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Dangers on Route 66

General discussion on traveling Route 66. Ask here when to go, how long it takes, what to see, where to stay, where to eat, what not to miss etc.

Dangers on Route 66

Postby Judia » Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:52 pm

Hi!
I'm from Portugal and this summer me and some friends are thinking of doing route 66 by car. The plan is to rent a car in Chicago and drive to LA, sleeping on motels along the way. We will go in September, 2nd, 3rd and 4th weeks.

My question is if it is dangerous for 3 girls (in our late twenties) to do this alone. A friend of mine that is currently living in Atlanta told me she heard that it is not safe to do this trip.

What kind of dangers might we encounter? Is it safer if we bring some boys along?

thanks!
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby CaptainJoesGirl » Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:33 pm

You will be fine! Just use common sense and you shouldn't have any problems. The only place I have heard to be a bit concerned about would be the St. Louis area, but that can easily be avoided if you are concerned.

I spent two days traveling approx. 375 miles of the Route last year by myself (32 y/o female) and felt completely safe.

Have a great time! It would be a blast to do the trip with a few girlfriends!
"We do it for the stories we can tell..." -Jimmy Buffett
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby Judia » Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:51 pm

Thanks!!! I was starting to think we had to rethink our options... it´s the american movies fault I would guess, people get a little concerned about what the US is really like :)
My friend said she heard that since the highway was built and route 66 was no longer used by as many people as before, it had gotten dangerous... I was starting to imagine a lot of bad things! ;)
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby DeSoto driver » Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:59 am

Judia, I don't think you will have any problems but I would avoid St.Louis. CaptainJoesGirl is right it is easy to do that. I can't think of any place else on the Route where I felt uneasy. You will need maps as the Route isn't marked very well anymore and is impossible to do without detailed directions. I used the "Here it is! " set of maps and they were very good. I think if you come and do the Route you will return home with a very positive opinion of America and Americans.
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby La Regina » Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:47 am

Two years ago a girlfriend and I drove Route 66 (both gals) and we had the best time.
It's almost the oposite. You feel very looked after on Route 66. People are very friendly and helpful and all we had to do was call them if we needed help. Make sure you stop and talk to the locals and tell them you are foreigners and they will do anything for you. They are so happy you have come on Route 66 to spend your money. It's the only way to keep the route alive. So your business is very much wanted. You girls will have a blast. Make sure you stop and chat with Harley and Annabelle in Erick, Oklahoma. They will show you a good time. Take my word for it. :)
(Just don't be too shy, Harley will do his best to make you blush.)
Image Drove the 2440 miles in Fall 2007
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby TheEditor » Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:00 pm

Hi and welcome, Judia.

Just to be exact. the host of this Web site (Swa) says the place he felt most uncomfortable was EAST St. Louis, which is located in Illinois.

That's not to say it's impossible to find bad neighborhoods in bigger cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, Albuquerque and Los Angeles. But the best idea is not to travel through big cities at night ... in fact, at least in Indianapolis where I come from, if you have to travel through a rundown neighborhood, it's best to go in the early morning, when all the street people are disappearing after being up all night.

Anyway, other standard precautions are obvious, but I'll mention them anyway. Don't park your car and sleep along (or near) the highway or pitch a tent in a remote area.

Remember, too, that in America, land ownership is considered almost sacred ... and in some cases may be protected by an armed owner. So don't go hiking or camping in places that could be private property. I strongly doubt that you'd get shot at, but you might get confronted by an annoyed landowner who'll demand to know, "What are you doing on my property?"

The point is that when you take the liberty to step onto someone's private land, it's viewed in the same light as sitting on someone's motorcycle or looking in someone's purse.

But that's the negative side, and it's highly unlikely that you'll have to deal with any of that if you follow basic common-sense rules that apply practically everywhere in the world.

As La Regina noted, you'll really get a taste of what America is all about if you meet the locals. My suggestion is that instead of eating breakfast at a fast-food place like McDonald's ... or snacking on food out of your own cooler ... you go to a downtown "mom and pop" restaurant (that means it's a very small, family-owned business) and sit on the stools at the counter.

Then, as soon as possible, tell either the waitress or some of the folks on the other stools that you're here from Portugal and you'd like to know some of the best tourist attractions in the area. Don't be surprised if someone says something funny like, "Sorry, ma'am, there's nothing interesting to see around here," but that just means they like you and are treating you with the same teasing familiarity that they treat their friends.

More than likely, you'll find out about some interesting places that aren't in your travel guides, and don't be surprised if they try to help you in every way possible and thank you for visiting their small town.

This, to me, is the real America that you certainly won't see in Hollywood movies like "Natural Born Killers."

Good luck ... and be sure to come back here afterward and tell us about your Route 66 experiences.
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby Judia » Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:15 pm

Thanks a lot! It helps a lot to hear the opinion of people who know how it's like!

My only problem now will be to save enough money to do the trip! :mrgreen:
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby JNB » Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:40 am

There ARE a few places to stay away from along Route 66. I think you'll get a lot of input about them on this website. I'm not an authority, but just a few that I have noticed were some very rough looking spots along "Historic Route 66" in Gallup, New Mexico. East Central Avenue in Albuquerque, New Mexico has also been mentioned as best to be bypassed. It's best to inquire at some of the Route 66 Museums and establishments, such as the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona for one example.

Don't write off Mc Donald's or any of the other "chain" restaurants. They are a lot cleaner than some of those old "mom and pop" restaurants and you're just as likely to meet the "locals" there as anywhere else. They do have good food, maybe a bit simple in the choices, but you can have a good breakfast at a Mc Donald's for a very reasonable price. They seem to be popular with the morning "coffee group"

I had breakfast at the restaurant at the Best Western Motel in Vega, Texas and the Vega City Council was having a meeting at one of the tables. (Unfortunately, the restaurant burned down several years ago and has never been rebuilt.)

There are some good "old standbys'. My favorites are the Route 66 Midway Cafe in Alanreed, Texas (<<<1139 miles to Los Angeles -1139 miles to Chicago>>>) and the Road Kill Cafe' in Seligman, Arizona. Check out their menu. :lol: Both of these establishments have their own websites.

I would especially recommend the Route 66 Museums at Elk City, Oklahoma; Clinton, Oklahoma and Mc Lean, Texas. There are scores of others but these are my favorites.
There is also an interesting Automobile Museum in Santa Rosa, New Mexico if you are interested in antique and "classic" cars.

Although it is permitted in some states, camping overnight at a Rest Area on one of the Interstate Highways paralleling Historic Route 66 is not advisable.

Another thing I wouldn't advise is "CB" or Citizen's Band Radio. Although you can pick up a unit which both transmits and receives very cheap, IMHO you'd be wasting your money. I gave this a try on one recent trip but all I heard were foul-mouthed truckers and what sounded like a gang of teen-agers in Oklahoma City. This used to be popular with groups traveling Route 66, but most groups seem to be keeping in touch with each other nowadays by using cell phones.

If you should be fortunate enough to have a licensed amateur radio operator along with you, there is probably a reciprocal agreement between your country and the U.S. and you could operate in the U.S. with your license. This is a very good source for local information and you'll fiind very friendly and helpful groups of "hams" all along the route. One thing that might be helpful would be a "scanner" to listen in on these frequencies.

My favorite is on frequencies of 146.940 or 146.960 MHZ or thereabouts and can be heard from about Santa Rosa, New Mexico to Continental Divide, New Mexico. This is called "Rusty's Raiders Net (Network)" in memory of Donald "Rusty" Crooks, Amateur Radio Operator KD5SY, who lived in Ramah, New Mexico and was the "Net Control Station" for many years. The net meets each morning from about 0900 to 1100 Mountain Time each morning.

Finally to drop one more name.: If he's present at the Devil's Rope Museum in Mc Lean, Texas, Delbert Trew can tell you just about anything you might want to know about Route 66 or "Devil's Rope". ("Devil's Rope" is cowboy slang for Barbed Wire, which in turn is pronounced "Bob War" out thar in the Wild and Woolly West.) :lol:
Delbert is quite a character ! (The understatement of the year !) :lol:

And that is the extent my 2.9 cents worth. (You will notice that gasoline, or petrol if you prefer is always sold with the price at some value such $1.799 per gallon...never an even amount, always ending in nine-tenths of a cent....so just make a note that it will be about a Dollar and Eighty Cents a Gallon. :lol:
Last edited by JNB on Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
If Route 66 is your avenue -
Don't miss a chat at the Devil's Rope with Mister Delbert Trew !

And for the heights of Silly - Oh's -
The Snow Cap for the Delgadillo's !

You can take your picks,
But you can get your kicks
On Route Sixty-Six !
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby JNB » Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:06 am

P.S. - If you'd like to see how one bunch of "furriners" from the UK did it, go to the website listed below. I had the pleasure of joining them for a few days on their trip along Route 66.

A jolly good bunch of friendly blokes who called themselves "Route 66 nutters" :lol:

http://a7route66.typepad.com/
If Route 66 is your avenue -
Don't miss a chat at the Devil's Rope with Mister Delbert Trew !

And for the heights of Silly - Oh's -
The Snow Cap for the Delgadillo's !

You can take your picks,
But you can get your kicks
On Route Sixty-Six !
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby TheEditor » Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:02 am

One danger I forgot to mention is the California desert, where the temperature can exceed 100 degrees F. ... and some cell phones don't work ... and you could find yourself all alone in a very remote area if your car breaks down.

You should always carry a gallon or two of drinking water just in case you have car trouble. And you should always stay close to your car, which can easily be spotted, instead of trying to walk for miles (there really aren't many places to walk anyway).

A final option if you don't have reliable cell phone service is to make arrangements with a friend (especially if you know someone in the United States) that you will call this person as soon as you finish driving through the desert. If you don't call within, say, 2 or 3 hours of your estimated arrival time, your friend could contact the police and ask them to look for you on Route 66.
"Kick out your motor and drive
While you're still alive,
Kick it out!"

— Heart, "Kick It Out"
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby jaboh » Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:55 pm

I'm planning on traveling route 66 this fall, by myself, and I am 65. All of this information is so helpful...I need to get organized and start making lists of places to stop, people to see and food to ear! Being terminally disorganized, though, I may just beg for input along the way. I remember camping in Utah in October and never being so cold in my life...and having the best French Toast I ever had at some tiny restaurant where the propretess waited tables and cooked breakfast in her housecoat and mules. I've been wishing since that I had written the name of the town and the restaurant in a journal to save. My daughter, her dog and I were welcomed and teased unmercifully about almost running out of gas.

I'm looking forward to finding the same sort of places this fall!
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby TheEditor » Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:04 pm

Hi and welcome, Jaboh.

Well, sometimes you wind up finding the most interesting places when you're not planning anything.

To give you the condensed version of a story I've told before on this forum, I once followed Route 66 and/or what I thought was Route 66 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. I wanted to see a historic trading post near the Santo Domingo Indian reservation, but it turned out that my information was outdated -- sadly, the post had been severely damaged in a fire and was now closed.

Still, I wound up on the reservation, which is quite small, and I figured I'd spend maybe a half hour looking it over. That was before I discovered that the Santo Domingo people are some of the nicest on Earth, and I was soon in no hurry to leave.

Long story shorter, I wound up touring a historic mission; chatting with a big, friendly man who ran a grocery and told me he'd flown all over the U.S. as a tribal representative; buying fry bread (traditional native cuisine, similar to "elephant ears" at state fairs) from a food trailer called Brenda's Stand; and buying turquoise jewelry (the tribe is famous for it) as gifts for the ladies in my family. I wound up spending about $100 on the jewelry, which was my way of lending a hand to a tribe that is anything but wealthy.

Oh, and I wound up spending three hours on the Santo Domingo reservation.

To this day that stop remains one of my least expected highlights of Route 66, and I always recommend it to people who plan to visit the Albuquerque-Santa Fe area on the Mother Road.

So you, too, may end up wandering Route 66 ... and you may end up telling the rest of us about cool places we've never heard about.

Get your kicks!
"Kick out your motor and drive
While you're still alive,
Kick it out!"

— Heart, "Kick It Out"
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby JNB » Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:42 pm

Hi, Jaboh-

I like to do exploring along Route 66 and a lot of other well-known and unknown routes.
I think the most interesting things you will see (or at least it's been my experience) are the ones you would least expect. So if you come across something that interests you that hasn't even been mentioned on this website, by all means do STOP there. :lol:

I call these "Serendipity Experiences"....My favorites are many but two of them on Route 66 are the Devil's Rope Museum at Mc Lean, Texas and La Posada at Winslow, Arizona. And there are so many others on so many other "routes."

As far as dangers on Route 66 go, I think it's mostly a matter of observation, common sense and heeding the advice and information listed on this website as to places to avoid....anywhere on Route 66 or any other route or place for that matter.

Thanks, swa for the warning on cell phone usage. When you get west of Amarillo, things do get a bit spotty as to coverage, and especially so I would say from Gallup on westward.

PS- There are emergency telephones along side most of the Interstate Highways in California, spaced about a mile apart, most of which are close to or parallel sections of Historic Route 66. Most states have a cell phone number listed to call the local Highway Patrol for assistance.

Local AAA offices are the best places to check for information. If you have a membership in a local Automobile Club in your particular country, most have a reciprocal agreement with the AAA (American Automobile Association), so that's just one more thing I would recommend checking into.
If Route 66 is your avenue -
Don't miss a chat at the Devil's Rope with Mister Delbert Trew !

And for the heights of Silly - Oh's -
The Snow Cap for the Delgadillo's !

You can take your picks,
But you can get your kicks
On Route Sixty-Six !
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby princessgidg » Sun Mar 22, 2009 2:32 pm

You shouldn't have any problems traveling 66 with your girlfriends. My sisters and I did part of the Route last fall and had the time of our lives. We bypassed St. Louis because of time constraints, but there wasn't anywhere along the way that we didn't feel safe. Hope you have a great trip!
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Re: Dangers on Route 66

Postby Jhota » Fri May 15, 2009 10:29 pm

I'll be doing route 66 as a 20-something female traveling alone, and this thread has been a great help. One area I'm really concerned with is the end of the route in California. Does anyone have suggestions as to where to stay around there that are in relatively safe areas? (Ideally it'd be nice if it were cheap as well, haha.) I am thinking about booking some hotels in advance, and this is one where I'd really like to figure out what's safe/not safe ahead of time. Thanks for your help!
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