Saturday, August 25, 2012

Get your kicks on route 66

Finally off the mega highways, we had a day of relaxed cruising along America's mother road, and it was all that it's reputation lives up to be. Just like in the Pixar film ‘Cars,’ it was a journey discovering the places left behind after being bypassed by the Interstate road system.

Amy with the Paul Bunyan Giant

My favorite place was the small town of Atlanta, Illinois with the famous giant 'Paul Bunyon' holding a hotdog. We took some pictures and looked around a small display of motoring and historical memorabilia from the past. Also, we meet an old man, friendly as, chatting about the town's past and the history of the old route 66. Just like the movie, the bypassing of the town saw it fall from it former glory, which the nice old man measured in petrol stations, of which there used to be seven, now none! Not sure what his role was, but guess he was just a friendly old-timer hanging around talking to passers-by and sharing his town's story!

The Gemini Giant

 Lunch of course could not be anything other than burgers and lemonade in Pontiac, seconded by some classic ‘Launching Pad’ drive in diner food the next morning. With several ‘free’ museums there was plenty of nostalgia about. Another big man, the "Gemini Giant" also rocked our world!

Abraham Lincoln's Home, Springfield, Illinois
  In Springfield, Illinois we visited Abraham Lincoln's home and neighborhood, which has been preserved and made into a national park. Still right in town, most of the block has been preserved as it would have appear back in the 1800's. We got a tour of the inside of the house and were very impressed with our guide and his enthusiasm for the historic place.

Kankakee County Speedway
 Of course the day had several “where are we going?” moments on the poorly marked winding route, bouncing about on the cracked and potholed roads and “whoops did we miss that town?”moments as well.  But the day wasn’t done even when we had set up camp for the night. Just like in 'Cars', I heard the sounds of roaring engines, and after a little scramble to find out where it was coming from, we bolted down the road to the local speedway for some authentic hillbilly Illinois dirt track speedway. We instantly made friends with some lovely and friendly “hicks” in the grandstand, who bought us drinks, introduced us to some of the drivers, and even insisted on giving us their blanket to stay warm! The cars were fast and noisy and the only beer available was Busch light, but it was still a very memorable evening! Guess route 66 ended up leading us right into real America!

Getting our kicks on route 66

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