Time to go on a great American road trip. It’s the trip Europeans love to see Americans take in movies but scorn in reality, holding up the road trip as evidence of how small-minded and dumb Americans are for not wanting to spend a fortune doing the same thing in squashed cars and on-the-meter taxis across the parts of old Europe where they don’t get horse power from eating horse meat. Stay at home, Yankee, where you won’t be sneered at for living loud and large by people who haven’t developed their own words for disco, hamburger and jeans.
U.S. Route 20 is America’s longest road, stretching from Boston, Massachusetts to Newport, Oregon. That’s 12 states and 3,365 miles. Long enough to wend your way along, veer off on new directions and see the expansive country that gives it to you straight. The bags are packed. So let’s go. Well, let’s go again – we’ve been on a trip across the USA by road in the 1950s and 1960s. It was fun. No passport required. Just gas and wheels. So let’s go.
We’ll start on the Boulder Turnpike, the main highway from Denver to Boulder. It was just so in 1957, when Homer R. Stigall took the terrific photograph you see above of the road that had opened in 1952. “Coincidentally, I now live in North Denver and work in Boulder myself. I take this route each day and usually take the lovey view for granted,” says Jim Stigall, Homer’s grandson. “The photo shows a spot where, I’m assuming, lots of folks back then pulled off to the side for pictures. There is now a proper scenic pull off – parking spots and all. It sits on the hill just west of Superior, CO that overlooks Boulder Valley as you head West into town. The most prominent mountains in the background to the left in the photo are Boulder’s famous Flatirons.
The image above is from Jim Stephenson. “This slide will mean little to anyone besides an Angeleno: two teenagers ride their go-kart on the empty Ventura Freeway (the 101),” he wrotes. “The freeway opened in April, 1960, and although it’s undated I think the slide must have been taken about then. The sign in the distance tells us that this view was taken looking southbound, since the upcoming exits are Woodman, Coldwater Canyon, and Laurel Canyon.”
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