Rocking It on Day 6 (read on and you'll see). After my little joke about tonight's motel, and grabbing a few photos, we moved on. Consequently, I probably won't be able to pull any more pranks today.
Rocking It on Day 6 (read on and you’ll see). After my little joke about tonight’s motel, and grabbing a few photos, we moved on. Consequently, I probably won’t be able to pull any more pranks today.
Driving Route 66 you see a lot of similar stuff. As a result of the Interstate Freeway System you see a lot of nearly ghosts towns, and a lot of depressed areas. It’s too bad. I like small towns.
Soon I see an old service station (no pumps, however), but what’s parked there has my interest. It’s a midnight blue Pontiac!!! It’s the same color as my Grand Prix, only this one is an early model Pontiac.
Charly had already changed outfits. She donned a goth-looking purple and black outfit. Her shoes were almost electric.
“Hey, Charly, I want you to go pose by that beauty,” I said with excitement.
“What’s that? An old model-T?” she asked.
“No, first, it’s NOT a FORD, and second Model-Ts had stamped fenders,” I said hoping to educate her, “While it does kind of look like a Model-A.”
“Huh? Model-As are newer than Model-Ts?” looking confused, Charly asks.
“Yes. Model-Ts came first,” I said just to watch her look more confused. “Go stand over there.”
“Oh, look! It’s for sale!” I screamed.
Charly nearly jumped out of her purple platform shoes, “Dude, you scared me,” catching her breath, she adds, “Are you going to buy it?”
In My Dreams
After seeing that 1930 Pontiac I’m rocking it in my dreams. Wow, if I had $10,500 and a way to get that home I’d buy it. Imagine opening the garage door and seeing that on one side and my Grand Prix on the other side.
Really Rocking It
“I’ve read about this. It’s the worlds largest rocking chair!” I said as I saw the red monstrosity as large as a big two-story house.
“I’m going to go use the boy’s room,” I said, “I’ll be right back.”
As I returned from the restroom I saw the car, but no sign of Charly. I wasn’t too alarmed. I didn’t hear any other vehicles pull up or anyone walking or talking.
“CHARLY!” I yelled.
“HEY, CHARLY! WHERE ARE YOU!” I cried out again.
Hearing giggling, I looked up and Charly said, “I’m up here.”
“How… How in the world,” I paused looking around trying to figure this out, “did you get up there?”
“Ha-ha… I’ll never tell,” Charly said with a devilish grin.
“And, in a skirt at that,” I commented.
“Hey, I’m wearing shorts under my skirt,” Charly’s tone was of disgust.
“That’s good, because at this angle,” I started to say.
Interrupting, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re always worried I’ll show too much.”
“Tomorrow’s headlines: PILE UP ON HISTORIC ROUTE 66,” I said laughing.
Day 6 in St. Louis is off to a great start. I hit the hotel complementary breakfast. (I like complimentary breakfasts. Sometimes I go to hotels just for the complimentary breakfast.) Who knows what Charly is doing. I'm guessing her makeup.
Day 6 in St. Louis is off to a great start. I hit the hotel complementary breakfast. (I like complimentary breakfasts. Sometimes I go to hotels just for the complimentary breakfast.) Who knows what Charly is doing. I'm guessing her makeup.
Day 6 plan is for me is to go to church and then we’ll hit the road. Yes, even when traveling, I go to church. I goofed up and made reservations for a hotel in another city. For the rest of the trip my plan is to spend Saturday and Sunday night’s in the same place. You know what they say, “Seven days without God makes one weak.” A day of rest is good.
Day 6 in St. Louis is off to a great start. I hit the hotel complementary breakfast. (I like complimentary breakfasts. Sometimes I go to hotels just for the complimentary breakfast.) Who knows what Charly is doing. I’m guessing her makeup.
Day 6 in St. Louis and Where’s Charly?
Okay, I’m off to a local church, and I haven’t seen Charly all morning. I left a note under her door:
Gone to church. Back in time for lunch. Please be ready. — Brent
Back on the Road
I returned from church and saw Charly was all packed and ready to hit the road.
“I see you got my note,” I said.
She replied, “I was wondering where you went.”
“Let’s load the car,” I said as I grabbed the handles of my two roller bags.
We no sooner put stuff in the car and Charly says, “I forgot something, I’ll be right back.”
30-minutes later I decided I’d play a little prank. A few days ago a guy let us take some bricks. I’ll stuff them in her suitcase.
“Right back,” I said, “I was about to see if there was someone else who wanted to join me.”
“You wouldn’t leave me,” she said with a voice of confidence.
“Oh, get over yourself,” I retorted, “the rest of us have.”
That earned one dirty look.
Not Our Day 6 Motel
It was time for another road trip tick. I knew there was an abandoned motel coming up.
“Wow,” I said, “I didn’t realize we’d get to our next motel so quickly.”
I was driving, and I pulled in the the abandoned Gardenway Motel. The first giveaway should have been there were NO cars in front of the rooms.
Charly hopped out of the car before it came to a complete stop, and yelled, “Nooooooo!”
I was laughing so hard I couldn’t speak for a while. Finally getting it together I asked, “Why?”
“You can’t be serious! This place looks like a dump from the outside, I can’t imagine what the rooms look like inside,” she said without even thinking that I was pulling her leg.
“Wait, wait, wait,” I said both trying to calm Charly down and to keep from cracking up, “wait until you see inside the rooms.”
I widened my eyes as if to say, ‘They’re amazing.’
Charly cast a gaze my way as if to say, ‘You better not be pulling my leg.’
“Let’s go look,” I said while taking her by the hand.
She grabbed my hand like a scared child. As we drew closer, her grip got tighter and tighter. I began to be a little scared myself. Visions of drug-crazed squatters coming at us with broken beer bottles ran through my imagination.
There was no visual or audible indication that anyone else was around. As I turned and looked at this pale frightened girl, I thought it was time to let her in on the joke.
Letting Charly In on the Day 6 Prank
“You must realize, I’d never stay in a dump like this. Remember our motel in Normal? That was about as bad as I’m willing to put up with,” I explained.
As a result, her hand curled in to a fist as I thought, ‘This could hurt, so move!”
Dodging her jab towards my right bicep I grabbed her before she lost her balance and fell on the the filthy walkway under our feet. Because she was about to fall over, I steadied her with both hands and placed my hands on her shoulders.
“It was a joke, Charly,” I said realizing perhaps it was a little cruel.
Smiling, Charly says, “I knew you were. I wanted you to think I trusted you.”
“What? You don’t?” I asked.
“Heck no,” she laughed.
“What the heck are you doing on this trip? Riding a few thousand miles with an old man?” I said feeling a little under appreciated.
“Oh, no. I trust you in that way,” she said realizing she’s safe with me. “You’d never lay a hand on me. You’re the only guy I’ve ever met who hasn’t made me feel creepy in that way.”
“Thank you for telling me that,” I said comforted. “Let’s peak inside and see how bad this place really is.”
“Do we have to?” she said squeamishly.
“You’re perfectly welcome to go back and wait in the car,” I stated, “I just want to peak around and take a few pictures.”
“Nah, it’s okay, but if zombies come after us I’m throwing you at them so I can make my escape,” she said realizing she could outrun me.
We both slowly approached a broken window. Charly peeked inside and exclaimed, “GROSS!”
Day 5 – Good morning Saint Louis. Let’s find somewhere to eat breakfast and then go see the St. Louis Arch.
I plugged in Saint Louis Arch and it wasn’t found. So, I had to do an Internet search and found at the GPS probably has it listed by it’s official name – Gateway Arch.
That did it. Off we go.
“Brent, check that out. It looks like an old movie theatre,” Charly says while pointing out the window.
“It sure does. Let’s stop and check it out,” I said.
We pulled in to the parking lot to discover inside it’s been converted in to offices. One of the things the Internet has destroyed is good, ol’ fashioned, movie houses. Just as the Interstate highway system turned many Route 66 towns in to shells of what they used to be, the Internet has had impact on theatres and retail shopping.
As we walked by the MOD Pizza shop in the corner of the building, the manager was opening and asked if we’d like to have a pizza.
Hey, I’m all for pizza for breakfast.
Saint Louis Train Station
Getting to the arch is going to take a little time. We didn’t get far before I saw an old train station. (It’s actually in Kirkwood, Mo.)
My grandpa was a Union Pacific Railroad man. He taught me respect for the tracks and trains. He’d say, “I don’t ever want to pick up your head off the tracks.” I was never afraid, I just knew trains and train tracks are nothing to be trifled with. You don’t pose people on the tracks and you get it in to your head that you cannot always hear a train. (It has to do with the doppler effect.)
“Brent, take a picture of me on the tracks,” Charly requests.
“Nope. Those are live tracks,” I said while looking around for some signage.
“Here, read this Charly,” I said pointing to a sign that warns trespassers, “aside from trespassing, it is also extremely dangerous. Didn’t you hear about those three kids who were killed last summer as one of them was taking pictures of the other two standing on the tracks?”
“Didn’t they see it coming and HEAR it coming?” she said in disbelief.
“Nope. It was a blind corner. The train was doing about 70 miles per hour, and at that speed, you won’t hear the train until it is too late,” I explained.
“Really?” she said while looking at me as if to say, ‘Nah, that can’t be.’
“See the yellow line. Stay on this side of the line please,” I pleaded with Charly.
“Okay,” she said with the disbelief that goes along with the feeling of invincibility that accompanies youth.
“Here, stand here and look down the track like you’re looking for the train,” I instructed, “Too bad we don’t have a suitcase.”
The Gateway Arch
I’ve always wanted to see the Arch in St. Louis. I knew little about the arch before the trip. All I knew about it was from my college math days learning that it is built in the shape that a chain makes ( a catenary curve) when suspended at two ends — only inverted. As a result of this shape, the arch is very structurally sturdy.
Here’s what I learned: The Arch was built as a monument to the westward expansion. It is a National Park. Inside are trams that take tourist to the top where they can look out windows at the scenes below. (Because of its hight, I always thought there were offices inside.) It took over 30 years from conception to completion!!! It is 630 feet wide and 630 feet tall.
“Charly, come stand here and act like a fashion model,” I called for her. “There… move a little to your left,” I said motioning for her to move in that direction.
“Perfect,” I said as clicked the shutter.
I looked at our tickets, and then my watch, “Hey, let’s go inside. We need to catch our tram ride to the top.”
Trotting towards the entrance with Charly following behind, we entered the building via a downward sloping ramp that took us to the basement.
We had to wait for our group to be called, so we looked around. Finally they called our number and marshalled is in to a line. It was like a popular line at Disneyland. Just when you think you’re almost there, it takes another turn and doubles back on itself.
They boarded us on a tram with a half dozen people and off we went to the top.
“Charly,” I started to ask as she looked at me knowing I was going to ask her to pose.
She walked over to one of the windows, “How’s this?”, she asked.
Chain of Rocks Bridge Saint Louis
Our next stop was this bridge all the books said is a “must see”. I had never heard of the Chain of Rocks Bridge, so we were off to see what all the fuss is about.
The GPS took us to the Missouri side of the bridge and I did not see ANYWHERE that I would want to park the car. Charly was thumbing through all my Route 66 books.
“Brent,” she said firmly, “this book says, ‘Do not leave your car unattended on the Missouri side. It is not safe.'”
“Not to worry, I don’t plan to park here,” I said, then added, “I can’t even see a place to park legally. Check the map, will you?”
Charly pulled out a AAA map and began to fiddle with the folds. I could tell this Millennial Child has never dealt with a road map before. So, I turned on the flashers and pulled to the shoulder of the road.
“Let me see that,” I said while tugging it from her hands. “Okay, I see where we need to go.”
Soon we found ourselves on the Kansas side of bridge. A large gravel parking lot looked clean and safe. It also had many other cars parked there, but no people in sight.
“Let’s go check it out,” I said hopping out of the car.
Sadness on the Bridge
We soon came across this plaque. The death dates made me wonder, “Was this a suicide pact? How did these two girls die? What happened?”
You may have noticed some website updates. We've switched to a new server and updated everything.
Hopefully in the process we haven't introduced any broken links, but our site health-check will alert us to those. We will fix them as they are discovered.
You may have noticed some website updates. We’ve switched to a new server and updated everything.
Hopefully in the process we haven’t introduced any broken links, but our site health-check will alert us to those. We will fix them as they are discovered.
Website Updates In the Meantime
In the meantime we might not be posting. It’s taking a little more work than we expected.
But, that’s okay. With any website updates there are glitches and delays. And, since I’m fully disabled, I can only handle so much each day. So, be patient
If you’re new to our site, a few words of introduction…
Who We Are
In 2017 myself, Brent Walton, and Paul Bardotz drove Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica. We were on the road for 30 days. It was an epic and awesome trip.
We were even interviewed for a magazine when we returned. We also gave a few presentations. It was really fun to tell others of our journey. It was a once in a lifetime trip and I’m glad I did it when we did it.
A little over a year after returning, I got seriously ill… and I haven’t got better. It started with a flu and turned in to a rare neuromuscular disease (which they suspect was triggered by the flu). As a result, had I NOT gone in 2017, I might not have ever made this trip.
That’s the bad part.
The Good Part
The good part is I can only handle about 45-90 minutes a day on my feet. That’s largely used for personal hygiene and meals. The rest of the day I have to rest.
I got tired of watching TV, and this disease affects my eyes, so reading is really difficult. My wife and I came up with a way I can sit at my computer and will minimal physical effort (and with the help of a VERY large monitor), I can do stuff on the computer. (Mostly stuff that doesn’t involve reading… and writing… so writing this is very difficult and time consuming.) Running out of things to do, I decided to create some art around my Route 66 photos.
I created a fictional character, Charly, who is accompanying me on a fictional Route 66 trip. She’s kind of a wild kid who’s accompany this older guy (the fictional me) on this trip. We’re as different as night and day. (I’ve already taken some ribbing about Charly being ‘trashy’ and ‘racy’. It might turn out to be kind of a Cinderella story.)
I look and see some sort of a monument. It says Illinois 181 at the top. My first thought is there’s no way this was around in 1818. It can’t be mile 1,818. Oh, wait… that’s the year Illinois became a state!!!
“I think that’s a monument to Illinois becoming a state,” I told Charly as I turned my back to do an Internet search. Whew! I was right.
Just think… we’re only a year off from Illinois’ bicentennial. But, we are here for Route 66… not Illinois.
It turns out this monument was put up by the people who live here. I think it is cool. I’d be tempted to do something like that, but there are so many places where code enforcement would jump down your throat.
Dusk Near St. Louis
It’s near dusk as we’re near St. Louis. We pulled over to take some photos.
Pointing to the Bel Air Drive In sign, Charly asked, “Have you ever been to one of those?”
“I grew up across the street from a drive in,” I proudly said.
“Can we go?” she asks.
“There’s nothing on the marquis. I doubt they are open,” I said.
“What is it like? How do you watch a movie?” Charly asks.
“You drove your car in, and parked next to a pole with a speaker. The speaker clipped to your window. You’d have to be careful when you left and made sure you put the speaker back else it would damage your window! You’d sit in your car and watch the movie on that big screen,” I said pointing to the screen, “and the sound came across the speaker.”
Drawing a breath, I continued, “If you got hungry, you could walk to a building in the center of where all the cars park. They also had carhops who came and brought food to you.”
Here are some images I created of days gone by…
I started reminiscing about the days watching cartoons over the drive in fence. (After all, we lived across the street from a drive in. All I had to do is go out in the field with binoculars and watch — no sound.)
Where’s the Hotel?
Back in the car I plugged the address to the hotel in the GPS. It took us to some road with a chain link fence and barb wire.
“Your destination is on the right,” the woman’s British voice announced. (British because the other voices sounded too boring.)
“Charly,” I said, “that does NOT look like our hotel.”
“Maybe it was torn down… like so many other places on Route 66,” Charly said with a sound of disgust.
“I doubt that. I just made the reservations at lunch time,” I said. “Here,” I continued handing her my phone, “call the number and tell them we’re lost.”
Charly makes the call, explains the situation, and hangs up.
“Well? That was short,” I said.
“He said they get that a lot. We need to specify St. Louis,” she says.
“I thought it would take us to the closest matching address… in St. Louis,” I began to get a little perturbed.
“I’m just sayin'”, she says.
How I hate that phrase. ‘I’m just sayin”.
“Well, punch it in,” I snapped.
“Turn around. Your destination is 2 miles back,” says the GPS.
“SEE. It’s NOT me. It’s taking us back to that… I don’t know… It looked like an AREA 51, but we’re not in the Southwest U.S.,” I responded more angrily.
“Calm down,” Charly says, “I’ll try again. Nope, it’s taking us right back there.”
“Okay,” I said as I had an epiphany, “put in downtown St. Louis and we’ll just drive there. When we get downtown we will enter the hotel again.”
“Dang, you’re smart,” Charly said stroking my ego, but rolling her eyes as if SHE had thought of doing that.
Seeing the St. Louis Arch for the First Time
Seeing the St. Louis Arch for the first time was pretty impressive. I did not realize it was so BIG. We could see the city in the background against the dimming sky and the Arch dwarfed everything else around it.
“Okay, we’re getting closer to St. Louis. I didn’t realize back there we had so much further to go,” I said with a calm sound of reassurance. “Stupid GPS.”
Charly and I switched driving. I grabbed a shot through the windshield, but I couldn’t see the arch when I did.
Once in the city, the GPS took us right to the hotel. I let the front desk know they might be losing business if the GPS takes people to destinations unknown. They agreed.
A Dip in the Pool
“I’m going to go for a dip in the pool,” Charly announced she took the key card and headed to her room.
“Go ahead,” exhaustedly I said, “I’m calling it a day. Oh, and don’t forget to take a robe or a towel. I’m not sure…”
“I’m not stupid, you know,” Charly said like a defiant teenager.
“I’m not saying you are… just not as modest as most people,” I said with a wink.
There I sat in my room. Wired from all the driving we did today, or what seemed like a lot of driving. I broke out my laptop, and began downloading images.
Seeing it would take a while to copy, I decided to go down to the lobby and ask the lady at the front desk about places to eat breakfast. Or, at least see what they offer for breakfast in the hotel. I can’t remember if it comes with a continental breakfast or not.
Back at the Room
I’m walking down the hall as I’m heading back to my room and what do I see? Charly is standing in the hall, wrapped in a towel, pounding on my door.
“Looking for me?” I asked.
“I thought you were in for the night,” she says surprised to see me.
“And, I wasn’t expecting to open my hotel door to see a young lady dressed only in a towel,” was my response.
“I’ve got my swimsuit on underneath”, Charly informs me as she opens the towel enough to show she’s got a one-piece on under the towel.
“Thank goodness for that,” I said, relieved.
“I locked my key in my room,” she said thinking nothing of what she had done.
“And, so… you’re knocking on my door to ask me if you could have my room? Is that it?” I asked because I wasn’t sure what she was getting to.
“No, I was going to ask if you know how I can get in my room,” she nievely said.
“Yeah, you go down to the front desk, tell them you locked yourself out of your room… ” I started to say.
“But what if they ask for ID?” she inquired.
“This happens often. If they want ID they can always come up, open your door, and ask you to produce ID before they call the cops and have you arrested and thrown in jail for imitating Char… “, I was on a roll before she cut in.
“Okay, I get it. They aren’t going to arrest me,” she says as she scampered off towards the elevator.
Once safely in my room I thought of leaving a note on her door. In fact, I even wrote it out:
“DON’T BUG ME. I’M TIRED AND I HAVE GONE TO BED.”
But then, I reconsidered. If I put that note on her door she’d definitely be waking me 5 minutes in to my slumber.
I forgot to mention I picked up some Route 66 suspenders back at Becky’s Barn. My new suspenders are the type of souvenir that will keep supporting me. They have little Route 66 emblems representing very state Route 66 passes through. I like my new suspenders.
Earlier in the Day (before New Suspenders)
Before I got my new suspenders, and before we stopped at Becky’s Barn, I noticed what Charly was wearing.
“Hey, didn’t you sleep in that last night,” I jokingly said while thinking her blouse looked like a teddy.
“NO! How would YOU KNOW what I slept in last night?” Charly said with indignance.
“It looks like a nighty. A teddy,” I answered.
Rolling her eyes, she said, “I’m stopping the car. I need to stretch my legs.”
She pulled off the cobblestone road on to the grass, and got out and walked around on the bricks. The sound of her heals on the bricks made a very distinctive click/scratch noise.
“Aren’t you afraid your heals are going to get stuck between the bricks?” I asked.
“Will you lay off my clothes? Sheesh. You’d think you’re my father,” she said sounding like an irritated teenager.
I moved over to the driver’s seat after taking some pictures, and Charly walked around stretching her legs a bit longer.
“You know, you keep stretching those legs and you’ll be all legs. Oh, what am I saying… isn’t that what every woman wants? Long legs?” I joked.
“You bet. Why do you think I need to stretch my legs every couple of hours?” Charly smiled.
“I thought that was just your way of saying, ‘Okay, Brent, you can go pee now,'” I laughed.
More Abandoned Sections
We drove along as I maintained a hypervigilance. My priorities were (1) safety while driving, (2) watching the gas gage, and (3) looking for portions of Route 66 that once-were.
“There! I think I see an abandoned section of road,” I said while making a hard right.
Charly slammed against the car door. (Remember, this is a right-hand drive car.)
“Are you trying to get us killed,” she screamed.
Laughing it off because there was not a car in sight, I said, “How? Did you think we might get rear-ended by a skunk or something?”
“Grrrr… you startled me,” she growled.
I pulled over near an abandoned bridge, and Charly got out quickly and straightened her dress and tugged on her shorts which had ridden up her legs. I’m sure my quick turn didn’t help any.
“Going to the movies, Charly?” I said as she pinched her shorts between her butt cheeks and pulled them down.
“Huh?”, looking at my with confusion.
“Are you going to the movies?” I said with a grin.
“Are we going to the movies today? You didn’t say anything about going to the movies,” she said with a continued look of confusion.
“Oh, I just had to ask because it looked like you were picking your seat,” I said as I took cover behind her car. (I figured there’s no way she would pick up a rock and throw it at her car.)
“I don’t get it?” she said.
“Never mind. It wouldn’t be funny if I have to explain it,” I said.
“Oh… Oh… I get it,” she said catching on, “It isn’t funny even if you don’t have to explain it.”
A Little Creative Fun (no New Suspenders Needed)
While Charly was sitting I snapped a photo of my Route 66 contraption I made. I’ve been rubbing the base in the dirt when we stop. The idea is a little bit of Route 66 from every state will become part of it.
There we go… A little creative work and you’ve got Charly sitting by this HUGE 66.
Note: I do not advice, encourage, or condone climbing on REAL monuments. This is a virtual reality.
Regarding Abandoned Sections of Route 66
If you are searching for abandoned sections of Route 66, please make sure you are not trespassing. If you see signs that say, “Keep Out”, “No Trespassing”, or “Private Property”, don’t go looking. And, if someone tells you that you are on private property and asks you to leave, do so politely.
It’s Day 4 and we’re waking in Springfield, Illinois. While not directly on Route 66, I want to see Lincoln’s tomb.
While Abraham Lincoln played an end-game play around the U.S. Constitution, it was something that needed to be done. Not only was the Union at risk of failing, he saw the evil of slavery. Other politicians have used this as justification for less noble causes, but in the end, Lincoln was justified in the ends truly did justify the means.
The visit was worth the slight detour. You learn much about the man and his family during the tour. This stately tomb is a reverent place inside. A hallowed spirit fills the air.
Back on Route in Springfield
Back on route in Springfield, we manage to find our way out of town.
“It looks like the road turns right up here Charly,” as I acted as navigator for Charly.
The vibration of the road was a familiar one for me, but a new experience for Charly.
“It’s called cobblestone… or brick, if you like,” as the road became quite quaint looking.
With a vibration in her voice, Charly says, “I hope it is not like this the rest of the way.”
“No, according to everything I’ve read this is a rare section,” I assured her.
We hadn’t got far when I saw a sign to “Becky’s Barn”. We turned off and checked it out. A Route 66 gift shop, the lonely owner was a widower who was once married to “Becky”. After a long visit, he invited us to help remove some of the rubble left in his yard when they repaired the bricks on Route 66.
“Seriously? I can take one?” I excitedly asked.
“Please do. The workers just dumped it here. It’s been here for years and I have to get it cleaned up so I can sell the place. Take as many as you want.”
Charly and I each grabbed a brick as a souvenir of the OLD Route 66.
Talkers and Turkeys
Springfield seems like it was days ago, yet it was just this morning. Our stop in Auburn, Illinois, was nice, but that guy could sure talk.
“I read there are turkey tracks in the concrete a little further up the road,” I said to Charly.
“Why were there turkey tracks?” she asks me.
“Because the turkey needed to cross the road,” I said, “Get it… why did the turkey cross the road???”
“To get to the other side???” Charly asked being unsure that I was making a joke.
“Just drive,” I said.
We headed on our way after seeing those turkey tracks in Route 66. It’s kind of funny that they’ve become a historic landmark in their own rite.
“Whoa, what’s THAT,” I said pointing to a rusty looking metal dinosaur.
“Awe, he’s cute. I’m stopping,” Charly says as if I would argue.
Charly jumps out of the car so quickly I don’t think the car had come to a complete stop.
Scratching the nose of this sculpture, you’d think Charly thought he was alive.
“So you like Scooby”, I said.
A voice came from the building nearby, “It’s SCOBY, rhymes with TOBY.”
“Oh,” I said, “I do see that now. There’s only one “O”. Scoby,” I said.
The creator/artist came up and began telling us the story of Scoby. He created it for his grandchildren, and it’s become a Route 66 icon in these parts.
“He’s so cute,” Charly repeated.
I thought she was going to ask if we could take him home. Scoby, that is, not the old man.
The guy would have talked to us all day and in to the night, but I was needing to eat and go to the bathroom — not necessarily in that order.
We politely broke away from our conversation with the very nice old man and drove only a couple of blocks before we found a Hardy’s. Yeah, it’s not iconic Route 66, but they do make a good burger.
We met a few dead ends today on Route 66. As we travel Historic Route 66 we will look for “missing” portions. Many are “dead ends” at BOTH ends.
The first one we found today was perfect to stage a drag race. You know where traffic will come from so you don’t have to have spotters at both ends.
Charly changed in to what she calls her “racing” outfit. I’d call it more of a racy outfit.
Checking Books, Maps and Internet
Checking books, maps and Internet is a good way to find abandoned sections of old Route 66. Route 66 moved several times throughout its history, and since being decommissioned, some sections are simply abandoned. Today, there are many sections that are still driveable, but even those you have to search for.
You will find some in the woods, others in fields, we found one in a park, and who knows where some are hiding. It takes getting out of the car and hiking around at times.
Pranking Charly with Dead Ends
We found an abandoned section in a park. It was being used for a bike/pedestrian trail.
“Hey, Charly, I’m going to take the car and scout around for the next drivable part of Route 66,” I tell her.
“Okay, I’ll explore the park and enjoy the sunshine,” Charly replies.
I drove to the other side of the overpass and found an access road. Sure enough, it came up to the roadblock on the park section. Waiting and watching, I waited for Charly to be off doing something so I could sneak the car to the “closed” side of the roadblock.
There I sat quietly off the side of the road with my camera to grab a shot of Charly’s surprise. I’m going to have fun pranking Charly with dead ends.
“What the …” Charly stops knowing I don’t approve of cussing.
“BRENT,” Charly screamed.
I sat quietly behind her with my camera in silent mode and squeezed off a couple frames.
“BRENT!!!” she yelled again, “Where are you, and how the freak did you get the car back there? Did you drive across the grass?”
“No,” I said as she nearly jumped out of her skin, “I found an access road on the other side of that overpass.”
“You think your funny,” she said as she came charging towards me.
I wasn’t about to stand there to find out what would happen next. Clutching my camera, I just started to run away from her. Seeing no place to run to, I put my hands in the air and said, “I surrender! I surrender!”
No sooner than I said the second ‘surrender’, I felt her arms around my neck and her torso pressed in to mine as her legs wrapped around my waist.
“What? Are you 5 years old wanting daddy to give you a piggyback ride? Get off me.” I demanded.
Ruffling my hair, she slides off my back and says, “Ah, come on. I enjoy piggyback rides.”
“I used to too… when I was FIVE,” I retorted. “Let’s get back on the road.”
Back on the Road
We managed to get back on the road. As the day neared an end we checked in to our hotel. The first thing Charly did was change out of her cowgirl outfit and in to a slinky cocktail dress.
“Are you taking me out to diner?” Charly askes.
Eyeing her over, I reply, “Yes, but don’t you think you’re a little overdressed for Route 66?”
“I can take it off if you want,” she says with a wink.
Perhaps she’s been on the road too long with me, but she’s never winked like that before. Well, at least not to me.
Knowing her lack of inhibitions, I said, “Nope, not at all. Let me go grab a tie.”
It's day 3 - leaving Normal. I guess you could say, day 3 - abnormal?
It’s day 3 – leaving Normal. I guess you could say, day 3 – abnormal?
Leaving Normal sounds good to me. I’m definitely not going to stay at Motel 6 in Normal again. I’ve stayed at some Motel 6s that were okay. A lot of them always seem rundown, but this one… it’s just creepy and unmaintained.
I saw this cool door and wanted to get a picture. We we got out of the car I saw the sign above it said, “Mantiques”.
What a cool name for a store.
“Charly,” I shouted, “Go stick your head through the window.”
“What are mantiques?” Charly askes.
“I guess they are antiques for men,” I simply replied.
“What? Don’t guys like antiques?” she said with a quizzical expression.
“Not the frilly stuff, but when it comes to old car parts, service station signs, license plates, …”, as I got cut off.
“You mean, old junk,” she said with a tone of disgust.
“I guess a guy could say that about an old vase, tea set, or some other girly thing,” I said mockingly.
“At least they aren’t all rusty!” she said getting a little defensive.
“Just get behind the sign,” I quipped.
We never did see where this “Mantique” store was. It might not have been right on Route 66, and I didn’t feel like looking for it. Charly would never let me hear the end of it if I did.
I’m skipping around in today’s post. It’s hard to keep track of where we were when I took a specific picture. I find myself asking, “Was that after leaving Normal? Was that before getting to Lincoln?”
Speaking of Lincoln
Speaking of Lincoln, the president, he was born in Kentucky, but moved to Illinois where he ran for several political positions. Lincoln, Illinois, is named after him… of course.
“Hey, check that out Charly!” I shouted as we walked down the street having parked her car near the courthouse.
“Is that the theater where Lincoln was shot?” she asks.
“No, that was the Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.” I said while trying to to sound condescending. After all, Charly is the product of public schools in the 21st Century. I can’t expect her to know much about history or geography.
Quietly she responded, “Oh.”
The two young men placing the letters on the marquet were quite dedicated to their work. They weren’t about to let a pretty young lady distract them.
While I, on the other hand, must have watched too many Laurel and Hardy movies as a kid. I kept imagining a keystone cop running down the sidewalk, knocking over the ladder while the boy dangled up there holding on for life.
Here’s a little plaque we found while walking around.
“Hi,” I said to a stranger who looked like a local, and asked, “you look like you’re from around here. Where’s a good place to eat lunch?”
The man smiled and said, “If you like pie, you’ll need to go to Atlanta.”
Thinking he wasn’t quite understanding what I was saying, I responded, “No, someplace close by. Hopefully with a local flare.”
“Yeah, Atlanta,” he said, and added, “It’s just down the road a few miles on Route 66. The place is the Palm’s Grill. They make really good sandwiches, but their pie is the best.”
Embarrassed, I laughed, “Oh, okay.”
I think the entire misunderstanding went completely over Charly’s head.
“Charly,” I said, “Let’s go to Atlanta and get lunch… unless we see something else we don’t want to pass up.”
“Oh, you won’t,” said the stranger, “there’s not much between here and there if you’re heading that direction on Route 66.”
There’s nothing normal since leaving Normal.
It wasn’t hard to find Palm’s Cafe… or is it grill? Oh, wait, it’s Palm’s Grill Cafe.
We entered and there was NOBODY eating in there. Perhaps we missed the lunch rush. Perhaps leaving Normal has placed us in the Twilight Zone???
Holy crud. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon. I guess this is a late lunch.
“Well, Charly, let’s eat,” I said as I pointed to the counter as the waitress approached.
“We will just sit here,” I said, “I don’t think my friend has ever ate at a counter in a diner before.”
Charly just looked wide-eyed at the counter, and around the room.
Eying the menu, I saw a sandwich description that I couldn’t pass up, “I’ll take one of these, I said pointing to the menu.”
“And, for your wife,” the waitress asked.
I had already told Charly I was going to have fun with the person who asked if she was my wife, or implied she was my wife.
“My wife? Oh, no. She’s my girl friend. My wife’s much younger,” I said trying to be real serious.
Charly slapped me on the shoulder, “Knock it off. She might believe you.”
“What? That you’re my girlfriend, or that my wife’s younger?” I said while chuckling.
Not amused, the waitress stared over her glasses and said, “Okay, what’s your daughter going to order.”
I laughed again and said, “My daughters are all older. I’ve got grandchildren that are almost Charly’s age.”
I could see I wasn’t amusing the waitress at all. Thank goodness Charly stepped in to save me.
“That’s right. He raised seven daughter,” she added.
Suddenly, the waitress looked at me with a look of respect… or maybe it was pity. It’s hard to tell.
“Seven daughters? You must be a saint,” she said.
Charly gave her her order, and the waitress told us the food would be right out.
My sandwich was a work of art. It oozed with goodness. The homemade sweet potato chips were cooked to perfection. Charly’s sandwich wasn’t quite as pretty as mine, but still looked good.
I finished my sandwich before Charly was even half done.
“I’m going to use the bathroom,” I said, “Waitress! Where’s your men’s room?”
She pointed me down the hall. As I passed the waitress, she gave me further instructions.
I soon found myself in a room with all sorts of pictures, and another hallway with a small “museum” of sorts.
Coming back from the bathroom, I said to Charly, “You’ve got to check this place out before we leave.”
Leaving Normal, we’ve now gone back in time.
After a slice of cherry pie (which the guy was right, it is GOOD pie) we headed outside to walk the main drag of town. On the corner was an open door. I stuck my head inside and there was a ROLLS ROYCE. It was a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud.
“Charly,” I said excitedly as I waved my arm to summons her to come look,”this is just like the one my dad had.”
The poor girl had no clue what we were looking at. I wasn’t sure I had the energy to explain about the ultimate decadence when it came to cars.
“This is just like the second one he owned. His first was a 1939 Silver Wraith II that was owned by Lord Mountbatten during World War II,” I said.
She didn’t know how to respond. I might as well have been speaking in Greek.
End of day in Normal sounds like bad grammar. We arrived late at the Normal Motel 6, which is anything but normal. With the exceptions for some motels in Mexico, this is the worst I've ever stayed in.
End of day in Normal sounds like bad grammar. We arrived late at the Normal Motel 6, which is anything but normal. With the exceptions for some motels in Mexico, this is the worst I’ve ever stayed in.
I pulled my laptop out and started reviewing photos. A good portion of the time I was worried about Charly’s safety in the hole they call a motel. I remind myself that she’s a big girl and (hopefully) won’t do anything stupid, like go to the car to get something she left in the trunk.
It’s been a full and rewarding day. Going through the photos of the day I’ve decided to end the day with a few interesting things we’ve seen.
Knocking at the door.
Opening the door I see Charly who says, “I left my makeup bag in the car. Would you walk me to the car so I can get it?”
My mind was relieved. I’ll have to set aside sorting through photos.
We go outside and there’s one of the motel maids taking a smoke break. She sets her burning cigarette and places it on the window sill and quickly goes inside as if we didn’t see her taking a break. I’m tempted to knock the cigarette to the ground and grind it out with my foot. (Imagine the poor soul in that room!!)
Charly grabs her makeup bag and thanks me for escorting her outside, and we both return to our rooms.
Earlier in the Day
We saw some cool things today. I like that Illinois has these Route 66 Kiosks all over the place. They are classy and tell about where you are, show a map, and photos of what you’ll see in the area.
“See that red arrow?” asking Charly, I continued, “That’s where we are. That should give you an idea how far we’ve driven today.”
“Thank you Captain Obvious,” Charly said as if I was speaking down to her.
“Careful, I know where you keep your suitcase,” I said threateningly.
“And, I know where you keep yours too,” with assurance in her voice.
“Hey, smart alec, do you see it has a picture of the gas pumps where you stopped to get gas,” I said to rub it in with a little salt.
Charly turns to face me, sticks out her chest, and says, “Hey, watch it. I know where you sleep.”
Her posture and expression wasn’t one of physical threatening, but I figured I should change the subject before she goes any further. I’ll spend the rest of the day chasing the image of her sneaking in to my room while I’m sleeping and I wake to find her standing there with hardly anything on. Wait… how is that any different from what she wears each day?
“Hahaha… I know what you’re thinking,” she claims.
“Doesn’t that Chain of Rocks Bridge look cool?” I said changing the subject. I wasn’t prepared for that last comment she made.
Other Stops Today
We came across a park dedicated to Rosie the Riveter. There was a munitions factory on Route 66 here in Elwood, Illinois. The park is across the street from the Elwood Post Office where I went to get some stamps to mail out some Route 66 postcards.
While Charly had seen the Rosie the Riveter picture before, I had to explain the significance. I suggested she give me her best Rosie pose. (I wish I had a bandana to complete the image.)
Painted Route 66 Emblem
I love how certain places they paint the Route 66 emblem in the street. I got this great idea for a pinup-style image. We parked the car at the top of the emblem and I explained the pose to Charly.
Back at the hotel for the night, I created a digital painting of the scene. That’s the end of day in Normal — creating a painting.