04/14/2012 09:43 am ET Updated Jun 14, 2012

Rust And Roll On Route 66 (PHOTOS)

I like to drive. Jump in the car, blast some music and keep my eyes open.

If you cruise only the Interstate highways, the fast food joints, gas stations are merely the banal punctuation marks along the way. But if you go off the freeways and find the backroads or old routes of the western U.S. there are some interesting things to be seen: North/South 99 from Calexico on the Mexican border to Blaine on the Canadian Border; 101 from Los Angeles to Tumwater, Washington; scenic highway 1 wending its way up the Pacific Coast. The mother of all these old roads is, of course, Route 66, which runs from Santa Monica, California to Chicago.

While Route 66 is in many ways a nostalgic cliche dotted in various states by tourist nodes, it is also a photogenic necklace of abandoned dreams and artifacts. Through the California, Arizona, New Mexico deserts with mile after mile of nothingness you stumble across these abandoned gas stations, houses that seem to have been abandoned on a moment's notice, kitchens still stocked with pots and pans, ghostly motels with their fifties neon, graffiti laced coffee shops, rusted out trucks and cars by the roadside. These images were taken in various southwestern states on the old Route 66.

Another drive I have done frequently over the years between the Los Angeles area and Whidbey Island, near Seattle, is the US 395 which meanders for much of its length still as a two lane highway through the Mojave desert of California, through central Oregon and Washington. It is a great drive partially because it seems like you have entered a time warp where so little has changed.