Finally. This is it folks. Start to finish. The full shebag. All 2500+ miles of our trip of Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles with a couple of additional stops to Kansas City, Sedona, Page (for the Grand Canyon) Las Vegas and then a few days in New York just top top it all off!
I’ve put most the writing at the bottom because honestly – this post is beyond ridiculous in terms of it’s length and for those that are interested in more about the trip I’ll put all that info down there. To help guide you along or if you just want to jump to a certain part of the trip then I’ve included a few handy links below as well as a little interactive map showing a rough path of our journey.
See ya at the bottom – whenever that may be!
Chicago – Beginning of The Route – Springfield – St Louis – Kansas City – Joplin – Tulsa – Oklahoma – Amarillo – Tucumcari – Santa Rosa – Albuquerque – Holbrook – Winslow – Twin Arrows – Sedona – Grand Canyon at Page – Horseshoe Bend – Flagstaff to Las Vegas – Las Vegas – Los Angeles Santa Monica – New York.
I’ll just give you the main synopsis of what we did and got up to and for anyone who might be interested in driving the Mother Road at some point in the future.
We started our trip in Chicago. Spent three wonderful days there and then picked up our car at Alamo and pretty much started our trip with the plan to hit the following places. St Louis, Springfield, Kansas City, Joplin, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Sedona, Page, Las Vegas, Los Angeles before finally boarding a plane for New York where I was due to shoot a wedding. For die hard Route 66 fans I know that Kansas City, Sedona, Page and Vegas are not on the route but we had things to do there and made the detour when necessary and every single time it was more than worth it.
When planning our trip we used the following apps. Roadtrippers.com, Foursquare, Hotel Tonight, Booking.com. To start with Roadtrippers was amazing – it briefed us all on the must see things along the road and we worked those into our trip when we could. For eating and drinking etc we used Foursqaure and every single time it worked a treat for us and made sure that we were always eating well (how we didn’t come back weighing twice our body weight is still beyond me). Hotel Tonight and Booking.com were a must once it came to going on the road as we pretty much booked as we went along and can happily say we didn’t stay in any dives to speak off. We’d be lying if we said that thoughts of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre didn’t enter our minds (how naive are we?!) before the trip but glad to say that neither of us were murdered or even had an attempt on it. Yay! Chainsaw free!
Okay – so. Enough waffle. Here are the things that I’ll never forget.
How clean and wonderful Chicago is. The view from the John Hancock building. The changeability in Chicago’s weather from minute to minute! Setting off on Route 66 and thinking with slight panic – “this is it! We’re doing this!”. The flatness of Illinois – you can see in every direction for as far as the eye can see and this continues for miles! The straightness of the roads. Motorbike riders don’t wear helmets! Except in LA!? The weird stuff. A massive bottle of Catsup (ketchup) that stands 70feet tall… A shop that sells rocks… A big blue whale… Everyone drives fast. How friendly people are. Making two wonderful new friends in Teddy and Svetla. The size of the breakfasts. The size of the breakfasts (worth mentioning twice). 4G – Everywhere. The sheer vastness of the grand canyon. The sheer beauty and splendour of Sedona. The light. The amazing mist that wraps itself around the skyscrapers in Chicago. How patient the drivers are – I never got honked once, not even when I couldn’t figure out who on earth goes first at the 4 way stop. The enormity of the gateway arch in St Louis! It’s insane! The lift inside the gateway arch – madness! How good the restaurants are. The 72oz steak in the Big Texan. The flavour of Ted Drews frozen custard. The generosity of the Parsons for letting us into their home like old friends, treating us to a picnic in the park with their kids and then sitting up for most of the night on their front porch drinking whiskeys listening to the heavy rain and chatting like there was no tomorrow. The breakfast that next morning. The complete desolation of some of the towns that are long forgotten. How the scenery can change from one mile to the next. Snow on a mountain top when it’s 100 degrees while I’m standing just a few miles away. That cadillac ranch. The wind – everywhere! The shop owners in Tucumcari. Those trains that go on forever, and ever, and e…. Taking photographs in a major hurry because of all the cracked open snake eggs. Things just in the middle of nowhere. Date night in old town Albuquerque. Dorks (us). KC Keefer and his wife. Standing outside Walter Whites home! Buying blue meth (the candy kind). Walking into a cafe and realising it was a shooting location for Breaking Bad! Being scared to my core by a drunk Navaho Indian. The sunsets. Getting out of the car at a rest stop on the way to Sedona, walking over to a viewpoint and having my mind blown. Nothing prepares you. Sedona again – seeing those red rocks for the first time. The church in the hillface. That trip along the Colorado river. Seeing the Horseshoe bend for the first time – there are no words. The wind storm we got caught in up there. Driving alongside tornados on our way to Vegas. Vegas. Yards of margarita. Opening the door to our room and seeing the curtains pull back automatically to reveal the skyline. The fountains. The non-stop heat in Vegas. Santa Monica and it’s amazing sunsets. The traffic in LA – ALL.DAY.LONG. The flight that I thought I’d die in on the way to New York. Pancakes at midnight. The Twin Towers memorial site. The sugar factory. THAT WEDDING! The generosity of Mark and Elaine.
Would I do it all again? YES! Would I do anything differently? Yes! I would take twice the length of time. We did the Chicago to LA part in just over 2 weeks. You need more if you really don’t want to have to drive every day. That can be more of a chore rather than a pleasure after a very short amount of time. Things I would definitely do again if I was to have another crack at it. Stay longer in Chicago – three days isn’t enough. Spend at least two days in most places so that you can relax at night and know you don’t have to get up and drive the next day. Spend at least three of four days in Sedona – the place is magical. Do an even longer river cruise on the Colorado river because the Grand Canyon is just mesmerising and so incredibly peaceful. Drive up the California coast a little bit more – something we couldn’t do as we had to fly out of LA on a certain day to get to New York.
If you’re planning the route or even thinking of doing it and have any questions then just ask – I’ll happily answer or at least do my best to.
Sorry that was so stupidly long. You can get back to your life now.