By Megan Murdock Krischke,
“If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, take the highway, that’s the
Get your kicks on Route 66
It winds from Chicago to L.A.
More than 2,000 miles all the way…”
And so began Nat King Cole’s 1946 hit song, “(Get your Kicks
on) Route 66,”a tribute to one of the most iconic American road trips.
The historic highway opened in 1926, some of it still gravel and dirt, and now
spans 2,400 miles. In 1938 it became the first entirely paved
U.S. highway. Winding through a variety of landscapes and colorful
towns, it still makes driving cross country an entertaining endeavor.
If you are ever traveling between assignments that
span part of Route 66, consider taking an extra week or two to make the most of
the trip. The route from Southern California to the Midwest, for example, will take you from the big city,
through vast deserts
and into the Wild West. You will be treated to the best of small-town America: friendly people, a slower way
of life and down-home foods like Grandma used to make.
A road trip to remember
on Route 66 are sure to bring back some unique memories. For instance, after her first year of
teaching, Elise Shumock took the route from
Los Angeles to Albuquerque on her two-week spring break.
“I had been working so hard in my first year
as a teacher and I wanted to do something amazing. So I decided I wanted to take a road trip and that I was going to visit family in
Albuquerque and take Route 66 to get there,” Shumock reflected.
“Even just the stretch that runs through L.A.
is fascinating,” she continued. “The western terminus of the route is at a
cliff overlooking the ocean and the Pacific Coast Highway. At this point, Route
66 coincides with Santa Monica Boulevard, so you drive through the Santa Monica
promenade, an open air shopping center that draws people from all walks of
life: rich, poor, families, college kids, street performers—it is quite an
experience. From there it runs through Beverly Hills and along a curvy path
through Pasadena where the overpasses are in an Art Deco style—it is a very
interesting way to drive through L.A.”
One of the most memorable stops for Shumock
was the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in southeast New Mexico. The dwellings were built by ancestral Puebloans
approximately 700 years ago.
“It was so interesting to imagine how these
people lived,” she remarked.
Another favorite stop was the Meteor Crater
between Winslow and Flagstaff, Ariz., a mile-wide
hole in the ground that scientists say was created by the impact of a meteor
approximately 50,000 years ago.
“They offered a tour—you wouldn’t think a hole
in the ground would be very interesting, but it really was. It is just so big,
you can’t really comprehend the size of it. There is also a visitor center that
has a large meteor on display,” Shumock reported.
Although much of the drive between L.A. and
Albuquerque is a desert-scape, Shumock said she found the drive
Expect the unexpected
Another traveler, Caroline Howard, picked up Route
66 in Texas during a college road trip from Charleston, S.C. to the Grand
Canyon. She remembers having “some weird and interesting experiences.”
“The first was our stop at Cadillac Ranch near
Amarillo, Texas. We didn’t even know what it was, we had just been told we
needed to go,” she recalled.
“We followed our GPS there and
found the back ends of about 10 old-style Cadillacs sticking up
out of the ground. They were covered in spray paint and people were standing on
them taking pictures. We were especially surprised to find that there were cans
spray paint right there so you could add your initials, or whatever, to the
cars,” she stated.
Another quirky stop was at Stewart’s Petrified
Wood Shop outside of Holbrook, Ariz.
“The place is advertised on billboards
for at least 100 miles,
so we decided we were going to stop to see what it was all about,” she said. “Outside the shop are
these paper mâché dinosaurs eating mannequins that are missing body parts, some
of them wrapped in Christmas lights—and none of it is in good condition. And then you go in and there are all these shiny rocks for
sale and they seem very over-priced—a basketball-sized one was priced at $800.”
The store also sells ostrich food for visitors who want to feed the ostriches
kept in an outside pen.
“It was all so strange and
surreal. But I’d totally recommend stopping just for the experience of it,”
Her trip on Route 66 ended in
“We had dinner at an alien-themed restaurant and then drove to a scenic overlook. It was sunset
and the red rock glowed. It was just amazing. We took a bunch of pictures, but none of them did it
justice,” she said.
If you are considering a Route 66 road trip
between travel nursing assignments, there are a number of online guides to help
you with your planning. Happy travels!
Where would you like to travel? American Mobile can get you there. Find out more about travel nursing jobs across the country, and state nursing
license requirements for all 50 states with our
clickable U.S. map.