get your kicks from chicago to santa monica

route 66 road signs united statesAs the famous Bobby Troup 1946 song says, “If you ever plan to motor west, travel my way, the highway that’s the best. Get your kicks on Route 66!” And that’s exactly how Intrepid’s Barbara Glanz decided to see a different side of the fascinating United States…

“It’s true that I have seen most national parks in North America, I know many American cities, I’ve explored hidden jewels, such as narrow slot canyons in Utah, and I have manoeuvred my sea kayak between Orca whales up in Alaska. However one big thing was missing: the incredible U.S. Route 66, known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, it’s certainly one of the most famous roads in the world.

Originally a 3940 km (2450 mile) long road trip from windy city Chicago to sunny California, it was on the top of my travel list to travel this highway filled with myths and legends.

My first WOW was when I looked from Willis Tower over the metropolitan area of Chicago. We strolled along Magnificent Mile and took a slice of pizza to Millennium Park on the shores of Michigan Lake, before hanging out in one of Chicago’s many blues clubs. On our way through Illinois and Missouri we were passing green meadows, corn fields and huge farm grounds. The first Route 66 icons came up along the road. Launching Pad was greeting and a few miles west good old boy Gary showed me around his Sinclair gas station and his garage filled with old license plates, oil cans and the incomparable aura of Route 66.

Oklahoma’s dust bowl was quite a challenge to get thru – 44 degrees Celsius! We were happy to end up with a cold beer in a typical cowboy restaurant, right next to Stockyard City, a public livestock market. Needless to say I had to buy Western boots… Off to Texas on the next day.

Everything in the lone star state seems to be XXL, most notably the size of the steaks. Do you know why New Mexico is called ‘Land of Enchantment’? Go to Santa Fe and you’ll be delighted by adobe buildings, blue wooden entrance doors at every house and indian handicraft sold on the old Spanish Plaza.

Grand Canyon is not on the original Route 66, but of course a must-see. Sunset at Yavapai point is unforgettable!

Back to the Route – Seligman is a charming small town in Arizona and the place to meet 66 characters like Lilo, who moved from Germany to the desert 50 years ago, running a restaurant and offering the biggest chocolate cake I have ever seen before. Like a Fata Morgana you’ll then see the neon lights of Las Vegas on the horizon. It is a kind of shock when you get into this bustling world of amusement after nearly 2 weeks in the countryside. There is only one way to survive: dive into it and enjoy the countless options for entertainment, food, shopping and gambling if you dare.

The end of Route 66 has been moved from L.A. to hip Santa Monica. Among the palm trees at the Atlantic Ocean we had to say good bye to a fascinating road trip that showed us the many different faces of Real America and definitely did give us our kicks!”

Tour the United States with Intrepid on trips like these great adventures:
The Great Outdoors – self-drive adventure – 13 days
Los Angeles to Seattle – 15 days

Plus act fast to take advantage of Intrepid’s North America SALE that ends 29 February, 2012!

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* photo by Harvey Sheperdson-Beck – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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