Thursday, February 26, 2009

Getting our kicks

On Route 66: The Mother Road
Our wheels 
Fifties Americana

Roadtrip chic aside, it was always going to take a massive dose of Americana to get me in the driving vacation mood. Luckily our first overnight layover at Williams, AZ proved just the ticket. Williams - named after William Williams, an early 19th century explorer said to have trapped beaver in the area - lies bang on Route 66, the old Chicago to LA highway immortalised in countless Hollywood flicks. Fittingly, for a newish Mom, Route 66 is also known as the 'Mother Road'. (And 'America's Main Street'.)

These days Route 66 exists more in tourist souvenir shops than actual asphalt; the highway was superseded by the creation of a new interstate road system that bypassed towns like Williams. Happily for Williams' residents, the town earned its place in the Route 66 hall of fame by being the last to be decommissioned in 1984. 

Visit today, though, and it will feel more like 1954: many of the motels lining the curbside have kept their original neon signage. As had the diner we dragged Louis out to; with its radio dial set permanently to Elvis-esque Fifties classics I half expected the Fonz to saunter in while we were eating our dinner.  

Just as well it was out of season; Williams chockfull of tourists would be a different story. At least the passing throngs - the town lies just 60 miles from the Grand Canyon's southern rim - have thrown a lifeline to the shops along its Main Street, more than can be said about many other US towns these days. One mini moan though: for the light sleepers among you, be warned that bedding down at a motel, albeit a glamorous boutiqueised one carefully selected by DJ to make up for the horrors of Las Vegas, has one big drawback - the passing traffic can make it darn noisy.  

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