Editor's Note: In 2015 we ran this Route 66 story on the cover. I had the honor of meeting Tim Foley and his wife at the Crossroads of America gathering in July of this year. What an amazing couple they are, and I sincerely loved hearing all about their teardrop and what they have done to it in the last few years. They are blessed with an abundance of grandchildren, and so they have added a roof-top tent to the teardrop so they are able to take several grandkids with them on adventures all across America. And really, isn't that what this hobby is all about? Finding time away from our hectic lives to reset our inner clocks and build better relationships with those closest to us. And so, I felt it fitting to share the Foley's story in today's blog.
I’m sure many of you remember the song or even the TV show about Route 66. It has always been something I’ve thought about but never thought I would actually get to see let alone drive.
A few years ago my wife Debbie and I bought a 1940 Ford street rod. I was excited about a new hobby, she wrote it off as “midlife crisis”. We had taken a few short trips in the old car but were looking for something more. Route 66 came up as a possibility. After doing a little research we decided that would be number one on our bucket list.
In checking with a few trip itineraries that included some questionable hotels, the topic of camping came up. We had done tents and a pop-up camper when our two girls were little. While driving one weekend to visit our daughter I saw a Little Guy Silver Shadow on the side of the road. We stopped to look and decided something like that would be fun to take on the trip. It had a look that would go great with our old car.
I began doing research on what other teardrops were available. On a walk through our neighborhood my wife and I saw a smaller teardrop in the backyard of a home and stopped to talk with the owner. “Ace” was a wealth of information about the different clubs, events and specifics about camping life in a teardrop. He told me about a company that was in a nearby town if I wanted to see other styles.
That’s where I met Frank Bear from Vintage Technologies. He sold complete trailers, parts and kits. I was looking to save some money, thought I was pretty handy and had the time so I went with a kit.
It took several months to build, mainly because we had a very cold winter and I was working in an unheated garage. The fun part of the build was working with my friend Jim Mills when I needed extra hands and my grandson Keagan. Building our own allowed us to personalize our trailer just as we wanted.
We decided to go with a subtle Route 66 theme. We found several Route 66 decorations; door pulls and converted a Route 66 lamp to DC. We designed and had a custom decal made for the kitchen lid. It says “The Foley’s Route 66 Bed & Breakfast”. My wife informed me that on this trip she was on vacation too. She would make the bed and we were going to have toast or cereal for breakfast, the rest of the meals we were eating out.
We began our Route 66 adventure from our home in Portage MI, then to Chicago for the official starting point and on to LA California. It was the best road trip we had ever taken. Think about it driving 2400 miles from Chicago to LA for the most part on a two-lane country road.
The scenery was amazing. There were hundreds of small towns with their historic buildings, diners, hotels and gas stations. Sad to say some of the towns were just shells of buildings and old signs for hotels left vacated when the super highways bypassed them.
The best part of the trip was the people we got to meet along the way. Not only our citizens, but also people from all over the world who were traveling Route 66 as part of their vacation. With the combination of old car and old style teardrop camper we were never without someone to talk too. Small town America is alive and well.
In all when you add in a side trip to Ft Worth TX and another Bucket List trip from LA to the Redwood Forest on Pacific Coast Highway 1 we travelled a total of 7123 miles in just under 3 weeks. I can’t think of a better way to spend a vacation with your best friend.
Back to the song theme, how many of you can say you actually were “Standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona”. It’s a great country, get off the main drag and see some of it.