Route 66 in the News

Man Walking Route 66

2009-12-24 08:36:25

DUARTE, Calif. - The way Emory Duick, 71 of Des Plains, Ill. figures it, no one has ever walked the entire length of Route 66.

Understandably perhaps.

For as the famous song notes the Mother Road "winds from Chicago to L.A. -- more than 2,000 miles all the way."

Sometime next week Duick will arrive in Santa Monica -- having walked all the way from Des Plains. On Thursday he arrived in Duarte, having begun the day in the Inland Empire.

"What inspired me was the Route 66 the show," Duick said. "It ran on TV from 1960 to 1964. Ever since then I've always loved the road."

Something else inspired the trek as well. Duick wanted to send a message to seniors that retirement doesn't mean life is over.

"I want to show people that once they retire they don't have to vegetate and become couch potatoes," he said. "They don't have to sit around watching reruns of the Golden Girls or Andy Griffith -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- but they don't have to be couch potatoes."

For most of the journey Duick's been accompanied by his daughter Lauren, 32, who took time off from her job as an occupational therapist to travel the county with her dad.

"He's faster than I am," Lauren said.

While the pair spent the first weeks of their trek camping out, they now stay at hotels along the road. They plan to wake up Christmas in Duarte and continue on from there.

Although he's likely gone through a few pairs of shoes, Duick has carried one item of clothing since passing through New Mexico -- a yellow work vest that makes him unmistakable walking alongside the road.

"The workers there said they wanted him to be safe," Lauren said.

While the temperature in San Gabriel Valley was downright balmy Thursday, the Duicks have experienced the variety of the countryside since leaving home.

"We walked through Oklahoma when it was 100 degrees, Emory said. "In Missouri the humidity was 100 percent and it never rained. We've been through the Ozarks and the Great Plains.

"And the people," he continued. "Once you get outside of Chicago and southern Illinois they are nice. The people are real people."

And if he didn't know the words to the song, Duick does now. And, he's happy to sing them:

"`Going through Saint Louis, Joplin, Missouri. Oklahoma City looks oh so pretty. You'll see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico. Flagstaff, Arizona, Don't forget Wynonna, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino will do."'

With the finish line in sight, Duick reflected on the trip.

"People thought we weren't going to make it," he said. "But we have -- 2,200 miles, one step at a time."

~Frank C. Girardot, SGVTribune.com

 

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