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Route 66 - Illinois

Getting to Route 66

First Picture on Ogden AveI live in Ottawa, Canada. Ottawa is 789 miles (1270 km) from Chicago—which is quite a drive in itself. So, two days of driving were needed to reach the starting point. Bummer. The first day was taken up by driving from Ottawa to Sarnia, Ontario. I got a late start due to a family wedding the day before—a grand event and all the best to the bride and groom!

After announcing my trip, my Aunt Ruth related the following: "Do you know, my parents twice drove to Los Angeles in the very early 1920's, from Toronto. Dad said there were no paved roads beyond St. Louis. It took them 14 days and they got 14 flats. At one point dad had to pull up beside a big concrete culvert so mom could climb up and sit on the culvert to sew the roof of the car together....it had split at the sides. With a needle and canvas thread! The second time, they had all their worldly possessions in the car and the car broke down a few miles outside of LA. They sold the car and its contents for enough money to buy their bus fares into the city! My grandma and 2 uncles had emigrated to LA in about 1922 and they were going down to join them. Dad never did get a decent job there so they headed back home (Toronto) both times." Hopefully, my trip goes a little more smoothly.

Just before I left I discovered a bulge on the sidewall of one the tires on my MINI. Both the dealer and an independent tire store said it was due to impact damage and therefore not covered under warranty. The final cost for the replacement tire, mounting, balancing and tax was $470 Cdn!!! Just what I needed—but I'm glad I found it before the trip.

Gemini Giant - Wilminton, IllinoisThe second day saw me reach Chicago at around 3 p.m. after passing through Michigan and Indiana. The roads into Chicago, even at that time of day on a Monday are choked to the point of standstill. It took almost two hours to reach Adams Street and Lake Shore—the start of Route 66. But I made it and was ready to start my trip!

Through the Windy City

It was impossible to stop for long enough at the actual start of Route 66 due to traffic, parking regulations and a vigilant police officer. So the first picture I got was further down Adams Street just before the turn off onto Ogden Avenue towards Joliet Road and the town of Joliet. This part of Route 66 is quite well marked and except for a detour around Joliet Street due to construction it was fairly easy going.

I stopped for dinner at the first real Route 66 landmark I came across—the Launching Pad Drive-In with the huge Gemini Giant out front. The restaurant is in the town of Wilmington, Illinois. I had the Catfish Basket which was two pieces of fish and fries as well as a different kind of coleslaw. It was all quite good.

My night is being spent in the small town of Braidwood, Illinois which is just southwest of Wilmington. The place is small, cheap and clean—everything I look for in a motel.

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