Last year, when I turned double nickles and my kids flew the nest, I decided to drive cross-country on the second longest highway in the U.S., Route 6. Route 6, also known as the vaguely communist-sounding Grand Army of the Republic Highway, was once the longest road in America, running 3652 miles through 14 states from Provincetown, MA to Long Beach, CA, but fell to second place after California renumbered its routes in 1964. US Route 6 now officially ends in Bishop, CA - a civilized Eastern Sierra's town rich in murals and mules - but I wanted to cover every inch of old 6 from Bishop to Long Beach, too.
As a travel writer for magazines and newspapers, I knew the ropes when it came to contacting tourist bureaus (or CVB's in travel-writing parlance) and did so until the CVB's (Convention and Visitor's Bureaus) became just little tourist offices, then Chamber of Commerce offices, and then finally, in the smallest of hamlets, the Mayors Office. I drilled down, made contacts, prepared and then drove. My objective? To write the very first Guidebook for US Route 6.
Friends: Are you going alone?
Friends: Aren't you scared?
Me: No. I travel alone all the time. I'm a travel writer.
Friends: We love Arizona.
Me: Route 6 doesn't go through Arizona. That's Route 66.
Friends: Did you see the movie Cars? It's all about that road.
Me: Cars is about Route 66. This is Route 6.
Friends, upon my return: How was Route 66?
I spent six weeks on Route 6 and have thousands of stories. Some will end up here, on future blogs. Others you'll just have to read about in my book; Stay On Route 6