We catch Route 66 out of Joplin, and into the corner of Kansas. Our plan is to follow the original route as best we can, and for a while we're jogging back and forth to pick up block-long stretches. By the end of the trip we get lazy. "Oh, check out that historic general store. That sure is a historic general store." Or, "see that original Portland Cement roadway over there? Yes? Good." We realize that Route 66 doesn't look that much different from any other two-lane highway.


The next stop, and our first real destination, is Totem Pole Park, five miles off the highway down a very icy road. The totem is, Brett says, the largest totem pole in America by volume; made of cement and painted with fading house paint. It was built over 11 years by a single white man, Ed Galloway, in his backyard. We are the only visitors in late December, in a snowstorm.

We walk through two feet of snow to sit on the lower parts of the totem. A cement owl near our heads smokes a cigarette. Stray dogs circle the yard, and follow us as we get back into our car and leave.

For the rest of the afternoon, we drive though small towns full of taco joints, second hand stores, and down-on-their-luck photography studios.