Driving all 3,945 kilometres of the famous Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica has always been on my bucket list.
However, I’m hoping that after enduring a week on that often rocky and rough road that it will not be the last of my ever expanding must-do-before-I-die list!
On Saturday, November 1, I head to Chicago for a route briefing and meeting with Gary Fleshman, who has driven the route more than 100 times. I am one of 14 journalists from across Canada participating in the drive staged by Nissan Canada to launch the 2015 versions of the Altima sedan and Rogue sport ute. Interestingly, a few people plan to do only half of the journey . . . seems to me that’s like climbing half way up Everest!
The daily trek will range between 450 and 600 kilometres, getting us to California by the evening of Saturday, November 9. We’ll pass through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Along the way, we will visit many locations and attractions made famous through Hollywood and many a TV documentary, not to mention dozens of life-on-the-road books. Personally, I’m looking forward to spotting the roadside ghost towns that inspired the Cars movies, who said they’re just for kids? And in New Mexico and Arizona my eyes will be scanning for locations featured in the Breaking Bad TV series.
We’re camping under the stars in the Grand Canyon. Sheesh! The last time I was under canvas was about 25 years ago when I accompanied my son Niall to his Beaver camp. An overnight stay at the El Travatore Motel, in Bullhead City, AZ, where we pick a theme room, quickly follows that chill night. Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe? Wonder if this drive was on their bucket list.
The organizers suggested we swap partners part way across before fights break out. My drive buddy for four days will be Toronto Star scribe Mark Richardson. Second prize was eight days with my fellow Brit. Truth is neither of us will spoil another couple, well at least for four days.
I’m currently watching as many episodes of the 1960s’ era Route 66 TV series as I can and digesting every story about music inspired by the highway. Of course, I’m making a compilation tape, I mean picking a playlist for my generic MP3 player.
I will be sharing my adventures with Driveway readers during and after the trip. Blogging begins on drivewaybc.ca this coming weekend and a full report will appear in print and here in late November.
Off to get my kicks on Route 66. Adios… for now.