Category Archives: United States

Take my breath away….ūüéľūüé§ūüéĻ

A day to be breathless for lots of different reasons!  We started ours with breakfast at our hotel in Santa Fe and as we started to select our food, who should we bump into but Mark and Linda, the lovely people we met at the Halfway Point Cafe yesterday.  It was another opportunity for further conversation  and we wonder how many more coincidences we will experience.

No sooner were we on the road than we were experiencing jaw dropping moments as the vast skies and scenery stretched out before us. No matter how many films you see, nothing prepares you for the sheer vastness of the vista. Nowhere in the world have I seen skies which offer sun, small clouds, big clouds, clouds clearly rain laden, and the brightest, bluest sky…all at the same time, just by turning your head.

We just had to go and have a look at Albuquerque (a city with two Qs deserved a look). We serendipitously found Route 66 in the city and, in need of a coffee, happened on Garcia’s kitchen. ¬†Was it too early to fit in brunch? ¬†They did divine pancakes and Carolyn’s omelette was none too shabby either! ¬†After finding our way around some of the ‘Old Town’, we decided to head off towards Gallup.

No journey we have taken has been a straight forward trip from A to B. Where’s the fun in that? Today’s little detour took us about 25 miles off piste to see a volcano and an ice cave. ¬†This is where we experienced more breathlessness. The volcano was some 800 ft up a dusty lava strewn track. ¬†It was steep (very) and with the wind blowing and a rain shower threatening, I confess it was my idea to bail out of that idea and head for the ice cave instead. ¬†(I really don’t think Carolyn was too upset!!). The ice cave involved some considerable exertion too – loads of uneven steps (Carolyn counted 69!) as we descended into the icy chill. The temperature in this cave never gets above 31 F and, as rain water and snow melt into the cave, the ice floor thickens. ¬†We looked and then contemplated the return climb up those steps.

We did comment that the whole area was reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, with few people around, deserted roads and dense woodland. I wouldn’t choose to be out there on my own at night. But whether or not the ice cave was the best thing we had seen, the scenery on the journey was jaw-droppingly awesome. As we near Arizona, the mountains, monoliths and pillars are becoming more and more spectacular and I am looking forward to our days amongst the canyons.

For now we are having a quiet evening in Gallup. There are some Route 66 buildings, murals, etc, but this is may be somewhere you pass through rather than stay.

Carolyn’s Curios

Native Americans still advertise their crafts and curios as ‘Indian’ which seems strange, somehow. However, we saw Apache and a tribe I’d not heard about until today… Zuni.

Shopping in the local supermarket late this afternoon in Gallup, I was struck by the relative poverty of the local people but, also, a feeling of dé ja vu connected to Shanghai in that I was the only blonde in the store! Ok, my blonde comes from a bottle but even so. In fact, thr only grey haired person in the store was my travelling companion! CTMQ.

Another odd driving day with new signs. Firstly, a reminder of American truck convoys with “a bear in the air” which was brought to mind by the first one and the other making comparisons with the U.K. warning signs for animals.

On the next table in Garcia’s Kitchen were two officers of the enforcement agencies ¬†looking nothing like our ‘bobbies’. If you imagine the archetypal comic sheriff of Dukes of Hazzard, Smokey and the Bandit or James Bond – they sat there. Overweight, seemingly laconic and with pistols on their hips.

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Finally, for this evening as the wifi is particularly slow… Gallup, New Mexico – a name which has a history and a sound of real interest. Regrettably, we haven’t seen that much to excite. Route 66 passes through here and some attempt has been made to capitalise on that. Not really successfully.. #Sorry.

The most impressive part of the day for me was the changing scenery especially the soil. Changing colour from red in Texas to a yellow in New Mexico but as we journeyed West, the layers of so many colours were displayed. More tomorrow.

 

The times they are a changin’

As we left the hotel this morning, I momentarily thought I was in the wrong place. It wasn’t the slightly overcast sky, but the definite chill in the air. The reading from the car said 60F degrees but we have been experiencing 90+F, so I wore a jumper!

Our first planned stop was just a couple of miles away. Easy. ¬†You must be joking – that two miles took over half an hour as we followed various sets of directions before asking at the gas station. I had wanted to see the Cadillac Ranch since we first planned the trip. In reality, it is a collection of 10 graffiti covered Cadillacs that are half buried nose down in the middle of a field. ¬†For reasons best known to their creator (Stanley Marsh, I believe), they face West “at the same angle as the Cheops Pyramids”. Whatever, but thanks to Carolyn’s steely determination and refusal to give up and move on, I was happy and lucky to have seen it.

Our next stop was at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian which celebrates being the official half way mark of Route 66. However, instead of the officially declared 1139 miles, we had already done 2015!! ¬†This is because we keep wandering off to go and look at lovely points of interest. ¬†We helped out a couple of groups who wanted photographs at the famous sign and in return got one for ourselves. One very helpful fellow traveller took a selfie of himself with us whilst his friends were taking photos… whilst lying in the road.

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We also enjoyed our stop at the famous cafe (decked out in true 50’s style, with a working juke box), and met a delightful couple from Pensilvania who not only shared our love of 60s music, but the guy was almost as knowledgeable as Carolyn!

By this time, the clouds were breaking and the temperature was lifting as we made our way out of Texas. This was not before seeing a cattle ranch with probably several thousand head of cattle. Home of Texas Beef.  I also watched a tractor coming towards me spraying a field. The problem was I could neither see where the field began nor where it ended.  It could take him all day to spray a couple of furrows. All the jokes about everything being big in Texas are clearly true.

As we approached the border of New Mexico, our day suddenly got longer. First, the sat nav and then our phones shot back an hour. We had crossed into Mountain Time and gained an extra hour, taking us an hour further from the UK. I realised that my travels involving time changes had previously been experienced on board ship, and these are artificially constructed to take place at night. This was my first experience of crossing an invisible line to be told by my phone that my watch was wrong!

We caught sight of a flat topped mountain looming large in the distance and reminiscent of movies where the Cowboys are being pursued across the plain, mountain in background, by the ‘Indians’. We were approaching the town of Tucumcari and the mountain of the same name. ¬†It was excellent for a browse as the town has preserved its links with Route 66. Indeed, that very road forms the town’s high street. We stopped for lunch at a thriving cafe, which is a clear favourite with the locals, and dined on a “Patsy Cline Melt”. This was a beef burger on toasted rye bread with cheese and mushrooms. Once again, a retro caf√© and full of character and characters. The food was better than the menu looked but quirky!

Our final stop, before ending our journey in Santa Fe, was at The Blue Hole in Santa Rosa. Apparently a famous destination for scuba divers as the clarity of this artesian well is such that you can almost see the bottom through 80 ft of water.  Very inviting but difficult to get into swimwear in the open air without changing facilities, so we returned to the car. And, the water was cold!

But that was not not the end of the water. ¬†As we climbed upwards to begin the long loop to Santa Fe, storm clouds descended, lightening flashed and the rain was epic. ¬†Personally, I blame Carolyn for suggesting just an hour earlier that we should get the car cleaned. By the time we reached our hotel, the sky was clear, the sun was hot and normal service had resumed. That was a 300 mile drive today….and more of the same tomorrow.

Carolyn’s Curios

Curious signs: No Engine or Jake brake… apparently, these types of brakes involve engines and air pressure are noisy and, therefore, frequently banned in built up areas.

No disrespect intended but… I couldn’t help but notice that the spelling¬†on the religious graffiti hadn’t been totally successful.

My section is headed Curios but we see them daily. This shows just one place where they are advertised.

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Kath commented and the world’s steaks on the hooves but driving further, we reached scrub land. I saw no more than two dozen cows in forty miles with the only fence being the one between the road and scrubland. There was no cultivation and the only sign of wild life was a few birds – barren.

We missed mentioning yet another encounter with ‘bikers’. Usually on Harley’s and enough of them for a book let alone a Chapter.

Times have changed… Driving at 75 mph with Sat. Nav. means we have a relatively easy journey. As we covered the miles, thoughts turned to the early settlers in their horse drawn wagons with minimal, if any, maps. “Go West, young man!” was the only instruction. What about those escaping the poverty, starvation and dust bowl in the Thirties immortalised in Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’?

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We were reminded of the American gun laws by the Pawn Store next to our hotel tonight advertising guns, as well as musical instruments and jewellery, for trading. I, also, spotted this sign.

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Confession time: the discussion with the lovely couple from Philadelphia involved Sixties music, Beatles’ Tours of Liverpool, Herman’s Hermits etc. but, as is often the case, descended almost into a game of Top Trumps. “I saw Peter Noone a little while ago in California” – “I saw him in Blackpool three years ago” “I saw Paul McCartney with a three hour concert earlier in the year” – “I saw Bruce Springsteen do a four hour concert at Old Trafford” et al. However, I missed my best card which is…”I learned to play drums left-handed on a kit which Paul McCartney played a drum duet with Ringo Starr. Paul also played left-handed!”

Regrettably, we both ‘failed’ when discussing the first UK act to top the US Billboard Charts. Our new American friend said ‘The Beatles’ but I, somehow, thought it wasn’t and suggested Herman’s Hermits (or, in my mind, the Dave Clark Five). We were both wrong. ¬†The¬†first UK act to top the Billboard 100 Chart was Acker Bilk (May 62) but in ¬†pre-Billboard lists, it was Vera Lynn in 1952! Research complete!

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Was this the way to Amarillo?

The temperature this afternoon crept up to 98 degrees Farenheit which, coupled with a strong wind, made the car journey in its air conditioned comfort a pleasure, despite the distance.  Of course, I did the Peter Kay walk and sang happily as we loaded up the car and it must have been the right way as we reached Amarillo late this afternoon.  Needless to say, there was an adventure along the way.

We both agreed that a visit to the highly recommended National Route 66 Museum in Elk City was a ‘must’. Our optimism was justified and the transportation element was great fun with the chance to sit in a Cadillac, climb aboard a fire engine and ogle the motorbikes provided many a giggle. The funniest moment might have been Carolyn’s determination to come down the firemen’s pole – which she did with aplomb!

The Old Town element showed us a two storey Victorian house, the top of which was devoted to early cowboy and rodeo way of life. There was an Opera House, a Livery stable, Railroad depot, drug store, a church and, of course, the jail.

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We had found some quirky 66 stuff shown in one of our books in a place called Erick. Oh boy, was that a story. ¬†I will forever think of it as “Revenge of the Sat Nav” after we had decided to do our own thing in Oklahoma yesterday. ¬†We thought we were being clever when we put in a rather obscure but very precise address. ¬†After turning off onto ¬†smaller and smaller roads, we realised we were really in the heart of nowhere. We came upon Erick Cemetery and reasoned we were not too far away, so reprogrammed and, at that point, you could almost sense, “You have to be kidding me”, from the sat nav. ¬†We went from narrow country lanes (without a building or vehicle in sight), to narrower dirt lanes, to ones where the grass growing in the middle was rattling the car’s undercarriage. ¬†All I could think was, “Please don’t let me break down”. Eventually we made it into “town” to find the exhibit which we were looking for was both delapidated and closed. Thinking about it, the town seemed closed too. Nowhere for a coffee, not that I was remotely interested in lingering longer and was just itching to get back to the highway. ¬†We found said road in just about a mile, which is when I knew the sat nav had been having a laugh. ¬†This was real redneck country and not for the faint ¬†hearted!

Because we were in Texas, it had to be steak for lunch. ¬†By this time, we were in Shamrock, saw more Route 66 antiquities but were seduced by Big Vern’s Steakhouse for a sirloin and a salad. ¬†Time was moving on, so onwards to another hotel. Because it is a Holiday Inn and same chain as last night, we are instantly at home. We were invited to Happy Hour in the lobby with snacks, beer and wine, all free. Amazing.

Tired now and 300 miles tomorrow but still looking for “Sweet Marie who waits for me”. Come on, sing the song!!

Carolyn’s Curios

When we look at modern day America with Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric (and some in the UK!), we may forget that all Europeans in the US were immigrants. More than that, they were invaders! Recently, we’ve driven through ‘homelands’ of Cheyenne, Navajo and Shawnee. Deprived of their ancestral birthrights, I can only imagine how they may feel as Native Americans.

As we could needed the miles we’d set ourselves for today, we noticed that the land had changed. The brown and grey of the soil had given way to take on a red hue.

Reminding us of the flatness, likelihood of high winds and, of course, tornados, it was salutary to see roadside billboards broken but still advertising ‘Camping’ with clean rest rooms and… storm shelters

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A few interesting road signs have caused me to smile. Wrong way signs on one way streets, Yield, instead of Give Way, and, the best of all, for me, the speed sign in redneck mid-America pronouncing firmly ‘No tolerance’!

Wild life isn’t too evident here. Black Angus cattle, a few horses and a couple of squirrels but today I saw a coyote.

I’ve commented elsewhere about my experience of music -especially ‘popular’ – so the Roger Miller Museum prompted slightly off key versions of ‘King of the Road’ and, of course, ‘England Swings’.

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So, we hit Texas and the Purple Heart Trail. Suddenly, for me, we now seem a long way from the UK. However, the journey continues… more exploring, more sights, more music, more fun!

Again, to end, as Kath misses out in the main blog her part in the posing for photos, a few here…

Oklahoma City does, indeed, look mighty pretty

The day began with bright blue cloudless skies in Tulsa and remained thus for the whole of our 250 mile journey. ¬†Once again, we elected to take the fastest route to the first of our agreed points of interest, which meant we took the turnpike for 90 miles before turning off onto Route 66. We continue to be fascinated by the vastness of the scenery, which today took us through horse breeding country, cattle ranches and vast pasturelands. Equally there were plenty of “empty miles”, with fields, trees, lakes, and simple ponds.

Our first stopping point was a tiny gas station in Arcadia where we were clearly items of curiosity for a couple of good ol’ boys working on a nearby fence. ¬†From there it was just a few yards to ‘The Round Barn’, which is a much photographed Route 66 icon. Looking around the gift shop/memorabilia exhibits on the ground floor was interesting but the vast upper floor was a jaw dropping moment. The huge expanse of ceiling was a work of art, as was the wooden floor. ¬†They were preparing for a wedding later in the day, so, after enjoying listening to a “fiddler” warming up, we moved on up the road to “Pop’s”.

Just as the barn was quaint and old, Pop’s was an almost futuristic gas station/shop/restaurant with a modern sculpture of a bottle of pop declaring its speciality. For Pop’s sells just about every flavour of soda known throughout North America. ¬†What an array. ¬†People were streaming in for meals but also to buy carriers full of their favourite sodas. ¬†Carolyn bought a vanilla one, so we will see what she thinks in due course.

An additional attraction was the long, long line of motorcycles and tricycles parked up. We talked to a guy driving a fabulous yellow tricycle to find that he was leading a long line of motorcyclists who were having a weekend fund raising trip for a colleague suffering from cancer.  It was quite a sight, and quite a noise too!

As we left, still on the old road, we agreed that whatever the lady in the sat nav said, we were going through and not around Oklahoma City. ¬†Carolyn defied all instructions for turning around and executing U-turns and we had a lovely drive around the very quiet city on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. ¬†Great buildings, friendly folks who waved as I took endless photographs and we enjoyed ‘beating the sat nav’ as we slid quietly back onto the route provided. ¬†Chuckles.

We took another slight diversion to see two things: another ever so slightly rundown little town with historic landmarks and finally the rather wonderful Route 66 Museum at Clinton. This was full of exhibits from the various decades, all with music to match the era.  Just wonderful.

I said this morning that it felt a long way from the sea…and so it is. We are about half way across America and won’t see the Pacific until the end of the trip. Bizarrely, even knowing that, it doesn’t stop you scanning the vast horizon as you crest the brow of the hill. You can see for miles and miles, but not quite that many!!!

Carolyn’s Curios

The mile after mile of usually straight rolling road is often punctuated with churches. Today’s two most unusual ones were ‘Rock of the Resurrection’ and the ‘Infant Jesus of Prague’. ¬†Interesting.

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Today started with another first for me… I made my own waffle for breakfast. Waffle is one of my specialities but that’s when I talk off subject! ¬†My breakfast waffle wasn’t bad “who says it as shouldn’t”.

Food later at Pop’s had a very different flavour.

As Kath writes, I have a penchant for defying the Sat. Nav. and answering it back! ¬†It didn’t help yesterday when she told us to go down a road which the police had blocked off; nor today when there was a road closed for repairs. However, most times it is simply we don’t want to go the quickest route – we want the most interesting. Armed with a good sense of direction, we try to outthink the algorithm – usually with success ¬†We found the hotel last night that way and we found most of our Historic Route 66 highspots today… plus a few potholes! One of our finds was the Route 66 Museum – my favourite of the day in many ways.

Yesterday, we noted ‘Carolyn’s Cafe’ on a mural and today a sign to Carolyn Inn. A popular name but the latter, I found, was the scene of a double murder last year ¬†maybe ‘CAROLYN’ will be less popular!

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Confession time: yesterday I committed a felony, apparently. Having purchased a Toll Pass for turnpikes when we hired the car, we drove through the Pass Lanes at speed in Oklahoma doing a realistic impression of Smokey and the Bandit or the Gumball Rally. However, we have found that our Pass applies here in almost all States… except Oklahoma! Whoops! Their website says doing that is a felony. I’ve written an email to them and am awaiting the reply! Update when available. My email was written in the first person singular so Kath can ‘post the bail money’ if needed ¬†#onlykidding

Talking of Kath – laid back or upright – the Rainbow smile is consistent!

“Just take my way, that’s the highway that is best”

Any lingering rain clouds melted away as we left Springfield, Missouri this morning. We were still chuckling about the chat we had enjoyed with the lady who had served us freshly made waffles for breakfast. She was a veritable ‘Mrs Overall’, although we concluded she may have been younger than either of us. We did learn that instead of our cinema visit last night, we could have gone to a ‘Bare Back Bull Riding Rodeo’, where the winner lasted just 8 seconds!! ¬†Gutted, not! ¬†Poor bulls.

Our first stop was Joplin, Missouri. We found the town centre but struggled to find the promised Route 66 signs, murals, etc. ¬†We did find a cup of coffee but Carolyn had views on that! ¬†However, we now have photographs to prove we went to Joplin (following the song) and were determined to subsequently go “off piste” and discover the historic highways of the original route. What treasure we found.

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Ignoring the protestations of the sat nav, we followed the historic route to Galena. That took us on Kansas State roads where their signage pays constant homage to the historic route. Such a pity that the route only occupies some 30 miles or so of the state before disappearing off to Oklahoma. We both remembered the Cars movie and there, in Galena, we found ‘Tow Mater’ and friends at an historic filling station (now a memorabilia shop and a cafe).

The real Route 66ers were there on their motorbikes but we were loving the experience too.  The small town is 66 shades of fun, but sadly deserted and we just hope they can keep it all going.

We enjoyed more miles on the original route before resorting to the Tulsa Turnpike in order to build in some of the 250 miles or so.

Before arriving in Tulsa, we did take a diversion to Totem Pole Park at Foyil. More curiosities for the route and the centrepiece of this whimsical collection of concrete sculptures is a 90 ft behemoth that allegedly took 11 years, six tons of steel and 28 tons of cement to finish.  What can I say?  It was big!

So, here we are in Tulsa, a lovely city, but Oklahoma (on our route tomorrow) also looks mighty pretty….!

Carolyn’s Curios

Let’s start when we were 24 hours from Tulsa… One of us (not me!) decided a Jason Statham action film was the best way to spend the evening in Springfield. The film was violent, had a banal script but… the seats were extraordinary!

As¬†Kath mentioned, Joplin deserved a visit and an apology¬†as Mick Jagger missed it out of the Rolling Stones’ version of Route 66 ¬†Mick, it is not “down to Missouri”, it’s “Joplin, Missouri”. For the definitive version, listen to Nat King Cole, please

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Having¬†been called ‘Sweetie’ and being told I had ‘super cute’ nails today, I had to get more serious. Are the extremes of weather a contributary factor to the plethora of different church denominations here? If nature is so strong, they need a stronger deity? Is the run down feel to significant areas of mid-America, the reason for Trump’s support. Having done religion and politics, I’ll leave it there, I think.

Less seriously was Galena where Kath finished in the jail!

I’ll post a few photos which I’ve liked from our most Route 66 type day, yet! We finished next door with a steak and, it had to be, a pint of Route 66 Amber.

Another day, another Springfield!

Still no sign of the Simpsons, so they probably don’t live in this Springfield (Missouri) either!

The day started anything but bright and fair and the only brightness in St Louis came from flashes of lightning. The TV announced localised flash flooding and a cold front where the temperatures are dropping to 82 degrees Farenheit. How fortunate then that about 50 miles beyond St Louis, normal weather service was resumed. We took the Tulsa Road for part of the journey and as we are staying there tomorrow, I guess you could say that we were 24 hours from Tulsa!!  Hmmm, perhaps not the most amusing or original thing to say, but it tickled us.

Today, we were driving about 250 miles and when possible we skipped off the main highway to actually drive along the old Route 66. This is harder to do than you might imagine as much of the original road has been covered over by a much larger highway which by-passes the old small towns and villages. We went to find one such place today, Fanning 66 Outpost, which is famous for (of all things) the largest rocking chair in the world. Next door was a store that once sold all kinds of Route 66 memorabilia, but sadly displayed a sign to say they had gone out of business. ¬†I wonder how many more such Route 66 icons will go the same way? On the stylised mural on the wall, we were both surprised and amused to find the only name which was mentioned was Carolyn’s Cafe! As for the petrol sign, Route 66 was so famous they named a petrol brand after it

Underterred, we headed into Springfield in glorious sunshine and went off to explore. ¬†It was good to be back in the sun, although the heat and particularly the humidity are crazy. ¬†We seem to attract attention when we speak and find ourselves ‘novelty attractions’. ¬†We should talk more and charge!

Carolyn’s Curios

Occasionally, on the roads, we notice that Tarmac has been discovered… albeit recently. Concrete rules! We saw our first real hills today and the countryside was green and tree laden. The places we passed through included: Cuba, Lebanon and the quaintly named Doolittle, which was quite near a sign to ‘Pomme De Terre Lake’. What?! We came across travelling stacked tractor units. Impressive and expensive.

imageWe passed several fireworks factories, Jesse James hideout (then) and waxworks (now) but noted the Nuclear War shelter and a Mule Tradng Post. More likely and more frequent events are the tornados in this area. Astonishing for us to realise that these are normal events and have to be accommodated.

 

Another unusual (for us) sign, which we came across first in Chicago and several times today, is ‘No guns allowed’ – and we, rightly, in the UK think smoking cigarettes should be banned.image

Finally, for today… as Shaw said, “Two countries separated by a common language”. I saw on the menu ‘Baked potato’ but, without much thought, asked for ‘Jacket potato’ much to the puzzlement and then amusement of the waiter. He told us later that he had immediately briefed/warned the kitchen staff about the English!

So, “We drove down to Missouri” ūüéľūüéĻūüé§

We left Springfield still clinging to the deluge from the early morning thunderstorm and hoped to run out of the rain. Sadly, the weather liked us so much, it came along for the ride…all of it. ¬†imageSt. Louis¬†is clearly a beautiful city and we have done our best to walk and see, but after resorting to an Irish pub for lunch and shelter, we decided to find an indoor attraction. Nearby we found the National Blues Museum and had great fun amongst the interactive exhibits. OK, I am never going to be a blues performer (thank you, Carolyn for showing the evidence on Facebook) but it entertained and amused the life out of me to have some musical play time.

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We managed a further walk to look at some of the beautiful buildings here before the rain became too bad.

However, the view from our hotel of the famous St. Louis¬†Arch and the mighty Mississippi is well worth contemplating. ¬†The once very grand Crowne Plaza is now a little tired but the view….Wow!

Tomorrow is a drive of over 200 miles to Springfield. Hang on, we just left there?!  Ah, right..this one is in Missouri.

Carolyn’s Curios

Driving… Ok, I’ve come to terms wth driving on the right, turning right despite a red light, 11 feet high and a seeming mile long truck after truck but… being followed by what looked like a taxi but turned out to be a Sheriff’s car and later finding myself driving the wrong way on a one-way street which had no signs as I turned (I went back to check!)… Hmm!

Finally, for today, a smile for former students… “Why is it called Pi?”

Well…

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On the road

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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