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8/11/19 2:24 p.m.

A little backstory: I didn't grow up riding down Route 66, but my parents were both schoolteachers, so we traveled every summer in their Volkswagen van for my first 12 or so years, and then moved to Chevrolet vans in the early 80s.  But I was a car guy since I was an infant, making car noises with my mouth in the back seat of their Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.  In my early teen years I started subscribing to car magazines, and among them was Hot Rod.  In late '86 to '87, there was a series of articles on a project Corvette they built, and then drove on Route 66. 

Throughout the years, I would see "lists" of car guy bucket list items, and a roadtrip down Route 66 was always on them.  So, after working out of state for several months, I managed to be able to swing through part of Route 66.  The challenge: through a series of events, I had SWMBO (not a car or road trip fan), as well as our doggo Izzy, so some stops would be a challenge.  But, as SWMBO is earning sainthood by staying married to me, she agreed to my wishes (and I promised her a couple stops that she would enjoy).  

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8/11/19 2:30 p.m.

First Day: Chicago.  Stayed at the La Quinta in downtown Chicago.  "Pet-friendly" they say.  Not so much.  There's isn't a spot of grass within 7 blocks for a dog, but they are "pet-friendly" in terms of letting a pet stay in the room.  A/C didn't work for squat, and despite being set at 65 degrees, it never got cooler than 71.  Not off to a great start.

First up: walked almost a dozen blocks to the Route 66 origins sign.  It's not on the first alignment of Route 66, but it's official:

Izzy is not impressed.  

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8/11/19 3:00 p.m.

Across the street from the Route 66 sign, and up the street, we did the obligatory touristy photos at Cloudgate:

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8/11/19 3:09 p.m.

Next tourist stop (sans Izzy) - the Ledge in Willis Tower.  Did I mention I'm not a fan of heights?  For anyone that wants to go do this, I'd recommend going in the morning before the glass gets too dirty from foot traffic, and the sun will be on the opposite side of the building

 

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8/11/19 3:11 p.m.

Last stop for the night was Giordano's Pizza - gotta have that legit Chicago deep dish while you're there!

We couldn't finish the whole thing, so Izzy got a treat when we got back to the hotel.

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8/11/19 3:32 p.m.

Alright, now that the first stop is out of the SWMBO's system, we can get on with the roadtrip!  First day was Chicago to Springfield.  In retrospect, I should have stopped in Pontiac, but I was going off of some blogs of folks who had done it before, and the consensus was Springfield.  I had the route all planned out on a Google Doc with hyperlinks to Google Maps locations, as well as notes on the hours certain attractions were open, so we could stay on track. 

In the morning on our way to our first stop, we tagged along with this cool oldie for a while:

Our first stop was the Joliet Prison.  We're on a mission from God.

For comparison:

Izzy is much happier that there is now grass.

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8/11/19 3:35 p.m.

The first scheduled stop was the Route 66 welcome center in Joliet, which opens at 10:00 am - some cool memorabilia, but pets aren't allowed inside, so I took a couple quick photos.

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8/11/19 3:40 p.m.

On the way out of Joliet, there is a Bluesmobile on a stick:

I wasn't able to make a pass in the MurderSofa, and there wasn't a good place to stop and get a picture, but it counts:

 

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8/11/19 3:42 p.m.

Mandatory pic with the Gemini Giant in Wilmington IL - SWMBO for scale:

We planned a lunch stop at the Polka-Dot Drive-In located in Braidwood IL.  Highly recommend.  Good food at a great price, with some cool decor - plus it's a local business not a national chain.

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8/11/19 3:56 p.m.

Next stop was the 1930s Ambler-Texaco in Dwight, IL.  The Comet GT belongs to one of the volunteers that gets to hang out and talk cars.  It has 48k original miles with the 302/auto.

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8/11/19 3:58 p.m.

A few miles down the road in Odell IL, there was a 1932 Standard Sinclair station.

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8/11/19 3:59 p.m.

Out in the middle of nowhere, there is one of the original Meremac Caverns barn advertisements.  There were a few that were supposed to be along the route, but this is the only one I successfully found.

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8/11/19 4:03 p.m.

Pontiac IL is worth a long stop (and as I said, I should have just stayed the night here).  Lots of murals, two very nice museums, and good food on the square.

Route 66 museum has a ton of history.

 

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8/11/19 4:08 p.m.

The Pontiac Oakland auto museum is free, and has a lot of cool stuff in it.  Maybe because I'm a recovering Pontiac fan?

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8/11/19 4:13 p.m.

Tons of really cool authentic murals to take in, all within a few blocks of each other:

Izzy is hot, but happy to be out and about.

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8/11/19 4:18 p.m.

The next photo op after this was Dead Man's Curve in Towanda IL.  We sort of found it, but there are actually two curves, both being about 50 degrees or so as old Route 66 used to dogleg through a section of town on an older alignment.

A later alignment has been made into a "Memory Lane" walking/jogging/biking trail.

 

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8/11/19 4:20 p.m.

We did a photo stop in Funk's Grove for the "Maple Sirup", but didn't do the tasting - although it seems to be a popular thing to do.

Also did a drive-by of the old Dixie Travel Plaza, which is still in use.  

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8/11/19 4:28 p.m.

Atlanta IL has several attractions - so we stopped and walked around town for a while.  They have one of the original "Bunyan Giants":

Izzy is non-plussed at all the interruptions of her naps in the back of the MurderSofa.  

There is a museum of sorts for an old wooden grain elevator built by J.W. Hawes, which has a cool display setup.

There are also quite a few nice murals around town.

I didn't give the hammer a swing.  

Found a couple cool old race cars languishing behind a building.

On the way out of town, snapped a pic of their smiley face water tower - no it's not winking.

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8/11/19 4:34 p.m.

Here's what most of Route 66 in Illinois looks like:

Two lane blacktop, and deserted.  We did see a lot of cyclists, but that was probably due to the road being mostly deserted.

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8/11/19 4:38 p.m.

On the way to our next stop, I spotted the "World's Largest Covered Wagon" in Lincoln IL:

Izzy was over the selfies at this point, methinks.

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8/11/19 4:42 p.m.

The next stop was supposed to be Die Cast Auto Sales, but it's been closed for a couple years, and now it's just a shop run by a gentleman that restores old Chevy pickups and cabovers as a hobby, which I idiotically did not get pictures of.

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8/11/19 4:49 p.m.

The stop for the day was in Springfield IL.  Bribed the SWMBO with candy from Pease's Candy Shop (amazing gourmet chocolates, by the way) and a movie at the Route 66 Drive-In Theater.  The new Lion King stunk, in my opinion - I think I liked the cartoon version where they could use more facial expressions to bring out the animals' emotions. 

I dropped by the old 1920s gas station next to Fulgenzi's Italian restaurant.

Dinner was at Motorhead's Route 66 cafe - and the food was amazing, and the ambience was car guy heaven.  We thought it looked a lot like an old Howard Johnson that had been remodeled.

A Pro Touring ish show car '69 Camaro was sandwiched into the decor - small block (not LS thank God) with an automatic, IRS and full belly pan treatment.

They had a cool little walk-through museum/display on the side of the restaurant.

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8/11/19 8:16 p.m.

Next day: Springfield IL to St. Louis MO.  Left the hotel a little before 9:00 am (because scheduling), and swung by the Sugar Creek covered bridge.  You can't drive on it anymore, but you can walk on it.  It has that neat old barn smell to it - just the old wood.  Very nostalgic.  There was a decent little park there as well that Izzy thoroughly enjoyed, especially since we let her run off the leash - she never runs off, and there was no one else there.

Izzy loved exploring, but wasn't a huge fan of the bridge itself, since her little paws would slip into the cracks a bit.

Izzy's displeasure is apparent.

 

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8/11/19 8:18 p.m.

Next stop was the Route 66 Museum in Litchfield IL - and we got there right as they opened (because scheduling again).  

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8/11/19 8:21 p.m.

Next photo opportunity was the Soulsby Shell Station in Mount Olive, IL.  

I think its been a while since any car was on this service "lift".

Cool road marking in front of the station - I played a little human Frogger to get this.

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