The ‘Mother Road’

My agent is shopping my Women’s Fiction road-trip story. Here’s the blurb:

Trouble with the Curve meets Peace, Love and Misunderstanding.

Third generation Jacqueline Oliver was born to be a hippie; she resisted. Through a series of odd events, she finds herself with the hippie grandmother she resents on a Route 66 road trip that could save her business and answer the questions from her damaged past. Or drive her crazy.

I’ve ridden Route 66 a bunch on my motorcycle, and I even got to ride part of the abandoned section on a bicycle! But still, I had to do research. I came up with some amazing facts I didn’t know:

  • It was going to be named U.S. 60 but was changed to 66 as it did not run coast-to-coast.
  • The moniker Mother Road was coined by John Steinbeck in his novel “Grapes of Wrath” (1939).
  • Its original alignment went through Las Vegas and Santa Fe in New Mexico, but an irate governor re-routed it to bypass them in 1937 to punish politicians in Santa Fe.
  • The segment across San Bernardino County in California from Needles to Upland with 244 miles (393 km) is the longest segment within one county of the whole route and is 20 mi. longer than the distance between London and Liverpool in the UK.
  • The The expedition led by Lt. Edward Fitzgerald “Ned” Beale (1822 – 1893) to survey and build a wagon road from New Mexico to California, followed the 35th parallel, its course was later followed by Route 66. He used camels, imported from Tunis as pack animals. Though hardier than mules, the camels scared both horses and mules. The Army decided not to use camels in the future.
  • The route is over 2,000 miles long: 2,448 miles in 1926
  • Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Hollywood stars of the 1930s and 40s, spent their honeymoon in Oatman, Arizona. (I’ve seen that room!)
  • Pixar‘s 2006 animated film Cars had the working title of Route 66,
  • Wigwam Motels. There was a motel chain with rooms designed to resemble an Indian teepee. Two of these motels survive, one in San Bernardino, CA, the other in Holbrook, AZ.

And finally, the photo I used for inspiration while I was writing.

Mailboxes line the road beside the original alignment of Route 66 in Peach Springs, Arizona.

Have you ever ridden the Mother Road? There’s an eerie throwback vibe to it that seems to echo the past. If you haven’t been on it, I highly recommend a road trip!

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Laura Drake is a New York and self-published published author of Women's Fiction and Romance.
Her romance series, Sweet on a Cowboy, is set in the world of professional bull riding. Her debut, The Sweet Spot, was a double-finalist, then won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She’s since published 12 more books. She is a founding member of Women's Fiction Writers Assn, as well as a member of Western Writers of America and Women Writing the West.
Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.

38 thoughts on “The ‘Mother Road’”

  1. We have travelled Rt, 66 many, many times and it is always so interesting to see buildings from such different eras especially when they are still in use. Instead of traveling Rt 40, the interstate where you just zip along and not see anything very interesting, Rt.66 gives me a glimpse of “what was” back then, and I really love it.

  2. I’ve heard reference of it on different movies and TV shows but have never had the opportunity to go on it. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Welcome. These are some fascinating facts about this road. Our family went down part of the way on this on vacation in the 60’s

  4. I tell you, Laura, I’m so tired of Covid and being mostly stuck at home. A road trip is just what I need – hopefully soon! I absolutely love the idea of a Route 66 road trip!!

    I haven’t researched one yet, but where does it begin and end? I’m in Nebraska so nothing close by, is there?

    Love, love the mailbox picture!

  5. I have only traveled on parts of it, Thank you so much for posting about it, it is really interesting. Have a Great rest of the week and stay safe. Thank you for sharing the photos, the one with the mailboxes is super nice!

  6. When I was a kid, every summer, we would travel to California to visit grandparents and a large part of that trip was on Route 66. I distinctly remember the Burma Shave signs. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  7. Laura, what a great blog! Although I was born in the hospital on the corner of our main street and Route 66 and have lived her all of my life, I didn’t know all of the history you provided. Oh gosh, how many memories have I had “Getting my kicks on Route 66”. Although we now have Interstate 40, almost all of the towns have an exit, both east and west, if you want to stay on Route 66 in most area. Thanks so much for the information that I didn’t know, which was a lot. Hugs, P

  8. Interesting post. We have been on a few sections of Route 66. On one of our trips, we had our grandson with us and stopped at a Route 66 museum. I don’t remember exactly where it was but it and the town were interesting. When we can travel again, one of our trips is going to be driving out the length of Route 66 and coming back Historic Rout 20. The areas we traveled along RT 66 did seem to have a 1950’s to 70’s vibe to them, especially the museum, which of course was representing it in its hay day. I knew a bit of what you covered, but learned some more interesting tidbits.
    I hope your agent gets your book into print soon. Stay safe and healthy.

  9. Great blog. I’ve been on Route 66 in many states but it was way back when I was a child and I didn’t soak it up and enjoy it like I would as an adult. I lived in Amarillo as a child so that is my biggest memories of it.

  10. I enjoy learning about Rt. 66. I have never had the opportunity to drive/ride on it. Thank you for sharing.

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