Founded at the Heart of Route 66

My husband, Richard, got me interested in Route 66 several years ago. Initially, I did not know what drew people to the Route, but that was soon to change— thanks to him.

Richard had always wanted to ride his motorcycle the entire Route, beginning to end. He bought Jerry McClanahan’s Route 66 EZ Guide and read through it, over and over. Finally, Richard and his best friend got on their motorcycles and took off. Their plan was to meet in Saint Louis, drive to Chicago, and then return to Saint Louis on Route 66.

When Richard returned home, he was excited to show me the photos he had taken. Although he did not take very many photos, I instantly got a small taste of what drew people to Route 66. He showed me photos of old restored gas stations, a few interesting restaurants, and of course, the Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois.

We bought more books about Route 66 and read them after Richard’s trip. The more I read, the more interested I became. I told Richard I HAD to travel Route 66! Unlike Richard, I wanted to drive the Route in a comfortable car, and (since he’s the nicest guy ever) that’s what we did. We began by exploring the Route through Springfield, Missouri, where we live. I began to view things differently in our city that day. Even though I had seen many of these things hundreds of times, I then knew the roads and buildings were relics and reminders of years past—when Route 66 was THE road to travel.

Since then, Richard and I have driven the entire Route together and documenting the Mother Road through photography. We have opted to drive the Route in segments, which allowed us to spend more time actually seeing things along the Route, instead of racing through it due to time constraints. It also allowed me to capture our memorable adventures through an entirely different perspective. We have loved every minute of it!!!

One important factor I never considered in the beginning stages of my new-found love for Route 66 was its people. I only had to travel approximately 25 miles from my home when I discovered my love and appreciation for the people of Route 66. In two words: Gary Turner. He was such a sweetheart! His love of all things Route 66, including the sights and its people, was contagious! Years later, it has been proven to me time and time again, the people of Route 66 are the finest folks you’ll ever meet! Whether you meet business owners, artists, authors, musicians, or fellow travelers, always take a few moments to chat. You’ll be glad you did!

This was a very short version of our story. Please come back to read full stories as I continue to write about our Route 66 travels, including Richard’s motorcycle trip from Chicago to Saint Louis, his very unfortunate motorcycle trip from Springfield, Missouri to Shamrock, Texas, and many other stories about our travels on Route 66. If by chance you are not already a Route 66 lover, I hope to change that!


Judy Walker
Route 66 Photographer and Preservationist

Author: Judy Walker

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