My sister, Toby (my little Yorkie) and I set out on May 24th to visit my daughter in Arkansas and my oldest son in Kansas City. I decided to make the drive a little more interesting by experiencing some of the stops along old route 66 via US 55 from Joliet to St. Louis then St. Louis to Springfield, Missouri.

Leaving Ann Arbor we drove west on I 94 to Joliet, Illinois then south on US 55. The original Route 66 begins in Chicago. I’d done a little research and created a list of possible stops and emailed it to to my sister, so she could read about them before we left. I also borrowed a book on route 66 and two James Patterson mysteries from the library to listen to along the way. The book, Route 66 Road Trip by Candacy Taylor,  is chronologically organized by towns and states starting with Chicago. My list started around Springfield, Illinois and went to Springfield, Missouri.

Listening to Patterson’s murder mystery with Alex Cross got us past Chicago with little stress. Ready for a break, our first stop was at Pontiac, Illinois at around 1:00 for lunch at the Old Log Cabin (photo of part of the board in the lobby). There was a bus load of people just finishing up their lunch so the small dining room area was a little full. The waitress showed us to a table and gave us menus. We both ordered a gooOld Log Cabind old fashion BLT. She later brought us two log books, one to sign and one to read. This happened in almost every place we stopped. It was amazing to read all the different entries and where they were from.  These logbooks are an indication of how nostalgic and unique this road trip  really can be. We both signed the book then got back on the road after I took Toby out to piddle. He ate his lunch in his car seat in the car. He’s a pretty good little traveler. This wasn’t his first rodeo.

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We saw a lot of signs like these every time we got off the highway.

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Our second stop was in Litchfield, Illinois at the Ariston Cafe. Started in 1927 and run by the Adams family for over ninety years it “is one of the longest operating restaurants on Route 66” (Taylor 65). It has a great menu at decent prices, however we had both been snacking, so we just ordered drinks and the crunchy portabella mushrooms strips with ranch and blue cheese dressing for dunking. They were delicious. Then for dessert we had to stop at to the A&W for a root beer float to suck on on our way to St. Louis.

We arrived at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch in St. Louis around 4:30. Our room was on the tenth floor and we had a great view of the Mississippi river and part of the arch.  The renovations to the park around the Arch are about a third done, it is suppose to be completed next year. We got unpacked and took a walk along the Mississippi river. The river was really high. just above flood stage. A lot of the river boat docking steps were under water.

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I rode the Arch in 1973 with my husband and youngest son, it is a fantastic experience. Unfortunately it was closed. We ate dinner at Carmen’s Steak House around 8:00 then retired to bed. We’d had a long day.

The next morning when we took Toby for a walk, we walked around the old capital building then decided to visit the Chain of Rocks Bridge and maybe the Blueberry Hill restaurant. We made it to the Chain of Rocks Bridge, but didn’t have time for Blueberry Hill, maybe next time.

Our third stop was The Chain of Rocks Bridge located north of St. Louis at Madison, IllIMG_0763inois. The bridge was built in 1928 and opened for traffic in 1929. It is very unique because the mile long bridge has a twenty-four degree turn as you can see in the photo below. Per the postcard I bought, the initial toll was a whopping 5 cents! And only 25 cents when it closed in 1968.  It sat for thirty-one years before it was made a national hiking and biking trail.

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We had to stop at the Missouri visitor center off  270 to get directions to the entrance. The entrance is on the Illinois side and is a little tricky to get to, but we arrived around 10:30. It was a beautiful day for walking across the bridge, even Toby enjoyed the almost two mile walk.

If we were to get to my daughters in Wesley, Arkansa by 5:00 we needed to get back on the highway. We took US 44 out of St. Louis towards Springfield, Missouri.

Our fourth stop was at the former Times Beach “once the site of a resort community founded in 1925” and is now Route 66 State Park (Taylor 91). The State Park Visitor Center is the “former Bridghead Inn, a 1935 roadhouse that displays photos and Route 66 memorabilia” (91). This also took several wrong turns to find but was well worth it.

The friendly volunteers at the center were very informative.  The photo below shows the highlight of the museuIMG_0779m, a Yamaha Route 66 motorcycle. This special model was only built from 1988 to 1989. We spent way too much time here but it was fascinating. This is also the sight of another bridge that has been closed for a while, however, they are hoping to make it a hiking and biking bridge in the near future.

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We ended up eating our lunch at the picnic table in front of the center then got on the highway again. We would not be able to make any of the stops in Springfield, Missouri I had initially picked that would have to be next time.

 

 

In Springfield we headed south on US 65 past Branson, Missouri to Arkansas. We arrived at the Dobson Lodge around 7:00 for a wonderful dinner of Lasagna and salad. We spent a wonderful fun filled four days with my daughter, husband, and granddaughter.

More to come in my next post!

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