Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Trip Start May 31, 2010
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Trip End Jul 11, 2010


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Flag of United States  , Missouri
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday morning we were treated to a large breakfast buffet on the Marriott due to the fact that they didn't have the king bed we were promised.  After having our fill of somewhat dry French toast and fresh fruit, we headed back to our room and prepared for our journey down the mother road.

Our Route 66 trip began on Ogden street, named after Chicago’s first mayor.  The neighborhoods transitioned from classic looking brick buildings to slightly more shady areas to say the least.  Although the areas were questionable at parts, they all maintained a certain character that one can’t get anywhere else.  It wasn’t long until we were out of Chicago and into Cicero, a small town with a couple auto shops, and parts dealers scattered between worn down houses. Berwyn, Lyons-McCook, and Plainfield were the next towns on deck; sadly not every town along route 66 is filled with touristy roadside attractions.  A lot of the towns we go through are just small Illinois communities where your average Joe works hard for a mediocre living or where the elderly have been since before manifest destiny was even an idea.  With that said we move on to the towns of Romeoville, and Joliet. 

Much like the correlation we are all thinking, these towns were once called Romeo and Juliet.  Juliet, named before Romeo, was named after the town designer’s daughter, and was changed to Joliet in 1845 after some back and forth debating to avoid taxes.  Romeo, having lost his loves name, changed to Romeoville thus the romance was dead.  After reading about the history of Joliet we decided to stop there for lunch.  The town itself has a very religious history, once known as the city of spires, it had over 120 churches in this tiny town.  We also stopped at the Route 66 welcome center which consisted of the first car to drive the highway, wax figures of the blues brothers, a museum (at 14 bucks a pop we decided it wasn’t worth it), and a gift shop. One may be wondering why on earth the Blues Brothers were there. John Belushi’s character, as you may recall, is known as Joliet Jake, and his brother is Elwood, named after the next town over. We made quick work of the gift shop and headed to our luncheon destination.

The Sandwich Shoppe was suggested in two of our travel guides so it sounded like a winner.  Alyssa got the turkey on rye, and I got a turkey, bacon, ranch panini.  It was one of the better sandwiches I’ve ever had because the bread they use was a perfect artesian French roll grilled to crispy warm perfection.  After lunch we walked a bit along the main street and admired the stone buildings and theater then headed back to the car. 

The next town was Elwood, a small blink of a town. Then Wilmington, another small community, only this one was different.  Wilmington is home to one of three muffler men remaining on the route.  This one is wearing a retro style space helmet, holding a rocket, and located at Launching Pad Drive-In.  Its at this drive in where motorists can still get burgers for a little more than a buck, and a shake for about two.  The man that took our shake order looked fresh out of prison and the elderly woman making our shake weighed no more than 80 pounds and had almost all her teeth. She does make a mean banana shake though, not too thick, not too milky. 

Next on our itinerary were the towns of Braidwood, Godley, Braceville, Gardner, Dwight, and Odell.  All of these towns have their own history worth pages of there own, but for the sake of tourism they were again sleepy little towns that 66 weaved in and out of.  Odell is home to an old service station that has been restored and has nothing more than a couple shirts, and post cards.  Then we went through Pontiac, Chenoa, Lexington, Towanda, Bloomington, and Normal.  For those of you wondering Normal is quite possibly the most normal looking town by societies definition.  Both Bloomington and Normal host colleges, which might not be so normal, but other than that, families venture outside to partake in some gardening and the local mailman happily delivers your postage. 

After Normal was Shirley, Funks Grove, McLean, Lawndale, Lincoln (where he himself practiced law in the 1850’s), Broadwell, and Springfield.  After deterring from the route unintentionally in Broadwell we ended up at a little landmark known as Lincoln’s tomb. This was one of the greatest sights we’ve ever accidentally stumbled upon.  Mr. 16th president himself was buried beneath this magnificent structure of marble and granite, and the thought of this great legend being 15 feet away was eerily exciting.  So naturally we took a few pictures, walked around, and headed to the car to avoid the smoldering heat.  We drove onward past Glenarm and into Divernon where we got a bit lost again, and ended up 5 miles deep into a cornfield-surrounded road.  After 15 minutes of not seeing anything but six foot stalks, we decided to turn around to the point we started and noticed a sign informing us of the right way… "doh". 

We drove through Farmersville, Waggoner, Litchfield, Mt. Olive, Staunton (Home of Henry’s Rabbit Ranch, and billboard spoofs that will supposedly be funnier when we get to Arizona), Livingston, Hamel, and Edwardsville.  It was about this point when we realized that it was nearing 8:30 and we were still 45 minutes from our home for the night so we decided to deter from the mother road for now and hit the straight shot to St. Charles.  After checking into our small studio suite around nine o’clock we unloaded the car and proceeded to make a fine feast of tuna melts and chicken soup.  Worn out from our long car ride, we readily got into bed and had no trouble falling asleep.

Alyssa’s Anecdotes:

I love driving Route 66! Well, Nate was driving and I was reading about where we were and where we were going next.  The road is twisty and turny as it goes from city to city throughout the countryside (and every once in a while through a big city like Springfield).  Back before it was 66, roads were built on a local or regional scale.  In the 1920s though, they decided to start numbering highways.  However, to get federal funding your roads had to meet certain standards so they started connecting the town roads together to form Route 66.  This resulted in a road that at times doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but gets you where you need to go.  After deterring from 66 because of time, we hopped on the 55.  Although for most of the time, it runs exactly parallel to Route 66, it is a much more boring drive of cruise control and trying to stay awake.  Most the towns we drove through were sleepy, but it all keeps you on your toes as you never know what’s coming next.  Although it’s only been day 1 of our Route 66 leg of the trip, I’m in love.
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Comments

Amy on

You are in now in my "neck of the woods". I lived in Petersburg, IL (where Abe Lincoln was born, original log cabins are still there, small town outside of Springfield) for some time. Drew was born in Springfield. Most of these towns are familiar to me. Nieces went to school in Edwardsville, Bloomington/Normal areas. Glad you are having a good time.

yourmom on

Joliet,has the best burrito's darn I would have told you if I had thought about it and blommington has lake manoe or something like that everyone talks about how I need to go to bloomington I have drove through it, what about turkey lake. and there are caves that are incredible. I don't know if your pass that but if not find them and check it out. they are worth seeing and the story is so interesting.. find the caves..

your mom on

never mind there are two bloomingtons and your in a whole other area as I looked at the map. hey Nate you needed your sun glasses on with the blues brothers.. go back lol don't forget about Dave Henderson when you get to nm love mom awsome blog again.

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