Replies: 83 - Last Post: May 15, 2012 5:29 AM Last Post By: claytonmeister
May 31, 2008 6:15 AM
May 31, 2008 7:19 AM
16Unfortunately, the guidebooks are too busy creating the bandwagon for everyone to jump aboard. If you have the chance, check out the LP USA guidebook (hell, even just the Chicago guidebook), and you will see something along the lines of "Route 66 and why you must go!"
I think that 66 is something that many Europeans, particularly the Germans who seem to be genetically programmed to love road trips, are more likely to appreciate than are Americans.
Americans appear to be contemptuous of any part of their history that doesn't involve pilgrims, founding fathers or battlefields. Roads such as 66 are vital historical documents to understanding how this country evolved during the 20th century, but most Americans don't seem interested in seeing it.
Abroad, the image of what is America is different than how Americans see it. For many a modern day European, the American ideal is not so much one of freedom, democracy or prosperity (which they themselves have in abundance these days), but in wide open spaces and the freedom to consume without limits. America is viewed as being somewhat decadent, a bit over the top, and immense, and they want to taste that. They are too self-conscious to have much kitsch of their own, and they both sneer at us and admire us for being so good at it.
Europe is full of postcard-pretty routes, it's not necessary to travel to the US for those. But you will not get anything like 66 in Europe, particularly those portions in the Southwest that travel through the desert. If people travel somewhere to experience what is different, then 66 is different. Routes such as California's Highway 1, as lovely as they are, are not.
May 31, 2008 8:05 AM
17"Roads such as 66"
Isn't that the key though? Seems like there are many other roads illustrating that part of American history (and I'm speaking as one who appreciates it), but Route 66 is seemingly the only one people flock to.
I'm not trying to participate in an argument -- I'm inclined to let people go see whatever they want. But that is a question that comes to mind.
May 31, 2008 8:28 AM
18Seems like there are many other roads illustrating that part of American history (and I'm speaking as one who appreciates it), but Route 66 is seemingly the only one people flock to.
Actually, there aren't many. 66 is what led Depression-era farmers out of the Dust Bowl and to the Promised Land (well, to southern California, anyway.) It's also served as the backbone for the post-war migration west, as the troops who transited through it during WWII liked what they saw and decided to stay after the war had ended.
Since this was the main route to southern California, which was the main beneficiary of this population surge, I can't think of many other alternatives. Most people who migrated there would have used 66 for at least part of their journey.
From a historical standpoint, 66 is the 20th century equivalent of the Oregon Trail. You can credit it for much of the population boom and demographic shift that occurred at that time.
May 31, 2008 8:44 AM
May 31, 2008 8:57 AM
20Here is a description from a UK tour company that probably sum up what RW is saying.
May 31, 2008 10:29 AM
21I'll buy a lot of that, except:
the route winds through some of America’s finest scenery
Sticking to Rt. 66 is a great way to miss America's finest scenery. Wide open spaces, sure. But America's finest? Hardly. That's one reason most sensible people here on TT advocate sampling some of the better-preserved and/or more interesting stretches of 66 if that's your thing, but also spending a great deal of time on more scenic routes also.
May 31, 2008 2:02 PM
22That's one reason most sensible people here on TT advocate sampling some of the better-preserved and/or more interesting stretches of 66 if that's your thing, but also spending a great deal of time on more scenic routes also.
I think that this is where the disconnect lies -- not everyone travels for scenery, particularly some of your more intrepid Europeans. Some of us travel for history and culture or for other reasons, and not just for aesthetics.
Americans seem to be almost monolithically obsessed with photo-opportunity travel. If it isn't big and shiny, old but pretty, or sunny and sandy, we want absolutely nothing to do with it. I think that this causes us to miss a lot, but I suppose that when you get only two weeks a year to do it, this sort of outcome is inevitable.
May 31, 2008 2:23 PM
23There's no disconnect here - I totally appreciate travel for culture and history, and recognize Rt. 66 as a vital part of the American story, and why its interesting for that reason. However, I feel that one can get a really good taste what remains of Rt. 66 without committing one's whole trip to tracing its former path. At the same time, some of the other scenic, cultural and historic attractions of the southwestern US which do not lie near RT. 66 are not just pretty postcards, but are actually unique in the world. It would be a shame, indeed almost insane, when on your first and possibly only US road trip to skip ZIon or Mesa Verde in favor of one more "1950's diner" in Grants or another trinket shop in Ash Fork.
May 31, 2008 4:05 PM
24I feel that one can get a really good taste what remains of Rt. 66 without committing one's whole trip to tracing its former path.
I agree with that. 66 is a convenient archetype for the American experience, and there are plenty of other ways to explore it that might actually be better in some respects. I think once foreigners realize how long of a road it is -- the Europeans seem to have a tendency to grossly underestimate distances and times here -- that they're open to suggestions along those lines.
But still, what you've articulated is a much more openminded view than most of what gets posted on this forum in respect to this topic. This website is generally better than average, but the 66 posts are invariably filled with misinformation and a general lack of understanding for what motivates a lot of foreign visitors to travel here.
May 31, 2008 5:45 PM
25I agree with most of the points made about Route 66 here, but I think we are completely over-analyzing this and the motives of most who try to make a trip of it.
People climb Everest to say they did it.
People have no clue why they kiss the Blarney Stone, but if you hype it and allow a photo opportunity, people will come.
People try to eat the 72 ounce Big Texan because they think they will be a legend if they do.
In the immortal words of "The World's Most Interesting Man" in the Dos Equis commercials, "It's never to early to pad your obituary my friends!"
People drive Route 66 because they think it's cool.
Edited by: emd_one on Jan 26, 2013 4:37 AM
Jun 1, 2008 8:17 AM
Jun 1, 2008 8:37 AM
27I think we are completely over-analyzing this and the motives of most who try to make a trip of it.
There's a lot of verbiage here, but the point that I'm making is fairly simple --
-Some people from abroad are interested in Americana and the history/culture behind it
-Most Americans think vacations are to be comprised solely of glitzy or pretty things, and aren't terribly interested in most of our history, including this part of it.
-Therefore, it's understandable why some foreigners might appreciate something that a lot of Americans simply can't comprehend.
Not everybody wants the same things out of travel, particularly some of those who take vacations that last longer than a week or two.
Jun 1, 2008 9:03 AM
This thread matches the "why come to the US?" thread. I think it is useful sometimes to step back and figure out why someone would want to visit a particular US place, before simply saying "it's great! " or "don't bother."
I looked at the itineraries of some of those UK company tours of Route 66. They all start in Chicago & go west, which takes in the mythos right there. (The probably couldn't sell an eastbound version). They also include a lot of non-Route 66 stuff.
A day or so in Chicago. They go to Spingfiled, Ill. for all things Abe Lincoln. St. Louis gets a lot of time (blues & barbecue) & some stop in Branson for a show. Oklahoma City--cowboy hall of fame & Will Rogers. The Cadillac Ranch (those buried caddies). Some have a whole free day in Albuquerque or detour to Santa Fe. One does Acoma. They all hit various Route 66 museums on the way. Barbecue & "real Texas" steak dinners are big. Cowboys & Indians are one theme;another is the scenerey in New Mexico & Arizona. An overnight in a "small town" is popular (Winslow AZ is one). Or, a drive past an older Motel Row to get a feel for 1950s travel.
Most add stops at the Grand Canyon & Vegas; some include the Petrified Forest. LA usually includes some sort of Hollywood tour.
Jun 1, 2008 9:47 AM
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