Route 66 in the Mojave Desert

A long ride for all the right reasons
ADVENTURE: Phoenix resident closing in on the finish of his Chicago to Santa Monica trek.

Staff Photographer

BARSTOW -- Kenn Kemper's doctor told him to get some exercise after he recovered from bowel obstruction surgery, so he took up bike riding.

"I think I carried it to extremes," Kemper said.

Photo by Lara Hartley, Staff Photographer

Route 66 bicyclist Kenn Kemper makes his way to Barstow on the dirt road behind MCLB on Wednesday morning.

The 64-year-old great-grandfather has been on the road -- the Mother Road -- since April 30 when he left Chicago for Santa Monica.

Riding a state-of-the-art eBike with electric power backup, donated by Lee Iacocca, Kemper is collecting stories of those he meets on Route 66 and is delivering a letter to the mayor of Santa Monica from the mayor of Chicago.

The stories he collects are for a novel he is writing -- the story of a family and how their lives are intertwined with Route 66.

In addition to researching and writing his novel, Kemper is handing out a free video called "Jesus" and a copy of the New Testament called "Celebrating Jesus 2000."

"I am a chaplain for the VA Hospital and I figure it was a good way to get God's word out," he said.

The Phoenix resident covers more than 60 miles a day when on the road, and he spends up to three days in each town talking with anyone who has a story about traveling the winding ribbon of Route 66.

Kemper stayed overnight in Barstow at the Route 66 Motel and is leaving this morning.

Oatman, Ariz., and its indomitable spirit was a special place for Kemper. He spent more than a week in the Old West town, saying it had been there before Route 66 and survived when most of the travelers abandoned the old road for Interstate 40.

The key was found to the old church and Kemper held services there-- the first in more than 40 years.

At the end of the road Kemper plans on returning to Oatman where he can settle in and finish his book, writing the old fashioned way, by hand.

The novel is scheduled to be completed by 2001 -- the 75th anniversary of Route 66.

To contribute stories call 1-877-855-3040 or on the Web visit


TO CONTRIBUTE STORIES: Call 1-877-855-3040 or visit:

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