The King's Road.

Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, is a long stretch of highway that connects Chicago to the West (L.A).  Today it has been overtaken by a bigger and newer highway (mostly I-40 from what we experienced). While it has a heritage in the US, it appears that Route 66 is more iconic to the tourists than the locals. In any case, it was a fabulous excuse to get us into the car and see the "real" America. 

Image one.

Image one.

When we decided to do Route 66, I had envisaged a road trip similar to Chevy Chases's National Lampoon's Vacation! Well not exactly, but I had certainly dreamt of the Wild Wild West, ranch style homes, forests, deserts and lots of diners! But never did I imagine it would be heaven for an Elvis Presley fan. Yep, you heard me right. Elvis rules this part of the world. 

So I renamed the "Mother Road" to the "King's Road".

Image two. The King himself, Elvis.

Image two. The King himself, Elvis.

As I had previously said, we started our road trip back to front, from L.A to Chicago.  So it didn't really feel like we were on Route 66 til after we left Las Vegas. Along they way, we stopped to see the Hoover Dam.  Without knowing anything about this man-made structure, I could only share my recollection of the Dam in a classic Elvis Presley movie,viva las vegas (no doubt my sister and mum are nodding their heads right now and saying "oh yeah, that's right").

Image three. Hoover Dam.

Image three. Hoover Dam.

This was only the start… Upon leaving the Dam, we decided to turn on the radio and guess what? There is a satellite radio channel called ELVIS RADIO which is operated from Graceland! (Elvis's most famous home). And, boy did I find this entertaining. As we started to cross the mid-west we listened to Elvis classics like Jailhouse Rock, Suspicious Minds and Burning Love...

Without disappointment, we stopped at many diners and roadside restaurants only discover more lasting impressions on the King.  I recall one diner in Tulsa called Tally’s Good Food Cafe who was taken with Elvis memorabilia! Elvis clock, posters, records, songs, signs! You name it, they probably had it.  After this, it was Elvis radio all the way…

Image four.

Image four.

By the time we reached Springfield, Missouri, I suggested we detour and visit Branson, a town very well known for its country-and-western music, in particular, Dolly Parton.  Just on a side note - if you’ve never been to Branson, it’s certainly a sight to see! Almost a mini version of Las Vegas, completely over the top with whimsical buildings, neon signs and replica monuments like Empire State Building, Titanic, King Kong etc…

Upon arrival, we discovered that there was an Elvis show that afternoon. So to keep in theme with our road trip, we attended the show. "Elvis" performed with a live band and two show girls. It truly was a full-blown concert!  Lucky for us, we knew all the lyrics as we fortunately had time on the road to brush up on Elvis...

(In case you want to see the show - check out Elvis Rock’n’Remember Tribute, performed by Joseph Hall, who had previously performed as Elvis on America’s Got Talent and made it to the top ten finalists!).

Image five. Branson.

Image five. Branson.

As we approached the end of our trip and the sign to Chicago appeared before us, so did the turn-off to Memphis (the hometown of Graceland).  Unfortunately no amount of persuasion was going to convince my fellow travellers to detour here. (Apparently I had hit my limit after seeing Elvis live on stage). 

While I did get to see plenty of deserts, ranches and eat at numerous road-side diners, the real highlight for me was rediscovering my love for the King. While I'm still here in the US, I do see a side trip to Memphis taking place sometime in the future...

Image six. My favourite...Elvis on the piano.

Image six. My favourite...Elvis on the piano.

If you've been on Route 66, please feel free to share your stories with us in the comments below.

Di x

Image sources: one / two / three / five / six. Image four taken by me using my iPhone 4S.