Bill's Old Route 66 Trips

Bill's Old Route 66 Trips

This page contains links to photos and information from Bill's trips on old Route 66.

Trip I (on the motorcycle)


The first feature is Bill's Route 66 motorcycle trip in May, 2003. It includes a few pictures from the solo ride to Chicago, lots of pictures from the group ride from Chicago to LA on old Route 66 with about 25 other people on an AMA tour, and a few pictures from the train ride from San Francisco to Manassas, VA with Andrea. The bulk of these pictures are the Route 66 trip.

It is pretty much a travelogue, and I don't attempt to explain the significance of the road, or why in hell anyone would even want to follow a road end-to-end, much less one that doesn't even exist anymore. If you are totally unfamiliar with what Route 66 is, you may want to check out this Route 66 website first.

The web pages are set up such that you should be able to keep your cursor in one place and just keep clicking. For those of you with WebTV or similar browsers, you should be able to just keep hitting the Enter key, since "Next Page" is the first link on every screen.

I have two options. One is with 1024x768 and 768x1024 shots and the other is with 640x480 and 480x640 shots. If you have the bandwidth (it's a total of 17M) and the monitor, use the bigger ones. Otherwise, I strongly suggest you use the smaller ones.

Note this is 135 pages, so you may want to bookmark part way through and come back later.

If you want to pull down all 8.7M of the smaller version at once, you can download this file into an empty directory on your machine, unzip it, double-click the file "index.html", and go through the pictures with lightning speed. Then just delete the directory when you are done. Otherwise...

On to page one of the 640x480 version...
(To skip the first 20 photos, which are the incredibly dull travelogue of my getting to Chicago to start the Route 66 trip, start here instead.)


On to page one of the 1024x768 version...
(To skip the first 20 photos, which are the incredibly dull travelogue of my getting to Chicago to start the Route 66 trip, start here instead.)

Trip II (in the car), Part 1


The second feature is a car trip on Route 66 with my lovely wife, Andrea, in late October / early November, 2005. This stretch is Chicago to Amarillo. We did Amarillo to Los Angeles in September, 2006.

To go straight to the pictures, click here. It's important to note that I did not repeat any photos on this page from the first trip. So, if you want to get the full experience, you should check out the photos from the first trip as well.

If you'd actually like to read the diary from the trip, click here. It's not particularly exciting. It's probably only worth reading if you are thinking of taking your first trip on Route 66 and you want to get a feel for what it would be like. Note that many of the pictures used in the diary are from the first trip.

And, whether you want them or not, here are the lessons learned from Trip II, Part 1:

  1. Prioritize what you want to do each day, and come up with your list of “must sees”. There’s so many things to see that trying to do 200 miles a day and see everything just isn’t realistic. In fact, you may want to gauge your trip not so much by evenly parsing out the mileage (e.g. 200 miles each day, like we did), but by making the number of miles in a given day be an inverse proportion of the number of things you really want to see along that stretch.
  2. If you are making an effort to follow every inch of the old road that still exists, it is fundamentally impossible unless you have a GPS hooked into mapping software. We did, and that allowed us to backtrack and right ourselves when we took one of our frequent wrong turns.
  3. Related to the previous point, if you are depending on the Historic Route 66 signs to keep you on track, you're screwed. They alone will not keep you on route.
  4. There is fantastic food to be had along Route 66 in local restaurants. Ask around with the locals and you’ll get some great surprises.
  5. On the flip side, old motels are a dicey proposition if you are not interested in “roughing it”. Some, like the Big Texan Inn, are well-maintained. Others, like the Wagon Wheel and the former Best Western in Clinton, not so much.
  6. Whenever you can, visit with a legend. The few that are left won’t be around forever, so make it a point to see people like Butch at The Round Barn.
  7. Where appropriate, don’t be afraid to tell people along the way that you are driving Route 66. Without fail, peoples’ faces would light up when we told them what we were doing. Likely, your friends and family back home don’t “get it” when you talk about the trip, but as for those people who live along the route, they definitely do.
  8. Do your best to patronize the Route 66 businesses that are still hanging on. Like the owner of the Wigwam Motel said, too many people show up to take pictures and don’t spend any money. If you don’t spend any money, that place might not be there next time. So, within reason, work your driving schedule so you can eat at places like Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket, The Launching Pad, and the Rock Café. Likewise, when you see attractions that don’t charge admission like the World’s Largest Totem Pole, the Round Barn, and the Devil’s Rope Museum, buy some souvenirs and/or drop a few bucks in the donation box to make sure that site will be around for future generations.
  9. While the previous point still applies, know when to cut your losses. Don’t let your Route 66 interests cloud your better judgment. If a motel or restaurant just doesn’t feel right, move on.
  10. Likewise, don’t be afraid to “cut your losses” when you miss a turn and/or feel like knocking some miles out quickly on the Interstate. If your number one goal on the trip is to find and do every inch of the old road, that’s cool. However, if you’re just there to have a good time, feel free to pick and choose which pieces you do.
  11. If you are not bent on doing all of the old road, it’s probably best to go around all the major cities (e.g. Saint Louis, Tulsa and Oklahoma City on this trip).
  12. If you’ve got your heart set on an attraction, call before showing up to make sure they are going to be open when you are there. We found some places close on Sundays, some on Mondays, and some on Tuesdays. Some were closed for the season.
  13. If you are looking to keep up with your workouts, it can be done, even in the small towns. With some research, you can find places to work out or, worst case, put on some running shoes and explore the town on foot. At the least, you should be able to get “maintenance workouts” in.
  14. Don’t be afraid to go a mile or two out of the way to check out something really cool even if it’s not an “official” Route 66 thing. A number of the best memories we have from the trip (Aunt Martha’s Pancake House, World’s Largest Totem Pole, and the Blarney Stone) fall into this category.
  15. Go in with the attitude that it’s an adventure and, likely, some things will go wrong. I was really lucky in that Andrea was able to go with the flow. This would be a tough trip to take with someone who is a nervous traveler or gets worked up easily.

Trip II (in the car), Part 2


The third feature is a car trip on Route 66 with my lovely wife, Andrea, in early September, 2006. This stretch is Amarillo to Los Angeles.

In order to simplify things, I've posted both the diary and pictures in one place, which you can find by clicking here.

And, whether you want them or not, here are the lessons learned from Trip II, Part 2 if you don't want to bother reading the entire diary:

  1. The trip we used to do the flights in two parts worked out really well for us. From Washington-Dulles, it's easy to get low-cost one-way fares on the low-cost carriers to and from major cities. So, we got a one-way ticket to Chicago last year on Independence Air for $87.20 per person. (Prices like that are a primary reason that Independence Air is no longer in business.) Then, we cashed in miles do to a round-trip on United from Amarillo to Washington Dulles back to Amarillo. Then, we got a one-way ticket from Los Angeles back to Washington-Dulles on Jet Blue for $172.80 per person. Key to this strategy was that we picked an arbitrary date for the return to Amarillo, and adjusted it as we firmed up our schedule. Because it was a frequent flyer ticket, it didn't cost anything to change the return date. Neither Andrea and I are sure about this, but it may be required that the outgoing and return from your midpoint are within 12 months of each other. You need to check into this before making your plans.
  2. Keep the fan running on the AC unit in the motel/hotel room. It will keep the room from getting too hot while you are sleeping and it will give you white noise to drown out any noise outside the room. Also, if the room has two beds and the AC/heat unit is thermostatically controlled, sleeping in the bed closest to the unit will make for less temperature fluctuation during the night.
  3. Watch out for the weird Yield signs on the Interstate frontage roads in Texas. While you are tooling along on the frontage road, you're going straight and there's a yield sign in your way. Don't ignore it because the exit ramp from the Interstate onto the access road has right of way. So, if you blow through the yield sign, a vehicle coming off the Interstate in your blind spot could nail you at 90 MPH. Texas is the only place I've seen intersections like that.
  4. Review the next day's route together the night before with your traveling cohort(s). Doing that makes for a lot less missing of turns when someone who didn't set up the map is acting as navigator.
  5. Don't be afraid to make a (safe) U-turn to get a really good photo. A number of my favorite photos are things that I didn't expect, and they went zooming past at 55+ MPH. I would have regretted it if I didn't turn around and snap the photo.
  6. Watch out for rooms on the first floor of a hotel if you are not used to noise at night, especially if you are in an area with a lot of nightlife.
  7. This is probably obvious to everyone else, but if you are doing a driving trip that includes "rest days" with no driving, you should try to make it so that you don't drive at all on those rest days. Take the rest day somewhere where everything will be in walking distance. We were successful in this regard both in Santa Fe and Grand Canyon on this trip.
  8. It was seemingly easier to find gyms from Chicago to Amarillo than it was to find gyms from Amarillo to LA. Could have been my imagination, but that's the way it seemed to me.
  9. A single recommendation and a cool website for a motel is not a guarantee. Trust your instincts. If it doesn't feel right, don't hand over your credit card until you are shown the room. And if they won't show you the room before you hand over your credit card, hit the road.

DeLorme Street Atlas Routing

If you use DeLorme Street Atlas, you can download and use all my DeLorme materials related to Route 66. Click here to download them all in a Zip file. It's a bit under 9M. You will find the map, routes, and draw layer. You will also find a subset of my GPS logs from the two halves of the driving trip. As far as the GPS logs go, note they are not "correct" representations of how to navigate Route 66. Rather, they are what we actually drove. Also, a number of them are missing because the files got screwed up for whatever reason.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I downloaded the original version of these DeLorme files from Jerry Planck. The folks at the historic Route 66 site are maintaining the most current version of these here. They have taken a copy of mine as their most current since I added a bunch of stuff on top of Jerry's version. You may want to check there to see if they've gotten an even more current version than the ones I gave them.

A little fun thing I created...Click here to go to some satellite photos of some Route 66 landmarks. See if you can guess what they are.

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