A Travellerspoint blog

Gateway to the West

Springfield, IL to St. Louis

sunny 89 °F
View Route 66 on klemmes's travel map.

We started the day off by tracking down a Verizon store in Springfield, IL in order to file a claim on our phone insurance. They are overnighting a replacement to out hotel in St. Louis. Hopefully we will see it tomorrow. We continued down the road to Litchfield, IL where we had a wonderful lunch at the old Ariston Cafe. http://www.ariston-cafe.com/
The restaurant has been around since 1924 and has been welcoming Route 66 goers since its beginnings. After a great meal, our waitress brought us a Guest Ledger to sign. This has been a tradition they practiced since the early days of the mother road. The book we signed must of had over a hundred pages filled with names from all over the world. And the waitress said that this book was new just six months ago. They keep a library of them since they opened the restaurant.
Next was an insteresting stop in Staunton, IL where we found "Henry's Ra66it Ranch." Rich Henry, the owner, was an eccentric old fellow with many hats. He told us the museum/giftshop was one of his four trades that came out after growing his own collection over the years. His other skills include insurance agent, plate licensing, and rabbit farmer. He rescues pet rabbits from the humane society and raises them in the shop. We spotted more than nine while we were there. His most famous ra66it was Montana that lived for eight years, greeting 66 goers from the counter on a daily basis. "He even ran for President..." said Rich, "...he was black like Obama, female like Hilary, and old like McCain." He signed a pamphlet with a note for us to take to his friend in California (who owns another stop on Route 66), and we were on our way.
Another side stop was the Luna Cafe. This is said to be one of Al Capone's favorite hangouts. As the story goes, the neon sign out front had a cherry in the Martini glass that would be lit whenever Capone was inside. We pulled in briefly for some photos since the place was a little run-down and scetchy. Our next major stop was at the "Chain of Rocks" bridge; the old 66 passage across the Mississippi river and into Missouri. It is an abandoned bridge thats frozen in time from traffic. Other than some older vandelism, it is untouched and only open to hikers. You can still make out some of the original road paint with the 66 logos from both Illinois and Missouri.
Finally we crossed the State line into St. Louis. We were amazed to find out how close our hotel was to the sites. Using Hotwire, we got a deal at the Crown Plaza Hotel; the nicest place we have stayed so far. We can look out our window to find both the Gateway Arch (commemorating Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase expansion of the West) and the museum just a block away. We spent some time in the basment education center of the Arch before taking the North Tram up the inside of the 630 foot tall Gateway Arch. The tram/elevator pods were very cramped and nastalgic of the 1963 "modern" architecture. After some photos and dinner at the Union Grill, we retired for the night.

Posted by klemmes 16:15 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Land of Lincoln

Romeoville to Springfield

sunny 90 °F
View Route 66 on klemmes's travel map.

We started our day off at 9am leaving Romeoville heading towards Joliet (otherwise known as Juliet). We spent the majority of the day driving through small Illinois towns on the mother road. In Wilmington, Il we made a stop at the Launching Pad where we found the "gemini giant." One of three giants on the Illinois stretch of route 66. Our next stop was in Braidwood, where we found the 50s diner "Polka Dot Drive In."
Odell, Il was a quick stop to visit the 1932 "Standard Oil Station" which is on the national registry of historic sites. It was restored by volunteers throughout the town. Other quick stops before Springfield were mainly for photo opportunities which included one of the few Meremac Caverns barn advertisements, as well as "Memory Lane" in Lexington. Memory Lane is an abandoned stretch of the old 66 closed off to traffic, but open for hiking. Along the trail we found a series of preserved billboards including an example of the famous Burma Shave signs, which were a series of signs strategically placed to make up a sentence or slogan.
Next, we passed through the college towns of Normal and Bloomington.
In the town of Mclean we found Dixie plaza, the 1928 dixie truckers home. This was the original site of the route 66 hall of fame. In Atlanta, we found the 2nd Illinois Giant known as "Bunyon Giant" holding a giant hot dog. Other sites included 1908 octoganal library and the bright yellow smiley face water tower.
Then finally into Springfield. Where we saw Abraham Lincoln's home and his tomb. We just missed making it to the museum as it closed at 5pm. We ended the day eating at the iconic Cozy Dog Drive- In. Some key memories of the day was seeing a gift shop selling Ab Lincoln memorabilia inside the cemetary. Wtf;? And listening to an acapella group singing "Dixie Land" in front of Lincoln's home with two african-american women in the group...wtf? Hahaha.
We finished up the evening eating dinner at the 1946 Cozy Dog Drive In which claims to serve the first corn dog. The downfall of the day was when Ginine realized back at the hotel that she lost her cell phone.

Song of the Day:

Dixie Land

Posted by klemmes 16:00 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Chicago, A Windy Start

semi-overcast 89 °F
View Route 66 on klemmes's travel map.

So we arrived in chicago just around noon Indiana time. Parked in the union station garage and walked around the corner to Lou Mitchell's. Lou Mitchell's is a world famous diner that has been serving route 66 goers since its beginnings in 1926. Ginine had the pot roast and I had the popeye omelet sandwich. We the walked down the street to Sears (now Willis) Tower. We visited the skydeck with its newly added glass walkout platforms.
Afterwards we then moved the car to a more central location underground in the millenium parking garage. Next up was the Art Institute of Chicago. Upon waiting in line to purchase tickets, we met a kind older women whom offered to get us in for free with her pass. She had a friend that was a docent of the museum and had given her a family pass. This counterbalanced the 29 dollar parking spot for the rest of the day.
While leaving the art museum we decided to walk to navy pier. After a handful of wrong turns and some stubbornness, we finally found the pedestrian path. We spent remainder of our daylight hours walking the pier and watching Pixar's Toy Story 3 in Imax 3D.
After the movie we left the pier via taxi before the storm rolled in. We made one more stop at Buckingham fountain in Grant Park. The fountain has always been an iconic symbol for the start of the motherroad. We ended the night by driving to our hotel outside chicago in the small town of Romeoville off Joliet road. The drive to Romeoville was fairly scetchy. Not only was most of the transit in the rough side of chicago, but also accompanied by a down pour and a lightning show. We rolled into our destination safely, with only an hour to spare for day one.

Song of the day:

"Route 66" covered by John Mayer

Posted by klemmes 16:09 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Away We Go

Indianapolis to Chicago

rain 76 °F
View Route 66 on klemmes's travel map.

So here we go, in route for Chicago...the official start of Route 66. We had an early start this morning, picking up our rental at the airport. Ginine was excited to get a Dodge Caliber, a car she was thinking of buying now that the "green bean" is finally on its last leg. Its comfortable, and fits luggage in the trunk while allowing us to fill the back seat with our cooler and road trip snacks from SamsClub.
We got on the road and by the time we hit 465 five minutes later, the rain came. A cool 50% chance of thunderstorms for the day. We will arrive in Chicago in a few hours, so stay tuned. Be sure to watch for photos and updates on our travel blog site...

Posted by klemmes 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

In Preparation

finishing details

overcast 68 °F

So only 11 more days till our Route 66 Road trip. Sean and I are so excited. I've never truly been on a vacation, so Sean thought that a road trip for our 1 year anniversary would be the perfect vacation. I have to agree. Our plan is for a 2 week trip from Chicago, Ill. to Santa Monica, CA.. I have completed a 22 page Itinerary which should help keep us on track but still gives us room to play and keep it casual. Our accomodations, attractions, flight, and car rental have been reserved. So at this point we just get to enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately I have to work the morning of the 21st, but my plan is to leave work and hour or two early to get going on this trip. it won't be the first time I've gone longer than 24 hours of sleep. We have also planned a couple of side trips that include the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, and Disneyland. Thats pretty much it for now. i'll get back to posting when we actually head out.

Posted by klemmes 00:53 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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