Road Trip, Route 66

Getting Ready to Drive The Mother Road

We’re getting ready to drive the “Mother Road.” We are picking up something big in Los Angeles (too big to ship home) and are using it as a reason to take a classic road trip.

As children of the 60s, some of our earliest memories are of family long-distance road trips and this is a chance to recreate a vacation from our youths. What better route than Route 66?

There are dozens of books about Route 66: historical perspectives, turn-by-turn tutorials, tourism guides, etc. There are websites devoted to everything about the “Mother Road” and its attractions. It’s a veritable cornucopia of research material to make the most of the trip. I’ve spent three months digging into everything I can find to plan the trip and decide what we can’t miss, where we should stay and where we should eat.

As the trip draws closer, we’re both getting down to the nitty gritty of what to pack. That list now includes some items we need to buy once we get to LA. We’re flying out and driving back, after all, and some of what we want to have in the car is just too bulky to carry on a plane.

Maps and a camera are essential. Turn-by-turn instructions are crucial so we don’t miss any of the old road sections as they wind through towns of the west and Midwest. A picnic basket is a key piece of recapturing the “good old days” that we hope to relive. We want to be able to stop for lunch and pull out a sandwich and a drink like when we were kids.

We plan to blog the whole trip and capture images of our nation’s towns and cities. We will continue our typical style of chatting with everyone we meet along the way. We hope to enjoy foods native to every region from Santa Monica to Chicago.

Hitting the road is a great way to see things, especially when you stay off the interstate and stick to local highways. Route 66 will take us through ghost towns, struggling towns and places seeing a surge in tourism as more people opt to take a slower pace to enjoy their travels.

There is a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. This time, we’re taking back roads to do it. Stay tuned.

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Fort Worth – A Step Back in Time

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I’m no historian, but I love to hear and read the histories of people.  That makes travel to “historical sites” challenging, as they are often too sterile to be interesting…at least to me. But a recent trip to Fort Worth, Texas, has changed my perspective a bit.

Greg had to go to Fort Worth for a conference, so I joined him. We opted to save on the rental car and just hang around the downtown area that surrounded our hotel, Sundance Square.

 

WHAT A TREAT! I looked up the website and it doesn’t say anything about a specific effort to make the whole area a little piece of Art Deco design, but that’s what is happening there.
Physically, the 35-block zone around a central plaza is almost like a trip back to 1920.

20151118_114801Our hotel, for instance, was built in 1929. The inside of the Courtyard by Marriott Blackstone was completely modernized and looked a lot like any other nice hotel, but the outside was just like it had been when the hotel was built. Dozens of buildings in the area were that way.20151118_112026_001

 

 

There was a flat iron building that looked just like the one I had seen in Chicago.

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Bass Hall, a performance center, touted trumpeting angels on its façade.

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Around every corner I spotted another little art deco treasure. 20151118_115753

 

 

 

Even the AMC theater looked like a trip back in time.

 

 

20151118_114853_001The detail on the buildings was amazing. Brick patterns adorned the edges, copper accents gleamed in the Texas sun.

 

Even the business signs had that great historical feel.

This is not some attempt to be a re-enactment city like Colonial Williamsburg or Salem, Massachusetts. Those places are historically accurate, but have a TOTALLY fake feeling. Fort Worth isn’t trying to make you experience life in the 1920s. The merchandise in the stores is modern; even the stores are modern. 20151118_121041

There’s an Ann Taylor Loft, a White House, Black Market and other national chain stores that sell the same things as other stores in the chains, but they are set in buildings that are decidedly art deco.

There were a couple of hints of the past in this uniquely western town. 20151118_121222 In the front window of Leddy’s Ranch at Sundance Square, a man was shining a businessman’s cowboy boots. The buffing and polishing that happens on a shoe shine chair seems limited to airports and train stations these days. 20151118_111936

 

 

 

At Peter Brothers, a haberdasher was fixing the brim of a hat using tools from a different era. He was an interesting combination of modern and historic in his khaki shorts and a t-shirt.  20151118_111824

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The store still makes western hats and fedoras the same way they’ve been made for a century.
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Even the Christmas decorations that were going up had a throw-back feel.
What an utter delight! As a non-historian, I never felt like someone was trying to teach me about the history of the area or, for that matter, the history of design or architecture.

Instead I just enjoyed the views, the details, the simple beauty of another era – all while I strolled and shopped with all the modern conveniences.

I had no idea this gem was there … not exactly hidden, but not very well advertised, either. I hadn’t known what to expect when I decided to spend a few days in Fort Worth with Greg, but this is why I love to travel. You never know what you’ll find that isn’t in a guide book.

So pack your bag and go somewhere. Remember: There’s a whole world out there, go see it.