We had dreams of starting the trip early this morning -- maybe 2:30 or 3:00 am. Well... we'd just finished packing an hour or two before that (it's been a crazy week!). So we got out at 6:15 -- not all that bad, considering.
We reached Chicago in about 3 1/2 hours. Pretty good time, actually. Route 66 begins at the corner of Adams and Michigan Avenue, right across the street from the front steps of the Art Institute of Chicago. I've been to the corner so many times but have never seen the sign. You don't look at road signs when you're not driving, I guess.
Illinois has done a wonderful job of marking Route 66 with these brown historic signs. We only missed one during the whole day. And when the road winds back and forth so much, it's a joy to have it clearly marked. I'm not sure we would've caught all the turns otherwise. It's especially confusing when it winds through towns and cities. Which it does all along the way.
We're looking at this trip in such a different way from a usual vacation. There is no real destination -- the road itself itself is the destination. Nowadays we get so used to taking the fastest road. That certainly isn't the case here. It was interesting -- I found it difficult to judge how far we would travel today. Normally you look at the mileage and multiply it by your speed. But we were basically meandering... taking our cues from the road.
One of our first stops was for lunch at the Launching Pad in Wilmington (just south of Joliet). The fiberglass "Gemini Giant" (left) lives in their parking lot. The menu was an indicator of what many of our meals will be like, I suspect. Burgers, an array of fried things. We ate lots of grease and topped it off with shakes (fresh banana for me... yum!).
A treat for us today was to find so much of the oldest road visible next to the official "Old Route 66." There were large patches of old road running alongside our road north of Bloomington. They were blocked -- you couldn't actually drive on them. But it was wonderful to see that Illinois hadn't dug it all up and thrown it all away. The photo on the left is a close-up of part of the old road -- the original pavement.
Actually, as much as it felt like we were meandering, we ended up driving further than we expected. We drove about 550 miles today, with a little less than 1/2 our pre-Route 66 drive. We've ended up in St. Louis -- we crossed the Mississippi River just as the sun was going down. It was a spectacular sunset: first a glowing red sun, then rays of pink disappearing into the west. Pretty appropriate when you've just arrived at the Gateway to the West.
Tomorrow more of Missouri...