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Route 66: Chicago to L.A. - Day 1

Chicago, IL to Springfield, IL

After more than a year of planning, Cathy and I and a group of our friends are living a dream by driving Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles.  We left San Diego on May 14 and drove to Chicago over four days.  We spent two nights in Chicago where we enjoyed fabulous deep-dish pizza and a genuine Chicago dog. Then, on May 19, 2011, we began our adventure back to California.

Our first day on The Mother Road was an outstanding one.  To beat the crazy Chicago traffic we left town at 5:30 a.m.  It was amazing just how many other vehicles were already on the road at that early hour.  And, as it turned out, we needed the extra time because, as we pulled into Springfield, it was already dinnertime.

While there were a lot of great sights to see, the thing that made the biggest impression on me was the friendliness of the people we encountered along the Route.  Everyone seemed genuinely interested in sharing their experiences and listening to ours.  Vernette at the Wilmington House Family Restaurant and Betty and Alice at the Atlanta Museum made particularly strong impressions.  I hope this trend continues over the coming two weeks.

Starting at the Beginning

Westbound Route 66 starts at Lake Shore Drive and Jackson Boulevard, right next to Lake Michigan.  However, for whatever reason, the "Begin" Route 66 sign is located on Adams Avenue a couple of blocks from the actual start point.

The Westbound Start of Route 66 in Downtown Chicago (click image to expand)

Blog and Photo Site for the Full Story

I originally planned to post all of my Route 66 road trip photos here in my blog.  But it's very time consuming to insert the photos one at a time and write a story about each one.  Instead, I am going to use a mix of my blog and my photo site.  That will allow me to share more photos and do it in a more time-efficient manner.

Click >>HERE<< for the Day 1 Photos!

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Reader Comments (7)

Hey Mark and Cathy, Hope the Miatta Club has escaped all this terrible weather. Keep safe - the swimming gals are thinking of you!

May 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Perez

So... DAY 1 was May 20th..... what happened to updates on DAY 2 to Day 6?

May 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

I simply haven't had the free time that I thought I would. Even on days we've traveled less than 100 miles we've taken up to 10 hours to do it because there is so much to see and do. Future updates and photos will have to wait until after we get home.

May 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark

Now that's the way to start a Route 66 drive! Right in Chicago rather than in the suburbs. Excellente, as Dora would say!

May 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Brode

Thanks, Doug! I hope you and Gail continue to have a good visit to the USA! And be sure to check the highway conditions on State Route 1. As of right now, 1 is closed (in both directions) at 3.2 miles south of Gorda. You can check California highway conditions using this site:

June 3, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark

I am loving reading about your trip and seeing the photos. Can't wait for more. We leave the UK in 49 days - and counting! Bit worried that it took you 10 hours to do 100 miles as we plan on doing 300 miles a day!!

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Mayes

Thanks, Anne! Keep in mind that we were a group and, generally speaking, a group takes longer at each stop, particularly for lunches and dinners. That said, you should expect to average no more than 40-45 mph while actually driving Route 66. With that in mind, your planned 300 miles will take about seven hours to travel. That won't leave a whole lot of time for stopping. The eastern states (Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma) will be the biggest challenge. Once you get to Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, there are lots of stretches without as much to stop and see. So, if possible, plan to spend more than half of your total days and nights in the eastern three states and then you can rush things along a bit more in the western states. If you are driving all the way to Santa Monica Pier then California will also take a fair bit of time. There are a whole bunch of stoplights on Route 66 from San Bernardino to Santa Monica.

June 8, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark

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