Route 66 Revisited: Bill gets serious
Our two-week road trip tracing old Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago isn’t getting off to what you’d call an auspicious start.
The trip was never going to be easy, even though it sounded like a real lark as we were dreaming it up. The highway was decommissioned decades ago, torn up in some places, paved over in others by the new interstates and its remaining segments are not always easy to find.
But now, with just days to go before we set off, we have new worries. The master mechanic, who has worked for years on 1967 Porsche were taking, has expressed concern about its ability to survive the 2,500-mile journey. The car has been in storage for the past two years. The mechanic, Bill Roberts, is the go-to guy at Dieters, the Porsche and BMW repair shop in downtown San Diego, when it comes to older Porsches.
Bill, 63, only has one eye he shot the other one out when he was 11 years old while playing with a gun; the bullet was never removed because doctors feared the procedure might blind him in the other eye. But Bills good eye is very good, especially when it comes to identifying and fixing finicky vintage Porsches with their touchy dual carburetors, points, plugs and valve covers.
We’re going east on Interstates 10, 15, 40, 44 and 55, I told Bill. I’m with a Reuters colleague, Nick Carey, and we’re tracing as much as we can — old Route 66. Well write about our trip too, I said. Neither one of us was born in the United States; we see things a little differently than you Americans. I was born in Kitchener, Ontario. Nick’s from St. Andrews, Scotland.
Oh really? Bill said.
Make sure you stop in Seligman, Arizona and have a beer, he said. OK, I joked, maybe well even give you a call as we drink a beer.
Then Bill got serious.
Go easy on the car, he said. It doesnt like hills or the heat. If the temperature gauge gets beyond the middle point, ease up.
Inside Im thinking: What in Gods name are we doing?