Saturday, June 2, 2007

Gettin' my kicks on Route 66

Day 2: 587 Miles
Total: 1,166 Miles

Things got moving a bit more quickly today. I left my hotel at about 5:45am and gained an hour moving into Central Daylight Time, so the 2 1/2 hour drive to Chicago put me at the start of Route 66 at about 7:15am. I figured I would beat the Saturday morning traffic in Chicago and move swiftly through the city. Generally that was the case, but I was shocked to see hundreds of cars on Lake Shore Drive at that time of the morning. Still, it was nothing like Friday rush hour, so it didn't take long to hit the suburbs, then on to Joliet.

The picture below was taken from Lake Shore Drive looking down Jackson. My back is to Lake Michigan. Technically Jackson isn't the true starting point of Route 66. A block away on Adams is the real start, but Adams has since become a one-way street in the wrong direction, so adjustments had to be made.

I had hoped to stop for breakfast at the Launching Pad Drive In in Wilmington. I arrived at 9:05am but the doors were locked. There were employees inside, but they clearly weren't open. I resigned myself to taking a photo of the Gemini Giant, then moved on. I went down the road a bit and ate a great meal at the Wilmington House Family Restaurant.

I must have driven through a dozen or more towns throughout Illinois today. I was surprised to see that Route 66 was typically the frontage road for I-55 along most of the route (and for I-44 so far in Missouri). It was amazing how empty the road was most of the time. Quite often there was never another car in sight. The Interstate was almost always in sight though. Even when Route 66 isn't the frontage road you can usually see the Interstate off in the distance.

I was surprised at how good the signage was for identifying Route 66 throughout the state. With the exception of Chicago which was easy to navigate anyway, I could have gone through the entire state without a map. Their signs are that good. Every turn, every intersection is well-marked.

Route 66 sometimes goes through the small towns along its path, but other times it runs along the fringe. I'm sure I missed a lot of interesting places, but if I was aware of something in particular I tried to make it a point to make a side trip there.

One of the cooler buildings I came across is the Java Stop shown below. It's actually a new business, but I like the way it looks so I shot it. Notice how narrow it is? That's because it is two train boxcars stacked on top of each other! How cool is that?

Another place I made a point to see is the restored 1932 Standard Oil station in Odell. I think they have a little store inside, but it was closed when I was there.

Another shot I took was this one of a barn with a Meramec Caverns advertisement on it. They used to be all over the Midwest when I was a kid. Sue went to the caverns as a child, though she doesn't really remember it. As it turns out, I am staying in a motel at the same exit as the caverns tonight.

Another stop I made today was at the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum in Pontiac, Illinois. They have lots of memorabilia and they make it a point to honor individuals and businesses who have had a positive impact on the Mother Road. I spent a while talking to them and they offered several suggestions for my trip. they were very pleased to hear that I was driving the entire route.

I just had to include this picture of a water tower in Atlanta, Illinois because it made me laugh!

Here's another restored gas station. This one is in Mt. Olive, which is also the burial place of union organizing legend Mother Jones.

Okay, last picture of the day. I had a 1/2 pound burger at Scotty's Bar & Grille, a Route 66 icon, in Hamel.

I wasn't really planning to get to Missouri today, but it rained quite a bit so I made fewer stops than originally planned. I went past St. Louis and made it to the town of Stanton. Tonight's motel is going to be an adventure, to say the least. I opted for one of the "upscale" $38 rooms. Sue says I have to be fumigated before I can ever sleep in our bed again.



Anonymous said...

Dad, if you keep eating 1/2 pound burgers and then sitting in your car for a long time, all that hard work to lose weight will go to nothing! Also, you've driven much further than me or mom would want to go. Happy travels!
Love, Anna and Mom

Anonymous said...

Excellent pictures - love the Gemini Giant!
Love, Sue

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,Gordy and I are really enjoying checking your blog site on a daily basis.Gordy says that you are a very good story teller.I agree with Anna about the 1/2 pound burgers,and so does Gordy big time! Hey,I noticed that this week K-Mart has Route 66 jeans on sale,so perhaps you'd better get a pair for the rest of your trip.Love,Karen and Gordy

elderaunt said...

So I'm not very smart. I've been leaving my comments at the end of your first entry. I'll wise up and do it right from now on. Aunt Mona

Anonymous said...

Still watching the comments and enjoying the trip with you. Great pictures. MOM