Missouri, that is....
After last night's adventure, we were hoping for a clear, sunny day.
Route 66 is pretty well-marked in Illinois, even if you do spend some time simply hopping back and forth across I55.
Such is not the case in Missouri. It's so bad, my trusty navigator (a/k/a The Fiancee) wondered who'd written the Missouri map for the Route 66 guide we had. At one point, the map told us to go past a road that we were to turn at. We drove about a mile and a half before coming to the realization that we were supposed to turn; unfortunately, we were forced to drive a bit longer, as the road at that point was a bit curvy and had no real opportunities for a turn-around.
In other parts, we were confused by blue signs which read "Route 66 Byway" as opposed to the normal brown signs. And in many cases, there were no signs, so we were left wondering if we were on Route 66, or if we'd missed another turn.
For much of the drive, Route 66 follows I44, hopscotching from one side to another. In many places, you're literally on the frontage road, doing 55 mph, while 50 feet away traffic on the interstate is blowing along at 70+. It's these points were, to me, the Route 66 drive is blah - I'm really enjoying where the route turns away from the interstate and makes its way through small towns. We found the original Bunyon (intentionally misspelled, as we learned) statute in one such town, and have really just enjoyed looking at places where time seems to have stopped. We wish we could drop in to various stores and just chat, but we don't have months to make this drive.
The best part of the day was early on. As we drove through Springfield, IL we came upon a car show. The Fiancee knows of my love for all things car, so we stopped for a visit. It was a 'power tour' show, so most of the cars were of the muscle variety, and few were older than 1966 models, but it was still fun. The highlight was finding a replica of the Family Truckster from National Lampoon's Vacation, complete with (faux?) autographs of Chevy and Beverly. The Fiancee and I both had our pictures taken with the car.
Lunch - a late one at that - was in Litchfield, IL at the Atkinson cafe. It's a historic Route 66 diner known more for its history than its food (decent, but not great). Of course, the experience of dining at a place my family has probably dined at before (a branch of my family hails from nearby Benld and Gillespie) when I was too small to really remember can't be beat.
As night began to fall, and the day grow late, the Fiancee pointed out that we were in Missouri, not Chicago, and that it was Sunday - restaurants would be closing soon. We pulled up at one three minutes before closing, and ordered a meal to go. Fortunately, they were happy to accommodate us, and we had a delicious meal for later.
Later was about two hours later, when we pulled up in front of an historic Route 66 motel that the Fiancee had found in our guide. It was modest, to be sure, and an old-fashioned, single story, motel. It's hard to describe, except to say its not someplace we're used to staying at these days. It turned out to be just fine, even if the 'breakfast' was nothing more than cheap coffee, a juice machine and donuts. Actually, we both regret not having taken a photo of the place....
We managed to dodge a downpour overnight, but as we head out, the clouds looked ominous...