Day 1: June 14, 2003
Almost Missouri



I made a fairly early start and drove into Chicago in a fog. No, I mean a real fog. The kind of fog that kept the rest of the city hidden long after the Sears Tower had appeared. The beginning of Adams Street, right in front of the Chicago Art Museum is as close as you can get to the original start of Route 66 and I managed to briefly pull to the curb and snap this picture of the museum without a legal confrontation. Yes, I'm facing the wrong way but I quickly circled back and started down Historic Route 66 from the beginning. Made it a whole two blocks before encountering a construction crane in the middle of the street in front of Berghoff's and the first detour. But it's a very short one and I'm soon back on route and looking straight up at the Sears Tower. There was physical evidence that I was on the right road within a few blocks and I was headed out of the city just a couple of ticks past 8:00 AM CST.

In Wilmington, I just had to take one more picture of the Gemini Giant. I see I need to be a little shorter and/or park a little better to get him actually driving the car. Next I spotted these Burma-Shave signs just down the road at Godley. "Does your husband Misbehave? Grunt and grumble, rant and rave? Shoot the brute some Burma-Shave."

I grabbed a quite good breakfast at the Old Route 66 Family Restaurant. I don't know that it's all that old but it may be family operated and is certainly one of the businesses using the spirit of the old road to make a living on today's road. I think that is part of what makes the route worth traveling. Even though it hasn't changed much, the station in Dwight is the sort of place that makes you feel guilty if you don't stop for a picture. So, I did. On the other hand, significant restoration has occurred with the station at Odell and there have been awards for a job well done. Here's the way it looked in 1999.

I made a stop at The Old Log Cabin, a building that was jacked up and turned around when the route shifted. Janet, the waitress, told me about a festival, with car show, that was going on in Pontiac so I checked it out. I drove by once, looking for parking then, as I circled back through, a spot opened right in front of me and right in front of the car show. Lots of gorgeous cars that probably cruised 66 in its heyday. That Caddy would have made a very sweet ride down the Mother Road of the mid-50s.

This was the highlight of the day. The Pig-Hip Restaurant had closed in the early 90s and I had actually passed it before realizing that there was a new banner across the building and I thought it said "museum". There wasn't a convenient turn-around but there wasn't any inconvenient traffic, either, so I wiggled my way around the narrow two lane and headed back. What luck. The banner actually read "Musem" but not only was it open and displaying lots of Pig-Hip memorabilia, Ernie Edwards, the man who had operated the Pig-Hip for over 50 years was running the place himself. He told me that some 700 people had attended the grand opening just a week ago and shared a few Pig-Hip (and before) tales with me. A truly delightful man and a truly delightful visit.

Quite a few sections of the original 1926-1930 alignment remain in Illinois including a short section of brick and many more of concrete. The brick road seems to get a bit more attention and is good for 35-40 MPH travel. Much of the old concrete has good sized splits filled with vegetation so that the road sometimes appears to be filled with large green snakes going somewhere. The splits also make 20-25 MPH the advisable top speed in spots.

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