We’re On Route 66, the good, the bad, the downright ugly

Well… we started back toward San Diego yesterday.  Trying to find the parts of Route 66 in Chicago to follow out of town pretty much proved to be a bust.  There were events happening near downtown Chicago that prevented us from turning into the city on the roads we needed to follow.  We ended up kind of circling around the city to the south and picking up the highway out of town and on to St. Louis.

We stopped in Springfield, IL to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  That place is awesome!  I wish we’d had a full day to spend here.  Unfortunately since most of the museum is sponsored by commercial interests, they don’t allow photography in most of the museum areas.

We made good time the rest of the day and drove almost all the way to St. Louis.  We found another Best Western to stay at, and actually got the last available room.

This morning we drove through St. Louis and crossed the Mississippi for the second time this trip…  We took and hour or so to stop at the St. Louis Arch and grab a few pics!  We’ve been exceptionally lucky in that every time we’ve visited a landmark where we wanted to take pictures the weather has co-operated splendidly!  Storm clouds part, the sun comes out, and blue skies peek through fluffy white.  It was a great day to visit the Arch.

Back on the road after visiting the Arch we tried picking up Route 66 as it left St. Louis as part of State Route 100.  Unfortunately the locals seem to have decided to just route the road through the business district of the suburbs.  We passed every conceivable type of business on our way out of St. Louis other than those that could be directly related to Route 66.  Not to mention all the stop lights and traffic along the route sure didn’t make it very fun.

We eventually merged back into the interstate and made good time for most of the afternoon.  All along this segment of the interstate pieces of old Route 66 can be seen right along side the highway.  In many places it is used as a frontage road giving access to local businesses and homes.  In others it’s little more than a dirt track used by farmers to get between fields.  There were even strange stretches where the road would go for maybe 200 yards, then abruptly end with a bunch of “road closed” signs only to pick up again 50 yards further on and run a mile or two before another bunch of “road closed” signs would interrupt it again.  In one place the old route dips below the interstate where it is buried by the roadbed of the interstate itself only to come out in a park on the opposite side and dead end at a collapsed bridge over a small river.  It was strangely sad.

Later in the afternoon, Peter found a long stretch of road that followed the old Route 66 path, so we left the interstate to drive the rest of the way to our today’s destination on this alternate piece of road.  It was almost magical to be away from the interstate driving down what could only be described as a “country lane” that after a few twists and turns went straight for mile after mile.  There was still traffic here, but much of the commerce that once existed along this stretch of road had closed down.  Probably to move closer to the interstate.  This didn’t seem to bother the farms or cows we were passing any.

We’ve reached our destination for the night at the Best Western – Precious Moments Hotel in Carthage, MO.  This place is huge and just a little odd, but almost deserted unlike the hotel we stayed at last night.  Probably has more to do with it being Sunday night than anything else.

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