could monitor our batteries with his phone. And, luckily (there is that word again), we have a queen bed so we could SNUGGLE!!!
Our furnace was running constantly at this point, we had it set to 61 when we went to bed, to keep us, and Betty Jo warm. But since the power was out and the furnace was running on battery power, we decided to turn it down and monitor the usage. At 4:00 am our battery power was at 95%, we turned down the furnace to 58 and I set our alarm to wake us up about every 45 minutes so we could check the batteries, and to make sure we had not frozen to death. By 5:00 am we were down to 91%. Then at 9:10 am were down to 87%.
Our fridge was drawing about 14 watts, luckily (again) it switched to propane. So the only items running on batteries were our fridge and the furnace.
By morning, the sun started peeking through the clouds and added a little juice to our batteries through the solar panels.
Thanks to our queen size bed and layers of blankets (and long sleeve shirts and socks) we snuggled together and stayed pretty toasty. Even, with the furnace set to 55, Betty Jo stayed fairly warm as well.
In some sections, the Mother Road is as worn out as an old woman. Weathered. Wrinkled. Worried. With many years of experiences and stories to tell.
One may find sections that have recently been refreshed, giving the appearance of a younger mother. But most sections are as tired as a mother with a passel of children and a young one on her hip.
Unfortunately, we did not have the time to drive the whole true Route 66 through Oklahoma. We are traveling full-time with a 27’ Airstream and we don’t feel comfortable towing her on roads that may be fractured, bouncy, or narrow. As we have done so many times before (in 26 states so far), we leave Betty Jo (the Airstream) behind at RV Parks, such as the Mustang Run Rv Park in Yukon, OK while we explore. I saw a few travel trailers on the historic route and for the most part, most sections of the route are fine for towing. Finding gas stations (especially diesel) are few and far between. There were RV parks on the older route, but many of them looked as old as the route they were on.
We are traveling Route 66 from Cuba, MO to Barstow, CA. We hit the Mother Road on March 7th and arrived in Oklahoma City on March 15th. We travel mostly by Interstate Highway, the "newer Route 66," while towing. This allows us to park Betty Jo and travel as much of the original routes as we can with our truck, with a lot more flexibility and the ability to stop suddenly whenever something strikes our fancy - and needs to be photographed. The curse of being photographers is your creative eye is always on the lookout for that next shot.
In Missouri, we parked Betty Jo at the RV Express RV Park in Marshfield, MO. From there we ventured out on the older Route 66 in that area. We then stayed at the Coachlight Rv Park in Carthage, MO and explored Route 66 around Carthage, Joplin, Webb City and Galena, Kansas.
I found the Route in Missouri, confusing and discombobulated. There were so many versions of the Route; The original route (1926), newer routes (1958), while various byways of the route kept appearing. They all seemed to go in different directions - east/west, north/south. We often missed something because the old was mixed in with the new and so we would miss it. I often felt like it was going in circle. Ah, the fun of exploration.
In Oklahoma, the route seems more straight forward. I enjoyed this much more. There are still many of older sections (the Original), they are mostly short in length, while weathered and worn, which makes for a bumpy ride. We drove the main Historical Route from El Reno to Tulsa, seeing a lot of back country areas the Interstate misses. For the most part it was easy to follow, they have signs saying “Historical Route 66” about every 1/2 mile or so, also indicating if it's "original, addend or bypass," but I still relied on Google Maps to make sure we were on the route for I found it would often take turns without any warning.
What I enjoyed most about the route in Oklahoma was our ability to stay on the route. They really promote the route in Oklahoma and each town tries to stay somewhat authentic. It was a fun and easy-going ride, through small towns and bits of countryside, some of it weaving through the larger towns like Oklahoma City and Tulsa where you can still can find history mixed with urban development. There always seemed to be something new or unique around each turn, you just had to keep your eyes open. Traveling Route 66 is Okay in Oklahoma and worth the time, no matter how you do it.
As a child my fondest memories were road trips. And Route 66 is the Ultimate Road Trip.
After months of being stagnate, a moment of excitement bubbled inside. We had been mostly stationary for a little over three months as we wintered in Florida and South Carolina. My travel-day-anxiety reared its ugly head as we left Charleston to hit the road, but once the routine set in, it calmed down.
We traveled up Hwy 55 into Missouri, heading towards Hwy 44 and Route 66 on Sunday, March 6th. A storm was due in that evening so we wanted to travel while there was a break in the weather. Our first stop was in Pacific, Missouri for the night. Just a little west of St Louis, this is where we would start our trek west.
As we got closer to the St. Louis area, excitement washed away any cares. We were finally getting close to our journey on one of America’s nostalgic road trip treasures. I was very young when Route 66 was a big deal and I put it in the back of my mind to someday visit. The idea of doing Route 66 got lost over the years - family, jobs, life, all pushed it away. Then in 2021, the opportunity to hit the road happened. We divested ourselves of all our belongings and purchased an Airstream. Here it is a year later and we are finally adding the Mother Road to our lists of places we have traveled
Our blog is called, Stories from the Front Porch, so it only seemed fitting to start this adventure at the World’s Largest Rocking Chair on Route 66. Chairs, for me, represent stories passed on for generations and what better start to this story than the World’s Largest Rocking Chair on Route 66. The chair was erected on April Fool’s Day in 2008. It weighs 27,500 lbs and is 42’ 4” high. It was once the largest Rocking Chair in the World, but lost that honor to someone in Illinois in August of 2015. It is now the second largest in the world
We drove briefly through Cuba, Missouri on our way to the chair, captured a few photos but it was freezing cold so we didn’t make too many stops
Our next stop - the township of Uranus. A brief stop for some Uranus Fudge and a few photos.
There is a Route 66 Welcome Center just before Marshfield (if heading west, if eastbound it would be right past Marshfield.) They have a huge parking lot and invite visitors to rest.
Our last stop for the day was the town square in Marshfield, MO where a replica of the Hubble Telescope is displayed. Dr. Edwin Hubble's hometown.
We ended our first day at the RV Express RV park in Marshfield, MO, just off hwy 44.
As we roam the roads and highways, looking for that next fantastic stop, keep track of our travels in our Airstream - Betty Jo