June 10, 2019

Day 4 – Near St. Louis

Day 4 – Near St. Louis and it’s starting to get dark. Some days we end up pushing dinner until it’s late, but time seems to get away when there is so much to see on Route 66.

“Brent? What’s that?”, Charly asks.

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.

Illinois 1818 Route 66 Monument
Illinois 1818 Route 66 Monument

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.

Charly Points to Drive In
Charly Points to Drive In

“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.”

Reminiscing

Here are some images I created of days gone by…

Reminiscing
Reminiscing

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.”

Entering St. Louis on Route 66
Entering St. Louis on Route 66

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.

Knock, knock.
Knock, knock.

“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.

June 8, 2019

Day 4 – New Suspenders

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.

Walking the Cobblestone Road
Walking the Cobblestone Road

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.

A Monument to Route 66
A Monument to Route 66
Do Not Do This on REAL Monuments
Do Not Do This on REAL Monuments

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.

June 7, 2019

Day 4 – Springfield

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.

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

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.

Inside the Burial Chamber

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.

Broken Bricks Removed from the Original Route 66
Broken Bricks Removed from the Original 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.

Turkey Crossing Route 66 outside Springfield, Illinois.
Turkey Crossing Route 66

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 Scratching Scoby's Nose
Charly Scratching Scoby’s Nose

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.

He's so cute.
He’s so cute.

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.

Not Iconic, but a Good Burger
Not Iconic, but a Good Burger

June 7, 2019

Day 3 – Dead Ends

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.

On a Dead End Section of Route 66
On a Dead End Section of Route 66

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.

How Did He Do That?  How did he get the car on the other side?
How Did He Do That?

“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.”

Charly in a Traditional Route 66 Diner
Charly in a Traditional Route 66 Diner

June 3, 2019

Day 3 – Leaving Normal

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?

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.

Charly the Mantique
Charly the Mantique

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.

Skipping Around

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.”

Charly - A Movie Star
Charly – A Movie Star

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.

Founding of Lincoln, Illinois, that's not in Wikipedia.
Founding of Lincoln, Illinois

Atlanta

“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.

Palm’s Cafe

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

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.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Signature BBQ Sauce
Pulled Pork Sandwich with Signature BBQ Sauce

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.

Another Museum

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.

Rolls Royce
Rolls Royce

“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.

June 3, 2019

Day 2 – End of Day in Normal

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.

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.

Outside

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.

Charly at the Pontiac Kiosk
Charly at the Pontiac Kiosk

“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.)

Charly and Rosie the Riveters
Charly and Rosie the Riveters

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.

Charly - the Route 66 Pinup Girl
Charly – the Route 66 Pinup Girl

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.

May 31, 2019

Day 2 – Pontiac

Pontiac, Illinois is between here and our destination. We left Wilmington heading towards Normal, Illinois. (Funny name for a town — Normal.) I’m letting Charly drive because I’m busy taking photos. (She’s laughing because it’s her car and I said I’m letter her drive — her own car.)

“I’m going to pull in here”, she announces.

I look to the right and there’s an old Texaco Station.

“Sure, looks good to me,” agreeing with her decision to stop.

We both jump out, and I head to the back of the car to capture a picture of the gas pumps. Charly saunters to the back of the car and leans against the pump.

Cool, I thought, she’s posing for me.

“How about you be a gentleman and pump the gas while I go change?” Charly said while batting her lashes under her sunglasses.

Yeah, I think Charly should change.
Yeah, I think Charly should change.

At least I wasn’t drinking a shake this time when I chortled as I said, “CHARLY, these are just here for the looks. This isn’t an operating gas station.”

“Oh, I was wondering where to put the credit card,” she responded.

“Go ahead and change. I could use the change in scenery,” I said diverting my eyes as I have been most of the day.

“What’s that supposed to mean,” sounding offended.

“Well, let’s just say I’m a guy and you’re a very beautiful woman… who is… shall I say… half naked,” I bashfully responded.

“Half naked! …” she started to say before I cut her off.

“Hey, go change. This is a discussion I’m not comfortable having,” I said.

It always amazes me how long it takes a woman to get ready to go somewhere, but they can do a clothing change faster than Superman in a phone booth. Charly was back before I could push the shutter button on my camera.

Fire-Chief

“Back in the 1960s I wanted a Fire-Chief Helmet — like the one helmet,” I said while pointing to the light atop the pump. “It had a built-in loud speaker. The speaker was behind the big badge thing on the front, and it had a microphone that clipped inside the helmet.”

She raised one eyebrow and looked at me like I was crazy.

“Come on, don’t tell me you didn’t play with Barbies,” I said.

Jingles

“Oh, they had a theme song,” I said before starting to sing, “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star…”

Stopping me Charly said, “Seriously?”

“Yeah, look it up on YouTube,” I instructed.

She pulls out her phone and soon I hear the jingle playing. I just stood there and smiled, and then started to laugh as it transitioned in to a Hai Karate aftershave commercial. (The one where the girl goes nuts over the guy because he’s wearing Hai Karate.)

“You’re getting quite the history lesson. I think you’re going to find Route 66 is all about reminiscing about a day gone by.”

“You can trust the Czar he’s the man who wears the star, the big red communist star,” I started singing.

Charly looked at me as though I had completely lost it.

“It’s a MAD Magazine thing. They used to have lyrics to popular tunes…”, my voice started to fade as I could see Charly wasn’t entertained. Perhaps it’s a reference to a magazine that she’s probably never seen. Or, perhaps it is a guy thing… A guy who grew up in the 60s.

Heading to Pontiac

We stopped at several old restored gas stations, after, of course, finding a modern one where we could fill the tank. Fortunately I didn’t have to explain the just-for-decoration aspect of these stations. But, I did have to explain about oil cans, car jockeys, and full-service stations.

We came to a bunch of Burma Shave signs. That wasn’t difficult getting Charly to catch on that they are a joke told a couple of words at a time. (However, she did ask what Burma Shave was.)

Rolling in to Pontiac I was disappointed the Pontiac Museum was closed. We could only peak in the windows. Ever since my Uncle Mack threw me the keys to his Grand Prix back in the 70s and slipped me $20 to take my brother to dinner I’ve loved Pontiacs. (I currently drive a 2007 Grand Prix with leather seats and fully loaded.)

Pontiac Man - Pontiac Illinois
Pontiac Man – Pontiac Illinois

Normal

We spent the evening walking around Pontiac. It was getting dark, and we still needed to get to Normal. Let’s hope Normal lives up to its name.

May 31, 2019

Day 2 – Wilmington

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.

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.

Gemini Giant and Charly
Gemini Giant and Charly

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.

Holly and Tully - Proud Owners of the Launching Pad.
Holly and Tully

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.”

Jake, Charly and Elwood
Jake, Charly and Elwood

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.

Downtown Wilmington

“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.

 Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte Mural in Wilmington, Illinois
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte Mural in Wilmington, Illinois

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.

One Way
One Way

May 30, 2019

Day 2 – Joliet Museum

As we continue with Day 2 we decided to visit the Joliet Museum. This is as much a Route 66 Museum as it is about Joliet. I’m going to call it Joliet Museum, but the official name is Joliet Area Historical Museum. My version is shorter.

We entered the lobby, and bought our tickets. The lady at the desk pointed us towards the “entrance” to the displays.

“Brent! Look! All I need is a pair of roller skates,” Charly shouted with glee as she struck a pose. “Did they really wear roller skates and bring your food to your car… on roller skates?”

Charly Imitating a Carhop at the Joliet Museum
Charly and the Carhop

This brought a smile to my face. Ah, she is interested in history.

“Yes, they did. On Sunday’s, when we did go to church, I remember stopping at A&W in Pocatello. They’d take our order and bring a tray with our root beer and burgers. Unlike the tray on this statue, they were rectangular and clipped on to the car’s window,” I explained. “They were called carhops.”

If she keeps asking questions like this, it’s going to make the trip fun. Her playful poses keep me on my toes with my camera. Half of the time I don’t need to tell her how to pose. She’s a natural at it.

Ladies and Gentlemen in the Joliet Museum

Aside from the swimsuit, I noticed she went lighter on the makeup. Perhaps it was that woman who walked by in Chicago and muttered something about a crossdresser. Yeah, the dark lipstick made her appear a little masculine. Speaking of the swimsuit, she’s drawing the attention of ever male she passes.

We continued our walk to the museum displays. Charly wrapped her hand around the inside of my elbow, which surprised me. I didn’t know girls knew how to let a man escort them these days. As a result, I feel like a gentleman as we rounded the corner to the next display.

We came to an outdoor courtyard. It has road signs and a Greek-style bronze statue. What came next was no surprise.

Life imitating art?  Or, art imitating life?
Life imitating art? Or, art imitating life?

I was just thankful she didn’t take off her top for the pose. Her lack of inhibition scares me sometimes. I hope it doesn’t get us in to trouble during the trip.

Back on the Road

Before we hit the road, Charly changed. I think she’s given up on the swimming idea. Although I think her shorts and swimsuit were less revealing than her thin halter and slacks. Aye!

While she was changing, I hid her suitcase behind the front seat (because she never looks there.) Let’s see how long before she notices.

The first big attraction is the Route 66 Raceway.

Route 66 Speedway
Route 66 Speedway, Joliet, Illinois

“Do you think they’ll let me drive my car around the track?” Charly asked like a little kid wanting to open Christmas presents a day early.

“Doubtful. They require helmets and fire-retardant clothing,” I said trying to curb her enthusiasm for the idea.

“Darn,” she said, then braggingly added, “I’ve had this car up to 125 miles per hour.”

“But not this trip,” trying to hide my fear.

“Let’s stop and ask. I also need to put my shorts and swimsuit in my suitcase,” she said.

I was wondering if she noticed it behind her seat. If she did, she didn’t say anything. It’s road trip practical jokes that make road trips fun.

"Where's my suitcase," she screamed.
“Where’s my suitcase?”

“Where’s my suitcase,” she screamed.

It was immediately followed with more volume, “WHERE’S MY SUITCASE!”

I was trying to keep a straight face.

“Did you leave it at the museum?” I asked, knowing darn well she didn’t.

“Yeah, I must have left it in the bathroom. Can we go back? Please? Can we go back? Please? PLEASE?” She begged.

It would be cruel to let this continue. I simply answered, “It’s in the backseat.”

“How did it get THERE!” she said with fire building in her eyes.

Oh, crap, I’m in trouble now. The best thing is to be honest with her.

“I moved it. I wanted to see how long it would be until you noticed,” I said.

“Jerk.” was her only response.

May 29, 2019

Day 2 – Joliet Illinois

It’s Day 2 and we’re waking up in Joliet, Illinois. Right off the bat Charly emerges from her room wearing a swimsuit under her cutoffs. (She wore a different suit yesterday after changing in Chicago.)

“Do you think we’re going swimming today?” I asked.

“We might. Doesn’t the hotel have a pool?” She said.

“I doubt it. We’re booked at a Motel 6, and if it did have a pool, I wouldn’t trust it,” was my response.

“Well! We’re by a river!” she said sarcastically.

It was a losing battle. Heck, I don’t care what she wears as long as she doesn’t drive me nuts wanting to listen to hip hop or starts complaining about my road mix.

My road mix has a variety of different covers of the Route 66 Theme Song, some Eagles (for when we hit Arizona and California), songs about cars (like Mustang Sally Got a GTO), Little Duce Coup, and so forth. It’s music meant for Route 66.

Breakfast

I need my protein in the morning, and the hotel “continental breakfast”, was more like packaged sweet rolls and watered down juice. Little protein in either one of those. So, I was on a lookout for a Route 66 style dine.

We were following U.S. Highway 6/Illinois Highway 53, which in these parts is Historic Route 66. You can’t go by the brown and white Historic Route 66 signs and they get stolen by French tourists. (I asked a guy how they get them past customs. He said, “They don’t. The send them home via the U.S. Postal Service — no checking what’s inside the package.”)

We stopped outside a little dinner and I asked Charly to pose for a picture.

66 in sign language
66

Holding up 3 fingers on both hands, I recognized what this is. When I experienced SHL (Sudden Hearing Loss) and thought I was going to be deaf the rest of my life. As a result, I started studying it.

“What’s with the sign language?” I asked, “Didn’t know I knew a little sign myself, did you?”

While most people use this for the number 3, in sign this is a “W”, but if you tap your little finger to your thumb, it is the number “6”.

“It’s Route 66. I’m making 6 6 with my hands,” Charly proudly stated.

“I know, Charly, I know,” I chuckled. “Let’s get something to eat before I get really cranky. This is only day 2, and you don’t want me cranky.”

Joliet Route 66 Diner

A fitting name for a diner on Route 66 in Joliet – Joliet Route 66 Diner. It was your traditional diner menu. I went for the protein rich breakfast, while Charly went for the sweets.

The booths were decorated with metal cars and trucks. We happened to get an old pickup truck. It has character.

Toy pickup truck decorating the diner booth.
Toy Pickup Truck