Heading east from Santa Monica, none of the locals has any idea how one might find Route 66. “The real Route 66?” a gas station attendant replies, defiantly. “Oh, man, I’ve no idea.” I am standing in a service plaza that is actually named Route 66, approximately half-a-day’s drive east of a zero-mile marker for the original road. As I continue into Arizona, I become all but convinced the 90-year old highway’s current existence is little more than urban legend, an inside joke among the yokels, if you will. GPS is useless and my atlas offers no additional guidance whatsoever. That is until the markers begin taking hold – “Route 66,” they read in stencil, “Please follow exit Y or Z“. For the better part of an afternoon, I weave in and out of decommissioned highway, a petrol graveyard full of septic tanks and crumbling marquees. The late-day sun glares bright and hard, throwing blood onto horizon. I am speeding through north Texas, prepared to jackknife down to New Orleans.