Why did I take a solo trip along Route 66? Well, in 2008, I was a new empty nester, and a series of life events, including illness, death in the immediate family, and other losses of various kinds, had left me depleted and disgusted. During this time, memories of happier times would pass in and out of my consciousness.
Those happy times included the 1960s Route 66 trip from California to Pennsylvania, when I was five years old. I could see the awesome play/sleeping area on a forest-green inflatable mattress in the back of our red-and-white Chevy wagon. Forget seatbelts. There weren’t any. I could still feel the dry heat that rose from the sand at the Arizona rest stop where my dad and the boys played a game of three-man baseball. And I could almost smell the Prell shampoo my mom used to wash my hair in a Texas motel.
Over the years, Route 66 had become a symbol of excitement and adventure for me, and I started to think that a trip across the country, exploring the Mother Road, might be just what I needed to get me out of my funk. So, I proposed the idea to my husband, Jim, but he just couldn’t see how he could get away from work for the three weeks the trip would require. Discouraged and telling a friend about the situation, I said I couldn’t just go alone, could I? And my friend said, “Why not?”
At that point in my life, I had never driven more than a hundred miles by myself, so the idea of driving 6,000 miles out and back was both exhilarating and terrifying. As the departure date I had set for myself drew nearer, I thought about what I was getting into and wondered if I would really do it.
Well, I did it.
On the trip, with miles and miles stretching in front of me, and hour upon hour spent behind the wheel, I had plenty of time to process, without interruption, everything that had happened over the past year. Other than daily phone calls home, and a conversation with a nice, elderly couple at the Grand Canyon, I spoke very little. I wasn’t on the trip to meet new people. I needed to get to know myself again.
I called the trip my reboot, because that’s just what it did for the computer in my head. After the trip, I felt like I could do anything. Whenever I was faced with tackling something I had never done before, I’d think to myself, “I drove all the way across the country by myself. I can surely do this.”
If you’d like to read about the trip, here’s a compilation of the blog posts I created during the 19 days:
Here’s a gallery of photos from the trip.
Ann Silverthorn (Twitter: @annsilverthorn) is a versatile blogger who also writes about a wide variety of topics in numerous genres, including technology, travel, creative, and grant writing.