Route 66 #1

Route 66 #1
Route 66 Museum

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Chicago Cubs & Route 66: America's Team and Americas Road

Admittedly neither the Cubs Wrigley Field, the White Sox US Cellular Field or the Bears Soldier Field are on Route 66, although the latter is pretty darn close. Chicago is and has been for a long time known as a big sports town, and that is an absolute truth. Not only are Chicagoan's sports lovers, but they are known for their team loyalty, and downright bleed their teams colors.

No case is this more true then with the Chicago Cubs, who on the night of Wednesday November 2, 2016 clinched their first World Series win in 108 years. This 108 year ultimate title drought, is the longest any major sports team (and I mean in any sport) has gone between major victories, and in essence has become part of the enduring nature of who the Chicago Cubs are, and what it means to be a true fan, and bleed "Cubby Blue". To actually win the World Series, and break that 108 year stalemate is simultaneously a victory of the soul and heart of the average Chicago sports fan, and cause to pause and reflect on finding new definition for ourselves in the world of major sports.

You see coming up against the Cleveland Indians in this World Series, I myself was given food for thought on what a Cubs victory would mean, as well as what I had as a Chicago sports fan. You see until June of 2016 with the Cleveland Cavilers NBA Championship, Cleveland hadn't won any major sports victories since the Browns won the Super Bowl in 1964. This fact made me take stock of my Chicago sports fandom, as I began to realize that in the past 30 years we here in Chicago haven't actually had it that bad. My way of looking at it is that the Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series win is a culmination of a 30 year cycle in Chicago sports championships, one that started with the Bears winning the Super Bowl in early 1986. In this 30 year period every one of our major sports teams has claimed at least one major championship. Five years after the Bear's Super Bowl victory the Chicago Bulls would claim the first of three NBA championships between 1991 and 1993, and would repeat their "three-peat" title runs again between 1996 and 1998, making the Chicago Bulls one of the greatest teams in NBA history. Seven years later in 2005 the Chicago White Sox, who nearly rivaled the Cubs in time since World Series wins, would claim their first World Series win since 1917. Only five years after that the Chicago Blackhawks would start their near dynastic playoff runs claiming the NHL's famed Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013, and 2015 with things looking good for 2017 as well. You see even though it's been 108 since the Cubs last World Series victory we definitely have not had a 52 year dry spell between major sports wins here in Chicago.

If your not a Chicagoan then your next question probably is; how do the Chicago Cubs play into the psyche of the average Chicago sports fan and their outlook on major sports? To be honest I have no idea why the Cubs represent the heart and soul of the average Chicago sports fan. The Cubs are, and always have been a very special baseball team, perhaps because there is something lovable and identifiable about being the under-dog. I think that's really the true spirit of it all, and in a way why the team itself is identifiable to many outside of Chicago earning the name "Americas Team".

As Spring training has kicked off this year many of us are keeping our fingers crossed that the Cub's repeat their World Series run, and perhaps change that 108 year drought into small dynasty building on last years win. As to whether or not my, or the hearts of many other Chicagoans can take it again, I don't know, but what I do know is I will be wishing them luck in 2017.

If your heading to Chicago for a Route 66 trip keep in mind that Cub's tickets are at a premium now, and you want to buy them as soon as possible to get decent seating. Please also keep in mind seats are going for a lot more than they use to as well, and even a few years ago seats weren't cheap to begin with. Last but not least Wrigley Field is actually pretty far North about 7 miles, of where Route 66 begins in Chicago's downtown however, if your staying downtown there are many public and even private transportation options for getting to Wrigley Field, and trust me ditching the car to travel down there is actually a pretty good idea since parking is at a premium.           

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Howard Johnsons Route 66 Connections

I’ve more or less been catching rumblings about Howard Johnsons restaurants for the past week, but it wasn’t until this weekend I finally had a chance to sit down and read what's been going on. As it turns out Howard Johnsons after all these years are down to one final restaurant in Lake George, NY. Although the motel chain has survived thanks to a buyout by Wyndham Hotels in 2006, the restaurants that were formerly part of the Howard Johnson experience weren’t as lucky and have eked out their survival although unsuccessfully ever since.

In many ways Howard Johnson’s was a mid-20th century equivalent to what Harvey Houses where in the late-19th to the early mid-20th centuries. Essentially a chain of restaurants and hotels aimed at serving travelers. Although one could partake in either a stay or a dining experience, many road weary travelers often chose to do both grabbing dinner and/or breakfast along with a stay. Of course Howard Johnson’s wasn’t the only chain doing this at the time, Best Western, Holiday Inn and even Route 66’s own Whiting Brothers offered such full services to travelers, nor was this anything new since cabin court hotels offered such services as far back as the 20’s. What really separated Howard Johnsons from the crowd though was that it was considered the gold standard for eating and lodging by the 1960’s and 70’s. The bright orange roofs of the motel/restaurant combo was a market branding ploy that hit home with families as meaning a quality place to stay and eat, and escape the ever more prevalent fast food establishments getting a foothold on the nation.

For many, Howard Johnson’s has been is often viewed as an East Coast franchise, but they did have a myriad of establishments across country including a number of them on Route 66, averaging at least one per state (minus Kansas) along the route. Many of them like the Flagstaff Route 66 location are still in business but now under different names, for instance this Flagstaff location is called the Crown Railroad Cafe, and is a family favorite of ours. Of course it’s good to know some of these restaurants are still around and in business, but the sad part is that the association with their heritage, orange roofs and all, is long gone and that the Howard Johnson brand name is no longer associated with family dining along the road.

The big question is what is the future of the last remaining Howard Johnson’s in Lake George, NY and with it the Howard Johnson’s name associated with restaurant hospitality services. Will it close as originally intended sometime in September of 2016, or will it live on as a reminder of a lost brand name? This means of course that the next question to be asked is, how did Howard Johnsons fail? With many establishments down Route 66 we can often point out the shift in traffic from Route 66 to the interstates, bypassing small towns and their dining and lodging establishments. Howard Johnson's however hit its stride in the era of the interstate, during the 60’s and 70’s, and didn’t just occupy Route 66 but dominated the East Coast and appeared mostly in larger towns everywhere else. Much as Denny’s and McDonalds are today so to was Howard Johnsons in its heyday set up strategically near interstate exits. So just what happened?

The fact of the matter was that Howard Johnsons was victim of its own success, as it set a gold standard many were quick to follow. Best Western Motels for instance has many such motel/restaurant combinations such as Gila Bend, Arizona’s Space Age Cafe and Motel and Mount Carmel, Utah’s Thunderbird Restaurant and Lodge.  As far as stand alone restaurants of similar faire, IHOP took a note out of Howard Johnsons book and used blue roofs on their restaurants to catch the eye of passing travelers, and Denny’s has had that famous yellow sign. On top of that the continued growth and variety of fast food restaurants in the 1980’s also dug into Howard Johnsons market of passing travelers. By the late 80’s though, with the Howard Johnson restaurants now divested from the Howard Johnson brand it became clear the restaurants as a chain were failing and franchise owners set adrift to sink or swim. Many choosing to save their businesses eventually cut ties with the Howard Johnson brand and set out to attach themselves to new franchises such as Denny’s or IHOP, or set out on their own independently like the aforementioned Crown Railroad Cafe in Flagstaff. As owners jumped ship, or just lost their restaurants entirely the number of Howard Johnson restaurants dwindled till we are where we currently stand with one last restaurant.

Unlike Whiting Brothers or the abandoned traveler town of Conway, TX which were victims of changing times and of the interstate, Howard Johnson restaurants were just a victim of a mismanagement of a brand name, and of the franchise in general. With that said it’s still sad to see the brand name pass, especially if you remember having eaten at Howard Johnsons while traveling as a kid. Not all is lost though since the motel chain, at least for now, lives on under Wyndham Hotels careful management.

By the way, if I peeked you interest with Howard Johnson's and their history be sure to check out its a great website full of memorabilia and historical info about HoJo's in their heyday.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Healing on Route 66

It had been a very long September, and we finally found ourselves heading east and back to Chicago in early October. The one week trip to California for my wifes mothers funeral had turned into three, and left us drained both physically and mentally. So with no rush to return home and needing time to switch gears in between, we decided to try to follow Route 66 home where we could.

The second day out we left Needles, CA and made our way into Arizona. We slowly lost the morning clouds and fall haze, as the sky opened up and gave us beautiful light blue skies with little puffy white clouds. In a way such skies seem to be natures definition of the happiness one gets when hitting the open road. Even though our hearts where still pretty heavy from what we had gone through in California, and what we were heading back to in Illinois, we felt as if we had some time to smile, laugh, and just enjoy being on the journey itself and being together as a family.

When we got close to Winslow, AZ it was clear that we needed to stop somewhere for lunch and it was at that point I made the suggestion we stop off at the La Posada Hotel's, Turquoise Room. Even though we had stayed at the La Posada before, we had yet to eat at the Turquoise Room and not having done so had always haunted my wife and I. We pulled off I-40 and stopped to fill our tank up at a local gas station, and as I climbed out of the car my legs felt as they usually do after hours behind the wheel, stiff, shaky and needing a good stretch, and that meant it was definitely a good time for lunch. So with my duty to my Jeep fulfilled it was time for my family and I to do our duty to ourselves and get a bite to eat, so off to the La Posada and the Turquoise Room we went. At that point it had been over five years since we had been to the La Posada last, and we were stunned by the changes we saw. True to their word the hotels owners had restored Mary Jane Colters crown jewel to its Harvey House days glory, and even improved upon it. The dirt parking lot was now paved in the section closest to eastbound Route 66, while the section closest to the hotel itself was now the home to one of the most beautiful examples of a Southwestern garden we had ever seen.

In many ways the restorations and improvements seemed to fulfill Colters original vision of the hotel, and the fictionalized history she assigned to it, to assist her in its architecture and design. In Arnold Berke's Mary Colter: Architect of the Southwest the author gets in depth with Colters original concept of the hotel, and its fictional mythos. For her backstory for the La Posada, Colter envisioned the hotel as a sprawling hacienda estate started by 17th century Spanish settlers, who in future generations would rise to prominence by raising cattle on the Northern Arizona plains. Each generation and century would add to the grand hacienda, turning it from a simple ranch home into and impressive mansion estate fit for the families lavish lifestyle, and many visitors. This fictional backstory gave Colter the guidance she needed in planning everything from the general layout of the hotel, to the fine details within it's decor, furnishings, landscaping, and even down to the Turquoise Rooms china patterns.

As we got into the Turquoise Room, it all came back to us from our prior visit how grand this grand dinning room really was. The Spanish Revival decor, rich with its Talavera, tapestries, bright colors, and red Spanish tile truly evoked the Southwestern spirit of design, that gives one a sense of grandeur, and openness. In many ways it also evoked feelings of warmth and welcoming, that made it clear the Turquoise Room would be more like an experience than just a meal. Despite hosting a larger event the staff still welcomed us in, sitting us in back near a window overlooking the active BNSF tracks, and panoramic plains beyond. Sitting there at that particular moment and time we got the feeling of being where we were suppose to be, and a sense of being home while away came over us.

It wasn't to much longer before we had food in front of us, starting with the Turquoise Rooms unforgettable corn bread. My wife dug into the scrumptious agave, honey, and butter topped corn bread and began to tear up a little. Not only was it a wonderful tasty delight, but it had reminded her of something her mother would have loved, and something of she had shared with her once before. As lunch carried on my wife's sadness began to fade and a smile came over her face, as she realized the meal reminded her of so many good times the two of them had together. In a way it was far more than just corn bread, ice tea, braised beef, and a Ceasar salad, but a healing experience. The warm sunshine, good food, the Turquoise Room, and the La Posada itself helped to remind my wife that even in mourning, the right circumstances, and environments could heal.

With our bellies full, we bid the Turquoise Room farewell and walked around the La Posada for a bit. The mixture of southwestern decor and creative fine art details helped to temporarily remove us from everything, and we lost ourselves for a bit. Mentally we all became a little more relaxed, and accepting of our situation, yet also optimistic. Now, I'm not going to claim the La Posada is a place for healing or closure, but for us on that trip two days out from a dark event in our lives the La Posada, and Turquoise Room helped bring us closer to healing.

As we set out on the road again we continued to travel Router 66 where we could. As we visited some of our old haunts along the way we continued to come together as a family remembering better times when we traveled the route together, and healing through that. The day after the La Posada and Turquoise Room, we would reach Amarillo, TX  by mid to late-afternoon. For my wife, one site she always loved along Route 66 was Cadillac Ranch, a place she had photographed extensively on our first trip and a place she could recollect her mother always wanted to visit upon seeing those photos. Wishing to leave her mark in memory of her mother my wife decided that she too would like to add some graffiti of her own to the site.  So we dropped into a Home Depot a few miles up the road to buy bright red spray paint, something the staff there seemed accustomed to seeing by the smile on their faces when we told them. We must have spent a good hour and a half walking around the six derelict and half buried road yachts as my wife photographed them again, and left graffiti in memorial to her mother on a few of them. Again the healing process kicked in and although my wife did cry a little while there and after, the ability to bring some part of her mother to Cadillac Ranch did seem to help.

The day after that we would see the Blue Whale of Catoosa, a place my son had always loved along the route. After fighting traffic through Oklahoma City, and Tulsa we hit the giant blue whale and former waterpark around late morning/earlier afternoon, or to put it another way in time for an impromptu picnic which had to take place in the car do to early fall winds. For some strange reason every time we visit the iconic Route 66 landmark we tend to be there by ourselves, or maybe briefly with one other group of people. After geocaching the site, we took our pictures of ourselves in the whale recreating our stances and poses from previous visits and than took a few moments to sit and talk at the whale themed tables placed around the site. It's a quiet spot actually despite the noise from the road, a former stretch of Route 66 and now busy county road, nearby. The sun, fresh air and sound of wind blowing through the trees was a much needed respite and gave us the energy to push forward on our attempt to make it home that day, but also made us smile and laugh a bit as we revisited old memories from previous visits there. Again a healing moment bought on by the uniqueness of a site on Route 66.

The reminder of our trip would be uneventful at best, and hours after leaving the Blue Whale of Catoosa we would make it home in the early AM hours. Being home again would be surreal for the first few days, especially as we made very little contact with anybody, and mainly rested up from the long trip, and before catching up with the real world. As the next few months would roll out things would be hard for us in many different ways, but the healing and memories we had on our trip back would often carry us through.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Are We There Yet? Part 3 -Route 66 Bound

So by now you should have narrowed down your trip to more realistically fit your time and budget, if not let me know maybe I can help. For now though let’s assume you know where you want to go, what you want to see, and how much you have to spend. Now, its time to start those final steps towards getting on the road.

Step 10 – Finalize Reservations

Now that you know where you want to go and what you want to do its time to finalize your plans. Get your reservations at Hotels, Motels and restaurants in now, but make sure you carry a list of all the names and numbers with you, and put a list together of contingency destinations as well. You may find yourself needing all this data if you find yourself running behind or even way ahead on the road.

Step 11-  Plan what to bring

This is an important step to do as soon as possible, since you want to give yourself time to get what need before packing begins. The first step is to go family member by family member and make sure they have what the need for themselves, you may want to start a checklist. Make sure everyone has the clothes they need, swim trunks, a light jacket, good walking shoes etc. Ideally you want to make sure that everyone has enough clothes for a week as well since you can at least go that long between washes. You also want to check on hygiene items as well, buying special travel tooth brushes, combs and brushes, deodorant and whatnot will make sure that everyone has the basics, and nothing will get forgotten at home the morning of.

After personal items plan for what you need to support your trip and vehicle. A family medicine cabinet, a car sick kit (see my blog on these items), laundry items like an mesh (dirty clothes) bag and detergent, a bag with maps and books, the GPS, laptop, and a car emergency kit with fix a flat and fold away shovel, are probably all items you want to have.

Lastly don’t forget items for the little ones, you want to bring as few toys as possible so they are more easy to track and put away.

By planning early you have enough time to get the family to the mall for new clothes, buy stuff online as you need it, and pick up whatever else you need. This also gives you time to plan how and where to pack stuff, and look for alternate items to pack stuff in or bring with if you don’t have space as it is.

Step 12 – Time for Car

Unless you’re traveling in a rental car or brand new car, you may want to bring your auto in for a checkup. You just want to see if there is anything wrong with it you may be unaware of that could leave you stranded. Just be careful not to get sold anything you don’t need.

After the checkup you may want to get your car clean. On a long road trip every bit of space may count, so cleaning out useless items in the glove compartment, and the blankets piled up in the trunk may yield space you need. Plus its nice traveling in a clean car.

Step 13 – Talking About Check Ups

About a week before leaving you may want to get yourselves to the doctor. It’s a good chance to find out if you’re coming down with anything, and get prescriptions you may need filled one more time before leaving.  This is also a good time to get prescription motion sickness meds for any of your family members who may require them.

Step 14 – Don’t forget home

One worry to me when I leave on a long trip is my house. Plan far enough advance as to what precautions you want to take to protect your house. Now is the time to get timers, and other home security devices to make it seem like you’re at home. It’s also a good time to inform you’re local police department that you will be away. Also you may want to ask someone you really trust to drop in from time to time and make sure everything is ok. Lastly, don’t forget your mail and newspapers you may get, make sure you put holds on both so neither is piling up indication that you’re not home.

Step 15 – Pets

Cats can be pretty self-sufficient with multiday food and water feeder, and clean litter box left behind but will still need someone to stop in and check on them occasionally. As for Dogs, well they are different all together, in my post “Appy to See You” I cover and app called Travel with Pets that will help you find pet friendly motels along your way, but not all Route 66 staple Motels are going to be ok, with doggy. You want to get this situation figure out as soon as your can and decide quickly whether to take doggy with or board the dog for however long your gone. Boarding locations can fill up quickly in the summer as other folks board their dogs too, so getting arrangements made early will be a huge help. Also keep in mind that boarders want you to have all your dog’s shots up to date so the earlier you work on this the quicker you can get those done too.

As for other pets you are going to have to make arrangement for others to watch them, the earlier you can get to that the better.

With all these steps done know we get down to those final, of the final steps.

Step 16 – Pack and repack.

A day or two before you leave you want to prepack. This is going to give you a chance to make sure that everyone has everything they need, and that your bags can hold it all. This is that one last chance to get new luggage, clothing or toiletries so that you are completely prepared before hitting the road.

You also want to prepack the car as well, having suit cases and bags to fit everything is great but if they don’t fit you may have an issues, and you don’t want to be finding that out the morning of. Make sure everything fits and move things around like a puzzle before deciding to dump items. You want to make sure that items fit with some logic to their placement and where items like the car sick kit, snacks, and map bag are easy to grab in a hurry. This is a big step that really lets you know you are on your way.

As a suggestion try to do your prepacking, and actual packing out of sight if you can, perhaps in your garage, this way you aren’t advertising you won’t be home.

Step 17 – The Day Before

Between packing, washing the last laundry, putting timers in, taking care of pets and all those last minute store visits the last day before leaving can get really stressful. You may not be an advocate of it but my wife and I have always chosen to go out to eat, gotten carryout, or have food delivered for all meals the day before. This helps reduce the stress of making meals, keeps everyone fed, and keeps a pile of dishes from being made.

Also, keep stress levels as low as you can. I have found that all the running around can produce a long day and short tempers. Try to make sure that everyone has a job to do, this may not include younger children of course but the older kids can help out immensely. Not only can they get themselves packed but they can help the younger kids too, and then help you with additional jobs.

Overall, try to start on all your tasks as early in the day as possible, so you have some time in the evening to bring things down and get everyone rested and slept for the days to follow.

Step 18 – You’re on Your Way!!!

Have fun, good luck, and have a safe journey!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Are We There Yet? Part 2 - Reality Check

In part 1 I presented you with steps 1 through 4 and gave you the resources you needed to begin dreaming out your Route 66 trip. This time around I going to give you the steps you need to begin focusing and bringing your trip into reality. This is where you do your reality checks that will allow you begin combing your dream trip with what you can actually do.  

Step 5 - Get to Know Your Car

Take as long as you can to get to know as much about the vehicle you will be traveling in. If its an everyday vehicle pay close attention to your gas mileage, and look for any potential mechanical issues. If its a vehicle your renting for the trip, or a new car or car that's new to you look online to find the average MPG for these vehicles, and at the kind of common maintenance issues that occur. Knowing your gas mileage will be key when it comes to planning the trip out and managing costs. Also doing as much preventative maintenance as you can at home will save you a lot of headaches on the road.

Step 6 – Computer Time – Cost Planning
Step 6 and 7 are going to require you to spend some time on a computer. For step 6 which we are on now you will need to find time to begin creating an MS Excel sheet to drop your dream trip into, if you don’t have Excel, try to use another spreadsheet program. If you find Excel intimidating, then use Word or another such program, but make sure you have a calculator handy. If you would like something to use as a template for Excel let me know, I might be able to help you.  It may also help to put everything into Word first and drop it over to Excel from there.
The goal here is to begin quantifying your dream trip, and then breaking it apart to fit the reality of your vacation time, and money.
 Hint: so you don’t totally rip apart your dream trip make multiple revisions within the same spreadsheetbut on different tabs. To do this right click on the tab, go to Move and Copy->scroll to (Move to End), and check the Create Copy box. This will take your original sheet and make a copy of it in the last tab of your workbook, here you can add and subtract items without destroying your original trip ideas, or creating 100’s of different spread sheets.

Step 7 – Research Time
Although Google maps and Mapquest aren’t going to put you onto 66 they will put you on to the interstates close by 66. Use these mapping programs to give you a rough estimate of mileage between your stops or for the day. I would place this data into the spread sheet you created in Step 6, and then using your gas mileage from Step 5 determine how many gallons of gas a day you will go to cover  that distance(Miles/Gas Milage) . I would suggest then multiplying those gallons by your current gas price +$0.50, to determine how much you will be spending on gas alone. The extra $0.50 added in helps cover unexpected gas price hicks well on the road, and also builds in a little cash for any oil changes, wiper blade replacements, or other odd items you may need for your car on the road. 
Tip: When planning how many miles to travel every day, figure that you will be traveling at about 40 MPH. This helps cover stops for site seeing, as well as the town to town stop lights and traffic you will encounter on 66. Also when traveling with children try not to exceed 10 hours a day on the road, keep it to 8 if you can.
Next, look into all the sites you want to see and places you want to stay. This is really fun, but it can also be a real eye opener as you find out how much it cost to see this, or stay there. Most of these places have websites, and also reviews scattered about online.
 Also don’t forget to look into restaurants you want to eat at as well, so you can get an idea as to how much it may cost you and your family to eat at someplace like The Big Texan, or The Turquois Room.
Now, its time to drop all these numbers into your dream trip spread sheet.
Step 8 – Whats for dinner, and What did you bring me on your trip?
Food and souvenirs can go overlooked. So make sure you plan for both since they are uber important.
Eating out a family of four can cost on average about $30 for breakfast (with tip), $40 for lunch (with tip), and maybe as much as $50 for dinner. Taking advantage of those continental breakfasts at hotels, can save you $30 a day at least, and eating a late big lunch can save you a little on dinner since you won’t feel as hungry.
Tip: Many restaurants offer lower lunch time pricing for their dinner items. On the road this works out well since travel will leave you hungry at lunch time, and tired and not so hungry in the evening especially if you have been site seeing and traveling in the heat all day.

As many unique and wonderful little places there are to eat along the route, you might also find it beneficial to pack a lunch too, so you can enjoy a few unique places a little longer. The Blue Whale of Catoosa for instance has a small picnic area on site, which may make for pleasant stop. Don’t  worry grocery’s store are abundant along the way in the form of everything from general stores, to small town supermarkets, to big chain supermarkets like my favorite Safeway just a little up the street from the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ. So finding packed lunch tidbits, drinks, and healthy snacks is a fairly easy task.
As far as souvenirs this is one of those little extra costs that can knock you for a loop, and upset your budget quick. I’d love to give you an estimate as to how much is a good rate per day, but I can’t. All I can tell you is when picking up souvenir’s kids can often be distracted by the silliest things, and a dollar store plastic dinosaur, can become a $10 mistake at some gift shop. When traveling with my kids I have always tried to guide them towards objects that both have some indication of the sites name on them, and are objects that they can display for years. Besides the kids, we as adults sometimes make impulse buys too, or just buy the wrong thing all together. Before you leave on your trip you and your family members should decide on what kind of items you as a family and/or individuals would like to collect along the way, smooshedpenny’s, shot glasses, T-shirts, Coffee mugs….and so on. This will help everyone stick to one thing along the way, and keep your car from pilling up with objects that will be forgotten after the trip is over.
For souvenirs a budget of $500 is a safe amount, barring no amusement parks in in the plans. Also to keep the kids happy and not looking and begging for useless souvenir’s,it helps to stop every so often at a Toy’s R Us, or somewhere else toys are sold and buy your kids a few small toys along the way This can keep the urge to buy junk at gift shops at bay, and treat your kids for good behavior when traveling, especially if it’s a surprise. 
Step 9 – Pulling it Together
You should have the basics of your budget together, Gas mileage, hotel costs, entry fees, food costs, and souvenirs, and don’t’ forget the throw a little in for the unknown too.  Now, it’s time to start entering it into your Excel sheet (or whatever format you’re comfortable with).
……..Let me guess using your dream trip it’s pretty high?
That happened to me too I think I got a cost of about $11,000+ for my dream trip down Route 66.
This is the time when you move and copy (instructions above)  the dream trip tab and start cutting stuff out. At first you’re going to know what items are pure daydream and those are easy to cut out, but it gets a little harder after that. This is going to require some soul searching and discussion with your family.
This is where I’m going to leave you for this part, since what’s left is up to you. In the next part we’ll cover those final steps you need to take before hitting the road. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Saying Goodbye to the Creator of a Route 66 Landmark

The Cadillac Ranch isn't an original Route 66 landmark, but it is one today. It's one of the must see's on the way through Amarillo, and on the trip itself. 

If you have been a long time follower of this blog then you may remember I covered the Cadillac Ranch as part of one of my Kids Picks series ( some months back.

Today though June, 18th 2014 news came in that the Cadillac Ranch's creator Stanley Marsh 3, passed on. Marsh, was always known as a bit of a prankster, which is why his bazaar car sculpture was no surprise to residents of Amarillo, TX. But, Marsh whose money to finance such projects came from his families oil fortune, was always a somewhat controversial figure.

Below, is a quick obituary and article about Marsh's passing.  

Say what you want about Marsh himself, but the Cadillac Ranch to me is one of the truly defining landmarks on Route 66 today. Although the landmark was created to be pure kitsch, and a nod to both I-40, and Route 66, the sculpture does have a poignant nature to it. The now rusted and half buried Cadillacs where once beautiful and shining examples of the American Dream, material symbols for wealth and success, and the "I Have Arrived" mentality. It's an ideal that seems to match Route 66, and even the United States in the era those vehicles where created in. 

Today those Cadillacs, even back to when they where first buried, are like Route 66. Time has taken away the shiny paint, and chrome, and left a half buried rusted hulk. But, that hulk also like Route 66 survives and defies the elements literal and figurative that have taken its glitz and glamour and left it half buried. In a way it's what we as Americans are about we weather the storm(s) and defy what is thrown at us, and the graffiti painted on us will come and go, but we will remain. 

If you can't tell I have a soft spot in my heart for the Cadillac Ranch. It was a spot where my family and I where able to do some healing, after the loss of someone close to us a few years back. We partially took 66 on the way back home from California, and with a couple of cans of spray paint from a Home Depot down the road, we created an artistic memorial to the person we lost. It was even more fitting that this person always wanted to travel Route 66 but never got the chance. 

Love or hate Stanley Marsh 3, but what he gave the world in the way of the Cadillac Ranch won't be forgotten. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Where the Record Meets the Road

When I got my new record player for Christmas last year and saw that it could play 78's I knew that it would open up a whole new world for me. In many ways 78's are almost indicative of the big band era. At that time 45's were something that belonged in a jukebox and 33's although in existence by the 1940's were as common as DVDs were in 1995. So on the home scene 78's were pretty much the format of choice, and that dated back to the time when 78's replaced the first wax cylinders of recorded music.

Initially for me 78's weren't that easy to find. For the most part they where and somewhat still are pretty rare birds to find in thrift stores and resell shops. As for my local brick-and-mortar record store he has 78's but they are located in bins on the floor that are almost impossible to navigate due to the fact that there are so many 78's stuffed into them.

For me the pain resulting from the inability to find 78's was only worsened by the memory of having given away all my grandmothers 78's after she had died. Many of these 78's were from the big band era and had some pretty great songs on them. But as the saying goes "if hindsight or 20/20". 

So as usual I found myself heading to eBay to find records that I really wanted. But the question became what song and/or what artist did I want to have in my collection first?

Being both a vinyl record enthusiasts and a Route 66 enthusiasts, as you know from reading my blogs, the answer came to me pretty quickly. The song I had to have on 78' was Route 66 by The Nat King Cole Trio.

The song or this particular version of it is the one that inspired me the most to someday travel the route. This version by The Nat King Cole Trio, was made following the war and filled with the optimism the US had in the late 1940's. It was a song about traveling and discovering the United States as a whole. This version was made in an era when Route 66 was in its heyday and when the United States seemed to look towards the west specifically California and the Los Angeles area as the places to be and where hope could be found for the future. The Nat King Cole Trio delivers the song with such an incredibly upbeat feel good tempo that there's no way you can't possibly enjoy this particular version. There is also no way that you can deny the urge to travel Route 66 after you hear this version of the song.

You see this version was actually the first big time the song Route 66 was performed. The song itself was only a few months old by the time it was handed over to The Nat King Cole Trio. It's writer Bobby Troup although known for sometimes performing his own works decided that he would give this song to The Nat King Cole Trio, who had achieved a great deal of success with their unique sound towards the end of World War II and immediately following the war. If you want to know more history about Bobby Troup and how the song was originally written please see my article ( To say the least Troup's choice to allow someone else to record it led to the song becoming a huge success. 

Although the Nat King Cole Trio would popularize the song and bring it to the top of the charts they would not be the last artist to do so. The Rolling Stones, and even more recently John Mayer would be just a few of the many artists to remake the song and keep it fresh with American and even international audiences.

As for the actual record itself that I received it took me some time to get used to the way a 78 sounds. The song does sound quite good but I do believe that the needle arm and needle itself on my record player may perhaps be too light for the 78. Both the 45's and 33's have sounded phenomenal on this little record player but the 78 for some reason sounds a bit off and/or even a bit distant. Having studied 78's and having seen them being played in many a black-and-white movie I do believe that there might be something to the fact that this needle is just a little too light for 78's. 

Overall though I am extremely happy to have Route 66 by The Nat King Cole Trio as the first 78 enter my collection. Now if I could only find a second one that I could put under glass and hang on my wall.

If you're reading this on my Route 66 blog be sure to check out my vinyl record blog at

And if you're reading this on my vinyl record blog be sure to check out my Route 66 blog at

Thank you again for reading!