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Route 66: Chicago to L.A. - Day 2

Springfield, IL to St. Louis, MO

After a three-month sabbatical I finally got myself motivated to continue with updates on our Route 66 adventure.  My thanks to everyone for hanging in there and not nagging me too much in the interim.

Our day one overnight was at the fabulous State House Inn in Springfield, IL.

The State House Inn in Springfield, IL (click image to expand)

The State House Inn is located along a pre-1930 alignment of Route 66.  The hotel featured beautiful and very comfortable rooms, as well as much-needed laundry facilities (many of us were on our sixth night since leaving home, those of you with Miatas will understand the limited trunk space available).

Lincoln's Home and Tomb

While I thoroughly enjoyed each and every day of our 14-day Route 66 adventure, day two was particularly special for me because we visited President Lincoln's Home, a National Park Service Historic Site and a real highlight of the trip.

President Lincoln's Home in Springfield, IL (click image to expand)

Lincoln lived in the home from 1844 until 1861 when he and his family moved into the White House.  His home and the four blocks adjacent to his home have all been restored to their 1860's appearance.  It is literally like stepping back in time.

 Lincoln's Neighborhood (click image to expand)After visiting Lincoln's home, Cathy and I drove over to Oak Ridge Cemetary to pay our respects at Lincoln's Tomb.

Lincoln's Tomb in Springfield, IL (click image to expand)

Follow the Red Brick Road

Continuing on the pre-1930 alignment of Route 66 out of Springfield led us to the famous 1.5 mile Red Brick section of Route 66 north of Auburn, IL.  Easily, one of the most scenic and all-together-too-short sections of Route 66.  It's a must-see on every Route 66 itinerary.

Red Brick Route 66 (click image to expand)

A Slight Detour for Lunch

One disadvantage of following the pre-1930 alignment of Route 66 out of Springfield is that it passes west of the town of Litchfield, IL.  Litchfield is home to the famous Ariston Cafe, located on the post-1930 alignment of Route 66.  The Ariston is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the longest-operating restaurant along the entire stretch of Route 66.  A detour east to Litchfield was deemed a must-do by everyone in our group.

The Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, IL (click image to expand)

Enjoying the Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, IL (click image to expand)

We were very glad we drove that 10 miles east to Litchfield!  Our lunch at the Ariston Cafe was fabulous!  Owners Nick and Demi Adam treated us like family.  The Ariston is another must-stop for every Route 66 traveler regardless of which alignment you are following.

It's Rabbit Season

After lunch we headed back west to the town of Gillespie to rejoin the pre-1930 alignment.  That brought us to the town of Staunton, IL, which is where the pre-1930 and post-1930 alignments converge.  Staunton is also where you'll find Henry's Rabbit Ranch.  The Rabbit Ranch is owned by Rich and Linda Henry and is home to rabbits of many shapes and kinds.  Most famous of which is their whimsical tribute to the famous Cadillac Ranch (more about the Cadillac Ranch in a future update).

Henry's Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, IL (click image to expand)I somehow failed to take any photos of the mammalian rabbits at the Rabbit Ranch but I did manage to capture this humorous sign.

Henry's Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, IL (click image to expand)

The Henry's humorous nature is also evident in this yard sculpture tribute to the movie 'Cars'.

Tribute to the Movie 'Cars' (click image to expand)

Turn 22 Degrees to the Right (wish we could have)

From Staunton it was only 34 miles to the Mississippi River and the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.

Chain of Rocks Bridge (photo from Wikipedia - click image to expand)

The Chain or Rocks Bridge was built in 1929 and became part of Route 66 in 1936.  The bridge is famous for its 22-degree turn in the middle.  The Chain of Rocks Bridge was closed and abandoned in 1968 but a refurishment project in 1997 eventually reopened the bridge to pedestrians and bicycles.

Chain of Rocks Bridge - Missouri Side (click image to expand)

Our group visited both sides of the bridge and while we didn't venture very far onto the bridge (it was getting late, rain was threatening, and we had one more stop to make before our hotel), we did take the time to grab a few photos with our Miatas included.  A nice couple from the Netherlands shot this one for us.

Chain of Rocks Bridge - Illinois Side (click image to expand)

Meet Me in St. Louis

From the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge we followed the "City 66" alignment of Route 66 toward downtown St. Louis.  Per the recommendation found in the fabulous EZ66 Guide we left the old city route and briefly joined I-70 southbound to bypass the downtown area.  Shortly after hopping onto I-70 we were treated to our first view of the beautiful Gateway Arch.

Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO (click image to expand) 

A few miles after I snapped that photo of the Gateway Arch it began to rain.  Hard.  All of the Miatas were top-down but we reminded each other (over the CB) that if we kept moving we'd be O.K.  That's about the same time traffic on I-70 started to build and we had to slow down.  Fortunately, the rain stopped just as quickly as it started and we exited I-70 and made our way to the south side of St. Louis and eventually onto Chippewa Street—the continuation of The Mother Road—still relatively dry and cozy.

Frozen Deliciousness

Route 66 traveler or not, no self-respecting visitor to St. Louis should leave the city without stopping at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard.  Ted Drewes is located right on The Mother Road and it's a very popular spot.  The place was hopping on this Friday night with a large crowd at the order windows as we pulled into the parking lot.  Our little caravan of Miatas was greeted with friendly hoots and hollers from the many people scattered about enjoying their cups of frozen custard heaven.

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis, MO (click image to expand)

The frozen custard was tastier than I imagined and I'm glad I don't live in St. Louis or I'd probably be at least ten pounds heavier!  Looks like Jill might have had a bit too much.

Sun Sets on Day Two

Following our delicious treat at Ted Drewes we continued west on Route 66 before eventually breaking away to drop south to our hotel for the night.  We'd traveled approximately 120 miles and it had taken eight hours, an average of about 15 miles per hour.  So much to see and do along Route 66!

Blog and Photo Site for the Full Story

Many additional day two photos can be found on my photo site, The Photo Booth.

Click >>>HERE<<< for the start of day two photos!


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Reader Comments (1)

What is it with that rabbit ranch? Something to scratch your head about.

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRose

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