“Who’s idea was this anyway? Do we really want to spend this much time in a car, with kids, trying to capture a look into the past? … It looks broken down to me…”
The above is an excerpt written by my husband. I think everyone thought I was crazy when I decided that our family was going to embark on an epic road trip exploring Route 66. And that my ultimate goal was to make it all the way from Chicago to Santa Monica and back in 11 days.
Why Route 66? I really have no idea. I pretty much shared my husband’s above sentiments about the old road. But I knew I had a goal in mind… Two goals actually: 1) To see the Grand Canyon, and 2) To make it to the Pacific Ocean. Other than that, whatever happened along the way would happen.
So, re-exploring the question of why Route 66? Especially when traveling with two little kids, one of which was completely averse to car travel. Well that’s exactly why. I wanted my overly-sensory son to experience the discomfort so he could discover the amazing things that could happen if he could just let go a little. In fact, I wanted that for all of us. We had all grown a little too comfortable with our lives in the suburbs. And I, especially, felt that I had reached a time in my life when I would explode and maybe leave some collateral damage if I couldn’t find a way for the family to burst out of our comfort zone together.
Another reason to explore Route 66 is because of the simple fact that a very popular children’s movie (you know the one I’m talking about) addresses the importance of the old road and the changes that growth and capitalism can effect – positive or negative. I am definitely one who lives to tie in life lessons with popular culture (and math lessons, and science lessons, and all kinds of lessons). After all, children and adults alike are already familiar with popular culture. Comparing pop culture with new ideas makes the new ideas more accessible, and imbues the things we all experience in everyday life with so much more meaning. Does that make sense?
Yet another reason for Route 66 is that our family started calling the summer of 2016 the Summer of 6! The twins were 6, we purchased season passes to Six Flags, the year 2016 ended in a 6, so it only made sense to explore The Mother Road, Route 66.
To recap, the reasons we took this road trip:
1. To see sites that my husband and I had talked for years about seeing, but always disregarded our wanderlust for home, work, and school responsibilities.
2. To help my overly-sensitive son to overcome some of his discomfort and fear with experiences in everyday life.
3. To break our family out of a comfort zone that was stifling our zest for life.
4. To help my children learn the real story behind the fiction of one of their favorite children’s movies.
5. Because it was the Summer of 6 for our family!
All that said, we had an amazing trip. Despite the fact that there is a dearth of information out there about where Route 66 actually is and how to travel with 6 year olds! On this website, I will share resources that we used to make our trip successful and the routes that we took.
One last thing… Especially when traveling with children, it’s important to remember that your trip is YOUR trip. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should and should not do during your trip. Route 66 is a very old road with lots of starts and stops. We did not stay 100% faithful to traveling ON Route 66 the whole way. We had limited time and our children had limited patience, especially for the 10-12 hour drive days. Route 66 symbolizes the freedom to explore our nation, the freedom that technology has given us, and the freedom that we all need to feel. And we all should feel free to explore in the way that works for each of us!