Day 1 of our Route 66 Road Trip was from Chicago to Springfield. We started off the road trip with a good breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s. If you are doing a Route 66 trip, start or end it at Lou Mitchell’s! The food was excellent! And when they seat you at a table, everyone gets a donut hole and the ladies and kids get Milk Duds!We then drove to find the Route 66 start sign to snap the obligatory photo. Yup, there’s the Mister and the Volvo at the start.
And then we were off!
Our first stop was Henry’s Drive-In with it’s hot dog sign in Cicero, outside of the city. Across the street was an awesome Robin Hood Mufflers sign.Then we came across our first muffler man, the Launching Pad’s Gemini Giant. The Launching Pad went out of business, but luckily it’s muffler man is still there. While photographing and sketching the Gemini Giant, we encountered our first character of the trip. Two men pulled up in an old person’s car. The driver got out and introduced himself to us as Sticks. Or maybe Stix. I’m not sure. He told us that he is a bookie, that he used to work construction, but he had an accident, and is now on disability. The guys that he used to work with now place bets with him and he “gambles hundreds of dollars.”
We then drove by some of the first billboard advertising for Meramac Caverns which would advertise on the sides of barns.
Next up was Tall Paul in Atlanta, Illinois, holding a hot dog. He was pretty cool. He had been moved to his new location in order to “preserve” him when his former residence was sold.
We then rolled through Lincoln, Illinois. They seriously like their Abe Lincoln there. We stopped at the World’s Largest Covered Wagon which is manned by a large, law-reading Mr. Lincoln. Yes, the world has a largest covered wagon, and steering it is Abraham Lincoln.There was also an awesome vintage neon sign somewhere near Lincoln for The Tropics which was unfortunately, shut down. The town also has a serious Lincoln mural collection. I was yelled at by a man who rolled out of a bar after I was taking some mural and wall photos. I was almost back to the car when he started yelling, “Hey, Hey! Whatchu takin’ pitchers fer?” I shit you not. He said it like that. When I didn’t answer, he whipped out his flip phone and started taking photos of us. The Mister wanted to explain to him that I was taking “art photos,” but I told him to forget it, that the man was drunk and crazy and I didn’t want to deal with it.We then rolled into Springfield, our stop for the night. We stayed at the State House Inn which was recently remodeled in a Mid-Century Modern, Mad Men style.
Stay: State House Inn, 101 E Adams St, Springfield, IL 62701. (217) 528-5100