Introduction Chicago to Springfield Springfield to St. Louis

In March 2008 I took a roadtrip from Chicago to LA, all to rediscover the Mother Road of mom and pop motels, counter-seating diners, cheesy tourist traps, and friendly folks who recognize the value (both spiritual and commercial) of pre-interstate America. It would be the longest trip I've yet attempted alone: 3,242 miles (including a last leg home from LA) over nine days. And it turned out to be one of the best trips I've taken yet (and I've taken a few). I met amazing people, sampled delicious road-food, and videotaped a sublime collection of neon [click on my YouTube video below to see what I mean...Any problems playing the video? Try this link:].

This trip grew partially from my interest in roadside simulacra, the creation of fake places designed to evoke real places, with particular emphasis on those simulacra built in place of real locales. So, for example, you can visit the Route 66 Casino Hotel west of Albuquerque and sample a clever conflation of Mother Road architecture, icons, and signage without ever leaving one enclosed enclave. Naturally I'm critical of these sorts of places. But they fascinate me too. How are they designed? How are they experienced? And what do they say about the rhetorical construction of public memory?

Since I make a living as an academic (teaching at San José State University) I managed to scrounge up funding to cover some of my expenses after committing to transform some of my fieldwork into an academic paper. I expect that project to be complete within a year. But this web-project seeks to serve a larger audience. I wanted to provide a way for you to relive the trip with me, city by city, meeting by meeting, chance encounter by chance encounter. In this site I hope to create some sense of my experience of Route 66, both the good and bad, and maybe help you in planning your own trip "down the road."

Ideally the design of the pages is clear enough. You can start anywhere on the U.S. map (in states colored blue) and drive either west toward LA (the ideal direction of the Mother Road) or east toward Chicago. Of course, you can click only the state postcards at the bottom of each page and see small parts of Route 66 in eight stops. Think of that option as taking the interstate: the trip will be fast, but you'll miss a lot. For the full experience, I recommend that you click either the "Eastbound" or "Westbound" Route 66 shields at the bottom of each page. That way, you'll see every mile of the trip. One final option in that same spirit: just click "continue" at the bottom of each page when invited to do so. Again, you won't miss a thing that way. Most of the images are also clickable, revealing larger (and sometimes expanded) versions of the pix. And believe me, these are just a few of the images I found along the road. Oh yeah, if you ever get lost, just click the U.S. map at the upper left of every page. That'll get you home.

One last thing: I may revise this page from time to time. So if you catch typos, errors in fact, or opportunities for clarification, please send me an email. [Continue...]

Navigation Tip

Clicking an "East" or "West" Navigation Button will move you to the previous or next stage of the trip. Clicking a state postcard below will move you to the previous or next state (warning: you may miss segments that way).

Drive West
Illinois Missouri Kansas Oklahoma
New Mexico Arizona California
All text and photos copyright Andrew Wood