Monday, May 1, 2017

The Mother Road

©All photos unless otherwise noted by Daniel Lee Perea. 

I'm sitting in a motel room that dates back to the late 30s. There's a period bakelite rotary phone on the nightstand that looks as though it may ring at any moment with a Raymond Chandler mystery plot on the other end. (It even still works. So I'm told.) I'm merely one of countless thousands that have stayed in The Blue Swallow Motel on their quest to chase a slice of Americana. It is a well-preserved piece of history along Route 66.




I spoke to the proprietor, a man with a background in the corporate world, and asked what brought him to the remote desert vistas of Tucumcari, New Mexico. We spoke a few feet from the gleaming curves of the '51 Pontiac Chieftain that stays parked beneath the beautifully glowing, world-famous neon sign. He answered "I couldn't go back to another white collar office job. I just couldn't do it. My wife and I stayed here on a road trip, and it happened to be up for sale, and we decided to just go for it!"


This is the sentiment of many a budding entrepreneur. The day you can no longer continue working for someone else and feel compelled to chase your own dream. 

Many times, I've criss-crossed the country along Route 66 (officially discontinued in 1986, and paved over by I-40 in the modern era, thanks to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.)  "The Mother Road." "Main Street of America." It's both a literal and symbolic pathway to economic opportunity. From the earliest agricultural settlers, miners, and cowpunchers who moved west in a bid to control their own destiny, to the destitute hoards chronicled in "The Grapes of Wrath" to the beat generation who pounded out poetry while they were "On The Road," to the paranoid "Fear and Loathing" of Hunter S. Thompson; Route 66 is a literary constant and primary touchstone of American culture.




On my trips out west, I like to muse and wax poetic about the nature of the American Dream. Like Hunter S. Thompson, I was chasing it for a while, not entirely sure what I was looking for. Is it in the sun-baked antique automobiles, gleaming in the sun off the highway? Is it in the trashy, run-down trailers and little league baseball fields that frame and contrast the the kitschy Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma?










Is it in the old west ghost town of Cuervo? The ruins of Arizona ranches? In the meek hovels of maverick desert rats who find the company of humankind so incompatible, they move as far away from urban civilization as possible to be one with the wide-open sky and sprawling vistas of solitute? Perhaps some combination all of the above? What IS the American Dream? How does one define it?



Eventually in Las Vegas, at a pizza event, I found what was (at at least for me) AN answer if not THE answer. Reconnecting with a certain Persian acquaintance in the cavernous Las Vegas Convention Center as he demonstrated his innovative pizza equipment wares, it struck me. Here was a guy who grew up in a war-torn nation completely ripped apart by the questionable foreign policy of western powers. At some younger age, he managed to escape his battle-ravaged homeland and make it to America. Working his way up through the ranks of pizzerias, he hit upon a market niche or two, made a leap of faith and developed a company and some technological inventions that would fill some needs in the pizza industry. He built an entire company out of it, and became a jobs creator, while partnering with others to create innovative products. 

In short, he crossed the seas to come to the Land of Opportunity and seize his own bit of it. Self-determination and opportunity. That's been the American story for as long as there has been an America. It's the immigrant story in an immigrant nation. The stories I find in the pizza world are often exactly this story. And despite the Italian origins of the dish, there is, on a fundamental level, nothing more American than pizza; and the folks who make up the industry. What starts somewhere else comes chasing opportunity on a journey to melt in the pot here; and in the process, transform America into something more than the sum of its parts.

Is that the answer to "What is the American Dream?" Perhaps not to everyone. But it's enough for me.

_____

Photo: Brian Hernandez

Now, a bit further down the road and a bit of a detour off Route 66, my colleague Brian and I are standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon. We stare down into the vast, gaping maw of the crevasse. It is almost beyond comprehension. The size is so titanic, it's difficult for the brain to even process what you're looking at. I've experienced this sensation exactly one other time: when I was looking at the gargantuan interior of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

The Grand Canyon is one of the most cherished national treasures and landmarks of America - to the point of being almost synonymous with Americana. The irony being that is has been here for MILLIONS of years before Amerigo Vespucci (another Italian connection) ever even thought about setting foot on a boat of any sort. The Grand Canyon is beyond any nationality. It predates us by millennia and will outlive any of us by more.  It makes one feel as small as they do when staring into the starry night sky in an area far from city lights. Small. Where the infinite meets the infinitesimal.

Route 66 has come and to some extent gone. Humans will come and go, and one day be extinct or perhaps replaced by another species. By staring into the ageless canyon, one is reminded that they are but a very tiny link in an extraordinarily long chain.  And so we press on. Down the road a bit further to see where it will take us. One mile at a time, perhaps better understanding with each stop and detour that there is never TRULY a destination. Only waypoints. So enjoy the ride while you can.

Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There's a world outside every darkened door
Where the blues won't haunt you anymore
Where the brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore
Life is a highway; I want to ride it all night long
- Tom Cochrane
©All photos unless otherwise noted by Daniel Lee Perea. 
#route66

47 comments:

  1. This was a great read. Thank you so much for posting this!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Didn't expect that lyric at the end. Love that song. Great job Daniel!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the compliments. Keep on reading!

    ReplyDelete
  4. janusgames Thanks for sharing such a very good blog and very informative. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. I like this very much

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am looking for and I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work! pizza at home

    ReplyDelete
  6. All the contents you mentioned in post is too good and can be very useful. I will keep it in mind, thanks for sharing the information keep updating, looking forward for more posts.Thanks ewapoker

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for the blog loaded with so many information. Stopping by your blog helped me to get what I was looking for. https://europa-road.eu/

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for sharing the post.. parents are worlds best person in each lives of individual..they need or must succeed to sustain needs of the family. EuropaRoad

    ReplyDelete
  9. In the event that you are attempting to get off of heroin, at that point you ought to consider setting off to a drug rehab so as to find support with this issue. On the off chance that you do, at that point here is the thing that you can expect generally. First you should look into the rehab and that will include a touch of formality simply like whatever else. It won't take however an hour or two and afterward you will be checked in and they will place you in detox and likely let you rest for a couple of days. Before you do this however they will probably look at you from a clinical angle and furthermore search your things to ensure you are not carrying any drugs into the office. All things considered, they will take care of you too, and most places will let you smoke when you need - however that will shift by office.
    florida rehab center
    drug rehab florida

    ReplyDelete
  10. Your writing is perfect!! You gave me great joy!! Please come to my site and give your opinion. 먹튀검증

    ReplyDelete
  11. American literature review writing service seekers have an advantage of hiring the best American literature research writing services that are familiar with American literature essay writing services for their American Literature Writing Services.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Nice.Interesting blog.You are posts are just amazing and very creative.Keep on share it.
    Rasmussen student portal
    Gmglobalconnect
    Hotschedules login

    ReplyDelete
  13. Good blog. Keep sharing. I love them Are you also searching for Cheap assignment writers? we are the best solution for you. We are best known for delivering writing services to students without having to break the bank

    ReplyDelete
  14. This article is very interesting information. It has helped me a lot. 먹튀검증 Thank you very much for providing this quality information in an easy-to-understand manner. Our site also provides high-quality information, so it will be helpful for your site. 먹튀검증

    ReplyDelete
  15. If simplest an agency had the gain of a magical sorting hat, that technique might be Buy Assignment Online less painful. Sadly, magic is the stuff of harry potter books. Inside the period in-between, we'll make do with excellent ole fashioned trial-and-blunders.

    ReplyDelete
  16. If you are interested in your favorite actors' net worth and detailed information, please take a look at celebrity networth database.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Succeed! It could be one of the most useful blogs we have ever come across on the subject. Excellent info! I’m also an expert in this topic so I can understand your effort very well. Thanks for the huge help. website

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an really long comment but after I
    clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm
    not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say excellent blog!

    Feel free to visit my web blog :: 오피사이트

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great articles and great layout. Your blog post deserves all of the positive feedback it’s been getting. 토토커뮤니티

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks for share your information. Your blog has been really great. I learned a lot from here. I hope you will give us such more awesome blogs.
    Dhakamovie

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think this is one of the most significant information for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But should remark on some general things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is really great : D. Good job, cheers 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  22. Amazing post, I liked the article on this site. I love your way representation.
    Thank you too much and keep.


    Review my webpage - 카지노

    ReplyDelete
  23. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work. 안전놀이터

    ReplyDelete
  24. This particular is usually apparently essential and moreover outstanding truth along with for sure fair-minded and moreover admittedly useful My business is looking to find in advance designed for this specific useful stuffs… 대전건마

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hey what a brilliant post I have come across and believe me I have been searching out for this similar kind of post for past a week and hardly came across this. Thank you very much and will look for more postings from you. 대전1인샵

    ReplyDelete
  26. There is almost no product withinside the international that Chinese producers have now no longer produced.Shipping from China to Us

    ReplyDelete
  27. I admit, I have not been on this web page in a long time... however it was another joy to see It is such an important topic and ignored by so many, even professionals. I thank you to help making people more aware of possible issues. ฉีดฟิลเลอร์

    ReplyDelete
  28. We place a great deal of attention on the values, principles, knowledge, relationships and abilities that allow for wealth creation. Our values-based model for wealth transition influences human, intellectual, social and structural capital to support and promote growing financial capital. check my reference

    ReplyDelete
  29. At Inovi, we’re committed to achieving the highest success rates while providing personalized care to our patients. Our Houston location offers expert care and is home to our state-of-the-art embryology lab. https://inovifertility.com/

    ReplyDelete
  30. Liposuction should never be considered an alternative to a healthy lifestyle, it is one of the steps that can get you to a better version of yourself through fat reduction. https://www.liposuctionnyc.com/

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thanks to author for this informative article. Don't you think it's worth posting these thoughts on Instagram? After all, this social network is now very popular. By the way, I advise you to use buy instagram followers in order to quickly increase their ammount and promote your account to the top.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I really like your writing style, great information, thankyou for posting. test bank nursing

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thanks for posting this info. I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative. I can't wait to read lots of your posts. 먹튀검증

    ReplyDelete
  34. Great articles and great layout. Your blog post deserves all of the positive feedback it’s been getting. 토토사이트

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have been checking out a few of your stories and i can state pretty good stuff. I will definitely bookmark your blog 온라인바둑이

    ReplyDelete
  36. Impressive web site, Distinguished feedback that I can tackle. Im moving forward and may apply to my current job as a pet sitter, which is very enjoyable, but I need to additional expand. Regards. 먹튀검증

    ReplyDelete
  37. I’ve read some good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to create such a great informative website. www.digitalanalog.in

    ReplyDelete
  38. Great post, you have pointed out some fantastic points , I likewise think this s a very wonderful website. 토토커뮤니티

    ReplyDelete