We needed a plan to get us across the country to meet family in Las Vegas mid-December. Rather than drive aimlessly we decided to follow Route 66 to Arizona, have a break over Christmas and New Year, and then return to the Mother Road to do the last few hundred miles to California.
This first section took us through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. We’re using a book called EZ66 Guide for Travellers which (once you’ve read and understood the format – something we highly recommend you do before starting!) gives driving directions and lists what to see on the way.
There are multiple incarnations of Route 66 as development over the years has caused the road to divert from its original route in many places. We’re finding that we’re doing an hour or so a day of route planning – unless you have all the time in the world or are making multiple trips, it is impossible to see everything and drive every mile.
With the exception of St Louis we have mostly driven through the cities and larger towns. Our van is not much bigger than some of the pickup trucks on the road so driving and parking has not been difficult. The southern cities, once away from the main tourist areas, have large numbers of homeless people and I’ve seen more drug taking here in the open in one month than in the 35 years I worked in central London.
We’re not sure what we expected from Route 66 but everywhere along the route plays on its connection and sells the same range of tourist goods. A lot of places are closed for the winter but we are finding the towns and the weird and wonderful sights they have to offer are all rolling into each other.
Once we left the central plains the scenery slowly began to change and we took more time to explore Texas, New Mexico and Arizona beyond Route 66.
As I’m rereading this it sounds quite negative but it’s not meant to be! We have enjoyed this section but it took us a while to get into what we wanted to see and where we were driving. But once we got our heads into it, we embraced all that Route 66 had to offer and yes, we do have some of that tourist tat onboard.
As previously mentioned our vehicle is not big in the scheme of things here in America so getting around is quite easy. As we’ve got further south and west, the fuel has got cheaper and we’re paying between 80 and 90pence a litre for diesel – it’s worth shopping around as prices vary wildly. A word of warning though as not every garage has diesel pumps!
LPG, or propane, is easy to get and prices are pretty much as they are at home.
Water points in the northern states were harder to find as many are shut of for winter. In the south we’ve had to hunt for free water but there are many places selling it.
As we’ve moved west, the choice of overnight spots has opened up so we have moved out of Walmart and Cracker Barrel car parks to BLM and Forestry Land – no complaints from us about that!
We stayed on one campsite at Gillespie Lakes in Illinois which averaged $15 a night (we had a couple of discounted nights plus a couple at weekend rates), but we’ve avoided the large (and expensive) RV parks.