Grandfather, son and grandson -- Dave Curwen, 75; Colin Curwen, 47; and Ben Curwen, 18 -- toured the entire route on two BMWs and a Honda. Beginning from home in Calgary and weaving their way to Chicago, they hopped on the eastern end of Route 66 and headed toward the route’s westernmost point in Santa Monica, California. They logged as many miles as possible on the original route before heading north up the coast and returning home.
Dave came up with the idea of Route 66 while trying to think of a trip the three could take together after Ben’s graduation. He considered Peru, Scotland, Ireland and other locales when it occurred to him they should explore Route 66.
“I realized just right in our backyard is a trip,” Dave said.
For him, the trip was about spending time with his son and grandson and experiencing the nostalgia of years gone by evoked by the sights along the way.
Colin said the long trip -- more than 4,300 miles -- was an opportunity to explore the world with his dad and youngest child while experiencing “a collection of sensations” on motorcycles not felt using other modes of transportation.
A film producer, Colin said he’s glad his dad suggested Route 66 because he’s been fascinated by the highway since the animated “Cars” movie was released in 2006. It instilled a desire to slow down and take in the scenery and that’s exactly what he did with his loved ones.
Already a close knit family, the trip was a bonding experience as well as Ben’s induction into the long motorcycle trips Colin and Dave have taken together in destinations around the globe.
“I’ve always wanted to go on a trip with them,” Ben said, grinning. “It’s been beautiful so far.”
“G’day, mate,” Kerry Walton said, smiling and greeting people at the annual Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in 2017.
The singing Santa from Melbourne, Australia, had plenty of reason to smile. After dreaming of experiencing Route 66 most of his life and flying for 20 hours (in airplanes, not a sleigh pulled by reindeer) to get to Springfield, he was finally living his childhood dream.
“I’ve dreamed about this since I was this high,” he said, holding his hand about 4 feet from the ground. “All Aussies dream of doing Route 66 one day.”
That’s because of movies, TV shows and other stories about The Mother Road that spark a yen for the freedom of the open road and a country as diverse as the countryside through which the famed highway travels. That desire is particularly strong for people like Kerry who are classic car and motorcycle enthusiasts.
“It’s the nostalgia of it, especially for guys my age -- the 50s, the 60s, the rock ‘n roll,” Kerry said, his long white beard waving in the breeze. “It’s all about that.”
Kerry said he plans to return to the United States in 2018 with his wife to drive the entire route from Chicago to Santa Monica in a classic car.
Spending time in Springfield’s Route 66 Visitor Center during the city’s annual Birthplace of Route 66 Festival is like being in a mixing pot of fans of the Mother Road from near and far. Along with locals who come for the classic cars and celebration of a time gone by, you’ll also hear a smattering of languages representing nations around the world.
At 2017’s festival, 5-year-old Hayden rushes over to a world map where visitors have placed pins on locations they call home.
“Papa, papa!” he yells to his father David Vesanger, pointing to Paris, France on the map.
“Ah, yes I see,” said David in French, handing him a pin.
Hayden placed the pin on a spot just a little outside of Paris, where his family is from. The father and son duo were traveling Route 66 along with mother and wife, Honeybee, and mother-in-law Emelia, who are originally from the Philippines.
“I love the U.S. and it was a long, long dream for me to come here and drive Route 66 from Chicago to Springfield,” said David.
David said he’d traveled most of the route on previous trips but this was his first time in Springfield.
“I’m very amazed at Springfield,” said David. “Everyone told me you've got to go to Springfield because it’s an important part of Route 66, so I’m very happy to be here.”
The Vesangers stopped in Springfield to visit the Route 66 Car Museum and were surprised to find the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival happening.
“We’re so happy this is going on while we are here,” said David. “We see classic American cars in France but nothing like this. This is just amazing!”
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