The Land of Lincoln

9 May

Leaving St. Louis we passed by Ferguson. It was an immediate return to modern times after living with so much of the past for these last 10 days.

We crossed the mighty Mississippi early and immediately noticed the difference in the landscape.  Trees got leafier, terrain got flatter, and the skies got darker.  Once we got into Illinois nothing could dampen this beautiful country in our beautiful Country.  Rolling hills through farmlands on the backroads of Rt 66 was somehow made all the more special among the raindrops.

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There are scant few sections of the original road through these parts but plenty of nostalgia.

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By midday we had made it to Springfield, Illinois, the capital of the State and the home of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

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We spent an hour in the Museum and it was educational and enlightening.  Interestingly, Lincoln won his first term as President with only 39% of the popular vote.  There were four candidates on the final ballot and as the only abolitionist, the other three split the opposition vote enabling Lincoln’s win.  In the next few years I hope to visit many more of the Presidential libraries around our country.

We found the lovely town of Atlanta, Illinois several miles up the road.  Atlanta has a gem of a spot called the Palm Grill Cafe.  It’s a perfectly restored restaurant that has recaptured its 1935 persona, complete with the uniforms behind the counter.  Where you’re there you’ll meet Luke, the proprietor, and Fonda, who will serve you the best piece of homemade pie you can find.

MSC_6104 MSC_6117Atlanta has another restaurant, this one from 1929 and no longer open, and is presided over by Mr. Bunyan who never goes hungry.

MSC_6091 MSC_6121We dodged the raindrops for the better part of another wonderful day and made for Pontiac, Illinois where we will visit the Rt 66 Hall of Fame next.

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There will be one more post from this trip that we’ll bring you, so until then…

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Meet me in St. Louis…

8 May

Upon hitting the “Queen City” of Springfield, MO the character of the Road has markedly changed.  There is less of the original road and therefore we are more landmark to landmark.  We have spent the last day traveling through the Ozarks, it’s a type of place that those of us from New England don’t see much.  For example, look closely at the signs on this bar at Devil’s Elbow.

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We spent a delightful hour talking with Ramona Lehman, owner of the Munger Moss Motel since 1971.  She and her husband have finally put it up for sale after operating it for over 40 years.  I asked her what she’ll do after it’s sold and her friend shouted over from the other corner of the room “she’ll tell the new owners how to run it!”.  Old habits die hard on Rt 66.

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Of course there are old buildings and gas stations and neon signs along the Road.

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We’ve now covered over 2500 miles  with only a few hundred to go.  My thoughts on the trip are many and I’ll try to put them into some readable condition at the end.  Today we’ll head into Illinois for the home stretch.

We love hearing from you and thanks to those who have left a word or two in the comments section.  We’re watching the weather today and have been thankful that all the severe weather that has passes through has be in the rear view mirror.

Until tomorrow…

7 down, 1 to go.

7 May

OK, no more OK.  I don’t mean its not OK, just OK is gone.  Okay?  We made it out of Oklahoma.  Oh-K.

Today from Oklahoma to Kansas to Springfield, Missouri.  I don’t think you need me to describe the road today. One state to go.  Let’s let the pictures speak n their own.  Your job is to add the color commentary in the comments section.  Thanks and enjoy…

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Sometimes you just need to slow down…

6 May

Well, we didn’t quite make it to Missouri.  In fact, we didn’t get more than about 100 miles in 7 hours.  Made a few stops, met a few people, you know how it goes… But the first stop could have been the most dangerous. I haven’t had a soda pop (as it’s called here) in a couple of years but if I were a sodie-pop drinkin’ type then my mecca would be POPS.  Pops is a new attraction on Rt66 with over a hundred (seems like a thousand) types of pop.  Here’s a few that you may like to see settin’ there on your shelf. IMG_2727-2 IMG_2728-2 IMG_2729-2 IMG_2730-2 IMG_2731-2 IMG_2732-2 IMG_2733-2 IMG_2734-2 IMG_2735-2 These are small towns northwest of Tulsa, OK and next was Arcadia, home of the Round Barn.  So designed n the early 20’s because they though the shape would make it tornado resistant.  Well, it’s still here, isn’t it? MSC_5909 We stopped in at John Hargrove’s place.  John’s an old-timer that restores interiors of old cars.  Today he was working on a 1914 Model T Ford.  He also collects Rt 66 stuff.  Lots of it.  John’s a friendly fellow who can tell stories ’til the day is long.  We hung out for a while, enjoying his company and he ours. MSC_5922 MSC_5915MSC_5913 MSC_5917 MSC_5926 From John’s place we went to Jerry’s place.  Jerry is Jerry McClanahan.  Jerry wrote the book on Rt 66.  Literally.  He is the author if the EZ66 Guide for Travelers.  It’s the book we, and every other Rt 66 driver uses to find the things to find.  Jerry has a gallery in Chandler, OK which is where we found him a stayed for a nice chat.  He told us why Rt 66 has the number 66.  They wanted 60 but Kentucky was using it.  66 was available and that was that.  I think I was hoping for a better story! MSC_5941 After making our way past something that looked totally out of place MSC_5953 We drove the last few miles of the day so Roger could do his Jonah impression.  He’s been waiting for this the whole trip. MSC_5958 And after days of perfect weather the rains came and we got ready for our Cinco de Mayo dinner.  See you tomorrow!  I’m pretty sure we’ll make it to Missouri…I hope.

Remembering days long gone…

5 May

2015-05-04 10-37 page #5I learned something very interesting yesterday at one of the Rt 66 museums we visited.

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If you’ve been following this blog you’ve surely noticed a few old gas stations that I’ve posted photos of.  There are dozens and dozens more.  So, why are there so very many gas stations on Rt 66?  It turns out that most cars built in the 1930s, when the number of automobiles exploded in the US, had a range of only about 70 miles before they had to fill up with gas!  No wonder there’s a fillin’ station just about everywhere you look.

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This stretch of Road that we’ve just come through, from Elk City, OK to Oklahoma City, is the most authentic and beautiful stretch of Rt 66 we’ve seen.  Most of it is the original concrete and you really do get the feel of what it might have been like when Rt 66 was the only highway in America.  I posted today’s photos in an older monochrome tone to help visualize a time now gone.

If you look long enough, you can see the members of the family of this home thinking about packing up and heading west on ’66 to find a new life after their crops have died and there’s no work here.

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The old route does cast its spell on you.  We’ve now been through 5 states with 3 left to go.  Today we’ll likely make it to Missouri and we’ll enter the home stretch of the last few days.  The Road has been good to us but there’s lots more to see.   I hope you’re enjoying the ride and will stick around to see how it ends.  We love hearing from you so drop us a line in the comments section at the bottom of this post.  Thanks.

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Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains

4 May

I must confess that Amarillo wasn’t at all what I excepted.  I was hoping for the cowboy town that I’d romanticized but instead got a smallish city that feels like its trying to be big.  And not doing a very good job at that.  But we were soon back on the Road and back to a simpler way.  The Texas Panhandle isn’t more than a hundred or so mlles across and most of it looks like this.

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There were only two real towns before we hit the Oklahoma border.  The first was McLean, TX.  It’s a windswept could-be movie set.  The big attraction is a barbed wire museum which was

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The rest of it kinda looked like this.

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Next came Shamrock, where, according to the locals we talked to, “nuthin’ happens here ‘cept fer St Patrick’s Day.”  OK book my ticket.  But they do have a very nicely restored old fill in’ station downtown.MSC_5766

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You’ve already seen our ride for this trip, but not everyone travels the same way, of course.  How would you like to spend a week traveling like this?

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Our last stop in the Panhandle was to examine another public art installation.  Not to be outdone by Cadillac Ranch, I give you Bug Ranch.

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And then, like someone flipped a switch, came OH-KLAHOMA and poof it was green!

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The first Oklahoma town is Texola, So named because over the years Texas and Oklahoma have claimed the land under the town.  It should probably be Texoka, but what do I know!  As we meandered down old 66 we stumbled on barrel races,

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put the top down,

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And made it as far as the RT 66 Museum in Elk City an hour after it closed.  So that was our stop for the night.

Thanks for riding along, keep those comments coming (have YOU commented to say HI! yet?)  and we’ll see you tomorrow!

Off…and on…

3 May

From Albuquerque we detoured.  When you are a lilac’s throw from Sante Fe you’ve got to go, right?  So we headed nor’east for a short hike through the slot canyon at Tent Rock and into Santa Fe for the afternoon and night.  IMG_2705It’s a great town and if you haven’t been, you should have been by now.

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And then it was back to the Road.  We put the Spotify back on shuffle and it was another perfect day though New Mexico.

If Rt 66 is about anything, its about cars.  When you travel the cracked asphalt you can just feel the years of wear and tear as Americans of all colors found each other while the West  opened up by road and automobile.  With the wind in your hair (well, your hair anyway) if you close your eyes you can see the cars of yesterday creating the first social network.

In Tucumcari, NM they’re all gathered in one place.  How many of these makes and models can you name?

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The cars, of course, are only part of the story.  The sights on 66 are like nowhere else I’ve seen and as we made our way to the Texas panhandle the visuals just kept a’comin’.

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That’s an art installation called Cadillac Ranch.  People from all over bring their own spray paint and become a little part of history.  With a stiff breeze blowing, we were sure to stay upwind of the nozzles!

The history is everywhere.  As we passed each relic, I though about who might have worked here…

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or here…

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or even here…

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These were businesses along the old Road that vanished when the highway was built.  In other areas, business still thrive.  The ones that serve the touring public.  Like us.

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The sights are everywhere and we marked each one as we traveled in to Texas where, as you’d expect, we received a big Texas welcome.

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Crossing into Central Time we made into Amarillo for the night.  Thanks for riding along with us as we’ll see you on the road tomorrow!