May 14, 2015
Today marks our 3rd full week on the road; we are getting so close to Chicago but still a couple of days to go. This was a pretty short travel day in comparison with some others but we would go through Atlanta, Illinois – a very small town in size, but large in its personal importance.
Very quickly after we started we came to a Mt Olive, Illinois antique store which is the land of the giants. It took us about 15 minutes to get pictures of them all.
The giant man eating an ice cream cone is much larger than the other giants we’ve seen.
The Harley Davidson Giant is one of the “brothers” on the road. They were made of the same mold and stretch across Route 66. Notice his hands; he isn’t holding anything but most of the others are – or were meant to be. We found one brother in Gallup, New Mexico and will note a couple more before the trip is done.
A little farther along in Mt Olive we came upon Soulsby’s Service Station – another restored (but not functioning) gas station.
While here we met a lovely couple from Great Britain who were on their first or second day headed west. They also have Jerry McClanahan’s book. I gave them my card and suggested they visit my blog to see what they have in front of them. We perused ad guest book and were amazed at all the people who are out on the road and how many are from other countries. The pull of the Mother Road reaches beyond America’s borders.
Of all the eight states we’ve traveled through Illinois has the best road markers telling us when to turn. It even gives options for the various options as to what age. Like everything in life, the Mother Road had different routes as the years progressed. Jerry McClanahan’s EZ66 Guide for Travelers clearly delineates the options but the road markers really help.
Central Illinois is farm land and is part of the plains. We’ve seen tall wheat, short corn stalks, and budding soy plants. I’m not sure what crop this is, but we’ve seen plenty of it.
As we drove north we paralleled the railroad tracks. I think we reconnected with the BNSF Transcon after being away from it for hundreds of miles. We heard a slow moving train; we got ahead of it and I had time to jump out and get a shot of it as it passed by a grain elevator.
Then we rolled into Atlanta, Illinois. This is where my maternal grandparents met so many years ago and where my mom was born. When they were young my grandma was a school teacher in a little one room schoolhouse and my grandpa would stop by in the morning to make sure the fire was set up for her and her class. I remember him as a charming, personable man; I’m sure he swept my grandma off her feet. My mom, three of her sisters and I think two brothers were born here. The brothers died at a young age, one of diphtheria I believe. When my mom was still very young – one of the two youngest at that time, both my grandparents contracted tuberculosis and had to go to a sanatorium; the girls were farmed out to different places. When my grandpa was released he checked in on the girls and was appalled at their condition.
His brothers helped gather some money together for him to go west where the weather would be better for their TB and the family could be together. He took the train as far west as he could on the money he had and ended up in Las Vegas, New Mexico. He got a job at a filling station on Route 66 and the owner of a nearby company that bought wool from the Navajo and Hopi on the reservation took note of how hard he worked so offered him a job. He gave my grandpa and advance and loaned him is car to go get the family. So he headed back on Route 66 to gather the family and bring them out west. Of course they travelled west on Route 66, along the same path we have been taking. He spent the rest of his working years traveling on the reservation grading and buying wool. The family kept moving west to Gallup, New Mexico and Holbrook, Arizona before finally settling in Winslow. Other than Las Vegas, New Mexico, we’ve travelled through their home towns.
When we dropped by here years ago we saw mentions of them and their kids in newspaper clippings kept in the museum. I dropped off a picture of have of my grandma as a little girl standing with her sister and her dad in front of their little farm. I had hoped to get an idea of where the home was so I could visit but was unsuccessful.
Atlanta is a very small town but it is very well maintained and sports its own giant – this one holding a hot dog. You can tell he’s one of the “brother giants” by the placement of his arms and hands.
We also dropped in for a moment to the Palm cafe. We’d stop there again the next day to have lunch. It was much busier during the lunch hour.
As we walked the main street of downtown, we saw a group of “Sisters on the Fly“. We read earlier in the day about this group of women who repair and refit old travel trailers and travel the country. They are traveling Route 66 this spring. Debra White, a high school friend, is restoring a trailer for her own travels.
Leaving town we passed what I suspect is a farm turned into a museum.
That was as far north we would travel today; we headed back south to Lincoln, Illinois – the only town in the area big enough to have a hotel. Just outside our window was a Lincoln giant. He’s reading a book while riding in a Conestoga wagon. A little incongruous, but there he was. This is a much newer giant that the others I’ve featured.
We went downtown to Guzzardo’s Italian Restaurant for dinner. It was a busy place and we had a nice time. I looked out the window into an alley and saw this Lincoln stencil on an adjacent wall.
Tomorrow will be our last day on Route 66. We’ll visit my mom’s cousin Barbara before going up to visit our son, daughter-in-law and grandson.
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