Rick Antonson was president and CEO of Tourism Vancouver. Author of To Timbuktu for a Haircut and Route 66 Still Kicks, he entwines travel, history, and memoir in books about extraordinary places, the lands around them, and the people who call them home. He lives in Vancouver.
Route 66 Still Kicks
Route 66 Still Kicks is an exhilarating, heartbreaking drive down a forgotten road through unknown America. Author Rick Antonson and his travel nemesis, the inscrutable Peter, patiently journey 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles through eight states seeking – and finding – all the old parts that remain of Route 66.
This travelogue blends surprising vignettes with obscure stories about Route 66-related personalities, among them Al Capone, the Harvey Girls, Salvador Dalí, Mickey Mantle, 1930s photojournalist Dorothea Lange, Cyrus Avery (the Father of Route 66), and songster Bobby Troup "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66."
Antonson's fresh perspective on the route's harsh history, its ebb and flow of popularity and viability along with America's economic and social upheavals underpaints a canvas of stories about the road's rise to fame, its segmenting by superhighways, and its fall from grace with the gazetteers – and Route 66's entrenchment in legend.
Their hopes for a trip to Asia dashed, the author (president of Tourism Vancouver and a frequent traveler) and his friend Peter quickly came up with plan B: Route 66, the legendary--and now mostly bypassed--highway that spans nearly 2,500 miles from Illinois to California. The result is this lighthearted travelogue--Rick and Peter being a sort of road-comedy team--but the book also has its bittersweet moments, since to remember Route 66 in its heyday is to remember an America that no longer exists. The book is full of interesting or amazing historical facts (for example, Illinois was the first state to completely pave its portion of Route 66, way back in the Roaring Twenties, because Al Capone needed a good road to transport bootleg liquor). It might be a bit too artsy-fartsy to call the book a road trip into the past, but along the way, Rick and Peter do discover bits of the original Route 66, untouched by the modern world, including a smattering of people who live along the original roadway and who seem to have stepped out of the past. A winning mixture of travelogue and history.
Antonson calls Route 66 "the highway of highways," and after reading his luminous travelogue, you probably will agree. A must for Route 66 aficionados.
I have traveled Route 66 more times than a long-haul trucker and this book is going to become one of the classics of the road ... solid proof that Route 66 still kicks.
Antonson’s most impressive feat in Route 66 Still Kicks is how he incorporates history into the narrative. Even those familiar with the stories of Will Rogers, Cyrus Avery, Mickey Mantle, or Al Capone will find them rendered by Antonson in a fresh way. Highly recommended.
His tale is a middle-age Woodstock in motion, an encounter with an America that isn’t as lost as we think. ...And in the end Antonson proves that Route 66 indeed still kicks--as does America.
The most impressive account of a road trip I have ever read.
...one of the best books of the bunch is partly a homage to Bobby Troup, the lyricist who wrote the 1946 hit “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66".
Antonson’s blend of nostalgia and back roads exploration is also an update on the sorry state of contemporary American society.
Antonson’s book gives some good points of reference for making the trip and if you read it like I did, you’ll want to make this trip too