Thursday, July 16, 2015

Riding the Mother Road - Route 66 California or Bust

Shirley Hailstock

             Since I was a very young child, I’ve had a fantasy of driving a fast car on Route 66, a thousand-mile stretch of road beginning in Chicago and ending in Los Angeles.  It predated the superhighways and would meander through towns, cities, and hamlets allowing a driver to see the country as they passed through it.
Photo Credit: Morguefile

             I used to watch an old television series with Martin Milner and George Maharis called Route 66.  They drove a red Corvette (it was actually blue) in the age when the price of color television was only beginning to reach affordability for the common man.  We had a black and white model.  Every week one blonde and one dark-haired man would set off in a convertible with only adventure awaiting them.  They’d stop and work to get enough money for repairs, gas, food, and the essentials of a life on the road.  They had no attachments, nothing to keep them tied to any one place.  The world was their highway and there were magical escapades at every stop.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

             What freedom.  What escape, I thought.  This was a wonderful way to live.  And I wanted to do it.  However, I was a girl with many years ahead of me before I was even old enough to drive, much less learn the constraints put on women and the added bonds that held black women back during that time.  Yet that sense of freedom to comb the road, stopping along the way for the pure sense of adventure or just to find out where the road leads, never left me.  Today I will drive down a road with the sole intention of finding out where it goes.  Dead-ends, grassy knolls, babbling brooks, farm country, the center of town, warehouse districts, or suburbs, all have something to say.  They feed that sense of freedom, of being uninhibited.  Many of these drives have fueled my own stories or provided me with fresh ideas for current or future projects.
             My sense of adventure has never been satisfied, although I have explored places since that black and white television program ended, and I learned to drive.  Oftentimes, I’ve foregone the fastest route, and taken the secondary, more scenic roads that wind through towns and slow down to twenty-five miles an hour.  I believe keeping adventure alive is a plus and it will never end for me.  There is so much to see, so many people to talk to and discover the uniqueness of their lives.
             While I’d love to drive that Corvette, it isn’t the need for speed that calls me, but that all important freedom that can be obtained with only a car and the open road. Most of Route 66 survives today, but not in its original, well-maintained form. The road is cracked, overgrown, and hard to find in places where only a Jeep, not a Corvette, can traverse. My dream of taking that adventure and finding out where the road leads remains alive and well and as Route 66 beckons, I know there are interesting lives down every roadway.

             This was the inspiration for writing my next book, Promises to Keep, which will be released on August 1st.  While I haven't yet driven all of Route 66, I have been on parts of it.  My characters go from end to end, meeting those interesting people I thought about along the way.  Promises to Keep was fun to write.  I got to fulfill (vicariously) that long ago dream and I thank Heartwarming for allowing me to cross that off my bucket list.
             I hope you enjoy the ride.


22 comments:

  1. Shirley, how exciting. Looking forward to the book. One of my brothers-in-law wanted to travel Route 66. My husband and I went part of the way with them. The men bought the hats, the shirts, the other memorabilia along the way. Somewhere I still have a shot glass with the Route 66 insignia on it. The Eagles loved to travel that highway and they did concerts along the way. What fun. I love hearing where an author gets a story idea.

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    1. I have a lot of memorbilia too, I bought it online and I have a friend who's got a bunch of it too. I even loved the two movies Disney made that take place on the road -- CARS and CARD II

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  2. I love to take the longer, more scenic route too, Shirley. What a great cover!

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    1. Harlequin did the cover without any input from me, but I love it too.

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  3. Shirley, do you remember the episode where an older guy (someone's grandfather?) wanted to meet a woman he'd been corresponding with, but he didn't want to disappoint her so he asked one of the Route 66 men to do it and wear the identifying rose? The woman was "old" too, and she'd done the same thing, so two young strangers meet and know little about each other. Eventually they figure it out, of course, and the resulting romances were wonderful. Shirley, I love your sense of adventure!!

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    1. I've watched them all. They are available on YouTube. I remember that one. I thought of Longfellow's COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH when i was watching it. It's a variation, but the theme is the same.

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  4. What a great post, Shirley. Like Roz, I love knowing how other writers gets their ideas (mostly because mine are so hard to come by!) Sounds as though your life will always be exciting if your guided by that need to explore. Good for you. I loved 'Route 66.' I was beginning to think of myself as a writer at 15, 16 and I thought Sterling Silliphant, who wrote most of the episodes, wrote the most amazing dialogue. Not much of an adventurer myself, but have great respect for you hearty souls who just want to know. Congratulations on the book!

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    1. you're guided by . . . sorry.

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    2. I love adventure. Once I went to Italy alone. I don't speak Italian and had not friend to support me. I had the best vacation -- EVER. And I learned a lot of language. Especially the word NO.

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  5. I loved Route 66--and Martin Milner! I have friends who've driven it a few times and recommend it highly. Something else to add to the bucket list. I love your cover and share your enthusiasm for slower scenic routes.

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  6. I loved George Maharis. I would just be mesmerized when he came on the screen. However, whenever I saw Martin Milner in future movies, I always watched them. One that I often see is the Twilight Zone episode where Vera Miles is keep seeing herself and no one believes her. At the end Martin Milner is seeing himself.

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  7. I've only seen bits of Route 66, around Amarillo, Albuquerque, and Flagstaff, but I'd love to drive it someday. The lure of Route 66 plays a major part in a short story of mine.

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    1. Beth, is that story available. I'd love to read it. I've been on the part of Route 66 in California,

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  8. Like Beth, I've seen it near Albuquerque and Flagstaff. If you keep going, past Flag, and toward the Grand Canyon Cave, they have the fire engine that inspired the one in CARS. How cool is that.

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    1. I believe I saw that when we were on our way to the Grand Canyon. My son was still in grade school then and CARS was one of his favorites. Since he couldn't drive, he pointed out every sign and every point he recognized from any movie he'd ever seen. Remind me to tell you about driving around Los Angeles re-creating the movie VOLCANO.

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  9. Shirley, Your post was terrific. I love adventure and fulfilling them is truly one of those important promises to keep to ourselves that makes life worth living. Once we are too old to make those adventures a reality its imperative we all follow your path and at least do it vicariously! Like Beth and Pamela, I've only driven parts of Route 66 in Arizona mostly, but even that itty bit, was an adventure!! Can't wait to read the book and the cover is fantastic! Congrats.

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    1. I used to think I was too old for things I did in the past, but I'm not. At the moment, I'm playing tennis 4 days a week with teenagers. Of course, they don't know how old I am (no grey hairs). I hope to keep going on adventures for many more years to come.

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  10. Shirley, I love your sense of adventure. I have one, too, and also like to take those back roads... The book sounds wonderful--thank you for sharing your inspiration.

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    1. You're welcome. Even in your own town, go down a road you've never been on and see where it ends or begins as the case may be.

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  11. Shirley, I love to travel, and whenever I get lost I just say it's an adventure. I have lots of adventures. And I used to watch Route 66 and dream, too. I so admire that you went to Italy by yourself! When I had the time to do that, I didn't have the money, and now that I might have the money, I don't have the time. lol. But I am going to Israel next year.

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  12. I have a 13 years old and together we have been traveling a lot during her holidays from school. I know there are only a few more years we can do this before she knows everything and I just don't understand, but while it's good, we'll go. Then I'll go. I'm leaving for RWA tomorrow and it's in NYC only a stones throw from me in NJ. But I woke up thinking how do I get to Mackinnaw Island, MI? Do I go through Canada or up from Illinois and into Michigan? Visiting that is on my list and I have a friend I went to high school with who lives there.

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