One shocking oversight in our planning for this trip is not including a single version of the song 'Route 66' in iTunes. Despite uploading over 500 albums onto iTunes, somehow that classic road tune didn't make it onto the playlist. Despite that blunder, all day yesterday, and later today, we're travelling this famous highway, and even though Route 66 is no longer an official US highway, that hasn't stopped a thousand businesses from plastering the famous 'Route 66' sign all over their shopfronts and billboards.
Take this roadside leisure centre for example, one of a dozen or so casinos spotted along the ways. Grilled bacon cheeseburger and shake, just $3.99. Talk about enticement!
For the record, at our starting point for Route 66 touring in Flagstaff, Arizona, I enjoyed a deliciously healthy breakfast (as Pam has been doing all the time, and I have have been doing most of the time). Unhealthy breakfast options abound here of course, but healthy choices are always offered as well, so I just look at this as having another dose of willpower for breakfast. When I have weakened, Pam asks me questions such as "You're actually going to eat potatoes for breakfast?". Yup, and with eggs sunny side up on the side as well. They're yummy.
Here's a helpful map of the route of the original Route 66, from Las Angeles to Chicago. Yesterday we drove the stretch from Flagstaff to Albuquerque, and later today we're heading up to Santa Fe, just 63 miles away.
Pam has been taking stacks of pix from within the car as we speed by at 75mph (the state speed limit in both Arizona and New Mexico). Thank goodness for cruise control in the Mazda, it makes it so easy to chug along at that speed for mile after mile. The amazing thing about this relatively flat and straight road is that it's never monotonous. The countryside changes from forest to desert to scrubby and back again, and then, once we hit the New Mexico border, the rock formations (such as this one) are simply stunning.
Red hillsides with flat tops make you feel like you're in Central Australia at times, except it's greener, and the mountains aren't so lumpy here, but it still feels Australian in its colourings.
As the road sweeps around yet another gentle curve, the hillsides change colour again. Up ahead, the trucks are plentiful indeed on the roads, but they're OK to share the road with, very conscious of faster cars at most times and generally better behaved that Australian truckers. (Well, I'm not sure how well behaved their truckers are at the truck stops... we haven't been to one of those, and probably won't either.)
Injuns! The (quite frequent) sighting of a teepee can mean only one thing: there's another roadside stall selling jewellery, pottery and blankets made by native Americans up ahead. Pammy could easily fill the whole car with their beautiful offerings if we had an unlimited budget and no space problems to worry about. The natural ochres, reds, greens, silvers and other colourings they favour are exactly what she loves. While the jewellery (often in silver) is nicely wrought, it's the pottery which consistently stands out for its fine work. In a later blog we'll show you a little of what caught Pammy's eye.
Antlers! At the filling station back in Flagstaff, Pam spotted this quad bike whose owner had fitted it with head-and-antlers as a strange-but-huge handlebar decoration. Out on the road you see all kinds of bizarre vehicles on Route 66. There are stacks of giant motorhomes trundling along, towing a small car (eg, a Corolla) behind. One even had the motorhome, plus a Corolla, a Harley and two pushbikes strapped onto the back, just so the owners can have all transport options available.
Though not loading up a track of 'Route 66' onto iTunes was an oversight, the music we're listening to on the road is working out just fine. On a single CD we can load up around 125 songs (in MP3 format) and that lasts pretty much a whole day on the road. We're heading up to Santa Fe this afternoon (still on Route 66 of course) and we plan to slow down the hectic schedule for a while. We've rented a self-contained "condo" close to town for three days, and Pammy wants to make a start on doing some paintings and sketches. Up until now, the pace of our travels has been so hectic that getting out the paint set just hasn't happened. As Yosemite Sam likes to say, "whoah Camel!".
And speaking of Pammy and her good ideas, that snazzy map in the top right corner of the blog, which we'll be updating regularly, was her suggestion. Just follow the thick blue lines - that's where we've been, and we really have been getting some kicks out here on Route 66!