Most people over the age of 55 have their bucket list; the things they want to do, the things they want to see before they leave all of this behind and transition on over to the great unknown. One of the biggie’s on mine, perhaps number 1 now that I’ve seen a space shuttle liftoff (see Space Shuttle), is that quintessential road trip, the road trip emulated by all other road trips, the Alpha and Omega of road trips – Route 66. (see Road Trip Bucket List)
Growing up in a home that was so poor poverty would have been a step up, about the only recreation I had was the public library. It was there I could go to find a different world from my reality; a place to learn; a place to dream. I read most anything I could get my hands on. I spent many, many evenings reading the Encyclopedia Britannica page by page. When it listed book titles, I wrote them down until I had a list several pages long, front and back. And then I started reading them. One of the first I read was The Grapes of Wrath, the American classic by John Steinbeck. I was only 13 or 14 and it made a big impression on me. My grandfather, and therefore myself (even though I had never met them) had family in Oklahoma and the book was about people from Oklahoma, so in my young imaginative mind, it was a book about my family. In the book, Route 66 represented hope; the way to a new and better life. And so Route 66 became that for me also.
As time rolled by, driving Route 66 from beginning to end became more and more of a dream for me. It remained just that though as life happened and there were always logical reasons and good excuses for it to remain right where it always had been, a thought in my head that one of these days…
Fast forward going on 50 years after I first read The Grapes of Wrath and “one of these days” will be here next Friday. I suffered a fatal heart attack 1 year, 5 months and 2 days ago (but who’s counting?), and by a miracle of dedicated, very good medical personnel who didn’t give up on me and a few electrical shocks from a defibrillator, I returned to the land of the living. (that story is here Back from the dead & here I’m still here). Since I was given the gift of a 2nd chance at life, I have tried to make the most of it in ways big and small. One of the things I’ve been trying to do is to check off some of my bucket list items. Number 1 on the hit parade is Route 66.
Youngest-daughter is now 13, soon to be 14, is a wonderful young lady with her own personality and a great sense of humor that often cracks me up. She is my baby girl and the center of my life, but just as important, I truly enjoy being with her. She has also developed into a very good photographer with an innate sense of space and composition and an understanding of what makes a good photograph. So who better to share my grand life-long dream with than her? Momma-woman is staying home so it can be just the two of us on this trip. It will be our adventure, our time together, time to smile, time to laugh, time to talk, time to teach each other and time to learn from each other. Time to hopefully make a nice, life-long memory for her to call on when I’m gone. We’re calling it our “Daddy Daughter Mother Road Trip.”
Next Friday is her last day of school for the summer break. With grades being posted online, we already know she has passed (with almost straight A’s, there was never any doubt anyway). Nothing to do that day except tell her friends bye for the summer, turn in books and throw away unwanted papers. I have work meetings that morning, but can be finished with everything by lunch so Thursday night we pack BFT with clothes, some road food, laptops, GPS, Route 66 books & maps, my camera gear, and Youngest-daughter’s brand new, right-out-of-the-box Canon starter DSLR camera that came from Amazon today and Friday, at 12:00 o’clock, high noon, I pick her up at school and we are on our way to Adams Street & Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, the official start of Route 66.
Who knows what will happen between Chicago and the end of the trip at the Santa Monica pier in California? We have an itinerary of things we want to see and a few places where we want to eat and spend the night, but no set schedule. We might be gone 10 days; we might be gone 3 weeks; and there’s always the possibility that Youngest-daughter will be totally bored with the whole thing & we’ll cut it short and be back within just a few days. If that happens, I’ll be calling on my friends and family for a volunteer to be my co-pilot for the rest of the trip as I don’t intend to let anything stop me from checking off this bucket list item!
Whatever happens, we hope you will join us on our journey as we intend to post entries and pictures when we get the chance. It should be interesting!
Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state: