May 15, 2015
There has been about a week long pause in my blogging about the trip – and I left you all with the cliffhanger just as we were on the outskirts of Chicago. What can I say? Sometimes life happens. We reached North Riverside where our son, daughter-in-law,and grandson live on Friday and then into Chicago on Saturday. Sunday we played with the kids and Monday I went out to look at trains (post coming!). I was going to write it all up Monday night when I was struck by food poisoning. It took me the rest of the week to recuperate. It was terrible – but I’ll spare you the details. You’re welcome.
Back to the trip. We woke up in Lincoln, Illinois and took a long detour over to Clinton to visit my mom’s cousin Barbara – my grandpa’s youngest sisters’ daughter. Clinton is about 3 hours from Chicago by freeway and we’ve visited her three times now on our visits. It’s always a pleasure. On this visit we went through some old photo albums and she regaled us with stories of back in the day. There a few pictures of my mom from the 70s or 80s when she went back to Atlanta, Illinois to visit. I got teary seeing pictures of her I’ve never seen before. Then we headed back up to Atlanta, Illinois to pick up where we left off. Our first order of business was lunch at the Palms Cafe which we had visited the day before. Although we had a relatively short distance to travel it was a little after noon when we left; so we decided to make a pretty direct trip with few stops.
But stops there were. As you may recall, Meramec Caverns in Missouri has the distinction of being the most advertised roadside attraction on Route 66. When we saw a painted barn – a typical old time advertisement – we had to stop for at least a minute
Then we hit Odell, Illinois which features a beautifully restored Standard service station. We met an English couple there who were as close to the beginning of their Route 66 trip as we were to the end. Carla grabbed a photo of a page from the guest log; we found more than a dozen foreign travelers had gone through in the past few days. It strikes me how brave these foreign travelers are – especially those who come from countries where they travel in the left lane instead of the right. They told us you can drive through England in a little more than a day; here that won’t even get you through some of the states. The distances must be mind boggling. I gave them my card with my blog address so they could see what is in front of them.
Why all these gas stations and gas pumps? When I thought about and planned this trip I figured I’d take pictures of neon signs. But I soon discovered that to get the great pictures you need to be near the neon at night. That would severely limit the number of signs I could photograph. I certainly wouldn’t want to wait around a little town from nine in the morning until late at night. Many artistic photographers can make something of the old signs in the daytime; but that isn’t my talent. Finding all the gas stations in various degrees of repair gave me something to hunt for.
In Wilmington, Illinois we found the last of the giant brothers; this one is the Gemini Giant.
I hope that is a rocket and not a bomb he is holding. When I summarize the trip in a week or two I’ll put up a collage of the brothers we found. Thinking out loud, I think we found them in Gallup, New Mexico, Mt Olive, Illinois, Atlanta, Illinois (same post as Mt Olive), and Wilimington.
Route 66 joins I55 in Joliet so we hopped on and headed to our home for the next week and a half: North Riverside where the big draws were: Andrew, Henriët, and Jurgen – the goal of the trip.
Jurgen has just turned eleven months and he is a delight to be with. He’s a very happy, curious baby; Andrew and Henriët are the perfect parents.
May 16, 2015
We may be in greater Chicago, but we haven’t finished Route 66 yet. Saturday was the day. We headed east down Ogden Avenue and before long the Willis Tower loomed into view on this showery day.
Our good friends Ray and Terry have also been traveling across the country. They’ve been taking a northerly route but our paths crossed in Chicago. We made plans to meet them for a bit before they took a river architecture cruise. If you’ve never done it, take this cruise when you are next in Chicago. The tour guides are architects and you get a great appreciation for the history as well as the architecture of the city of big shoulders.
I used to work with Ray (actually, I worked “for” him: he was my awesome boss at Portland Community College). We are both retired now but we still hang; we were both part of a year-long burger project a while ago. He is Andrew’s favorite person I’ve worked with. When he came to visit me at work back in the day, Ray would always go out of his way to reach out to Andrew: ask him how he was doing and really listen to him. So we had to make sure they had a chance to meet Jurgen.
Did I mention my adorable grandson Jurgen lives in Chicago?
Ray and Terry hit the tourist trail and we went over to Adams Street near Michigan Avenue to find the eastern terminus.
Like Santa Monica, there are a few beginnings/endings of Route 66 in Chicago. We didn’t go out to Lake Shore Drive where the 1937 start was.
We did a very little sight-seeing before Jurgen let us know it was time to get back home. But of course you have to see The Bean in Millennial park if you get the chance.
The Route 66 portion of our trip is over. We will be heading to Cleveland for a couple of nights then head west after Memorial Day, through Yellowstone on our way home. I’ll post at least one summary of this portion of the trip with statistics, thoughts, and parting images. Not sure when but stay tuned. I’ll also be blogging the rest of the trip – so don’t despair.