Route 66/Servant-Leadership Journey

Writings & postings from Larry from his cross country 3-4 week journey.Larry will be traveling Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica (about 2,300 miles by car, one way). Please scroll down to see all blog postings.
Part 1. From East to West (Approximately 2,900 miles, 14 days)

Day 1: Thursday, Jan. 7, Drive Indianapolis to Chicago/Joliet, IL; 230 (230) miles

Day 2: Friday, Jan. 8, Drive Chicago to Springfield, IL; 197 (427) miles

Day 3: Saturday, Jan. 9, Drive Springfield to St. Louis, MO; 110 (537) miles

Day 4: Sunday, January 10, Drive St. Louis to Springfield, MO; 235 (772) miles

Day 5: Monday, January 11, Springfield to Oklahoma City, OK; 285 (1057) miles

Day 6: Tuesday, January 12, Oklahoma City to Amarillo, TX; 260 (1317) miles

Day 7: Wednesday, January 13, Amarillo to Albuquerque, NM; 290 (1607) miles

Day 8: Thursday, January 14, Albuquerque to Flagstaff, AZ; 323 (1930) miles

Arizona Side trip (Jan. 15-18)

Day 9: Friday, January 15, Flagstaff to Prescott to Phoenix/Gilbert/Mesa, AZ; 95 (2025) miles; + 100 (2125) miles

Day 10: Saturday, January 16, Phoenix/Gilbert/Mesa, AZ

Day 11: Sunday, January 17, Phoenix/Rio Verde, AZ

Day 12: Monday, January 18, Phoenix/Rio Verde to Grand Canyon; 229 (2354) miles

Day 13: Tuesday, January 19, Grand Canyon to Barstow, CA; 378 (2732) miles

Day 14: Wednesday, January 20, Barstow to Santa Monica, CA (Pacific Ocean); 130 (2882) miles

Part 2. From West to East (Approximately 2,400 miles; 8 days)

Day 15: Thursday, January 21, Santa Monica, CA

Day 16: Friday, January 22, Drive Santa Monica to Phoenix, AZ; 387 (387/3269) miles

Day 17: Saturday, January 23, Phoenix, AZ to Albuquerque, NM; 410 (797/3679)

Day 18: Sunday, January 24, Drive Albuquerque, NM to Amarillo, TX; 290 (1087/3969) miles

Day 19: Monday, January 25, Drive Amarillo, TX to Oklahoma City, OK; 250 (1337/4219) miles

Day 20: Tuesday, January 26, Drive Oklahoma City, OK to Little Rock, AR; 340 (1677/4559) miles

Day 21: Wednesday, January 27, Drive Little Rock, AR to Paducah, KY; 300 (1977/4859) miles

Day 22: Thursday, January 28, Paducah, KY to Indianapolis, IN; 310 (2287/5169) miles

Roundtrip (5,200 miles; 22 days)

--Larry Spears (Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010]


I have always liked that word, and I have sought to make it part of who I am. A good thing, too, because I needed a ton of it today.

This day began with a heavy snowstorm falling between Indianapolis and Chicago/Joliet. Several inches had fallen by the time I left this morning, and it kept snowing. I-465 north around Indianapolis was slick and slow going, and it took me an hour to go the first 30 miles. Once I got onto I-65 north toward Chicago, things got much worse. I began to see one accident or slide-off after another. At times, there was no traffic to be seen for miles on I-65 southbound. Then I would see why: A truck had jack-knifed at one spot; and, further on, several vehicles had collided. Northbound I-65 was no different, as we crept along at 5 miles an hour for nearly half an hour before getting by an accident on that side of the road.

Despite the white-knuckled driving, there was humor in the recognition of Mother Nature walloping me and everyone else with a snowstorm. Didn’t she recognize that I was launching my Route 66 trip?

The first leg of my trip should have taken four hours, rather than the nearly nine hours that it took me to get from Indianapolis to Joliet, Illinois. I finally arrived and was greeted by a friend and colleague, Brother Larry Fidelus, who is part of a Carmelite community in Joliet. Happy to have arrived safely, and to see a smiling face at the end of this first leg of the journey.

--Larry Spears [Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010]

Have You a Dream Deferred? is the title of an essay by Bob Greenleaf. In it, he addresses the opportunities and challenges of turning dreams into reality.

I thought of this today as I hurriedly began to pack for my upcoming road trip.

For years now, I have dreamt of making two significant road trips. One such dream has been to drive from Indianapolis to Edmonton (Alberta, Canada), then travel on to Yellowknife (Northwest Territories, Canada) by air. The other trip that I have wanted to make has involved driving along Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica—which once ran some 2,300 miles from the Windy City to the Pacific Ocean. I use the past tense because, despite its remarkable role in the westward migration, Route 66 was officially decommissioned in 1984 and most of the signage for it was taken down. Today, about 85% of it remains in use—mostly as a two-lane highway which often runs parallel to major Interstate highways such as I-55 and I-40.

I have begun each New Year thinking that this is the year that I should make one or the other of these dream-trips happen. And, each year has ended without my having done either one. The reasons are familiar to many of us: Too many work commitments; not enough time; it’s difficult to be away from home for that length of time. Added to those reasons: My commitment to my work in servant-leadership has always taken precedence. Put it another way: Work has always trumped fun. It has simply seemed too frivolous for me to take the weeks that are necessary to do either of these trips in the way that I wanted to do them.

Sometime last year, I began to think about these and other matters and I started to ask myself: What will it take to make this dream a reality? I realized that my own tipping point might reside in my taking my passion for writing about servant-leadership and weaving it into the desire to make the Route 66 trip. As soon as that thought came to me I began to see the possibility for combining my interests in servant-leadership with my dream to drive Route 66. I saw it not only as a means to an end, but as something that was likely to be a deeper and more meaningful experience for me.

Next, I looked at my 2010 calendar and concluded that the month of January was going to be the best time to do it, though not the ideal weather for such a trip. Still, having put this dream off for years, I was now eager to make it happen. And so, this Route 66/Servant-Leadership Journey has come into being.

I have relatively modest goals in mind: enjoy the drive, be open to the experience, and write a bit each evening about my trip and about servant-leadership. I am also launching a blog on the Spears Center website ( where I can post these thoughts for anyone who may be interested in reading them.

Like me, you may have your own dreams that you have deferred. You may also be feeling that time is passing more quickly, and wonder whether you may risk not realizing those dreams. If so, perhaps some of these postings will be of interest to you.

The road beckons.

--Larry Spears [Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010]



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