Wilmington, Illinois, isn't far from Joliet... or Chicago, for that matter. It's a quaint town with a LOT of Route 66 charm. We met some great people here.
Wilmington, Illinois, isn’t far from Joliet… or Chicago, for that matter. It’s a quaint town with a LOT of Route 66 charm. We met some great people here.
I read a lot about Route 66 before the trip. I knew there were Muffler Man statues in various locations. Wilmington has a Muffler Man. I hope we find HIM.
It wasn’t hard finding Muffler Man. He’s bigger than life.
“Brent, there he is!”, Charly screamed. “He’s an alien!”
“No, he’s a spaceman. Aliens have strange shaped heads, long fingers and big eyes…. kind of like you,” I joked.
“Stop. I want my picture with him,” she insisted.
We pulled in to the parking lot of a diner named Launch Pad. To my disappointment, it was closed, abandoned and for sale. That didn’t stop me from walking around the building taking pictures.
Suddenly I noticed movement inside the building.
“Someone’s in there!” I exclaimed.
Walking around to the back of the building I saw a door was open.
“Hello?” I shouted.
Soon a man came in to the light of the open door.
“Can we come in an take some pictures?” I asked.
He obliged, but soon got his hand slapped as the Realtor showing him the place didn’t want the seller to know she was showing it. I assured her we wouldn’t let the cat out of the bag.
The potential buyers, Tully and Holly, were the greatest. Immediately I felt like we were long lost friends. They shared all their plans and dreams. I’m excited about their plans. This place is too iconic for someone without passion, and these two are passionate about their plans.
We bid Tully and Holly goodbye, and we hopped in the car and started heading west. While we hoped to eat at the Launching Pad, we were disappointed they weren’t operation, but we did enjoy meeting the future buyers. (Note: As of this writing, the Launching Pad IS OPEN under Holly and Tully’s management.)
“Whoa! There’s a place to eat,” I exclaimed as I saw this teal and white 50’s diner with various fiberglass statues outside.
“I take it you want me to pull in?” Charly asked.
“Of course, I’m famished. Aren’t you?” I grumbled back.
“Oh, cool. I want you to take my pictures with those guys… what did you call them? The Blues Squad?” Charly said with a look of confusion.
“No, the Blues Brothers. They were a hit back in the late 70s, early 80s.” I answered. “The chubby guy was John Belushi, and the tall guy Dan Akroyd. They did this musical/comedy routine they called the Blues Brothers. In 1980 they did a movie. The movie starts with Joliet Jake (Belushi) getting out of prison in Joliet. Hence, Joliet Jake.”
I paused for a second and added excitedly, “Hey, I’ll put the song Soul Man on the stereo, crank it up, and you can dance to it while I grab a photo!”
“Great idea, old man,” she laughed.
“Old man? Old man my…”, I started to say.
Before I could get the next single-syllable word out, Charly laughed and said, “Most of the stuff you talk about is before I was BORN. That makes you an OLD MAN.”
I’m not sure asking her to dance in that outfit was the best idea. After all, I’m a guy, I’m not blind, and… well… let’s leave it at that.
We entered the diner and I ordered a couple of milk shakes. I turned around to take them to the table and who was there? Tully, the guy we just met at the Launching Pad.
It’s cool. Day 2 and we’ve already made some new friends, and now we’ve already ran in to our new friends. If the next several weeks are going to be like this, this is going to be one epic journey.
“Brent, check out that painting!” Charly said very excitedly, and added, “I’ve seen it before. I didn’t know the original was on Route 66!!!”
I was sipping on my shake and nearly sprayed it all over the interior of the car as I started to laugh. “That’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat,” I managed to squeeze out before I choked on my shake. “He was a French impressionist painter in the mid-1800s. The original is in the MET in New York City. Which, by the way, I’ve seen.”
Charly rolled her eyes as if to say, ‘Oh, brother.’
“Can we stop?” she asked.
“Of course. I plan on it stopping at every unique sight along the way,” I said as Charly was pulling off to the side of the street.
I jumped out and grabbed my camera off the back seat.
We walked around Wilmington for a while. I grabbed a bunch of photos while Charly just followed me around. She knows she’s along for the company, as well as modeling for my photos. However, there were times when I’d just get a shot of something because it is interesting and not because it made a great background for Charly.
We headed down an ally and when I saw this, I couldn’t help but sing Greg Alman’s One Way Out. I’m just glad Charly didn’t take a picture me dancing. That wouldn’t be pretty.