Recently we returned from a 10,000 mile road trip from Maine to California and back traveling through 25 states over the course of 6 weeks. The main focus of the trip was to travel the entire length of US Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica (2278 miles). Following the Mother Road and imagining it’s halcyon days was a wonderful adventure. Many towns along the route have restored gas stations, motor courts, cafes and roadside attractions to encourage auto enthusiasts to experience what it was like to drive cross-country before there were Interstates. Unfortunately, these efforts to bring back the feel of the old road may not be enough to breath life into many of these dying towns.
The Interstate Highway System introduced controlled access, i.e., on-ramps and off-ramps, often located on the outskirts of town. People didn’t need to drive through towns anymore. Fast food restaurants and self serve gas stations took the place of the home town cafes and full service stations with attendants to fill your tanks and wash your windshields. Later, stores like Walmart and Home Depot sprung up and put many small shops and stores out of businesses. Life is different today, but is it better? I’m not sure. Sometimes it is good to slow down and enjoy the ride.