Two years ago I was working on a project with The Ritz-Carlton and found myself staying at their beautiful property in St. Louis. During my time in the city, I wandered over to the Missouri History Museum and found a temporary exhibit on the history of Route 66 through the state. It was wonderful and I quickly lost myself in the vast array of Americana assembled and it rekindled something special. For years I’ve been fixated on driving Route 66. I can’t explain why, not exactly, but it’s something about the appeal of exploring America and rediscovering the beauty of my own country. It’s about a more innocent time, when things seemed less convoluted and it’s an era I want to experience for myself. I also spent far too much time reading Kerouac and other Beat authors as a young undergrad, and those stories have stayed with me over the years. After touring the museum, I made a commitment to myself that I would realize my dream of driving from Chicago to Los Angeles, experiencing the best of the country along the way. I bought some books and maps in the gift shop and started reading them with a zeal that bordered on obsession.
It took a little longer than I had imagined, but the day is finally here. Starting Monday, I will finally see that dream become a reality as I drive the full distance of Route 66. I’m undertaking this dream drive in kind partnership with Marriott International. I approached them last year with a concept, not just of seeing more of the country, but also highlighting the versatility of the brand at the same time. I brought to their attention the fact that one could drive across the country and stay with a different Marriott International brand without repetition. I’m not talking about properties, but entire brands. I think that’s remarkable and, thankfully, so did they and the trip was soon given the green light. From the Marriott Marquis to Courtyard by Marriott to The Ritz-Carlton and Le Meridien, I’ll be experiencing every level of Marriott International hotels as I meander across the continent. To help us get there, Nissan has also graciously agreed to be the official vehicle sponsor of this grand adventure, allowing us the opportunity to drive two of their SUVs along the way – the mighty Armada Platinum and the versatile Rogue.
I say we because I won’t be alone. Joining me in this epic adventure is professional photographer, social media darling and good friend Brendan Van Son. If you’re not familiar with his incredible work, and you really should be, you need to check him out on Instagram and YouTube. Trust me, you’ll start following him immediately. He adds a great balance to the trip though, and not only because it’ll be nice to have some company for the next two weeks. He is a lot more laid back than I am and has different interests, which will force me to experience aspects to Route 66 that I would otherwise miss. I’m excited that he’s joining me on this trip and can’t wait to see the imagery he produces.
We’re doing the drive in a scant 12 days, which is fast by any measure. But I’ve been working on the routing and itinerary for a very long time and I think that we’ll be able to easily experience the best the route has to offer. Here’s a brief sketch of where we’ll be:
- Drive from Marriott Marquis Chicago to Springfield, Illinois staying at the Residence Inn
- Drive from Springfield to St. Louis, staying at The Ritz-Carlton
- St. Louis to Springfield, Missouri staying at TownePlace Suites
- Springfield to Oklahoma City, staying at Aloft
- Oklahoma City to Amarillo staying at Courtyard by Marriott
- Amarillo to Santa Fe, staying at La Posada de Santa Fe (Part of the Tribute Portfolio)
- Explore the area and overnight again in Santa Fe
- Santa Fe to Albuquerque, staying at the Albuquerque Marriott
- Albuquerque to Flagstaff, staying at SpringHill Suites
- Grand Canyon Day Trip!
- Flagstaff to Amboy, staying at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott
- Amboy to Santa Monica, staying at Le Méridien
- Los Angeles, staying at the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA LIVE
So if you live anywhere along the way, please be sure to say hi via social media. Speaking of which, I’m going to be chronicling this remarkable journey in a number of ways, especially through social media. For the most robust coverage, please be sure to check out my Instagram Stories where I’ll be sharing as much as I can, along with Twitter and Facebook. I also plan on publishing a daily wrap-up on LandLopers, which is a little ambitious, but I think doable. For those updates, be sure to check out this dedicated page I’ve created: LandLopers Route 66 Project.
This is one of the most ambitious projects I’ve ever undertaken and also the one about which I am perhaps the most excited. This truly is a dream trip for me and I can’t wait to get started and to share the full width and breadth of the American experience with you all.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know!