Historic U.S. Highway Route 66 in San Bernardino, California is having a 20th year anniversary "Rendezvous" celebration this weekend. Good food, contests, and entertainment are on the agenda. The event is limited to 1,900 vehicle entrants of "pre-1974 classics, customs, hot rods and any year Corvette." The participants have an assigned parking space during this 4-day event where aficionados can engage in technical car talk and fans can simply marvel at the colors, sheen and styles. Drivers are also invited to cruise the 35 blocks of downtown where up to an expected 500,000 spectators will be admiring their vehicles.
The promotion for this event caught my attention as I've noted what seems to be an increasing interest and nostalgia for "The Mother Road"(map link) which runs from "Chicago to L.A." as a famed song lyric goes. I travel portions of this road regularly since it runs through my home area of Southern California where a long segment is called Foothill Boulevard.
My husband in his single days back in the '50's drove that route with his bachelor buddies on a whirlwind summer round trip vacation from the Midwest to the West Coast. Their adventure stories were always filled with humor and accounts of the unexpected. They had very little money to start and none by the time they returned home. What's a trip for young single male college students without meeting some like-minded adventurous college girls with whom to play car tag across some of the miles, especially if there's time to work in a side trip to Las Vegas.
He was fascinated by the changing countryside from Ohio's green flat land with rolling hills with which he was familiar, to the long stretches of summer brown landscapes emerging west of the Mississippi. Then on to some western desert area with never-ending vast blue skies. The land of towering date palms began to emerge evolving into miles and miles of citrus tree orchards and finally sandy beaches reaching out into the Pacific Ocean. Long periods of steady trade-off relief driving kept them on the road a lot. Still, he could never quite understand how one buddy could be content to sleep so much between departure points and destinations with so much new and different to be experienced.
Two of these travelers were musicians but all were well-acquainted and appreciative of a tune written in 1947 by Bobby Troup and first recorded that year by Nat King Cole. Here's a later YouTube video performance of Nat and his quartet:
Years later The Manhattan Transfer popular vocal quartet's recording became one of their signature tunes as in this YouTube video:
When we met and wed years later, even before and after we moved West, we took extensive driving trips that included some side jaunts on still existing segments of the original Route 66. Freeways and new highways have long since bypassed some of the old road's communities. Many landmark motels and businesses have long since closed. Some establishments have survived. There is a resurgence of old and new businesses along existing Route 66 with new travelers joining those who come to reminisce. Signs are increasing in number announcing the location's recognition of this significant highway in the historical lore of our country from another time.