It is difficult to tell the story of America’s “Mother Road,” Route 66.
Many remember it as an icon of the 1950’s – Wurlitzer jukeboxes, chrome, stainless steel diners, motels and motor courts, an abundance of neon.
To others it is more about cars – 57 Chevy’s, 57 Cadillacs, Harley motorcycles, or an ancient “Indian” motorcycle or two.
Either way, it is about the road, the Mother Road – the thunder road, a route through the great western desert with Mesas and jack rabbits and jackalopes too.
Route 66 is the Grand Canyon, is Acoma, is Grants, and Tucumcari, and Gallup, New Mexico – not just San Bernardino or the end of the line at California State 41 – before they realigned it, changed it, diverted it to end in Santa Monica at, some said, the end of the pier.
For the past 90 years Route 66 has been a symbol of American freedom. It’s not about a flag, not really about the military, it is about something far greater, something more. Route 66 is about the 1950’s, about an era of prosperity and hope. It is about the twenties, about wanton abandon. There is a 1930’s Route 66 – trailers, and travails, and rusted out cars that were all that some people had to keep going.
For much of the way Route 66 went through, and was stolen from, “Indian Country.” The underlying land was tribal land, Native lands, the land of the Earth Mother, from which the “Mother” road owed her existence.
West of Albuquerque, on what may be known, or called, “Far West Central” may be found a few relics of an earlier time, the discards and savings from the times of decision. Route 66 in New Mexico is like a lake, a stream, a reflection. We look at it, look in, look within – and we can see what we longed for, what we lost, what perhaps is still there.
Some wish we could go back, take the road again, do it over. And maybe… perhaps …. it is not too late. Yes, the dark night is upon us; but always above us is that great New Mexico sky.
I present a few pictures from along the Route 66 frontage road that follows the new Interstate “I-40” Highway. Make no mistake, the old road is actually higher, especially west of nine mile hill, but you will have to take it, see for yourself, to see what I mean. Happy journey.