Category Archives: Chicago

We got our kicks on Route 66

“If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
It winds from Chicago to LA,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
Now you go through Saint Looey
Joplin, Missouri,
And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo,
Gallup, New Mexico,
Flagstaff, Arizona.
Don’t forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino.”

And, this morning, we motored through San Bernardino to complete our last port of call from the song…except that wasn’t where the road ended!  We could have taken a photo of the sign but, no, it was a proper visit to the City Hall, the County Court and even the Sheriff’s Department Rehabilitation Center!!

Santa Monica Pier is the officially designated end of Route 66, so 5,080 miles after leaving Chicago we proudly posed underneath the sign which declared we had reached the end. We did it!!  We have been everywhere and then some. We have walked miles, as well, around all the places of interest we found along the way and have loved the diverse experiences throughout our journey.

Even today, we were having random conversations with a group of Hillary Clinton supporters and a couple of American ladies who had done part of the 66 but via the direct route, i.e. on the freeway. I met a guy, whilst queuing for iced coffee, who was convinced I was Australian.  He had made a long trip to the coast from south of Las Vegas!!  Whacky folk some of these Americans  spotted on the road today:

i feel so proud and pleased that we have completed this huge adventure but at the same time would love to go on and do more. Not this time. Thanks to both our families for encouraging our dream and thanks, particularly, to Carolyn for making sure we did everything we set out to do and never giving up… even if finding some of the places proved geographically challenging! I’ve said it before but it has been a truly awesome experience.

Carolyn’s Curios

So, for the last time (this trip!), I get to add some outtakes from our travelogue. Would it be about tonight when two staff at the hotel separately responded to my request, “Excuse me but could you tell me where the restaurant is, please?” by providing directions to… the Rest Rooms?!

Or, the discussion with the Hillary Clinton team on Santa Monica Pier where we agreed both on the distaste for Trump and the Brexit decision? Politics often divides but here it brought us together.

Maybe, the girl drummer of a family rock band playing “Twist and Shout” amongst others on the Pier. I mentioned to her that I had been playing drums to that music before her parents had been born! But, they were a good young band – a combination of White Stripes and Hanson, if you can imagine that.

Perhaps, that there were three separate and competing evangelical preaching groups on the Saturday afternoon in the sunshine at the seaside.

This journey has reached its natural geographical conclusion and, like Kath, I must say, again, my thanks to the family, especially Ann, for encouraging me to take up this opportunity and, of course, Kath, herself, for sharing the dream. We doubled the planned mileage; we added on every single day to the activities we had originally envisaged. We laughed consistently, marvelled frequently and enjoyed immensely.

A final couple of curios… why did they name this town as they did?!


And, as I was driving on the five lane traffic jammed roads in Los Angeles after leaving the deserted, scrub surrounded, traffic-free, seemingly endlessly straight Route 66, it occurred to me that:

“The obese body of L.A. was sprawling across the canapé of the California landscape

with its concrete arteries clogged with car shaped cholesterol.”

And, we had fallen in love with the Original Historic Route 66. Its reputation is justified, its magic is real and its attraction, albeit being slowly submerged, is worth visiting and preserving. Catch it while you can. We did.

On the road


Having seen the sign proclaiming the start of Route 66, today was the day to collect the wheels and start the drive. Easy?  Well, fairly, but first a taxi to Chicago Midway Airport to pick up the hire car, which involved being dropped at the terminal only to find you needed a shuttle bus to take you to the car rental facility. So far, so mostly good and we cleared the desk fairly quickly to ‘go find’ the motor.  Ouch!  They gave us a Toyota Yaris. We had booked a compact which specifically provided boot  (trunk!) space for all our luggage, but this one could hardly take a single suitcase.  Back to the Dollar desk to be assured that a Yaris is classed as a compact and it would take two suitcases. Finally, we were offered a Hyundai Accent and with everything securely in the boot, we were off.

The first port of call was Joliet, home of the correctional institution featured in The Blues Brothers and I was totally excited to see the first of the Route 66 signs, advertisements for the museums and special places of interest.

In Wilmington, we were suddenly face to face with a giant spaceman holding a rocket whilst up the road we ran into Elvis, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Betty Boop hanging out at a drive in.image  We then began to eat up the miles on our way to the delightful Springfield, Illinois.  In the 192 miles travelled, we followed the old Mother Road as faithfully as possible but had to resort to Interstate highways in part to cross the endless flat plains under vast skies. In spite of the sun and intense heat, it was windy and the car reacted occasionally with a shudder as we caught the full brunt of the crosswinds.   Eventually, we rolled into Springfield (Illinois), the most delightful town with magnificent buildings from an age of formal elegance.  It is a town dedicated to Abraham Lincoln and, because we arrived very late in the afternoon, it is somewhere for further exploration in the morning. image

Dinner was a real event.  We found a Route 66 quirky cafe, The Cozy Dog drive in.  It was full of memorabilia and served awesome corn dogs on sticks (a bit like a battered sausage).  Posh it was not, but fun and great food were on offer. No doubt the indigestion will kick in at some point but for now it was a perfect end to a great day.

Carolyn’s Curios

Today’s quirky bits? Dogs featured… Chicago Midway Airport had signage for dogs and Kath and I ate dogs. In fact, I had my first corn dog and a hotdog.image

We covered about 100 miles of our journey today without sign of a single hill or of many trees. The most prominent vertical features being the ubiquitous Golden Arches logo atop poles seemingly every mile or so. Interesting!image



The start of our Route 66 adventure

We expected a cool reception in Chicago but arrived to both high temperatures and equally high humidity.  It is extremely warm (100 Farenheit forecast again for tomorrow) and, as Carolyn reported, “If the Rainbow finds it hot, it is hot”.  Never let it be said that the intrepid two were going to let a bit of warm weather stop them and the Big Bus to hop on and off provided the very solution for seeing this fabulous city.

I had no idea what to expect on my first ever visit but the buildings and skyline provide an eclectic mix of old(er) and new.  The blend gives a few jaw dropping moments when you turn a corner to find a formal building of early 20th century origin juxtaposed with a glass and steel structure.   I LOVE IT!

A special moment was the Chicago Tribune building which is set with pieces of rock from some of the most famous places in the world, eg the Taj Mahal, Edinburgh Castle,  Westminster Abbey and the Tomb of Abraham Lincoln… many, many more.

Cocktails at the top of the Hancock Tower may have been the day’s height of decadence until we went to the loo. You could sit on the toilet and enjoy Chicago’s beautiful buildings spread before you. I wonder how many ladies have risked leaving open the toilet door to appreciate the spectacle. Did we?  That’s for us to know!!

We then found the official start of our epic journey – the ‘official’, if somewhat battered, sign proclaiming the start of Route 66. Whoooo, we are here, we are ready and tomorrow we pick up the car.  So long in the planning, it is still important to pinch ourselves and believe we are doing this.

Meanwhile, tonight we are off to Buddy Guy’s Legends to enjoy some of the music for which Chicago is famous – a combination of blues and jazz.

Quirky bits…

I’ve committed myself to adding to the sensible parts of our trip’s description with some of the extra bits which, to us, seemed funny, unusual and/or quirky.

Seeing Michael Portillo about to board our plane at Heathrow was a case of… “Is it? Yes. So,…” He had his distinctive gait, brightly coloured blazer and more than slightly aloof air. We then found a hotdog café in Chicago with his name on! Interesting. If it appears in a future TV programme, remember you heard it first here!


Another culinary ‘quirky’ was when we spotted a restaurant called ‘Yolk’ which may have been, I suggested at the time, the ‘Eggs-act’ centre of the city. Ok, they also spell ‘centre’ as ‘center’ or, as we might say, wrongly!

imageChicago completed – for now – great city and would love to come back. Buddy Guy was awesome and the city stunning. I can’t let this section go without making mention of what my granddaughter refers to as ‘bottom burps’! The Presidential candidate’s building is loud, garish, in your face and offensive. I’m saying nothing about him as a candidate, of course! #litigationproof