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  • Writer's pictureJim Clarahan

"Such a Fine Sight to See"

The Ride 4 Dray Route 66 2024 is underway. Penning this first blog from Flagstaff AZ, 1,662 miles west of Chicago, just over two-thirds of the way. Off-route side trips have added another 286 miles to the journey, bringing the total miles over the 5 days since leaving home to 1,948. This and the blogs to follow, aim to share the sights and feelings from the seat of my 2020 Darth Vader all-black H-D Street Glide. Albeit Roue 66 is experienced best live and personally.


Day five's full moon morning started my ride from Albuquerque. Covering 354 total miles. Included brief stops in Grants and Gallup AZ to warm up, a very chilling ride over the continental divide at 7,200+ feet above sea level, and breakfast at the Flatbed Ford Cafe in Winslow AZ. The final push to Flagstaff held breathtaking landscape views every minute and mile. Freight and passenger trains whizzing by in both directions with the San Francisco Peaks (AZ's tallest mountain range with Humphrey's Peak the highest at 12,637 ft) providing a majestic backdrop to the finish-line for the day.


Amarillo by Morning, the classic great by George Strait, played through my mind and on my playlist as I covered the first two days from Peoria to Amarillo TX, 1,075+ miles with an overnight stop in Joplin MO. Not to overlook the beginning leg of the journey, Chicago to Springfield IL, which was captured with several "pre-rides" prior to my official start on Monday, May 20. State by state a host of iconic landmarks along the way, too many to call out, so let's let the pictures do the talking.


Westbound Illinois Route 66, starting at the corner of Adams St. and S Michigan Ave in downtown Chicago.


Westbound Missouri Route 66 starts with crossing the Mississippi River on the old McKinley Bridge and riding by the Gateway Arch. Following the original 66 pathway southwest of the city, the adventure continued through Rolla and Uranus MO finally ending in Joplin in the very southwest corner of Missouri.


Punching above its weight, the 13 mile stretch of Kansas Route 66 is chalk full of fun sights from days gone by. Located in the very southeast corner of Kansas, the westbound route crosses the MO/KS border a few miles west of Joplin and rolls into Galena KS. Continuing west just a few miles through Riverton, then a 90-degree turn south, over the "Marsh Rainbow Bridge" (built in 1923, the last of its type on Route 66), and onward through Baxter Springs KS, the last small town on Kansas Route 66.


Oklahoma! Route 66 Oklahoma westbound starts in the Native American village Quapaw, followed by Commerce and Miami. To pick up time, I took the Oklahoma Turnpike to Tulsa, then veered onto Old '66 to Edmond and Oklahoma City (OKC). Bad or good luck? An unexpected throttle failure on the westside of OKC, forced an emergent roadside stop. Luckily, I was in the right lane of 4-lane wide stretch accelerating to 70 mph to join the traffic flow. Whew! I was able to pullover without incident. Looking round, I saw the Harley-Davidson World OKC dealership less than a mile away. A 5-mph crawl along the shoulder took about 15-minutes to get there. The service team at H-D World OKC put me to the front of the line, and 4-hours later and I was on my way. Thankfully no subsequent problems have occured. Texola, now a ghost town, was my last stop in OK before entering Texas. The glaring sunset made the final Ieg into Amarillo, 578 miles later, visibly challenging.



An early start the next morning, I couldn't leave Amarillo behind without capturing the infamous Cadillac Ranch and the 2nd Amendment Cowboy. Adrian TX marks the halfway point between Chicago and Los Angeles. A late morning lunch at the Midway Cafe was the last full stop in Texas, before venturing onward to New Mexico. The ghost town of Glenrio TX and NM, mile marker "0".


Two nights in Albuquerque to "rest" my bones and venture about the NM countryside. Cochiti Lake Reservoir & Dam and the Rio Grande River were pleasant surprises. La Bajada, an unpassable stretch of old 66 (1926 - '32) with steep hairpin turns has been reduced to dirt and gravel. Heading south through Old Albuquerque along NM 313 (old NM 66), then picking up Central Ave, to take in iconic landmarks and a stop at the 66 Diner for a late afternoon lunch before retiring to my hotel for much needed rest.


What a wonderful journey this is. Exceeding expectations every mile along the way. Stay tuned ... the Ride 4 Dray Route 66 story ... to be continued ....


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