Getting Our Kicks… On Route 66

Corvette on Route 66 - Arizona

If you ever plan to motor west, 
Travel my way, take the highway that is best. 
Get your kicks on route sixty-six. 

It winds from Chicago to L.A., 
More than two thousand miles all the way. 
Get your kicks on route sixty-six…

-Route 66 lyrics

Route 66 Vintage Gas Station - Arizona

As one who adores vintage trinkets and history, I’ve long wanted to drive the so-called “Main Street of America” – Route 66. So, during our recent journey criss-crossing North America from Saint Louis as far east as Québec City, then on to Nevada, via Santa Fe, and the Grand Canyon, we decided it was essential to hop on what remained of this legendary roadway.

Vintage Car on Route 66 in Arizona Route 66 Sign - Arizona

Without a historic map, we were not always quite certain how to find the “Mother Road” as many sections of it were devoured by Interstate 40 in past decades. When our nostalgic rides were rudely interrupted by “Road Ends” signs, we decided to consult Nat King Cole in his 1946 tune, “Route 66.” Nat’s smooth jazz crooning informed us that we could pick up well-restored sections of Route 66 outside of Flagstaff, well into western Arizona. So for a few hours, we enjoyed empty backroads seemingly inhabited only by prairie dogs and the occasional roadster or motorcyclist. We happened upon hotel rooms resembling teepees, mom and pop diners plentiful with burgers and root beer floats, and classic gas stations, such as Arizona’s Hackberry General Store, pictured here. There were also the occasional spotless Model Ts and Corvettes, as well as their long-forgotten counterparts, rusting along random stretches of the roadway, reminding us what happens when Mother Nature and time are left to tend to civilization.

Hackberry General Store on Route 66 in Arizona

Hackberry General Store on Route 66 in Arizona vintage gas pump Route 66 Vintage Gas Pump - Arizona

Pumping Gas on Route 66 - Arizona

It’s fun to imagine what 66 was like in its heyday, when today’s ghost towns – many now plentiful with dilapidated motels and diners – were bustling with road-trippers seeking new lives out west.

Route 66 Vintage Gas Pump - Arizona

Corvette on Route 66 in Arizona

Corvette on Route 66 in Arizona

Steering Wheel of Corvette on Route 66 - Arizona

Native American Mannequin on Route 66 - Arizona Route 66 - Vintage Gas Station in Arizona

Route 66 - Arizona

Route 66 existed from 1926 and was removed from the U.S. Highway System in 1985. A recent feature in the Cars films has contributed to an infusion of youthful energy for this classic roadway.

Coca Cola Vintage Sign on Route 66 in Arizona

Route 66 - Arizona Gas Station

Outhouse on Route 66 - Arizona Coca Cola Vintage Bottles on Route 66 in Arizona Vintage Car on Route 66 - Arizona Route 66 Vintage Gas Pump - Arizona

Model T Steering Wheel - Route 66 - Arizona

Vintage Gas Pump - Route 66 - Arizona

Planning Pointers:

Are you planning on motoring along Route 66?

  • Check out the National Park Service’s site for maps, itineraries and fun sites to explore along the roadway. Don’t forget to load your favorite version of Route 66 onto your iPod too.
  • Also, explore the National Historic Route 66 Federation.

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30 Comments on “Getting Our Kicks… On Route 66

  1. Fab post! This has been on our to-do list for a while and we hope to include the Flagstaff stretch on our next visit to the SouthWest. I will remember this post and return to it when the time comes.

    • Rachael, I’ll be posting more images from Route 66 in the coming days, to give you more reasons to visit. We were really lucky to have serendipitously stumbled upon some fun spots in New Mexico and Arizona, even meeting some travelers who’d driven 66 all the way from Illinois! It seems that there are passports available in which motorists can collect stamps from various stopping points too – something that I think would be especially fun for kids.

    • What a great compliment – thanks, Stephen! This was just one of many stops on Route 66, so I have much more to share. Hope your week is going well!

    • In many respects, it has! :) It’s fun to imagine what it was like in its heyday, though. We met a woman whose parents have long owned a diner along a section of Route 66 in Arizona. She said that as a child, it was quite frightening to be near the road because the traffic was seemingly never-ending. How times have changed!

  2. Seems like a vintage movie set! Will HAVE to do this whenever i get to the US :-) Thanks Tricia

    • It is, Madhu! I’d forgotten how wide and open the spaces are in the western United States. Add to that canvas rusted-out classic cars and trucks, ghost towns and motel marquees long ago retired. It’s quite fun indeed so I hope you’ll get the chance to explore it soon.

    • Your comment made me smile too, Virginia. If you and your husband have not yet made a part of this drive, I highly recommend it! We stopped at a few fun eateries along the way, one of which I hope to profile later. Think: root beer floats, burgers, fries, and mischievous owners who made the experience all the more fun!

    • Many thanks, Alessandro. Since I’ve lived in Europe for more than a decade, it’s been great fun to reconnect with such classic Americana!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Marina! I highly recommend taking a spin on Route 66 if you’re ever in the area. So much to photograph and enjoy!

    • Eternal Traveler, I hadn’t yet heard of Billy Connolly (I’ve been living in Germany for 10 years, so a bit out of touch with American pop culture) but we’ll have to see if we can check the Route 66 episode out while we’re in the States!

      Thanks for your kind comment – I hope you’ll be able to make the trip someday! Even though we only did short stretches, it was quite fun!

      • Tricia, Billy Connelly is a Scottish comedian – very funny and quite irreverent at times. You should google him. The Route 66 show was a series of a few episodes. Carol.

      • I just did; thanks again for sharing! When my husband and I read up on Route 66, we learned that there was even a sitcom in past decades. Such a legendary drive!

  3. Fantastic images! Travelling Route 66 is on my ‘To Do List’ and this post has moved it up near the top.

    • Highly recommended! My husband was initially skeptical about the drive, but quickly became interested once we unravelled more of the route’s history and unique character. Here’s hoping you’ll make it to America’s ‘Main Street’ sometime soon!

    • What a nice compliment, Fergiemoto. Yes, it definitely seemed fitting to give these images an antique filtered look. Have you had the chance to travel Route 66 at all?

  4. Pingback: Red Dog Saloon - Route 66

  5. What a fantastic adventure through our country. Excellent photography and writing. (You and your husband look like great friends. You are blessed.) I live in Arizona & my family is in Indiana; I’ve long considered taking this trip alone (with my Cocker Spaniel). Your pictures inspire me that I can do it.

    • Hi Mona – welcome, and thank you for your kind words. Indeed, we’ve been very fortunate to have shared many wonderful adventures during our whirlwind first few years together.

      As a former solo traveler, (Greece and Spain were my first solo trips, before I started exploring places like Tunisia, Morocco and India alone) I highly encourage you to make the trip! Granted, you’ll need to make some tweaks to your driving schedule, since your canine companion won’t be able to share driving duties with you :), but I think it’s a great part of the U.S. to explore. My husband and I started out in IL, actually going as far east as Québec City, then drove out to NV. We only had time to explore a small leg of Route 66, but it was one of the most memorable legs of our trip!

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