Route 66

Ah, what can I say? Route 66, the most romanticized stretch of pavement the United States has ever known. "Get your kicks on Route 66." This two lane ribbon of blacktop once stretched without interruption from Los Angeles to Chicago, and was called "America's Highway." It has largely been replaced by four and six lane freeway, but sections of the route remain, most of them passable, but some just barely. It just so happens that one of those passable chunks exists in the Mojave, so naturally I had to go take a look. This journal is a composite of three day trips and one three-day vacation: December 5, 2009, May 29, 2010, and October 17 - 19, 2010, and May 31, 2011. Each time I went as far east as I could on a day trip, which happened to be all the way to Amboy, California on December 5th, and Ludlow, California on May 29th. On October 17, 2010, I was finally able to get all the way to Needles, California, which is pretty much where the Mojave portion of Route 66 terminates (though the route continues on in portions all the way to Chicago).

As with many of the sites I visit and chronicle here, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of websites out there where you can get all the informative history ever written about Route 66. Therefore, like some of my other journals, I won't attempt to give you much history about this segment of the route. I'll just give you directions, photographs, and descriptions of the photographs.

If you are coming from the San Joaquin Valley, LA, or San Diego, head for Barstow. At that point, take I-40 eastbound and follow the signs. Just a few miles east of Barstow you'll see an exit sign (I forget which one) with a smaller sign indicating this is where you should get off the freeway and onto Route 66. Unfortunately, you can travel only a mile or two before entering construction on 66 which forces you to jump back onto I-80. This construction was there in January and was there yesterday (June 29, 2010), so I don't anticipate it's going to clear up any time soon. Therefore, I recommend you travel east from Barstow on I-40 eastbound to the Newberry Springs exit. This is as good a place as any to join Route 66, and you've got two thirds of a continent ahead of you if you wish to explore.

(Above) This is one way to know you're on Route 66. You'll see these every couple of miles. Looking east from Newberry Springs.

While I was in high school and before, back in the 70's, when traveling east to Arizona, many sections of the route were still in widespread use because much of I-40 had not yet been completed. I recall many trips to the Arizona canyon country that began on bleary-eyed mornings following this two-lane stretch for what seemed forever across the desert. In 1971, a large stretch of 66 between Kingman and Flagstaff was still in use, and it took us through some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. I believe that section of 66 is still open, but don't quote me, and as this is a journal about the Mojave, I won't be crossing the state line into Arizona here (but you can feel free to).

Okay, let's just go to the next page...