Ever since Bobby Troup penned his ode to "America's main street," Route 66 has beckoned travelers who want a firsthand look at what's left of the towns and tourist traps that boomed in the days before interstate highways crisscrossed the nation.
Documenting the more than 2,500 miles of road stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles is what Hawken School seniors Kate Waller and Elyssa Rubertino pitched as their senior project. But not all of their teachers were sold on the idea of two 18-year-olds tearing off across the country on a 22-day road trip.
"The teachers were either really not into it or really for it," Waller recalls. "But they eventually saw this was something you can only do when you're young."
So, Waller and Rubertino left April 25 on their 5,280-mile round trip with a plan to drive just two hours a day and use the rest of the time for exploring. Waller wrote about the people and places along the way, while Rubertino snapped photographs for a coffee-table book the pair planned to assemble upon their return near the end of May. (At press time, the pair were also scheduled to make a presentation to their advisers at Hawken June 5.)
"We wanted it to be more than just what to see and do along Route 66," Waller explains. "We wanted it to be a little more artistic about the myths and legends and the history of the road vs. the everyday people — the reality of it."