Route 66 – New Mexico to Chicago

> Translated with
(>Pictures at the bottom!)

After the cold of Arizona, New Mexico welcomed us fresh and humid. We no longer followed the backroads through remote parks or Indian reservations eastwards, but tried to follow Route 66 as closely as possible. The remaining time from the visas, the weather with snow and cold from the Rockys made this very obvious.

Already from the border California-Arizona we followed the course of the legendary road which once was the mother of all roads and crossed the North American continent.
First of all: Today you have to look on the maps for the last remnants of this road; in many places they are no longer there or the course was shifted to another road. In other places the 66 leads over wide stretches on gravelroads, or follows as front road the Interstate (motorway). Ghost motels and abandoned petrol stations are still today witnesses of a long forgotten time.
In other countries the road is maintained like a museum piece, and private owners contribute with great things to the preservation of this history, which makes the whole thing a special time experience.

As already mentioned, unfortunately time was pressing for us and we could not realize longer stays at the different highlights. But in Albuquerque, the capital of New Mexico, we stopped for the first time. In the Old Town you almost feel like you’ve been back several decades. Also the center of Santa Fe let us pause for a while. The Spaniards left their mark on these old cities intensively and today they are cultivated very finely. We would have liked to stay longer and waited in vain for some cowboys to stop in front of the saloon!

Over the first bigger elevations, which can almost be called a pass, followed Las Vegas, which is not to be confused with the gambling city in Nevada, which today was a forgotten place of a once great time in the development of the wild west.
The few ranches and old people in the town keep public life going, the young and well-educated people supposedly leave the area for lucrative places.

In the Conchas plateau, between Las Vegas and Texas, winter definitely returned and heavy snowfall accompanied us all day. While the cows looked for grass under the snow on the pastures, birds of prey sat on many poles of the pasture fences waiting for warmer times.

After the village of Bushland, shortly before Amarillo, many Cadillacs stand upside down on a farm field. A funny sight in this flat country and everyone who is a bit self-respecting sprays his initials or something else on the Carosseries and provides a little more color in this spring-like landscape, which almost goes under in this wide and flat environment. It’s a shame that the spray cans are thrown into the field afterwards and nobody cares!

In Amarillo/Texas it was finally a bit more pleasant again, but the night with its cold weather forced us to spend the night in the motel again.
Then we experienced pure America again, which didn’t surprise us completely: We wanted to visit the official Gazell agency in the USA – our camping construction comes from this company. But far from it, after the first unsuccessful contact attempts by mail we found the appropriate place, but even the neighbor leading a museum for oldtimers under the same roof, knew only of nice “guys”, which converted once a jeep with such a structure from Poland and could present us only a suitable folder with another mail address. He didn’t know more, and he wouldn’t have seen them for a long time! Too bad, but we would have liked to pass on a few more suggestions and to get to know one thing and another.
Head-hanging we left Amarillo to the east; we would have liked to meet these people and our questions unfortunately remained unanswered.

The following kilometers and the wide country on the left and right passed us almost unnoticed; farmland left – farmland right, left or right of the Interstate 40 and we on the old route 66.

In Oklahoma finally more elevations followed and the way led us again often away from the modern Interstate over quiet farm roads. Although we always had the feeling that we were not on Route 66, the many ruins and abandoned shops were always an indication that we were on the right track.

Missouri, with its winding landscapes, elevations and many rivers was again pleasant for the tourist eye. The valley incisions and hills were increasingly wooded and a great change to the already experienced plains, where there were almost only flat pastures and, from the eyes of a tourist, only monotonous to admire.

In St. Louis and the crossing of the Mississippi a complete cut followed again in Illinois; again everything flat and one corn field followed the next. The many small farms were replaced by large farms and monster tractors towed whole machinery over the endless fields, where a tanker truck with the appropriate chemicals was pulled along at the back. After one operation everything has to be done.
The irrigation systems standing everywhere at the edges of the fields, which in turn brought our imagination from one wow to the next, also made it clear that there must be a breeding heat here in summer and nothing grows without water.

In these expanses of Illinois, even before the construction of the interstate, the Route 66 were led through and around the villages in different ways in order to free the emerging traffic from the annoying village crossings. Sometimes we had almost the choice of the jellyfish, which way we would have to take now. The oldest variant proved to be the most pleasant, as it always led into the small sleepy places and past many jewels.

Soon we stood in front of the gates of Chicago, where Al Capone and his gang had control over the city for a long time. Even until the most recent times, many a politician is said to have been caught in this whirlpool and someday wandered behind lock and key.
According to our information these stormy times should belong to the past, but the north wind howled around the skyscrapers, so that we were soon blown from the street canyons southwards out of the city. Although the city with its skyscrapers – here the first towers are said to have been built towards the sky – does a lot for safety, we didn’t feel quite comfortable in the dark suburbs.

The jump across the state border to Ohio was not far and in the nearby Indiana Dunes State Park we looked for a place for the coming night. The cold north wind was still scurrying through the trees, but the dark figures were missing, who pulled their hoods far over their foreheads in the face and instilled the corresponding respect in us.

We will probably never know whether our fears of these urban conditions were correct or not. But in the early evening hours the four-legged friends – possums and raccoons – seized our supplies unnoticed and wanted to serve themselves generously. A clear sign for spring, when many animals are hungry for prey after a long winter.
Hopefully no hungry bear will scratch our roof tent! It could get a little cramped in our sleeping room!


> Translated with