Here’s a secret about the Mother Road – it doesn’t really exist. Route 66 ain’t a route at all – it’s a patchwork of highways, town streets, freeways, and barely paved roads. It’s hard to be loyal to the Mother Road, so we just follow stretches that look interesting.
From Minnesota to Oklahoma, there’s a horseshoe strip of Route 66 that briefly dips in and out of Kansas. For the novelty of adding another state to our list, we turn Horatio’s nose into an unlikely destination: Galena, Kansas.
Apparently, the tow truck, “Mater,” from Pixar’s “Cars” was inspired by an old truck here. Galena’s main street is reflective of the movie’s fictitious town, “Radiator Springs.” Lined with storefronts, rusty old gas pumps, and eager shops, it’s an echo of Route 66 as it was – before interstate highways ripped through America and sucked the breath out of stopover towns like Galena.
Cars on the Route is a shrine of sorts to both Route 66 and Pixar’s “Cars.” A chatty and enthusiastic store attendant informs us that, in addition to Mater, one of the other characters was inspired by a red-blooded man, who could invert his knees or something. I tune out a bit, as the description disturbed me a little. She breaks out a scrapbook – scrapbooks are standard for Route 66 tourist stops – and we admire the photos politely. I buy a (pricey) post card and we turn our wheels to Oklahoma.