Two posts in a row? What craziness is this? I haven’t been able to manage that since leaving for this trip.
I”ve been traveling down Route 66 all day, which gave me a swing of emotions. Passing through small town after small town, I have to agree with Valerie when she described the route.
It is wonderful that people are reviving it. I’m so glad that it is getting the preservation and attention it deserves, but I can’t help but feel a sense of sorrow as we pass through the towns along the way. Elk City was great, Amarillo was amazing, and now that I’m in Tucumcari I could spend a week here. They all seem to be thriving pretty well.
But as well as a few select towns are doing, there are so many more that are struggling or have given up. Like Texola, Conway, Groom, and all the other small towns no one has ever heard of. As we passed through them, most were stripped down to their last motel and gas station. Many, like Texola, were completely gone. Broken windows and dilapidated houses are all that remain of what I imagine used to be prospering towns.
And I have to think about all the other small towns along the small routes that haven’t gotten the attention that Rt 66 has. Like US 12, the Lincoln Highway. Just as important, but far less remembered.
Or State Route 5 in Alabama. It wasn’t extremely important, it didn’t go across the country or have songs written about it. But it was a major connection from Birmingham to Mobile, before the construction of Interstate 65. Now, all the towns and people along it are either gone or skeletal remains of what they used to be.
I know that I can’t save all the small routes. And I’m not trying to harp on the interstate. God knows I take it to commute to work, or when I travel out of state. But being on these smaller roads, Route 66 among others, reminds me to take time and slow down. Buy locally, go to a small diner, meet strangers, smell the roses, and stop the car to look at a rainbow. It reminds me to get out of my car and look around. If I hadn’t, then I would have eaten a shitty meal at McDonalds today in 10 minutes, instead of visiting the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas and talking for an hour to the owner Dennis. We traded stories, told him about our trip, and he took our photo together outside in front of the cafe sign.
While it’s bittersweet to look at this mother road because some towns have fallen through the cracks, it gives me hope when I see the towns that are slowly but surely fighting hard to stay alive. They are proof that no matter what life throws at you, you never have to take it lying down; or at all for that matter. Fight for what you believe in. Its always worth it.