Route 66 :: June '97 -- October '97

Subject: I need a vacation.
Date: Sun, 05 Oct 1997 09:03:39 -0700

08:03 Malibu Beach RV Park; Malibu, California :: 05 OCT 97

It is five weeks and two days since Grant Park, since John and I threw poses at the camera from beneath a banner marking Chicago's beginning of Route 66. Today we'll finish the final miles of the trip, taking the truck back into LA where we left off last night. Five weeks and two days. I'd figured on six and left room for a few additional days. The miles from Seligman to LA went quickly. The long, nearly uninterrupted stretch of 66 between Seligman and Newberry Springs urges not haste but steadiness. The desert reels by offering few reasons to stop and, for those who have not stocked the fridge or taken on water, no places to pull up for the night.

There is an RV park in Chambliss, half-way on the ox-bow of 66 between Essex and Ludlow but the proprietor died and the widow is not operating the site. We pushed on to Newberry Springs. From Seligman to Kingman there is almost nothing, and Steinbeck promised "a pretty little town" to start California. Kingman is important, busy, big but hardly pretty so we pushed on to Needles.

We could have lingered in a few places I suppose. Another day in Winslow or Williams perhaps, another afternoon chatting up the sweet, travel-minded bar maid in Victorville, trading stories of exotic places and dream journeys over a Guiness after catching a matinee at the cinema across the street. These could have filled out the six weeks. But a rhythm was established, a pattern of seeing, and the pattern made us fleet in the desert states.

Too, destination magnetism draws the traveler to a quickening pace. Steinbeck writes of this in Travels With Charlie In Search of America, the tendency to end a journey before reaching the destination. A journey ends when the traveler sets their mind for home, or in our case the interim finale of Santa Monica Pier. After two thousand miles of Mother Road we were not so eager to photograph another abandoned gas station or diner, stop for the magnificent neon sign, double-back back-tracking for every foot of old skeleton pavement on every alignment-on every incarnation-of Route 66.

Jaded? Perhaps. Tired? Of course. John is drawn home to England, eager for family, friends-the familiar-and to find work to pay off the debts mounted during this journey, and begin saving for the next. I am eager for a long stop, R+R, rest and reflection. Another day in Newberry Springs would not alleviate this need. Long journeys are not so different from a steady job, the routines and stress of travel not so different from those of a 9to5 existence, and we have been working 7 day weeks since Chicago with only a couple half-days off. After a stretch this long, a vacation is called for.

~~~ Responses Sought ~~~

"I want to marry a girl," I told them, "so I can rest my soul with her till we both get old. This can't go on all the time-all this franticness and jumping around. We've got to go some place, find something."

  graphical element Jack Kerouac
On the Road
When Lucille saw me with Dean and Marylou her face darkened-she sensed the madness they put in me.
"I don't like you when you're with them."
"Ah, it's all right, it's just kicks. We only live once. We're having a good time."
"No, it's sad and I don't like it."
  graphical element Jack Kerouac
On the Road