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I'm driving Route 66 next week... and I'm so nervous!
August 7, 2012
10:55 pm
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WillC
Oxford
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I'm travelling from the UK to Chicago on Friday, spending a few nights in the Windy City, then starting my Route 66 journey to Los Angeles on Monday.

 

Obviously I'm really excited... but at the moment my nerves outweigh my excitement!

 

What exactly am I nervous about?

 

- Driving in the USA for the first time (specifically the big cities: Chicago and Los Angeles)

- Getting lost and, therefore, into arguments with my girlfriend (who will be navigating!)

- Unfriendly/unwelcoming/crazy people

- Unbearable heat (especially when trying to sleep)

 

Hopefully all of my fears are unfounded (I'm sure they are). We've done a lot of research, booked all of our motels and planned a detailed itinerary (maybe too detailed).

 

If anyone is somehow able to calm my nerves, please be my guest!

--- Drove Route 66 in August 2012 ---

August 8, 2012
1:58 am
frank
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A lot of Americans (myself included) do not like driving in Chicago or LA either.  But the Chicago street system is based on a grid.  All the major tourist stuff is right downtown.  Historic 66 through the city is pretty easy.  The real problem is there's a lot of TRAFFIC. 

It will be MUCH easier once you hit Ogden Avenue in Chicago and begin the long southwest journey.  If you have the EZ66 Guide, and a friendly navigator, you will be in good shape.  You'll be enjoying corn fields and small towns almost before you know it.

As long as you drive through Chicago and LA outside of rush hours, you should be okay.  WBBM-780 in Chicago and KNX-1070 in LA are all-news stations with frequent detailed traffic reports.   

You may well go the entire trip without encountering anybody who is carrying a weapon--outside of law enforcement. 

The heat should not be a problem at night--air conditioning takes care of it.  All modern motels have central air, and even the vintage places have room units.  It's probably not even listed in their brochures (nor is running water) because it's taken for granted.

Hope this helps.  I'd be nervous too, if I was going from America to Europe for the first time.   

August 8, 2012
1:24 pm
reils133
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WillC said:

I'm travelling from the UK to Chicago on Friday, spending a few nights in the Windy City, then starting my Route 66 journey to Los Angeles on Monday.

 

Obviously I'm really excited... but at the moment my nerves outweigh my excitement!

 

What exactly am I nervous about?

 

- Driving in the USA for the first time (specifically the big cities: Chicago and Los Angeles)

- Getting lost and, therefore, into arguments with my girlfriend (who will be navigating!)

- Unfriendly/unwelcoming/crazy people

- Unbearable heat (especially when trying to sleep)

 

Hopefully all of my fears are unfounded (I'm sure they are). We've done a lot of research, booked all of our motels and planned a detailed itinerary (maybe too detailed).

 

If anyone is somehow able to calm my nerves, please be my guest!

August 9, 2012
10:59 am
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WillC
Oxford
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frank said:

A lot of Americans (myself included) do not like driving in Chicago or LA either.  But the Chicago street system is based on a grid.  All the major tourist stuff is right downtown.  Historic 66 through the city is pretty easy.  The real problem is there's a lot of TRAFFIC. 

It will be MUCH easier once you hit Ogden Avenue in Chicago and begin the long southwest journey.  If you have the EZ66 Guide, and a friendly navigator, you will be in good shape.  You'll be enjoying corn fields and small towns almost before you know it.

As long as you drive through Chicago and LA outside of rush hours, you should be okay.  WBBM-780 in Chicago and KNX-1070 in LA are all-news stations with frequent detailed traffic reports.   

You may well go the entire trip without encountering anybody who is carrying a weapon--outside of law enforcement. 

The heat should not be a problem at night--air conditioning takes care of it.  All modern motels have central air, and even the vintage places have room units.  It's probably not even listed in their brochures (nor is running water) because it's taken for granted.

Hope this helps.  I'd be nervous too, if I was going from America to Europe for the first time.   

Frank, thanks for the reply. It's comforting to hear that all the motels have air conditioning as standard. Hopefully we'll be able to get plenty of sleep at night before hitting the road each morning.

 

I think my main worry about Chicago is that we're picking up our car in downtown so we'll have a relatively long drive before we're out of the city centre. However, I do indeed have a good navigator as well as the EZ66 guide, so hopefully we'll be ok. We also have GPS if we get completely lost.

 

We'll make sure we drive through LA outside of rush hour. We're going to drive to Santa Monica and then head south to Laguna Beach in Orange County. We've both stayed in LA twice before and not in a rush to stay there again, so we're going to have a leisurely few days on the beach in southern California instead.

 

Frank, I have another question that hopefully you'll be able to answer. We've booked all of our motels except for in Shamrock, TX. We rang a motel but the guy said we'll have to ring again on the day that we want it, because there's currently guests staying. He said it would certainly be available. I asked if I could reserve it now because I don't want to take the risk, but he politely said 'no'. It seems a bit strange though, doesn't it?

 

Thanks!

Will

--- Drove Route 66 in August 2012 ---

August 9, 2012
1:56 pm
frank
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Hi Will--The downtown Chicago part of 66 is easier than you think, it's just busy. 

To answer your question about Shamrock TX: most of the motels there are mom-and-pops.  I've encountered the same reservation problem elsewhere.  There are only a few motels in town.  If you CANNOT get a room in Shamrock that night, hop on I-40 to Amarillo.  There's plenty of basic-to-moderate lodging there.  It's 90 miles (145 km) ahead and you can return to Shamrock the next morning. 

The reason for picking Shamrock as a nightly stop is to enjoy the U-Drop Inn and related art deco gas station on 66 at, and just after, sunset.  (It's not that impressive during the day.)  There's also a lovely restored Magnolia gas station about 10 blocks south in the heart of the city. 

August 9, 2012
4:23 pm
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WillC
Oxford
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Our Plan B was to drive on to Amarillo, so I'm glad that's what you would do too. However, hopefully we'll be able to book somewhere in Shamrock. The guy on the phone seemed pretty certain that they'd have a vacancy for the night.

 

We'll then drive on through Amarillo the next day, stopping for lunch at the Big Texas Steak Ranch and then onto Tucumcari.

 

My nerves are beginning to give way to excitement! I have a feeling it'll be the trip of a lifetime...

--- Drove Route 66 in August 2012 ---

September 19, 2012
9:00 pm
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WillC
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TRIP OF A LIFETIME!

 

Got back a couple of weeks ago and still haven't quite recovered.

 

On our first day in the States, we'd only been off the plane a few hours when I asked my girlfriend to marry me. I proposed on the banks of Lake Michigan in Chicago. She said 'yes', which is a good job, because driving across America for 3 weeks would have been awkward if she hadn't!

 

In total we drove 3,016 miles.

 

I will try to post pictures when I have more time. It cost an arm and a leg but it was worth every penny.

--- Drove Route 66 in August 2012 ---

September 20, 2012
12:06 pm
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DynoDave
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Congratulations on your engagement!

 

Glad to hear you had a good time on 66, and I look froward to hearing all about it, and seeing some pictures. Tips and things you learned along the way would be great.

September 24, 2012
10:10 pm
frank
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WillC-- No wonder you were nervous about Chicago.  Congratulations!  I also look forward to hearing about your impressions, especially what you expected versus what you encountered.

For others: Shamrock TX has added at least one brand-new chain motel along I-40 (a few blocks from Rt 66) and has begun a billboard campaign advertising "500+ Motel Rooms."  Some reasons for staying here, versus Amarillo, are detailed above.  In addition, assuming you are heading west, the following night would be spent at a classic motel in Tucumcari NM, either the Blue Swallow or Motel Safari, just 205 miles (330 km) away. 

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