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Route 66

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I have written in the past about a journey down some portions of the old Route 66 that traverses the U.S. West from St. Louis to L.A.  And my last few posts have been about a trip to Texas that I took the opportunity on my return to travel a few more miles on this once famous roadway.

High speed expressways with their familiar and mind-numbing rythym of off-ramps and exits have long since replaced Route 66 for most of its course.  And in northwest Texas and the Oklahoma panhandle, it can now be a long way between gas stations.  But not so in the recent past.  On Route 66, the frequency of gas stations and auto repair shops reminds you that cars of a few generations ago were not so reliable or long-ranging as our current crop of cars.

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There is a remarkable variety of styles and types of architecture that make up these older gas stations, from the familiar canopied corner-store type to the house-with-pumps.  Along the remaining portions of Route 66 that you can still travel, some of these stations have been preserved, but most not so much.  The station below sits on what may have been a busy corner and the massive trees providing much needed shade from the blazing sun of the West were likely saplings when this establishment pumped its last gallon.

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The amazing gas station/diner below has been lovingly preserved likely because its form is so architecturally inventive and outlandish that a slow decline into oblivion is unthinkable.  It certainly helps that the station below is relatively close to a thriving small town and not just another way station surrounded by austere western plains.

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Our next mode of travel will of course likely make obsolete the current off-ramp/exit morphology of modern expressways.  The familiar orange roofs of Howard Johnson's are already gone but I'm not sure if the standard mega-canopy of the standard Conoco-type gas station will yield any preservation desires.