On the first day of school, friends and teachers present the same question over and over: What did you do this summer? Honestly, I’m weary of supplying the same dull response: I took a road trip to Chicago through historic Route 66 with my two sisters, future brother-in-law, uncle, and his two German friends. From the comfort of a van, we would watch the landscape change with every mile and sleep in whatever available two star motels for two weeks.
Beginning the journey rather unconventionally, we began at Route 66’s end in Los Angeles and would end at the route’s beginning in Chicago. Driving several hours a day, we passed through places like Joshua Tree National Park, where we witnessed some odd trees named Joshua trees. On the third day, upon trying to find a place to stay, we arrived in Oatman, Arizona. Jokingly, my uncle proposed we stay in its haunted hotel until we found out that the hotel had closed down and no other accommodations existed. So unless we wanted to sleep with all of the feral donkeys that roamed throughout the rural town, we continued on. For the next two days we drove through Arizona, stopping at places like Meteor Crater and the Petrified Forest National Park. We soon reached New Mexico where the scenery changed from endless rocks to plateaus. Passing through major cities like Santa Fe and Albuquerque, the group decided it would be interesting to stay in Tucumcari, also known as “the town that’s two blocks wide and two miles long”. What is there to do in Tucumcari? Witness the region’s breathtaking thunderstorms.
Near the end of the first week, we arrived at Adrian, Texas. Its attraction, the Midpoint CafÃ©, is the halfway mark between L.A. and Chicago, meaning we had covered an impressive 1,139 miles with 1,139 left to go. After being eaten alive by swarms of gnats and flies that trailed us everywhere, we drove on with only a handful of pictures for memories. Continuing on through Texas, we paid a visit to Cadillac Ranch where a dozen Cadillacs are halfway buried in Texan dirt. From Texas we reached Oklahoma, driving through pouring thunderstorms. We passed through most of the state before we could venture outside of the van. When we did, we encountered the giant Blue Whale of Catoosa. After clambering around its seemingly unsafe carcass, we continued on to Kansas although Route 66 passes through only a small section.
Thus, we drove on into the state of Missouri. After photographing the murals in Cuba, the group and I stopped by Meramec Caverns by request of the Germans. When we arrived, the couple admitted that they are claustrophobics and didn’t want to enter the cave. So they waited an hour or so while the rest of us dived down into the spacious, lit caverns. The next day, we head towards St. Louis. Our goal was to see the Gateway Arch. Rain robbed us of our chance to document pictures, but the Arch was impressive nonetheless.
Later that day, we crossed the bridge into Illinois and reached Chicago by sundown. A beautiful and busy city, Chicago contains many giant sculptures such as the Cloud Gate also known as “The Bean”. The time I spent in Chicago was life changing. I’ve always loved nature but the city lights made the metropolis just as wonderful and mysterious. It was a long journey but I really do appreciate all the feral donkeys, lightning storms, wild bugs, and unintended detours that I encountered along the way. The end result is now an unforgettable memory.
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