Day 4: July 28, 2012
Beyond the River
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I spent Friday night at the Innkeeper in Hamel, Illinois. I found it clean and comfortable and there was even a pretty nice view from my room. I picked it based on some good reviews and comments and was not disappointed. But, now that I've assured you that it was a decent place to stay, I just have to tell you about a conversation that took place as I checked in.

I'd just started filling out the registration card when a fortyish couple came in. I stepped aside so they could speak to the clerk.

He: "I'll wait for him to get done."
She: "Well, I've got a question. Do you sell X-rated movies?"
Clerk: "No."
She: "So you only rent them?"
Clerk: "Yes. With a room."
She: "How much?"
Clerk: "Will you be checking out today or tomorrow?"
He: "Today."
Clerk: "Check out by 10:00 and it's $35 flat."
He: "Want to do that?"
She: "That's kind of expensive. I'd rather spend the money on..."
...and they headed out the door to spend the money on something I couldn't make out. Based on some hints from the clerk, I think they may only rent out some of the first floor rooms to the short time trade but I'm not certain. As I said, my room was fine. I guess it's good to know there are options.

I stopped by Henry's Rabbit Ranch Friday evening but it was after 7:00 and, seeing no obvious activity, drove on. It turns out Rich was still there and a knock on the door would have been OK but a phone call and a quick drive up I-55 worked well this morning. Rig Red is the Ranch's official greeter but his real talent is conserving energy -- his own. That is one mellow bunny.

After passing it several times, I decided that I ought to check out the Mustang Corral on this trip. It didn't do a whole lot for me. Is there no Camaro Stockade on Sixty-Six? I grabbed quick pictures of familiar signs at the long closed Bel-Air Drive In and the not yet opened Luna Cafe and in between patronized a place I've considered in the past. The Itty-Bitty Restaurant is small but not as small as what the name evoked. There are chairs for twenty or so and a half-dozen chairs at the counter. I sat at the counter where I chatted with servers Kitty & Courtney and customer Bill. I also found time to down a very tasty omelet. A friendly place with good food. Should have stopped in sooner.

I paused for on the Missouri side of the Mississippi for a shot of the Chain of Rocks Bridge then did drive-bys of the Eat-Rite Diner and the Donut Drive-In. But I had to come to a complete stop for a Concrete at Ted Drewes.

Another tower that every tourist is obligated to photograph.

When I finally found a Maid-Rite open on the Lincoln Highway, I made much of the fact that I had not found one open on either the National Road or Route 66. So, when I saw that the one in Rolla, Missouri, was open, I figured I better stop. Like the Marshalltown Maid-Rite, the Rolla Maid-Rite was close but not quite the same and, therefore, not quite as good as what I grew up on. Nice try, though.

John's Modern Cabins are still there but they become a little less there with each passing day.

It's a patriotic crowd at the Elbow Inn. American flags are flying outside and in.

Stone cabin walls do resist time better than wood. These near Lebanon, Missouri, will likely outlast those two panels previous but they are no less doomed. The structures are fading fast and many of the stories are already gone.

I've only stayed at this Route 66 icon once before and have really been looking forward to this stay. So were about twenty Harley's worth of Norwegians and several others including folks from Germany and Australia. My room, with lots of Jeff Meyer photos on the wall, is here. The picture of Bob and Ramona was taken in the morning before I left. Although they moved together and held their smiles when I asked for a picture, I think they looked just about that happy all the time we were talking. A wonderful couple and a wonderful place.

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