Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I guess Andre cannot be convinced.

Our last stop for the day (second to last stop) was a place called 'Pops'. It isn't that old, i.e. just a few years, but it is very cool. They have over 400 different bottled pops. I think Andre lost his mind. We bought 18 bottles of different things. This store had everything in every flavor... strawberry, blue (I know, that isn't a flavor), ginger, birch beer, root beer, chocolate, peach, lime, etc. Amazing. Andre was happy, I would say.

After that, we drove through Oklahoma City and their beautiful capitol. It's a bit like DC in that you approach the capitol and you can see the dome for quite a ways before you reach it.

And there you have it. I have to go get dressed so we can head out. Today's end destination is Amarillo.


Whales and whatnot

We stayed the night in Oklahoma City last night. We had a good day yesterday.

We escaped Joplin. Andre asked if I would want to live in a town like Joplin, with its cute little downtown, but not much else, and I said that I didn't know. We passed the population sign and it said something like 40,000, which isn't really much bigger than West Chester.... right? Joplin was nice but I think the answer to the question is "No."

The sun was out, the sky was blue with lots of puffy white clouds. FINALLY. A day that looked good.

We took a detour from the main 66 alignment and saw pre-66 (i.e. pre-1926) road. The famous 9-foot highway. Very cool. You could still see the road and the curbs. Most of it had been covered in gravel, but not in all spots. Andre asked me, as we bumped along very slowly over the gravel, "Do you think anyone drives out here but us?" Good question. It was slow going for only a mile or two or three of highway. We stopped, took a picture and a little video, and a car raced up behind and past us. I guess someone else drives out there... but their license plate was from Illinois.

We saw lots of cows and rolling hills yesterday. We crossed into Kansas, drove over some old bridges (verrrry cool) and then on in to Oklahoma. I always thought Oklahoma was flat but we saw so many hills.

I got very excited when I saw that 'Catoosa' was on the map and coming up. Catoosa is the largest inland port... but that wasn't what got me so excited. It was the Blue Whale of Catoosa. I wish I had a picture handy to explain why this excited me so much. The Blue Whale sits in a pond and you can walk into his mouth, and in years past, could jump out his side or take a slide down into the pond. You can't swim there now and it seems that barely anyone comes by to visit it... It's the biggest fiberglass whale you have ever seen. Of course I made Andre stand in front of it while I set the camera up on the tripod with the auto-timer. It's a cool picture with us "in the mouth" of the whale.

Andre and I saw a lot of cool things yesterday. There is one thing that made Andre's day go from "good" to "great" but I think, if I can convince him, that he will have to tell you.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Saint Louis

Yesterday wasn't a very good day.

We started at the Chain of Rocks Bridge and took our picture, which was nice. Glad I brought the tripod.

But then we had to cross the Mississippi. We hit a bird. Then, once you are across the bridge, you're in Saint Louis. We got lost in Saint Louis multiple times. When Dad and I drove 66 two years ago, we used the EZ-66 guide and it was perfect - or my memory is foggy. A second edition of EZ-66 was put out and I bought it for this trip. But either we weren't paying attention or the directions were missing (the directions were missing) but we missed some turns. I curse Saint Louis. I have never really visited there but I don't know how much I want to.

We had frozen custard at Ted Drewes; Andre said it was "good." I asked him what it takes to get a "great" review but I guess Ted Drewes didn't live up to it.

On we drove. A lot of 66 in MO is on green backroads, which made for a pretty drive. We saw Meramec Caverns, Rolla (which Andre was thrilled about after his time at Fort Leonard Wood), and a lot of other random things.

We stopped in Joplin, which isn't really on 66, but needed a place to rest. It was 8pm when we stopped last night. Today, we're off for 15 miles of Kansas and Oklahoma!

Andre and I are having fun, but yesterday was a little rough. The sky was grey, and at times rainy. The Weather Channel says 'Sun' today. Let's hope.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Sunday was rainy

Yesterday was fun. Minus the rain and the wind. It was about 55 degrees yesterday. Brrrr. We started the journey off in Chicago with drizzle. By the time we hit Elwood, pouring, gushing rain. It sucked. As I am sure you can imagine.

The rain eventually subsided but it was a grey icky day. But we saw the Gemini Giant and his conehead, and we say other Route 66 establishments like Funk's Grove, where we bought some maple syrup. We marveled (when I say 'we' I mean 'Andre) at an old grader... I have a picture.

The great, and sad, thing about Route 66 is how the old road is right next to the new road. We were driving on 66, but right next to us was the old alignment of 66 - you could see it RIGHT THERE. Maybe it was a North-South lane, though Andre disagrees. And then, right next to the old 66 is the highway, I-55. It's weird. I guess Route 66's route wasn't so bad after all and they decided to put I-55 right next to it. It's a shame they had to bypass so many towns to do so.

We saw some neat things yesterday, but didn't get too many pictures because of the rain. Dad, tried to get a photo of Statesville in Joliet but no luck. Stopped in Springfield, saw Lincoln's tomb.

Stopped just south of Edwardsville for the night at a Hampton. We met our 300 mile quota for the day. We are about 15 minutes from Saint Louis. I'm going to see if I can convince Andre that we should go up in the Arch. I might have some luck since I did get dragged to Lincoln's tomb... :)

Hoping for better weather today, but the forecast still says overcast. Darn.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lou Mitchell's

Lou Mitchell's was everything I had been dreaming of for the last year. SO GOOD. Andre and I went there a year ago before he deployed - in our little weekend jaunt to Chicago - and it was good. Today was just the same. Amazing. You think that maybe it is going to just be a little dinner, but after your first bite, you know that is anything but. Delicious.

Andre had an egg sandwich; I had an omelet with potatoes and bread. The bread - soft, delicious. The omelet - very tasty. I can't say enough about how good this place is.

Andre visited their website. There was mention on it of them selling franchises. I don't know if this is good or bad for Lou Mitchell's. We talked about it at breakfast and decided there is something special about the Lou Mitchell's location, the atmosphere, something that can't easily be re-created.

If you visit Chicago, I recommend a breakfast at Lou Mitchell's. They give you donut holes when you walk in and Milk Duds for all the ladies. The experience is a special treat.

Like Hooters, but worse.


Yesterday we headed up to Chicago to start our journey down the Mother Road. I read to Andre from the various guidebooks... until the point where we were getting to the toll road into Chicago. Andre says, "I am getting hungry, are you hungry?" I wasn't, really, but we stopped on the busiest road I have seen in a long long time.

"What sounds good?"
"I don't know." We drove around and stopped at a place called "Tilted Kilt"... an Irish pub. Sounds good right?

We walk in and the hostess is in a short mini kilt, white knee socks, a plaid bra and a tiny shirt over the bra, but still revealing most of her breasts. "Whattt???" I think. As we are seated and I am hoping this is just a fluke, I notice that every waitress is wearing the same get-up. It was like Hooters, but worse. These girls were wearing MAYBE 50% clothes, but more than likely, 35%. It was weird.

Was the food good? It was ok.

Anyway, after that, the GPS lead us off the highway into the Gary, Indiana. Another great experience. What a sad sad place.

Finally got to Chicago - had to wait for our room to be ready - and then we walked about down Michigan Avenue. Had a greattttt dinner at a place called Petterino's. Andre loved it - I mean LOVED it! My dinner was ok. My dessert was wonderful.

We're off to eat again at Lou Mitchell's soon! (


Sunday, April 27, 2008

i <3 internet

thinking about the great Route 66 trip and I cannot urge people enough to take it. ok, so 66 doesn't strike your fancy. then take a road trip, anywhere, somewhere. see whats going on in other states. see the back roads... the road less traveled. its something you won't likely ever forget.

66 was a fantastic experience. the people of 66 are genuine, kind... yesterday it was late in the day and Dad and I were driving through Illinois. We were nearing Funk's Grove, where they make maple sirip, spelled like the way you think I just spelled it wrong. They've been making it for 100 or so years and selling it right there along Route 66. Anyway, I looked at the clock and said, "Hmm, too bad. It's after 5 on a Saturday. I'm sure that they are closed." We pulled in, just for a look and a picture, and as Dad was backing the car around to leave, this little old lady comes out from the house on the property and asks us if she can open the shop for us. She was very sweet, and no offense Sweet Old Lady, but I would guess she was about 70. Dad said we didn't want to bother her or make her come out of her house and she said she was feeling a little under the weather but no big deal.

So she opens her little shop, which was quite cozy, and we bought some sirip. And as we stood there talking to the sweet old lady, another car drives up and comes in to buy sirip.

The amazing part, to me, is that that sweet old woman didn't have to come out, but she did. And she talked with us. It seems that many of the Route 66 business owners are like this. They care about the travelers on the road and they genuinely want to assist you or help you. We were in Quapaw, OK taking a picture of the side of a barn which had a cute little mural on it. We were alongside the road, ready to leave, and this woman comes running out of the building across the street. I rolled the window down as she approached and she said, "I saw you taking a picture of that mural and this is for you!" She handed me a picture postcard of the same mural in better shape (livelier colors). We chatted with her a few moments about her business and where we were from. I asked her if I could keep the postcard and she said of course! She just gave it to me! Most places you have to pay for everything and I'm sure having a few hundred picture postcards printed isn't exactly cheap. Sure, probably not expensive either, but why do it? There is no advantage to her, right?

The business owners of 66 are real people--real GENUINE people. Classic example: Midpoint Cafe. Cutest darn place I ever did see. Gosh, I'd go back there in a heartbeat. I need a transporter (but not a plane; I'm talking instantaneous) because the pie was that good and the people were that nice. I asked Leyla if she could break my $100 and she said yes. I purchased a patch and my change was considerable, including some serious coinage. As I struggled with a wallet of coins falling everywhere, she said, "Hang on! I've got something for all those coins," and disappeared into the kitchen. She came back with a plastic baggie. Now, again, how many people would do that? Most people would watch me struggle or just be patient and wait for my coin situation to go away. But no. Not here. I'm telling you--the Route 66 Business Owner is a different breed. You really have to see for yourself but I promise you'll find the same results. My examples may sound trivial but put yourself in a similar situation and I am sure you won't find similar results off Route 66.

66 is a different world than the normal one we live in. It's slower and more patient, more understanding, and honestly, an experience you need to have.