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Get your kicks on Route 66

They have sung about it, made movies and written novels about it ,and its one of the essential icons of America, not only for the American people but for those abroad as well. It represents a multitude of ideas: freedom, migration West, and the loneliness of the American heartland.

Since 1926, driving down Route 66 has been the experience of a lifetime for travelers, adventurers, desperados and dreamers – we were no exception.

While officially Route 66 no longer exists, a great deal of it remains to be driven and enjoyed and we were lucky enough to drive from Las Vegas down to Williams, the northern Arizona gateway to the Grand Canyon.

It was a fun trip and you couldn’t help but get caught up in the nostalgia of if all once we left the main highway and entered the town of Kingman after leaving the main freeway we had taken from Vegas.

There has been the odd frustration with the the British bird inside the GPS system I rely on and confidence levels have waned a little about her accuracy of late – particulary if the unit is left up the front of the car while it is stopped in these record high temperatures. It seems to have suffered from a bit of heat stroke and I have lost a little bit of trust in its accuracy of late. Entering Kingman I decided to get some good old fashioned local advice to confirm our route.

The Mohave Museum of History and Art contained a heap of relics from the past that would have been very cool to look at, but we were time poor (and $ poor I might add as this is a bloody expensive place to tour about) and so elected to glean as much information from the gorgeous old relics behind the counter free, of charge before heading on our merry way.

Mary and Dorothy are gorgeous relics of the past all right. Its rude to ask a lady her age but I expect they were both in their eighties and thriving on the volunteer work they do manning the Museum.

There is an information Centre in the town further down the road, but I expect because the Museum is the first significant building as you enter Kingman it becomes the first stop for many.

These two ladies, firmly entrenched in the blue rinse brigade hold a wealth of information on the route and the surrounding area and are more than happy to share it with you.

Mary is quite new by local standards having moved there 25 years ago to retire. She has been to New Zealand back in 1995 so I expect she is a bit of a pioneer herself in many ways. She spent a week as an add on to the Australian trip and said on her return could easily relate to the words her then travel agent told her when booking the trip. “Australia’s the attraction, New Zealand is the satisfaction!” She fell in love with NZ on her visit and talked fondly of long walks in the Garden city of Christchurch enjoying the parks and gardens.

It was that hot – in fact it was the the hottest day on record ever for the area and at 117 degrees F that it was hard to imagine anyone ever needing to wrap up. Mary was busy knitting a “prayer shawl” in her spare moments. About three years back when she was ill herself, members of her church gave her one to use in her recovery. She said she used to wrap herself up in the garment and snuggle down drawing strength on the fact that whoever had knitted it would have put lots of time and effort praying that the eventual recipient would take great comfort from the garment and recover. The big loose stitches were held on the needle between bouts of knitting with a used wine cork. She just chuckled when I asked about how she had come to be in possession of such a thing when she was such a good living parishioner!

At the desk next door the slightly more frail Dorothy was flat out crocheting a peggy square. She was making a shawl for a couple as a wedding gift and once she had completed twelve of the cream squares and joined them all together it would have been suitable for a marital bed.It’s hard to imagine needing any sort of cover this time of the year. I have been in my birthday suit a couple of nights and not missed the pj’s I must have left back at the hostel in Jasper! I believe the temperature does drop a bit in the winter here. Sources say it can go as low as -30 degrees F. If that’s the case I think the old wool/ polyester creations would come into their own.

Small community’s on Route 66 rely heavily on the tourist trade to breathe life and soul into the towns that sit along the arid, dry route. They also rely heavily on the support of volunteers to man the information centres and provide the traveling public with relative information to ensure they get the best experience out of taking the road less traveled these days.

As old Route 66 is not indicated on current roadmaps or GPS units , you will need a detailed map and guide before hitting the road and getting your kicks on Route 66!

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