Route 66 Adventure Handbook
By: Drew Knowles
Publisher: Santa Monica Press
Publication Date: May 2017
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
"Get Your Kicks on Route 66" was a popular song from the 40's, sung by Nat King Cole, that helped bring that long stretch of road - Route 66 - to fame. Now you can get your own kicks on Route 66 if you bring along the Route 66 Adventure Handbook, as it will lead you to many of the hidden, and not-so-hidden, gems along this road.
Route 66 was one of the first highways in the United States, with completion coming in 1926. It runs from Chicago to California, and travels through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, on its way to Santa Monica, California. In the 1950s, following President Eisenhower's signing of a bill which saw the creation of the "Interstate Highway system" and numerous major, "super highways" being built, many people assumed the famous road was all but dead. But while these new highways challenged the reign of Route 66 and as the author of the Route 66 Adventure Handbook notes, it seemed for a while that the famous road was fading into oblivion, thankfully, travelers eventually recognized the unique qualities of this famous route, and now it is enjoying a resurgence.
Now in its fifth edition, the Route 66 Adventure Handbook is divided into chapters by state, running southwest from Illinois to California. Each chapter includes multitudes of attractions, far more than I've seen in other travel books. And many of these attractions are spots that are missed by other books, places that are about as unique as Cadillac Ranch where car "art" shows real Cadillacs partially buried, "...which are said to be positioned at the same angle as the sides of the Great Pyramids of Egypt." (pg. 290) In addition, each chapter also includes a "Further Afield" section where attractions, just a short distance away from the famous route, can be found.
The Route 66 Adventure Handbook is written in an easy-to-read/follow style and the layout is easy on the eyes which makes this book perfect for picking up and referring to over and over. There is so much to choose from for your road-trip visits within its pages that you'll want to start searching through the book long before your trip begins. My top pick from the plethora of attractions in this book has to be "Big Brutus" - a giant, and I mean GIANT! ("the second-largest ever built") - power shovel in West Mineral, KS. A photograph of Brutus shows a car parked next to it which gives you a good idea of just how large Brutus is. And I must mention all the photographs because this book is chock full of them - almost every attraction mentioned is accompanied by a good, clear photo. To make it even easier to find, below each photo is the GPS location of the attraction. If you're planning a trip to explore Route 66, whether a quick escape along a portion of the road, or an adventure enjoying the full, 2,000-plus mile route, be sure to take the Route 66 Adventure Handbook with you so you won't miss a single attraction on this famous road.
Quill says: John Steinbeck called Route 66 "The Mother Road" in The Grapes of Wrath, and for good reason. Now, with the Route 66 Adventure Handbook, you can explore this fantastic stretch of asphalt and enjoy all the unique jewels it has to offer, jewels that others without the handbook may miss. Get the book, hop in your car, and start driving!