A road trip on Route 66
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Real America: Inez Sharp
(top) drives the famous road
TRAVEL | United States
A road trip on
Es ist eine Straße der Träume und der Hoffnungen, deren Bilder
und Erzählungen die amerikanische Seele seit fast 100 Jahren
prägen. Spotlight-Chefredakteurin INEZ SHARP erkundet in
Arizona einen historischen Teil der legendären Route 66.
On the way:
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Chicago to Los Angeles that crosses much of the Midwest.
I also learned that a lot of the highway is no longer in use,
so I chose a scenic stretch: 270 miles (434 kilometers) of
road through northern Arizona that oﬀered plenty of classic diners, highway history, and a few exciting extras —
including the chance to see the Grand Canyon.
A CLOSER LOOK
Extremely dry weather hit several states in the Midwest and Southwest of the United States in the 1930s.
Storms of yellow dust, caused by a lack of rain and
farming methods not suited to the Great Plains, covered the landscape. The dust clouds killed crops and
even made everyday activities difficult. To escape the
resulting poverty, more than two million people left
the region, which became known as the Dust Bowl.
The Grapes of Wrath [De )greIps Ev (rÄT]
Beton; hier: Asphalt
hier: gesamte Ernte
Früchte des Zorns
Fotos: Alamy; H. Gruß; iStockphoto; LOOK; I. Sharp
y love aﬀair with Route 66 began in the burning
hot summer of 1976. A week into the school holidays, I was bored and asked my mother for
something to read. She gave me The Grapes of Wrath by
John Steinbeck, a classic 1930s novel she had bought on a
trip to the US.
I loved it. I was captivated by the story of the Joad family’s ﬂight from the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma along a highway called Route 66. I read through mealtimes and deep
into the night. When I ﬁnally closed Steinbeck’s classic, I
promised myself that, one day, I would drive Route 66, a
road that Steinbeck called the “long concrete path across
Over the years, I was reminded of my childhood plan
— especially when I heard the Rolling Stones’s “Route 66”
on the radio or saw Easy Rider on TV. This year, I decided
to take the trip. But I realized I could not cover the route’s
original 2,448 miles (3,940 kilometers), a journey from
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TRAVEL | United States
On the road: Holbrook
Fresh oﬀ the plane at Phoenix airport, I’m ready to head north to
Route 66. As I drive out of the state
capital, I see a landscape bleached
pale yellow and covered with saguaro
cactuses (see Green Light 8/13).
Gradually, this is replaced by red
earth and low, green bushes — classic
cowboy country. After driving for
three hours, I ﬁnally ﬁnd myself on a
section of the legendary road.
Route 66 opened on November
11, 1926. Credit for the idea of a single road connecting Chicago with
Los Angeles goes mostly to Cyrus
Avery, a businessman in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the 1920s, Avery was a
member of the government’s Joint
Board of Interstate Highways, which
was tasked with establishing a national highway system and with numbering and marking the roads. Avery
pressed for the creation of Route 66
and even set up the US 66 Highway
Association to promote its use.
Right: petroglyphs at
Rock Art Ranch;
signs on Route 66
The arrival of the “Main Street of America” created opportunities for cities and towns along the route. Holbrook
was one such place: the small city saw more than a dozen
hotels open within 20 years. Joe & Aggie’s Cafe, where I
stop for lunch, has been around since 1943. Inside, I take a
booth and get to work on a mountain of french fries. An
hour later, the happy owner of a Route 66 fridge magnet, I
drive oﬀ to my next destination.
Before the arrival of the highway or the railroad, this part of Arizona was
home to tribes of Native Americans. Evidence of some of the earliest inhabitants
can be found on Rock Art Ranch. Crossing the dusty parking lot in front of the
ranch, I’m met by owner Brantley Baird, a man with a suntan and a big cowboy
hat. We take a short drive out onto his land, then park and walk down into a
small canyon. There, I come face to face with the oldest art I have ever seen:
scratched into the dark surface of the rock are petroglyphs of people, animals,
and geometric shapes, images left by the ancient Anasazi people. It is deeply
moving to look at these drawings — one of a woman giving birth — created
thousands of years ago.
french fries [(frentS )fraIz] N. Am.
fridge magnet [(frIdZ )mÄgnIt]
Joint Board of Interstate Highways
[)dZOInt )bO:rd Ev )Int&rsteIt (haIweIz] US
press for sth. [(pres f&r]
saguaro cactus [sE(gwA:roU )kÄktEs]
Magnet für den Kühlschrank
allmählich, nach und nach
Gremium, Behörde für das
auf etw. drängen
Joe & Aggie’s: