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On The Road to Rt. 66 - Santa Monica CA Back Home to Chicago IL

No matter how amazing the trip, it's always good to come home! Such is the case with our Rt. 66 journey - home, safe and sound, basking in the wonderful memories.  There is, however, a postscript!

Before I begin, I want to sincerely thank everyone who followed our incredible road trip on Rt. 66 via Facebook or Twitter! I appreciate all your feedback and am trying to respond back to everyone.


Many of you expressed an interest in motoring along the Mother Road in response to my “virtual vacation” and asked for some specifics, so here is the time line - how many miles per day, where we stayed, rough budget estimates, etc.


We decided to rent a vehicle (mini-van) and fly back so we could take our time over a 2 week period. I spent time researching the route, using two very helpful tools -  the website "Historic Route 66" http://www.historic66.com/,  and an app, “Road Trip 66.”  The website gave us an idea of what we were in for ahead of time, but the app was my main form of information and navigation throughout the trip - best .99-cents I ever spent! This app gives you the entire route, old alignments and new, as well as attractions, complete with descriptions, pictures, websites and phone numbers (if available).  It also has hotels/motels along the route and restaurants/diners, again with accompanying information. 97% of the time it was SPOT ON!  Pretty impressive, since there really are no existing maps of Rt. 66, because the infamous route no longer exists! You know what I mean.

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Day 1 - we drove  309 miles from Chicago to Kirkwood MO and stayed at the Best Western 1200 S. Kirkwood Rd.  Price range $110 to $120. ***I used my AAA discount - all but one hotel took it.  With all the stops along the way (and 2 hours in Pontiac, IL!) this took 10 hours.


Day 2- we drove 431 miles from Kirkwood MO to Tulsa OK and stayed at the Campbell Hotel, 2600 E. 11th St. This restored boutique hotel was built in 1927 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Introductory rates at $119.  This was our longest driving day!  We actually had to get off Rt. 66 and take I-40 part of the way to make up some time! Kind of mis-judged this one a bit - even with the interstate it took 11 hours!


Day 3 - we drove 402 miles from Tulsa OK to Amarillo, TX and stayed at The Big Texan Motel, 7701 I-40 East. Price range, $46 to $85.   Again, another L O N G driving day - 11 hours. Never having been to these states, I didn’t realize how long a drive it would be, particularly with stops along the way!


Day 4 - we drove 310 miles from Amarillo, TX to Santa Fe, NM and stayed at the Santa Fe Sage Inn, 725 Cerrillos Rd. Price range, $75 to $160. This drive was lovely and short, comparatively speaking! We rolled into town at 3:30 pm!  Never having been to the state of New Mexico we opted to stay one night in Santa Fe and two nights in Albuquerque.  In hindsight I would have done the opposite. Santa Fe is such a charming town, an artists’ town with history and character.  Loved it!


Day 5 - a short 77 mile drive from Santa Fe, NM to Albuquerque, NM. We stayed at The Hotel Blue, 717 Central Ave.  Price range $69 to $149. This hotel had an unusual feel to it; no pictures on the walls - but it was clean and it had Tempurpedic beds! Good enough for me! Stayed here 2 nights.


Day 7 - we drove 368 miles from Albuquerque, NM to Flagstaff, AZ. This was a long day because we spent hours driving through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. SO worth it!  Also hit some major storms (monsoon season) and rolled into the Radisson Woodlands Hotel, 1175 W. Rt. 66  around 7:30 pm.  Price range $79 to $149. NICE hotel :)


Day 8 was spent driving across Arizona - 243 miles - to Needles CA. We stayed at the Best Western Colorado River Inn, price range starts at $72. Decided to stop here before spending a day driving in the Mojave Desert - to make sure we had water, ice and the car was in good shape!  We spent a lot of time at various towns in AZ since this drive was a bit shorter.  We got into Needles before 6:00 pm.


Day 9 - we drove 161 miles through the desert from Needles, CA to Barstow CA. We took our time, drank plenty of fluids and arrived at the Rodeway Inn, 1261 E. Main St. around 3:00 pm. Price range - rates start at $66.95.  Gave us time to repack, do some laundry and prepare for the upcoming week.


Day 10 - it was only 168 miles from Barstow CA to Santa Monica CA and the end of Rt. 66 but it seemed like it took FOREVER, once we got into the LA traffic grid!  We finally made it to the Santa Monica Pier around 5:00 pm!  After we took the celebratory pictures, had dinner and just enjoyed the ocean view, we checked into the Doubletree by Hilton at 4th and Olympic, just “off” Rt. 66 - the only hotel that wasn’t located exactly on the historic route!  We stayed there 4 nights, visiting family and friends before flying home on Day 14.


One last bit of parting advice: if you do decide to tackle this baby, give yourself MORE time than you think you’ll need!  Even with all my planning, I could have easily used another week, and there are still things I wouldn’t have been able to see!

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Good luck, and happy motoring!


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