Day 1: September 22, 2006
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Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge I arrived at the Missouri end of the Chain of Rocks Bridge with enough time to walk out to the mid-river bend. From near there, the city of St. Louis is positioned behind the water intake towers and, in a close look, the riverfront arch can be seen just above and to the right of the tower. Back on land, cars continue to gather for the crossing.

Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge There is a good mix of hot rods and classics from near and far including (no picture) a '58 Mercury from Seattle, WA. This group of Corvettes is from Dayton, OH.

Chain of Rocks Bridge I first met Wes at this spot as we waited to cross the bridge in 2003. Work kept his wife, Dee, at home in Virginia this year so Wes is introducing son Jason to the Mother Road.

Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge At a driver's meeting just before we crossed, organizers Leo Jackson and Lawrence Glasper gave us some information on what they had planned. Leo & Lawrence did this last year with a total of nine cars. There were many times that this year but the pair still did a fine job.

Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge Chain of Rocks Bridge Cars started onto the bridge right around 9:00. I followed Kent & Mary Sue Sanderson and a lot more cars followed me. Many drivers stopped for a picture at the bend including Kent & me.

Route 66 Illinois Route 66 Illinois Route 66 Illinois On the other side of the bridge, Kent pulled over in front of a gas station. I pulled up behind him then realized that my car didn't quite clear the driveway. I put it in reverse to move to the other side of a divider and "suddenly nothing happened". I moved the lever back and forth then forth and back. I pressed hard against it. More nothing happened. After going through the same motions several times I finally had to accept that the car was not going to go backwards. I replayed my memory. I had "pulled through" the parking spot at the bridge. Same thing at the motel and at last night's stop for gas. The last time I could remember using reverse was when I left home. All the forward gears seemed to be working so, after a little discussion, Kent pulled out and I followed.

Mixed in with traveling some nice old two-lane, we verified that the Edwardsville Chevy dealer had, as Kent believed, closed and I called the dealer in Litchfield. The Litchfield service department was busy and shorthanded and offered no hope of looking at the car before Monday. They did supply the number of a dealer in Springfield. In Gillespie, Kent spotted a GM dealer and we pulled in. I had no trouble moving forward and felt it likely that the car would make it to Springfield. The Sandersons continued on while Daley's service department gave my car some attention.

It was no surprise that the service tech, Brian, was not all that familiar with the workings of a Corvette but he did what he could. As his documentation suggested, he tested the electronic reverse lockout and a few other things. He also spoke with Chevrolet support and concluded that the problem was almost certainly internal with no quick fix available. I resumed forward (only) motion.

Route 66 Illinois I continued to follow old Sixty-Six alignments. I missed one turnoff but recognized the old bridge it lead to so figured I'd just turn onto the other end of the loop. That was an almost fatal mistake. I saw the orange sign just as I turned and there before me was a scene designed to strike fear in the heart of anyone with a reverse-less transmission. My view was all but filled with what now seemed a huge sign "ROAD CLOSED AHEAD" sign while a mere thread of old pavement ran by it. I instinctively stopped but really had no choice. I was somewhat encouraged by what appeared to be a gravel ramp leading back to IL-4 but crossed the bridge unsure of my next step. That was a ramp and I probably could have climbed it to the road if necessary but there was something even better behind the pile of gravel. It was an open area big enough and flat enough to turn a circle in. I returned to the main road a much relieved and more cautious man.

Route 66 Illinois Route 66 Illinois Route 66 Illinois Route 66 Illinois In 2005 a Kent Sanderson led caravan had stopped along a road near Nilwood for, as near as I could tell, no good reason. I was too far back to understand that people up front were studying turkey tracks in the old pavement. Back in the 1920s, one or more turkeys had walked through the still wet cement. I had directions from the John Weiss guide book and I was prepared to walk substantial amounts of pavement to find those tracks. Not necessary, I learned. The tracks are now marked with white paint so they are easier, if not as much fun, to find. I continued on the 1926-30 alignments and just had to include another picture of the beautiful brick section near Auburn. I first stumbled upon this section in 1999 and I believe that is when my view of Route 66 started to get a little more personal.

In Springfield, I called the number I had for the local GM dealer and spoke with the friendly and helpful AJ. The topnotch Corvette tech who worked there was out at the moment but might return. AJ suggested I call back a bit later. When I did, he told me to head on over as Rob, the tech, was on his way in. Rob was clearly more experienced with the car than Brian had been and that's not at all a knock on Brian. Brian had dug though everything he had and conscientiously applied all his resources. Rob spoke from experience but the diagnosis was basically the same: It was something "inside". It would take about half a day to remove the transmission and another half day would be required to put it back. The chances of those being different halves of the same day were nil. Any needed parts could probably not even be ordered before Monday. I can make plans to stay in Springfield a while or plan on a forward only drive to Cincinnati. Continuing to be careful picking parking spots will be troublesome and there's no guarantee that another, more vital, gear will not vanish but that seems the best choice.

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