The amusement park at Santa Monica Pier is as good a place as any to begin a road trip. On weekends, the rhythm of the expectant crowd is as constant as the nearby waves lapping up against the shoreline. Visitors come to snap an Instagrammable photo of the coast from atop the solarpowered Ferris wheel, ring toss their way to a stuffed-animal win, and eat foods that shock the digestive system, but are so delicious. In short, it thrums with anticipation.
One attraction of the pier is that it’s become the official end point for Route 66, the historic two-lane excursion that begins in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles. Although most folks who take a picture in front of the “End of the Trail” sign have not actually completed the journey, I did just that last October (and chronicled that adventure for Passport) so it’s fitting that my next road trip begins exactly one year later in the very spot where my last one left off.