Thursday, July 4, 2013

On the Road: Route 66 in Second Life


I was surprised, as always, be how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

                Recently, my good friend, Perryn Peterson, invited me over for a sneak peek at his next project in Second Life (SL).  Perryn has recreated Route 66 inworld.  (Or, at least a small portion of it.) 
          And, with today being Independence Day, July 4th, in the States, I thought that this would be a good time to go tripping down memory lane.  (At heart, I’m very nostalgic.)
          Now, many of you, especially outside of the United States and probably most Americans under the age of fifty, are probably what Route 66 is and if you happen to know, why should you even care.
                U.S. Route 66 is a famous transnational highway that runs across the United States to the West Coast.  (Whether or not this region’s name should be capitalized is an internal debate comparable to that on the Second Amendment.)  Originally constructed in the Twenties and was removed as an official road designation in 1985. 

Route 66 has always had special place in American sensibilities.  There was a TV show, a song, and a movie.  (What else would you expect in America?)  Books have been written for years on this subject.  (Barnes & Noble has nine pages alone of them.) In the days of 21¢ a gallon gasoline and big gas guzzlers, the open road stretching all the way to California and the Pacific Coast seemed attractive. 
          America’s Manifest Destiny was based on moving west.  First by covered wagon, then steam train, and finally the internal combustion engine on highways.  (Let’s not forget aircraft but they don’t help my story.) 
          Route 66 brings out nostalgia in many Americans (including this one) because of an appeal to a simpler time.  (Given how that simpler time included the Great Depression, World War II, and the Vietnam War to name but a few topics, gives you some idea how bad things are now.)  Also, the appeal of the open road which has been part of American literature as shown in the works of Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Jack London, and Jack Kreouac to name but a few.  This last one especially appeals to me as I wander across the Grid.  (Significant Other suggests that I’m merely lost.) 
          I arrive in the Route 66 sim when all is quiet.  It’s not open to the public yet but I wander about.  It’s eerily quiet and the streets are empty.   Given how Route 66 has receded into the mists of history in Real Life (RL), the atmosphere seems appropriate. 
          I walk through streets with architecture reminiscent of times gone by.  The southwestern style of older shops and buildings contrasts with the Art Deco look of roadside diners.  Gas stations with pumps that look older than some European countries stand by the side of the road waiting for vehicles to stop to be filled. 
          Once again, Perryn has outdone himself with his attention to detail based on his thorough research. (Perryn’s longtime friend and collaborator, Mike Olbracht, has been ill in RL and was unavailable to help him.  Perryn was on his own with this one.)  Let me give an example.  Like on any U.S. highway, Perryn has included the Route 66 road markers.  What he has done is to add the bullet holes to them that are seen in many rural (and a few urban) areas in this country.  (I’ll bet my overseas readers didn’t know that.) 
          Another example of the sim’s authenticity is the period advertisements and movie posters which are placed along the highway.  What Perryn also has managed to accomplish is to show the passage of time.  WPA posters from the Thirties, Burma-Shave road signs can be seen as one walks down the roads.  (Come to think of it, I should have driven down Route 66.  I’ll take this up with Perryn the next time I see him.)  Cars and trucks are parked along the road but no one gave me any keys.  (Significant Other says that’s because they probably heard about how I drive.  I don’t know what the problem is.) 
          The Mother Road Route 66 Celebration arranged by Perryn runs from July 27 to August 4, 2013.  Perryn’s functions are always fun, have superb gifts from the participating vendors, and are well attended.  I recommend participating and dropping by to see Route 66.  As in RL, it won’t be around for long and soon will only be a memory. 
          Please find below links to pictures that I took on my visit.  As always, my crude efforts do not do the sim justice and I recommend all to go see Route 66 for themselves. 
          I would like to thank Perryn Peterson for his time and hospitality in showing me around his sim.  I wish Mike Olbracht well and a speedy recovery! 
As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives. 
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here. 

Photo No. 1   Route 66 Landing Zone

Photo No. 2   The Road

Photo No. 4   Roadside Diner – Interior

Photo No. 5   Gas Station

Photo No. 7   Period Advertisement I

Photo No. 9   Route 66 Shop

Photo No. 10 Two American Classics

Photo No. 11 Route 66  Flea Market

Photo No. 12 Mieville Motor Hotel


1 comment:

Jose Squeegee said...

I think of Dean Moriarty, I think of Dean Moriarty.