From ninety-three million miles away the sun somehow managed to position itself at the eastern edge of Route 66, balanced on the horizon like a giant exploding orange. Animate and inanimate alike soaked up the light.

Breakfast at Westside Lilo’s, Ulrich doubling down on bacon and toast, then towards Kingman on the old route and suddenly I feel “it.” From Seligman, for twenty miles, Route 66 fills me with a real sense of promise and anticipation. It becomes impossible not to smile.

The landscape spreads out, small trees moving aside for the highway as it sprints westward. Soft breezes and warm sunshine help pull us along.

There are a few reminders of the glory days, on shelves or sitting outside places like Grand Canyon Caverns & Inn and the Hackberry General Store, but I’ll remember the day for the drive, and those timeless miles that ended much too soon.

Kingman and the Interstate banished my reverie, the last forty miles of Route 66 littered with new housing developments. We drove on to Las Vegas without stopping.

The last picture I took at the Hackberry store was of a soda fountain counter stool. I didn’t realize it then, but its simple, elegant design is a perfect metaphor for everything Ulrich and I experienced on our visit the Southwest. After each trip I say this has been the best one yet, and this was. Time slowed for us, and it too ended much too soon.

Except…I wasn’t quite finished.


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