Route 66 - Day 16

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July 13th 2012
Published: July 15th 2012
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Fantastic diner in Springfield... a bit out of the way, but definitely worth it
Today was our last day on Route 66 (for this trip).

We knew it was going to be a long day, so last night we did our 90% preparation plan, and it worked. We woke up at 6:20 (alarm) and left the park at about 7:30. We did not eat breakfast, and instead headed straight for the Charlie Parker's diner, recommended to us by some neighbors (who we shared our fire with).

The diner was fantastic. It looked like an old quansa hut (and probably was) on he outside. Inside it was decked out in tons of memorabilia. There were about 30 tables, reasonably crowded and it was somewhat loud, but the menu was amazing, and the food very affordable. We opted for their famous 18" pancake (just one) and a side of ham (you know, for protein). The pancake came, and it was as big as a pizza, so we cut it up like one and shared. We ate about half... YUM. Great way to start off a long day!
(Tony was convinced he saw Jennifer Lawrence from Hunger Games / X-Men, but after looking at IMDB, he is most likely wrong.)

After leaving Springfield (we chose

One pizza sized pancake.
not to do any of the Lincoln historical sites.. this is a Route 66 trip after all, sorry History teachers everywhere), we headed down 66. Between Springfield and Chicago are quite a few small towns (each with at least one water tower). For the most part, the final alignment of Route 66 (now 4 lanes) bypassed the towns. We tried to drive through towns on earlier alignments as much as possible, and saw some neat downtowns and really cool historical houses. A few times, we ran into construction or got lost. (side note about signage on 66. The further east you go, the more signs there are guiding you along 66. However, don't get complacent... have your guide and your map handy at all times. Sometimes, signs are missing at crucial intersections and it is really easy to get sent in the wrong direction.)

We could tell we were getting close to Chicago, not by the skyscrapers (which were hidden in the rain), nor by the map (well, OK, the map tells us, but ignoring that), but by the sudden increase in building density, expansion of lanes, and degredation of the quality of the buildings. In reality, however, the

Can't.... eat..... any.... more
heavily built portion of Chicago, at least from our vector, was pretty small, compared to other major cities we have visited. Only about 10 miles away from the lake did it become really apparent.

As we approached the end of 66, there was a sudden and dramatic increase in the amount of traffic and pedestrian traffic. We expected some of this at 4PM on a Friday, but this was quite a bit more than we thought (rivalling Manhatten at the same time). We found one of the reasons (a detour around canal work only 5 blocks from the end). Tony maneuvered the trailer through 4 lanes of stopped detour traffic under the amused and sometimes confused gaze of pedestrians and traffic directors.

We finally got to the "Home Home" Stretch, 4 blocks to go, and the traffic only got worse, especially pedestrian. We could not see in front of us due to the vehicles until we got about a block away, where we saw road closed signs, fences, signs, and about 10,000 people ON the road beyond. Yes, folks, it was the Annual Taste of Chicago celebration, complete with food, live concerts, crafts, food, and about 50,000 of

We passed a lot of these type of collectible museum/shops along the way... figured we should get a pic of at least one.
your closest friends... starting right there about 90 feet past the official end of Route 66. We were only able to snap a picture of the Rotue 66 end sign (no way in hell we were going to be able to park), so we tried to get a view of the spiritual end/start of 66 (a park with a fountain, and a monument, we think). But couldn't ... it was all fenced off.

It was OK, really... we were pretty tired, and did not want to fight parking/crowds to get that final picture... so we found our way out of town (you know.. Chicago streets are very skinny, but people get out of the way of a van towing a 20 foot trailer).

Now we were leaving Chicago on a main artery at approx 5PM on a summer Friday, during a thunderstorm. Needless to say, there was a lot of traffic, a few accidents and some very white Tony knuckles. We made it to our campsite at about 8PM (making it a 12 hour adventure today), did the minimal setup, ate some Oatmeal for dinner, and then crashed.

Tony's Trailering Tips - Try to remember, when someone

Almost done with 66... snapping pictures of interesting 66 things on our last day.
needs to go to the bathroom, you do NOT have to find a tiny gas station in the middle of downtown Chicago, squeeze into a space (blocking cars from leaving), and then barely make it out again. You can just pull over for a few minutes on any side street and use THE TOILET IN THE TRAILER (duh).

Michelle's Musings - City street are hard to drive in.

Anne's Anecdotes - Finishing Route 66 means that Navigation is no longer a mile-by-mile occupation.

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19



It's a 66 landmark... someone put a windmill on the front of a building... why is it cool? ???

World's largest Covered wagon. Was voted #1 Route 66 landmark.... I disagree.
cool namecool name
cool name

Anne really liked the name of this road.

Saw this advertised on a billboard, and tried it... great food (Tony had a sandwich on a pretzel roll!)

Eatery stuffed full of cool 50's era memorabilia.
Muffler ManMuffler Man
Muffler Man

One of only a few remaining Muffler Men along Route 66. This one is decked out like a space man.
Race TrackRace Track
Race Track

Don't know what it was called, or where it was exactly... but it was HUGE. At least 3 tracks, one of them equestrian.

This bridge was stuck up and would not let us pass. We went around on a much cooler bridge (no photo)... so there!
Grafi... um.. ARTGrafi... um.. ART
Grafi... um.. ART

going into Chicago, we started seeing great public art on buildings.

Sears tower finally coming into view only a few dozen blocks away (it was obscured by rain prior to this).
The EndThe End
The End

The uncelebrated, abrupt end of Route 66 (I am sure there was something else in the fenced off park across the street.)

We are at the very end of Route 66, there is a park, and we hear a monument.. but it was all closed.
The Real End?The Real End?
The Real End?

At the other side of the park and closure, on 41. This looks remarkably similar to the other end at Santa Monica.

Can't pass through Chicago without getting a shot of the El.

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