California 2021:
Day 2 - Route 66: Illinois


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California 2021: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Route 66: IL] [Day 3 - Route 66: MO] [Day 4 - Route 66: OK] [Day 5 - Route 66: TX] [Day 6 - Route 66: NM] [Day 7 - Route 66: AZ] [Day 8 - Route 66: CA] [Day 9 - Route 66: CA] [Day 10 - Los Angeles] [Day 11 - Los Angeles] [Day 12 - Palm Springs] [Day 13 - Joshua Tree NP] [Day 14 - Death Valley NP] [Day 15 - Las Vegas] [Day 16 - Zion NP] [Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim] [Day 18 - Toroweap, Grand Canyon] [Day 19 - Page, AZ] [Day 20 - Durango, CO] [Day 21 - Great Bend, KS] [Day 22 - St. Louis, MO] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

Monday, November 1, 2021: We were up early and on the road by 7:30 AM, which was just after sunrise. Let's go see Route 66!
This sign told us that we were on the route of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which ran from the Chicago River to the Illinois River near Peru, Illinois, and connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River.
Joliet gets its kicks on Route 66.
This building had vintage cars in front of it, as well as on top of it, and had a section of the original brick with which Route 66 was originally paved.
Here's a close-up of the brick roadwork.
The Illinois section of Route 66 had many attractions with this stylized display which included a "You are here" arrow, an overview of the route, and pictures of the highlights along the road. It was very well done.
The Launching Pad restaurant in Wilmington, Illinois, had a space theme, including a statue of the Gemini Giant, a repurposed Muffler Man inspired by NASA's Gemini program in the 1960s. Check out the mini space shuttle near the entrance for kids to ride.
Wilmingon proudly announced its association with Route 66 with banners throughout the town.
A little further down the road in Braidwood, IL, was the Polk-a-Dot Drive In. The entrance is watched over by statues of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Betty Boop.
There is a bigger display in the parking lot of Superman, complete with telephone booth, ...
... and another Elvis, this time with his guitar.
This Route 66 Visitor Center and Gift Shop was in Gardner, IL.
We especially liked the Route 66 shields from all of the states through which the route runs painted on the street out front.
We had to stop at the two-room jail while we were here.
We decided against taking our own photos in the cells, as many other people do when they are here.
We were fascinated by this bike rack outside the jail. It contained logos and QR codes for many of the scenic routes through Illinois.
Next door to the jail is all that is left of the Riviera Restaurant and Streetcar Diner, both of which were Route 66 landmarks until fire destroyed the Riviera Restaurant in 2010. The Streetcar Diner was relocated to this spot and preserved as an attraction.
The inside of the streetcar contains memorabilia from the heyday of Route 66.
On our way out of town, this VW mounted in the wall above the entrance of this restaurant caught our eye.
We continued down the road to Dwight, IL, which had the first ...
... restored service station that we saw on the trip. This one was a Texaco station.
Across the street was the Old Route 66 Family Restaurant.
The route that Route 66 followed in Dwight was actually on South Old Route 66 road, which made it easy to tell we were in the right place.
We had to double back to get a picture of this sign, which explains that between 1926 and 1946, the traffic on Route 66 through Odell, IL, was so bad that they had to construct a pedestrian tunnel under Route 66 in order for church goers and school children to safely cross the road.
We also saw our first Bike Route 66 Trail sign, which denotes the 2,700 mile course the Adventure Cycling Association has mapped out if you want to cycle Route 66.
Here's another restored gas station, this time for Standard Oil.
There were several sections of the original Route 66 roadbed visible next to the current road, and one of them was denoted as a rest stop turnout. There were no facilities, just a nice place to park and rest, which we did. And by rest, we mean that we used our portable toilet in our van, which is the greatest invention ever when traveling on a road with no actual rest areas.
There were replicas of the Burma-Shave advertising signs on the side of the road, including this one:

If hugging
on highways
is your sport
trade in your car
for a davenport
Burma Shave
We had seen several of these during the drive, and always had to say them out loud.
We saw many of these Route 66 roadside attraction displays (this one is for the historic bridge we were about to cross). At the base of the display is a silver Route 66 shield emblem to stand on, and the sign describing the attraction is also Route 66 shield-shaped. Clever.
We're guessing the Palamar Motel used to be a big deal.
In Pontiac, Illinois, we drove by the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Visitors Center.
This mural on the back of the building depicts a stylized map of Route 66.
What is this? Cute little car statues at the corners of the square?
Adorable!
Stop! Just stop! Too much cute. Abe Lincoln is enjoying his ride in this one.
The tiny car on the corner matches the car in the mural.
Here's a close up of the car.
This tiny car matches the brick behind it. So cute.
Leaving town, Debbie's quick eyes spotted this mural containing Nipper the RCA dog, which was a part of our East Coast road trip, earlier this year.
Debbie also spotted this vintage Volkswagen Beetle, decorated for Route 66, naturally.
We continued to drive past original sections of Route 66, including this old bridge seen from a less old bridge.
All round barns must be photographed. It's a thing.
This appeared to be an original section of Route 66 bridge, completely abandoned and just in the grass next to the road.
There was a portion of original road just south of where the bridge was, which was very cool to see. It must be heartbreaking for the road crews when they have to remove any of the original sections, knowing that they can't ever be replaced.
We stopped to see this historical marker in Lexington, IL, which was aptly enough about Route 66 itself.
Nearby was this cool elephant sculpture, which was created for a local resident's unsuccessful run for President in 2020.
Tom really wanted this motorcycle rider outside Uncle Vait's Pizza to be Duke Caboom from Toy Story 4.
Outside Towanda, IL, a roadside attraction invited us to drive on an original section of Route 66 from 1926, featuring Portland cement and the original width lanes. Tom's review: too narrow and not very smooth, three and one half stars.
Across the street, there was a walking path with information about Route 66.
There was a mural on the ground showing the route, ...
... and mileage posts showing various famous locations and their distances.
Here's another Burma-Shave replica advertising sign collection.
In Normal, Illinois, we passed Sprague's Super Service gas station, which featured pumps with the City Services logo. It was immaculate.
We crossed from Normal into Bloomington, and stopped at Taco John's for lunch. We know, we should have had food from a classic Route 66 eatery, but ... Taco John's! We ate our way through our shame and continued south and west.
Funks Grove is the midpoint of Illinois's portion of Route 66, ...
... and home of Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup. They produce about 2,000 gallons of maple syrup annually and sell it until they run out, which they apparently did.
We saw this Amtrak train stopped on a siding, apparently waiting for something on the shared track ahead. They are beautiful, aren't they? It looks fast even when it is sitting still.
Entering McLean, IL, we took a picture of the water tower with the Route 66 logo on it. We both thought we had seen it before, and sure enough, we took this picture from the other side in 2019.
If you are on Route 66 and are a model train enthusiast, you can satisfy both hobbies with a stop at the McLean Depot Visitor Center and Train Shop.
We made our way to Atlanta, IL, home of ...
... Paul Bunyon (sic), a Muffler Man statue dressed like the famous woodsman but holding a giant hotdog. The change in spelling of the last name was a clever way to avoid copyright infringment. When the Paul Bunyon hotdog stand closed down in 2002, the owner had the statue transfered here.
This mural shared the space, emploring you to "Hit the road" and asking, "How far can you go?"
The iconic Palms Grill Cafe, opened in 1934 but closed recently due to COVID-19, was decorated for Halloween.
Atlanta's library is shaped like an octogon, which is something we had never seen before.
In Lincoln, IL, the neon sign for the former Tropics Dining Room still stands, even though the property is now owned by McDonald's, which is awesome. It's great to know that even mega-corporations appreciate the iconic significance of Route 66.
Nearby is a giant covered wagon featuring Honest Abe driving while reading a book, which may not be the smartest thing to do.
These signs are a good representation of the various routes that Route 66 has taken over the years. At different places on the route, you may need to choose exactly which era you want to follow. Choose wisely.
Here's another example of a sign for a business that no longer exists. The Pig Hip Restaurant used to be on this site in Broadwell until it burned down in 2007, but the sign and a rock with a plaque commemorating the restaurant, still stand here for all travelers to see.
We are going to photograph every mileage post!
Yet another restored gas station, this time for Mobile Oil and Sinclair.
We stopped at the Cozy Dog Drive In in Springfield and got another picture of the Illinois Route 66 attractions sign.
Debbie noticed that the sign had an embossed logo representing the attraction for you to rub on your Route 66 passport. Clever.
Here's a close-up of the top part of the sign, showing regional places of interest, ...
... and the bottom part showing Route 66 through Illinois and the major highlights throughout the state.
You were warned. Every round barn must be photographed.
In Raymond, IL, the Shrine of Our Lady of the Highways has stood since the 1950s, watching out over travelers on the Mother Road.
As you pass the shrine, the text of the Hail Mary prayer, also known as the Rosary or Ave Maria, is displayed in Burma Shave-style.
Here's the Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Visitor Center.
Other than Chicago (the start) and Santa Monica (the end), the other places on this Route 66 mileage post were nearby local attractions.
Here's the front of the Ariston Cafe, which does not face Route 66, ...
... and the back, which does.
A Big Boy statue! The mounting looks temporary, but the statue itself was in good shape.
We passed Henry's Rabbit Ranch in Stauton, styled as "ra66it ranch," ewww. There's no call for that, even if you couldn't figure out any other way to work Route 66 into your company name.
We stopped at the Twistee Treat Diner at the Pink Elephant in Livingston.
We had enjoyed stopping at many Twistee Treats on our East Coast road trip and this stop was no exception.
We admired the adorable cone-shaped chairs while we waited on our order.
This funhouse mirror was right next to the door, and was very flattering.
Among their many attractions was a Futuro house, but unfortunately the entrance was boarded up and we could not go inside. It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit.
We arrived at our hotel, the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Pontoon Beach, shortly before 4:00 PM. We changed into comfy pajamas, relaxed, planned for our next day, and went to bed early, tired from our first full day on Route 66.

Day 3 >


California 2021: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Route 66: IL] [Day 3 - Route 66: MO] [Day 4 - Route 66: OK] [Day 5 - Route 66: TX] [Day 6 - Route 66: NM] [Day 7 - Route 66: AZ] [Day 8 - Route 66: CA] [Day 9 - Route 66: CA] [Day 10 - Los Angeles] [Day 11 - Los Angeles] [Day 12 - Palm Springs] [Day 13 - Joshua Tree NP] [Day 14 - Death Valley NP] [Day 15 - Las Vegas] [Day 16 - Zion NP] [Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim] [Day 18 - Toroweap, Grand Canyon] [Day 19 - Page, AZ] [Day 20 - Durango, CO] [Day 21 - Great Bend, KS] [Day 22 - St. Louis, MO] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

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