Sunday, May 10, 2015

Route 66

While pondering some potential future travel plans, I tripped over a map in Mad Maps for Route 66 that runs 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles. I have several Mad Maps and have always found them useful. "What the heck," I thought, it may make for a nice Summer trip, and ordered the Map for $16.95.

The above photo isn't from Mad Maps. It's just a stock photo I found  and presented to show you the overall route. Mad Maps are always very nice quality. They provide travel directions, road houses/restaurants and information about roadside attractions along the way. Same, of course, for the Route 66 Map that I received.

What I initially found interesting and quite surprising about the Route 66 Mad Map is that the travel directions were extremely long and complicated. Lots and lots of turns and lots and lots of very short directional instructions! I suppose I was being a little naive here, but I was thinking the whole trip was going to be like one road (as in, Route 66) all the way. Apparently that's not the case anymore. :)

The Mad Map actually subdivides Route 66 into five legs starting in Chicago and ending in Santa Monica, effectively breaking down the entire route into manageable sections of travel directions and attractions.

  • The 1st leg of the map covers 320 miles from Chicago to St. Louis and includes 91 directional instructions. A directional instruction is simply an instruction to make a turn or keep a bearing, as in turn right or turn left or bear right or bear left. The suggested time on this leg, which I believe includes estimated time stopping at attractions and roadhouses is 1-2 days.
  • The 2nd leg of the map covers 423 miles from St. Louis to Tulsa and includes 78 directional instructions. The estimated time is 1-2 days.
  • The 3rd leg of the map covers 688 miles from Tulsa to Santa Fe and includes 110 directional instructions. The estimated time is 2-3 days.
  • The 4th leg of the map covers 813 miles from Santa Fe to Barstow, CA and includes 66 directional instructions. The estimated time is 2-3 days.
  • The 5th leg of the map covers 158 miles from Barstow, CA to Santa Monica and includes 26 directional instructions. The estimated time is 1 day.

Crikey! That's 371 turns and up to 11 day to cover 2,402 miles. Dang, what the heck happened to Route 66?

Well, it is what it is, and after taking a step back and studying this whole touring prospect I've got to say that Mad Maps really did a kickass job putting their map together considering all the changes that have apparently been made along the route over the decades. It really must have required a ton of work and required a lot of time.

So the question is, do I want to take it on? I've got 11 or more days to throw at a trip like this and I can take on 2,400 miles (plus all the miles to and from) without a thought; done that many times. The issue is that I'm not really enamored with all the short directional instructions that I'm seeing in the route that now makes up Route 66. I'm referring to routes that are full of little short <1.0 mile roads. I could go crazy on a touring bike following routes like that. In some instances, there are so many directional instructions that I'd clearly have to build a route in my GPS to follow. I wonder if my GPS would even hold that much data.

Seriously, I like the idea of riding the length of Route 66. I could pick up two states that I've never ridden in (Oklahoma and California). Plus, the last time I was out in Arizona on my bike I regrettably missed my chance to visit Meteor Crater near Flagstaff. I'd always planned to go back and it's actually an attraction in the Mad Map.

Well, I just don't know. I invested $16.95 in the map so I think I owe it to myself to at least give it some serious thought. I'll let you know....


  1. My wife and I are going to make that trip as soon as some papers from the government arrives. We've been ready for the last month. We'll be traveling from before Oatman (we live in Las Vegas) to the off ramp that takes to North Carolina but, picking Route 66 again a couple of hundred miles south of Chicago to Chicago and then west to Mt Rushmore, Custer's last stand and Moab, UT before arriving back home.

  2. I forgot to say I have a website called that we'll be publishing images on as we travel it. I took a month for a trip from Chicago to Flagstaff in 2006. A shorter domain is that the images will be on. Thanks!