October 10, 2017

Day 2 – Joliet Illinois

Today's recap starts in Joliet Illinois, which is just south of Chicago.  It is host to a very nice museum.  It is also home to Route 66 Soda.  Yes, they make Route 66 Beer (a play on words - it's root beer).

Today's recap starts in Joliet Illinois, which is just south of Chicago.  It is host to a very nice museum.  It is also home to Route 66 Soda.  Yes, they make Route 66 Beer (a play on words - it's root beer).

Joliet Illinois

Today’s recap starts in Joliet Illinois, which is just south of Chicago.  It is host to a very nice museum.  It is also home to Route 66 Soda.  Yes, they make Route 66 Beer (a play on words – it’s root beer).

The owner, Alan Bruggeman, of Route 66 Soda met us at the museum.  He shared his knowledge of Joliet history with us, as well as insights about Route 66 Soda.  Alan also gave us a 4-pak with grape, orange, root beer and cream soda.  (Their cream soda is the best.)

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Alan From Route 66 Soda Presents Brent and Paul with a 4-pack of Soda

Route 66 Diners

We ate at our first Route 66 diner today.  At the recommendation of the lady at the museum gift shop, we walked over to a diner that was obviously proud of its Route 66 heritage.

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Entering the Route 66 Diner in Joliet

Drive Towards Normal

The Joliet Museum has a very cool mural depicting many Route 66 landmarks.  It was cool to look at before leaving Joliet.

I think Normal, Illinois, is such a funny name.  It was our destination this night.

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From Chicago…
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… to California

One of the first things we hit as we left the city of Joliet was the Route 66 Raceway.  This is quite the race venue – two tracks and a dragstrip, or so it appears.  The grandstands are huge.

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Route 66 Oval Track and Grandstands

As you drive Route 66 it is important to watch for the brown & white signs, as well as painted shields on the street… like this…

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Route 66 Shield Painted on the Road

There are also brown & white signs, but be warned… they get stolen a lot!  One property owner told us they remove the signs and then mail them to Europe where the go for quite a bit of money.

The moral of this story is, don’t expect a turn-by-turn throughout Route 66.  You need to rely on printed and on-line resources every step of the way.

Historical in Many Ways

Route 66 is historical in many ways.  It is not just the Mother Road, but a lot happened along this route.  Travel routes are also commerce and industrial routes.

Here’s a great example, the Elwood (another Blues Brother reference!!!) Arsenal was along Route 66.  We all know Rosie the Riveter.  While fictional, the Elwood Arsenal employed many women during the 1940s.

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Elwood Arsenal (Don’t you love Illinois’ Route 66 markers?)

While in Elwood I mailed postcards to a few of my grandchildren.  I asked them to hand cancel the stamps (that way, they aren’t postmarked Chicago, but Elwood).

Land of Lincoln

Lincoln is referenced all along Route 66.  This National Cemetery is named after the famed president, but it is not where he is buried.

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National Cemetery Named After Lincoln

Launching Pad

It was a real treat today to find the Gemini Giant.  This former Muffler Man, turned space man is icon.  However, it was sad to see the restaurant associated with it closed.

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Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad

On the other hand, I was glad to see it is for sale.  I was even more glad to see the Realtor was there showing the property.  Even more exciting, we met the potential owners (as of this writing, they are the OWNERS!)

We instantly became friends with Tully and Holly (the new owners).  The shared with us their dreams and aspirations for the place.

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Me, Holly, Paul and Tully – Holly and Tully purchased the Launching Pad

To me, listening to people talk of their dreams and aspirations is fun.  I wish Tully and Holly the absolute best as they turn the Launching Pad into their dream business.


Another thing that is iconic along Route 66 are the movie theatres.  These old theatres bring back memories for anyone who grew up before Beta Max, VHS, DVDs and the Internet.

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The Mar in Wilmington, Illinois

Obviously, this one is restored and in operation.  I’m glad they kept the old marquis and ticket booth.


I’m a foodie.  I wish I had time to visit every diner on Route 66.  (Hey, History Channel!  Want to work with me on a series of the Diners of Route 66?)  So, don’t be surprised if I show lots of food pictures, as well as old diners.

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Nelly’s on Route 66

Since we can’t eat at everyone, we only dropped in to eat when we were hungry.  In this case, we weren’t, so we just took some pictures to show we were here.

The next diner we come to has this big Elvis Presley statue out front, and then all of these movie icons along the side. Another Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Betty Boop line the side of the building.

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The Polka Dot Drive In in Wilmington on Route 66

We went in and had a shake.  While there, who do we run in to again?  Tully from the Launching Pad.

Service Stations

Today we have gas stations.  Service stations were places where they’d wash your windshield, check the oil, put air in the tires, top off the radiator and more.  They are icons of Route 66.  Some are abandoned, some restore and some are just for looks.

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Dwight, Illinois, Texaco Service Station

You can’t drive too fast along Route 66 because you will be making frequent stops.  Some of these sneak up on your, while others you can see for miles to come.

I’ve only shown you the cool Illinios signs that are horizontal.  The vertical ones stand tall so you can see them while driving.  Next to them are the horizontal ones to read about that location.  The tall ones show maps as to where you are.

I wish every Route 66 state had these.

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Cool Illinois Signs

Stopping Here

I’m stopping here and will continue Day 2 in the next post.  I don’t want these to get too long, so I’m breaking it up in to small chunks.  Come back tomorrow night!

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.

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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.

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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


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
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Polish Dog and a Malt


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.)

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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.)

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