Of course, the famous, oft-covered song – written by Bobby Troup in 1946 – is not about Interstate 35. (Which doesn’t rhyme with “kicks.”) We’ll get to I-35 in a little while. But first, a not-so-quick detour about “Route 66,” the old Chicago-to-Los Angeles road through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Commissioned in 1926, it was officially considered “replaced” by the Interstate Highway System (primarily 55, 44 and 40) in 1985. Even so, Route 66 remains the most romanticized roadway in the United States. If you are over 40 and grew up in the Midwest, odds are pretty good you remember a drive (or two) through Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Tucumcari, Flagstaff, Barstow, etc., when all or some of it was still Route 66.
My family had made the St. Louis-LA round trip at least five times before I was in high school, and it made me reflect on the childhood in California that I didn’t end up having _ and the one in Missouri that I did. Born in Los Angeles, I moved to the Show-Me State at age 4 when my dad (originally from the St. Louis area) got a job back there.
Going on the drive from St. Louis to LA was, for me, akin to being Dorothy on the yellow brick road, with the Pacific Ocean serving as Emerald City. There was no “Wicked Witch”, though, because absolutely nothing seemed bad about California. I always was seriously over-excited by arriving in Needles, even though that’s still hours of desert away from the beach. I always was not as very excited about the drive back to Missouri.
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