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Chicago

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 29, 2019

Day 1 – Chicago Lunch Time

We were both getting hungry as we started heading back on the eastbound section of Route 66 in downtown Chicago. We should eat lunch soon. I spied this farmer’s market in a plaza in the shadow of Sears Tower. Well, not it is called Willis Tower. At one point, this 110 story building was the world’s tallest.

Walking around the farmer’s market I picked up some brie cheese, a baggett, grapes and a soda. Charly, on the other hand, went for the sweets and picked up some chocolate chip cookies, brownies and sticky buns.

You call that lunch?

Downtown Chicago

After eating, we headed straight back to the car. Of course, I stopped to take a few pictures along the way.

Once we got to the car, Charly was quick to change in to something more casual.

“Hey, you can’t change here?” I said trying not to attract attention to the fact she just slipped her dress off over her head.

“Nobody’s down here,” she said with disgust in her voice.

“I’m down here!” I snapped back.

“Then turn you head if you don’t want to see me undressed,” she chuckled, “it’s not like you haven’t seen a naked lady before.”

My first thought was of a couple of rent-a-cops watching the garage security monitors.

“Hey, Joey, get a load of this. This chick just took her dress off in level B1,” I could imagine them saying.

“Tell me when your decent!” I said firmly.

It seemed all to soon before she said, “Okay, you can turn around.”

We jumped in to the car with me beating her to the driver’s door.

“I’m driving,” I insisted.

She just shrugged.

It took us a while to drive just a few miles south. I wanted to stop at every unique photo opportunity. I soon found I was getting hungry again. Not wanting to eat just anywhere, I wanted to find something “Chicago.”

A Chicago Hot Dog

I love the pop of a Chicago style hot dog. I saw this place, Henry’s, and flipped a U-turn and parked in front.

“Can you do that?” Charly asked.

“Do what? Park here?” I replied.

“No, do a U-turn.” She responded.

“Hey, no sign saying I can’t. Besides, I think your car could outrun any police car.” smiling I said.

Charly in front of Henry's - on the South side of Chicago.
At Henry’s for a Hot Dog

Leaving Chicago

I thought we’d never get out of Chicago. Our destination tonight is… get this… Juliett, Illinois. There’s a Blues Brothers reference there.

May 27, 2019

Day 1 – Chicago L

We walked Route 66 west-bound and crossed under the Chicago L. L is short for the elevated train. There’s a good Wiki article here. Route 66 is Adams Street heading west. The L crosses overhead at S. Weller Street.

I’ve always heard about the Chicago “L” in cop shows in movies and TV, but here I was seeing it for the first time. I told Charly I wanted a picture of her under the L.

She made the sign of the “L”. I wasn’t sure if that was her telling me I’m a loser, or just that sign-language thing so many girls get in to. You know, learning how to finger-spell so they can “talk” to their girl friends at school.

I think there might be a double-entendre message here.

Is she signing the letter "L" because she's standing under the Chicago L?  Or, is she calling me a loser?
L for the Chicago L, or L for Loser?

Perhaps it is all of my camera gear around my neck. She should talk. She’s wearing a cocktail dress and I’m wearing jeans and my Route 66 Photographers shirt.

We continued on walking west on Adams St. down to the South Branch of the Chicago River. It was time to turn around and walk back on Jackson Boulevard (that’s Route 66 eastbound.) Charly is starting to complain about it being lunchtime, how hard it is walking in heels (hmmm… I said dress comfortably) and how hot her dress is.

Charly will just have to wait until we get back to the parking garage. As you can see, street parking is a premium downtown Chicago.

Start at the Beginning in Chicago

If this is your first visit, you can read about this fantasy trip with Charly. Click here to start, and use the menu Blog->Route66 with Charly to see all the posts.

September 5, 2017

The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins

Today the journey begins.  We left South Bend, Indiana, and headed to Chicago.  Our GPS led us right to the start of Route 66.  I was wondering where we would find parking, but there it was — Parking Straight Ahead.

We learned quickly Route 66 has two roads at the start Adams Street (heading west), and Jackson Street (heading east).  Walking to Adams Street we found the historic marker for the START of Route 66.  It’s right across the street from the Chicago Art Institute.

copyright 2017 db walton all rights reserved
Start of Route 66 (Willis Tower in the background)

Because Chicago is a big city, there is a mix of the old and the new.  Without some research, you may not know what was there when Route 66 was a U.S. Highway, and what was built after its decommissioning.

Along our way, a friendly lady stopped to chat.  She was excited for us.  I presented her with one of our Route 66 mirrors.

We came to a plaza with a farmers market.  I’m a sucker for cheese we bought some brie with apricot and almonds and a baguette of bread.  That was lunch today.

copyright 2017 db walton all rights reserved
Baguette and Brie

We continued down to what used to be called Sear’s Tower, but now Willis Tower.  That’s when we cut over the Jackson Street and began our walk back to the car.  Jackson is the east-bound portion of Route 66 in downtown Chicago.

There at the end of Jackson Street is the sign marking the END of Route 66.

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Even Bicycles Have Character on Route 66

It was very easy finding the parking lot, but it wasn’t so easy finding how to get back in to the underground parking log.  Jokingly I told Paul, “We passed through a one-way portal.”

We found a door, opened it, and it was the stairs down to the parking lot.  They hide it well.

Leaving Chicago

The drive leaving Chicago is interesting.  Part of the road has a frontage road.  That’s the only way to stop to take pictures.

We found this bicycle strapped to a lamp post.  Because of the sign, it is deserving of a photo…

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Bicycle Memorial

On the other side of the bicycle was a collection of silverware.  There was nobody around to ask the story behind the bicycle and its decorations.  Thus, there’s definitely a story there.

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Decorating the Bike

Castle Carwash

We found what used to be the Castle Carwash.  A man named Nathan was walking by and told us the man who owned the place was killed here.  Well, I don’t know if that’s true, but the building stands unused.

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Castle Carwash

As we were talking to Nathan, two L.D.S. Missionaries walked by.  I called out, “Elders!  ELDERS!”, before they turned around.  I asked to take their pictures and share them online.  They gladly posed with the Fire House Church in the Background.

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Two Elders We Met Along Route 66

Henry’s

As soon as I spotted Henry’s, I knew we had to stop.  This iconic hotdog diner dons a huge hotdog above a neon sign.  As a result, we stopped and ate dinner.

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Henry’s – Cicero, IL

copyright 2017 db walton all rights reserved
Polish Dog and a Malt

Randy

I was checking out a 1960 Coupe DeVille when this guy came out and asked if we had questions.  I noticed his tattoos.  Now, I’m not a tattoo guy, but this guy has Route 66 tattooed on his arm.

Randy agreed to let me photograph him.  (And, Bay Photo Labs will be sending Randy an 8×10 he can hang in his shop.)

copyright 2017 db walton all rights reserved
Randy

Randy is working on other cars.  He gave us a quick tour.  His shop is located in McCook, Illinois .  He is right next door to Steak n’ Egger.

White Fence Farm

These two cows are at a HUGE restaurant, petting zoo, and take-out place named after… none else… than the white fences.  The place is worth the visit inside.  They have old cars, motorcycles, appliances, toys, dolls, as well as big restaurant that specializes in chicken.

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White Fence Farm

Joliet, Illinois

Our destination tonight is Joliet.  We entered town and saw this ice cream shop — Kicks on 66.  We stopped.

Two sweet young ladies gave us a map of the area, and asked where we were from.  I ran to the car and got a couple of Route 66 Mirrors created for us by Warner 5 Color.

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Ice Cream Shop in Joliet

On the top of the ice cream shop are none other than Jake and Elwood — the Blues Brothers.  What a kick!

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Blues Brothers

Next to Kicks on 66 is a park with several kiosks about Route 66.  We didn’t wander the park because it was starting to get dark.  However, we did go across the street and took pictures of Dick’s on 66.  (Dick’s… Kicks… on 66…)

Besides, I couldn’t resist when I saw Car 54.  Ooo!  Ooo!

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Car 54, where are you?

As we entered downtown Joliet we cross this old draw bridge.  The river and lights were too much to resist.  What a nice ending for a long day.

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Joliet, IL – Drawbridge

Special Thanks

Special thanks today to…

Warner 5 Color — the mirrors are a HIT.  I think I gave away 3 today.

Bay Photo — Randy is very deserving of the 8×10, and we’ve handed out several cards and a couple of Route 66 pins.

ACDsee — all images in the blog today were processed using ACDsee Ultimate 10.  I had a LOT of images to sort through and ACDsee was fast and efficient.  (Readers, if you don’t know what ACDsee is, it is like Adobe Lightroom… only better in many ways.)

copyright 2017 db walton all rights reserved

September 1, 2017

T Minus 4

At T minus 4 days and counting, we pick up the rental car.  I am debating on what to video today.  Perhaps it will be a little update in addition to this post.

At T minus 4 days and counting, we pick up the rental car.  I am debating on what to video today.  Perhaps it will be a little update in addition to this post.

T Minus 4

At T minus 4 days and counting, we pick up the rental car.  I am debating on what to video today.  Perhaps it will be a little update in addition to this post.

Here is how it will go the next 4 days…

Today – we pick up the rental car near the end of the day.  Paul will pack his things in the car and I’ll drive it back to Palmyra.

Tomorrow – I will pack my stuff in the car.  In addition, I will make a checklist of the car’s inventory.

Sunday – I’ll go to church and do my usual Sunday activities like feeding the missionaries.  About the only difference is, I will hit the sack earlier than usual.

Monday

Monday I will leave Palmyra and drive to Paul’s to pick him up.  From Paul’s we are heading to South Bend, Indiana, where we will spend the night.  We will rise on Tuesday morning and take the 2 hour drive to Chicago where we will officially start the 2017 Route 66 Photographers Tour.

We are spending our evening in Joliet, Illinois.  Wednesday we head towards Normal.  Yes, the city’s name is Normal.  It’s not unusual, but Normal.  We will have a Normal Wednesday night.

 

February 17, 2017

Before Decommissioning

This video shows portions of Route 66 before decommissioning. The video is an hour and 45 minutes long, but it presents a good overview of Route 66. It's worth watching...

This video shows portions of Route 66 before decommissioning. The video is an hour and 45 minutes long, but it presents a good overview of Route 66. It's worth watching...

Before Decommissioning

This video shows portions of Route 66 before decommissioning.  The video is an hour and 45 minutes long, but it presents a good overview of Route 66.  It’s worth watching…

I like how this video presents the people and communities.  While it is from the 1980s, it presents the importance of Route 66 and it’s place in history.  Imagine riding a bus for a week while traveling from Chicago to L.A.  Today, people fly.  Back then people couldn’t afford to fly, so they took the bus.

Bloody 66, Mother Road, and other nicknames have been given this highway.  Because you cannot drive it end-to-end any more, few people get off the Interstate to drive it.  That’s why we’re driving it.

Our Tour

Our tour will be spread out over a month.  We know many of you will never get a chance to drive Route 66.  For this reason we want to provide you with a virtual road trip along Route 66.

Paul and Brent plan to stop at every significant attraction – man made or natural.  Come night time, if we have access to the Internet, our pictures and videos will go online.  Our blog will post here along with links to our videos and social media posts.  We will also Tweet updates as they happen — signal strength permitting.

 

January 17, 2017

Roll Over Beethoven

While Chuck Berry might be best known for Roll Over Beethoven, he also covered the Route 66 Theme Song. Enjoy this version as only Chuck Berry could do...

While Chuck Berry might be best known for Roll Over Beethoven, he also covered the Route 66 Theme Song. Enjoy this version as only Chuck Berry could do...

Roll Over Beethoven

While Chuck Berry might be best known for Roll Over Beethoven, he also covered the Route 66 Theme Song.  Enjoy this version as only Chuck Berry could do…

Less Than 8 Months

In less than 8 months Paul and Brent will embark on this epic adventure.  That may seem like it is a ways off, but it will be here before you know it.

When asked, ‘What will you be driving?’ it pains us to say… “We don’t know.”

For that reason, we are looking for a major sponsor to provide our wheels for the trip.  This can be a rental car company, a car dealership, a car manufacturer, or even a car collector.

We’re flexible too.  We can drive the car round-trip from Rochester, New York, or we can pick up the car in Chicago, IL, and drop it off in Los Angeles.  We’re willing to work with the sponsor.

If you’d like to be considered for this sponsorship, give us a call.  Call Brent’s cell phone at (925) 759-3002.

Eats

When it comes to eats, we’ll be photographing every place we stop and eat.  Special mention will be given to those diners along the way who see fit to comp our meals.  Those who do will receive a special 8×10 photo, suitable for framing, courtesy of Bay Photo Labs.  This is in addition to being mentioned on our nightly BLOG and VLOG.

January 1, 2017

Goodbye 2016

It's goodbye to 2016, and tomorrow we say hello to 2017. 2017 's big resolution for these photographers is to drive Route 66 from Chicago to L.A.

It's goodbye to 2016, and tomorrow we say hello to 2017. 2017 's big resolution for these photographers is to drive Route 66 from Chicago to L.A.

Goodbye 2016

It’s goodbye to 2016, and tomorrow we say hello to 2017.  2017 ‘s big resolution for these photographers is to drive Route 66 from Chicago to L.A.

As I look back over 2016, I also look back to years past.  Backing up my server today, I saw some pictures one of my children took on our very first Route 66 road trip.  Route 66 was something we saw while driving to the Grand Canyon and we got hooked.

copyright 2016 db walton
My Son Zack on Route 66

We stopped at Alien Jerky and one of my children snapped the above photo of their brother standing by a car with an alien in the back seat.  Alien’s are a huge thing in this area with it’s ties to Area 51.

My daughter had to stop and kiss an alien…

copyright 2016 db walton
Kissing an Alien on Route 66

2017

2017 will be a great opportunity for businesses to come on board and sponsor our Route 66 tour.  Every day we’ll bring people updates and progress as we motor along Route 66.

As we blog (every night) we will mention those sponsors who helped make this trip possible.  This is a huge undertaking, and we will give our sponsors due credit.