Route 66 runs 2,800 miles, from Chicago to Los Angeles. In the 1940s and 1050s it was the main east-west road in the United States. This was the Glory Days of passenger rail, but the idea of the open road - combined with the siren call of a California in its muscular prime - captured the American imagination.
Albuquerque is just about at the mid point of Route 66. While the Interstate Highway system killed Route 66 (not to mention passenger rail), Albuquerque is doing fine. California's stagnation helps Albuquerque, in fact, since the climate is great and the cost of living is low. And there's the Balloon Fiesta.
This has been going on for decades - I brought #1 Son to see it ten years ago, and that was the 20th or 30th year they'd done it. People come from all around the world for this - there was a group of folks from France dressed up like Ancien Régime aristocrats, re-enacting the first flight of a hot air balloon in Paris.
We went to the "Twilight Glow", an evening event where all the balloons are lit up by their propane burners. There were dozens of balloons, and it was quite an impressive sight. Almost like hot air fireworks, tethered to the ground.
Of course, there were fireworks, too. Great fun when you have teenagers - or old guys like me. Some of the best we've seen, actually.
Albuquerque isn't mentioned in the song, which is a shame. My advice? In the song, baby:
Well if you ever plan to motor west,And let's end with my favorite version of the song.
Just take my way , that's the highway that's the best.