Day 2: June 20, 2008
Joliet and Back
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The idea of joining the northern tour seemed like a good idea when I first thought of it but at 5:00 AM on Friday I was having some doubts. Five o'clock is the time I had to head toward Joliet in order to make the 8:30 departure. Add a few rain drops on the windshield and it started to feel like I might have goofed. But the rain was soon replaced by sunshine and my doubt disappeared as I "sang" along with John Fogerty. It looked like a good day for a drive.

The starting point was the Joliet Museum and I really wish I had time to explore it. A return is definitely called for. As it was I did have a few minutes to look about the lobby and the gift shop before dashing out like the little car continuously cruising Route 66.

The first stop was at the Launching Pad in Wilmington and that turned out to be the only stop of the day with the starting group somewhat intact. Cruise leaders John and Lenore Weiss provided handouts with directions and attractions and encouraged everyone to stop where they wanted to stop and see what they wanted to see. That's just what we did.

Having somehow managed to have missed it in the past, I wanted to see the two cell jail in Gardner. I was fortunate in following John and Lenore there since the planned unlocking had yet to occur and John had a key.

This was the second stop for a wedding that took place on Route 66 less than two weeks ago. Only after the couple exchanged a second set of vows were they released from their separate cells.

That first photo looks like it could easily have been taken in the mid-fifties when "Tubby" Ambler ran the Dwight Texaco. It is now nicely restored and serves as the town's visitors center. The Java Stop, made from a pair of stacked freight containers, is right across the street. Both are new since my last visit. The windmill has been here since 1896 but this was my first time seeing it. The faux station at the south edge of town has been upstaged by the restored Texaco but it's still pretty cool and, as I said in 2003, it's "the sort of place that makes you feel guilty if you don't stop for a picture".

The restored Standard Oil station in Odell continues to look good and especially so with a few visitors. This is where the first act of the wedding that moved on to Gardner took place. Romantic? You bet!

Several folks stopped for breakfast at the Route 66 Cafe in Dwight but, although my one meal there was great, I decided to go for something new and move on to the Old Log Cabin. They stop serving breakfast at eleven and I messed around gas stations and windmills long enough to result in an 11:10 arrival. So it was the "breakfast of champions", a patty melt and a beer, for me.

This is the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac with a new mural on the outside rear wall. The port-o-let isn't really part of the mural. It and some construction equipment are there as support for the work of installing a new elevator.

Near Lexington, a mile long stretch of 1926 pavement serves as Memory Lane. This is a festival weekend so the gates were open and the lane could be driven as well as walked.

A major restoration project is underway in Atlanta. The building that was home to the Palm Grill Cafe will eventually house a museum, genealogical research facilities, and a modern version of the cafe. A completely new neon sign has been made from photographs of the original.

Efforts to save another Sixty-Six landmark are underway in Lincoln. Much safer under it new roof, The Mill, built in 1929, is still looking for help.

This was my first look at the Pig Hip plaque that was dedicated last fall. The painting of the restaurant stands where the restaurant itself stood until destroyed by fire in March of 2007.

The patty melt breakfast was accidental but a Cozy Dog dinner was planned long ago.

On returning to Litchfield, I discovered the Beatles (a.k.a. The Cavern Beat) performing in the midst of a lot of classic cars right in front of my motel. Down the road just a bit sat "Tow Tater". This is the very truck that John Lasseter spotted in Kansas and which served as a model for "Tow 'Mater" in the movie "Cars". "Tater" is cared for by Four Women on the Route who seem to be doing a lot of good for the town of Galena, Kansas. Kids recognize the truck instantly.

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