Sunday, February 27, 2011

Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times on "The 6"

This iconic image documents the closing scene in Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, shot right on the Santa Clarita stretch of U.S 6 in 1936.; click here to watch the video  According to the Founder and CEO of the US Route 6 Association, Russ Lombard (much more on him in future posts), "more major movies and TV shows have been filmed along the old U.S. 6 in the Santa Clarita, California area than on any other highway."  I'm looking forward to getting out of the car, putting on a bowler hat and penguin-stepping down the road, just like the star of Modern Times. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Route 6; Why Me?

I was 14 when I bought my first "Lets Go USA," a packet of highlighters and a fold-out map of the Lower 48.  As a non-driving teenager, I probably spent a good 50 - 100 hours designing a cross-country itinerary; one that would take me to each and every state in order to drench myself in the culture, history and NOWness of all parts of my country.  In the ensuing years, I'd move from the New York area to tiny Amherst, MA (UMass), Nacagdoches, TX (SFA University) and Houston, TX before coming back home to Connecticut.

I never lost the driving/exploring bug, though, and applied it to magazine and newspaper travel writing.  But though I've written hundreds of articles, and traveled tens of thousands of miles both here and abroad, I've never embarked upon that much yearned for cross-country trip.  My kids have flown the coop, I'm relatively young and healthy.  So, it's time.  See you on Route 6!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mid-America Windmill Museum

As each day goes by, I discover at least half a dozen singular charms along U.S. Route 6. The federal road travels through 14 U.S. states: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. Each state, of course, has its own sense of pride. Each has some little out of the way attraction that people "from near and far" come to see.

If you stay on Route 6 and don't detour very far, you'll see a lot of these pieces of Americana that you'll miss for sure while zooming by on the Interstates. You might get from one place to another quickly, but just imagine all that you'd miss; like The Mid-America Windmill Museum in Kendallville, Indiana.

For those kiddos who think that wind-power is some modern, green technology, educational gems like the Windmill Museum give us perspective on technology and industry.

I'm looking forward to checking out this museum on my trip this summer. And I'm equally looking forward to passing my impressions on to you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Route 6 - A Primer

US Route 6 slopes gently clear across the United States. Otherwise known by the vaguely communist moniker, The Grand Army of the Republic Highway, Route 6 begins at the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown, MA, and slants slightly southward, making its way west through 14 states. Then, at the Nevada/California border, Route 6 drops off precipitously, like the end of a good Viagra run, south to Long Beach, CA. Or at least it used to before the California powers that be decided to truncate the route in the tumbleweed tract of Bishop in 1964, lopping over 300 miles off its notable length.
Route 6 is not the oldest transcontinental road. That distinction goes to the graveled 1914 Lincoln Highway, which grew from the idealistic mind of Carl Fisher, founder of the Indianapolis 500 and who would later create Miami Beach out of a malarial Florida swamp. At 3,205 miles, Route 6 is not even currently the longest coast-to-coast road in America. That would be US Route 20; 3,345 miles from Boston, MA to Newport Oregon.
But before California went rogue with its routes in the crazy-mod 60’s, US Route 6 had been the longest transcontinental road for several glorious decades, stretching out at an impressive 3652 miles.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Six on 6: Six Weeks on US Route 6

For 28 glorious years, US Route 6 was the longest transcontinental road in the United States, running from Provincetown, MA to Long Beach, CA. In the months to come, I'll be posting snippets about the Route; how it came into existence, where it runs and who even cares.

Then, on May 20, I plan to drive the route clear across our country - highlighting the best places to stay, eat, shop and see along the way - over 6 weeks.

Stay tuned and if you have any great advice, leave me a comment.