Driving the entirety of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica is one of the world’s great drives, but actually doing it takes a lot of planning and attention to detail. To help us better navigate the Mother Road two special guests are on this week’s show: Jerry McClanahan author of “Route 66: EZ66 GUIDE For Travelers” and Jason Clement with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Last year I spent nearly two weeks driving the Mother Road and loved nearly every second of the trip. This epic drive was near the top of my bucket list for years, and the actual experience of tackling Route 66 was everything I had hoped it would be and more. From the Dust Bowl to the American Renaissance in the 1950s, this road has held a special place not only in the hearts of Americans, but of people around the world. It hearkens back to an era when anything seemed possible, when taking to the open road was an adventure and the fun truly was in the getting there. While Route 66 technically doesn’t exist anymore, it’s still possible of course to drive huge parts of it as you meander from Chicago to the pier in Santa Monica, California. Along the way are quirky roadside attractions, strange motels and national wonders that rank amongst the top in the world. Yes, I wanted to see and experience all of those things but I also wanted to reconnect with my own country, one I love dearly and of which I am fiercely proud. Just as people did in the 1950s and 60s, I wanted to experience a great American road trip and to discover aspects to the American experience that I never knew existed.
To help share what makes Route 66 so special, how to actually drive it and how anyone can help preserve it well into the future I have two guests on the podcast this week.
Award winning author, photographer and artist Jerry McClanahan began documenting Route 66 in 1981. He has written extensively for the Route 66 Federation News, American Road and Route 66 Magazine. Jerry’s acclaimed EZ 66 Guide has helped thousands of travelers discover Route 66 since 2005, as has the set of Route 66 maps co-created with Oklahoma Route 66 guru Jim Ross in 1994. 2011 brought the publication of Route 66 Sightings, a photography tour-de-route with Jim Ross and Shellee Graham. Besides writing about the Mother Road, Jerry paints Route 66 scenes. He has established McJerry’s Route 66 Gallery at 306 Manvel (a half block off 66) in Chandler, Oklahoma, where he enjoys meeting with tourists from all over the world, along with his wife, Japanese Route 66 blogger Mariko Kusakabe.
Jason Lloyd Clement is the Director of Marketing Campaigns for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where he creates campaigns across the country to inspire people to save the places they love. Through this work, he has discovered that it’s Rust Belt cities that make his heart beat the fastest, particularly Buffalo, NY. Prior to joining the National Trust, Clement studied communications and creativity at the University of Texas at Austin. During his four years on the 40 Acres, Clement learned what to this day is his personal and professional motto: Always keep it weird.
Links to resources mentioned in the podcast: