ghosts on route 66
The road shines, the air trembles. In front of the Chevy’s white nose, tumbleweed leads the way. Just when its about to get a metal kiss, it jumps into the desert. Dancing gracefully with the wind, swirling passionately above the sand. Was there ever a better time to listen to The Sons of the Pioneers:
See them tumbling down
pledgin’ their love to the ground
Lonely but free I’ll be found
Driftin’ along with a tumbling tumbleweed
But the radio plays the sound of silence. Even though music made this road a legend. Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry, the Stones, U2; they all found their ‘kicks on Route 66’.
Route 66. Close your eyes and easy riders cruise by. Feel the vibes of their engines, slowly being swallowed by the infinite distance. The Mojave Desert shimmers, LA’s celluloid has been devoured by the black tarmac snake, the neon of Vegas still trillions of sands away.
Well I drove that pickup truck down the dusty county road
Till I found old 66 lookin’ tired and empty and old
I turned off the engine and I turned off the lights
And I just sat there thinkin’ as the day turned into night
Slowly the Chevy turns onto LA’s 91. V6 growling and anxious to conquer miles and more. 91’s four lanes grow to 1’s six. 79 appears, six to two to one on Highway 371. Houses retreat, tarmac turns to dust, mailboxes stand guard.
Up it goes, mile after mile. 371 makes way for 74, spitting out cars from the dry San Jacinto Mountains into the lush oasis of Palm Springs. How many pioneers died here before the Wild West was tamed? In this eerie land that was used to take, not to give.
Cares of the past are behind
Nowhere to go but I’ll find
Just where the trail will wind
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds
The road draws a straight line which pierces the horizon. Just a little while longer. One inch on the map, 50 miles through the dust. Cars and choppers have disappeared, all that’s left is loneliness and the relativity of time.
A crooked cross claims the horizon. A crumbled God and extinguished neon welcome the lone voyager. Here once waited The Hitcher, next to Roy’s. But like memories, colors have faded and faith disappeared from Amboy. What is left waits for the end, exhausted by gravity and the embraces of sun and wind. Buildings sigh on this former crossroad of desire.
Route 66 waits with patience. Lonesome and deserted since Interstate 40 ended it’s era. Ten miles before Needles, the Chevy caresses 66 one last time. Left spin its wheels, first to Searchlight, then to Vegas.
In the rearview mirror 66 smiles and softly whispers:
I know when the night has gone
That a new world’s born at dawn