By: Maryanne Erikson
Sunday September 7, 2014
Here we are at a Drury Hotel in Rollo, Missouri, a lovely establishment right off the freeway with an outdoor pool and free wifi. We’re in a block of rooms with our delightful group and this was all set up in advance by our fearless leader Rodger Fox who is taking such good care of us! We were amazed when we checked in to discover that our reduced room rate also included complimentary (sort of dinner) food and three drinks (could be real booze, wine or beer). I only qualify the “dinner” because it was a sort of snacky buffet which included hot dogs, mac n’ cheese (like I used to make my son when he was little, out of a box), and even a beautifully labeled “Tyson Chicken Fingers” with BBQ sauce. We decided it was all OK since we never seemed to manage lunch today and we were starving and road tired and didn’t want to go out again to hunt for dinner. So dinner it was! The free drinks really made the whole thing work very well, as did the swim afterwards (except it was too cold for me – Jen did a bunch of laps and I gave her big kudos for that!)
But let me backtrack a bit on the day – we started this bright, glorious late summer blue sky day at 8:00 am in Lincoln, Illinois with the blessing of the bikes and the road – very moving prayer – and again the daily dedications to those who have suffered from cancer. Rodger then gave us the agenda for the first half of the day, which involved some really cool Route 66 history. We were going to traverse a few very rare and old alignments which are not traveled by most tourists. The first one is called the Red Brick Road and it is 1.4 miles of hand-lain brick, completed in 1931 which curves through the tall corn fields near Auburn, Illinois. Stunning contrast between the red bricks and the tall late harvest corn stalks rising like sentinals on either side of the road.
It was challenging following the bikes as there were times when they speeded up so fast we couldn’t keep up and several times Jen’s aggressive east coast driving style was the only way we were able to stay connected to them. We sort of blew it by not having a CB radio so we could be part of their conversations, but “who knew”? Anyway – we persevered and had fun checking out the other big attraction which was the “turkey tracks in the pavement” which were imprinted in the 1920′s when the original concrete was poured and either the local farmer’s turkeys escaped or wild turkeys gave their John Hancocks to Route 66!
Our next fun attraction was Henry’s Rabbit Ranch – a must see for all Route 66 fans. It’s a more modern addition to the route, but boasts a great little souveneir shop with reasonable prices and the cutest rabbit at the cash register that loves all the affection he can get. The funniest thing was the take off on the Cadillac Ranch in front of the store. Jen mused “what are those things Hugos?” – no – of course not – we later discovered their VW Rabbits – duh!!!!
We were fortunate to pick up a copy of the greatest book if you’re planning a Route 66 adventure called “EZ 66 Guide for Travelers”, by Jerry McClanahan. Kudos to the author for the incredible detail he has presented so anyone adventuring here will be able to have a complete experience. We saw in his book that only three miles away was a “giant alert” – which makes my heart pound! Rather than stay with the group, we veered off on our own and we sure were glad we did!
I could have spent a lot more time here taking pictures – and we didn’t really even have time to poke around inside as we knew we had a long journey ahead of us. Hope you enjoy these pics – thrilled to get my 4th Muffler Man picture in just two days. Wonder how many I’ll be able to collect by the end of the journey?
Fortunately for us, there were some other folks from our group there having a bite and they told us about the Giant Ketchup (they say “catsup”) Bottle just a few miles down the road and I was shocked! This was truly one of the things I had hoped to see on this trip – and to think I might have missed it – you really have to do your homework when you travel! So we sadly decided to leave the group and not see the very historic Chain of Rocks Bridge and instead visit the landmark that meant the most to me – and so glad we did. It was magnificent! And hey – it’s for sale if anyone wants to buy it! However shipping could be a bit expensive!
We were very close to St. Louis at this point and could see that old Route 66 actually goes through the heart of the city. But it was getting late in the afternoon and we knew we had a fair ways to go still, so booked it across the southern edge of the city, crossed the mighty Mississippi and into Missouri, tagging back up with #44 which merges with #66. Somehow we happened upon a delightful visitor center at The Route 66 Historical Park and an even more engaging ranger named “Mark from the Park”! He gave us lots of cool tips about our current location including a tid bit about an impression in the old pavement of a corn cob (similar to the turkey tracks) that fell into the pavement way back in the 20′s when they used horses and carriages! He also told us that we could find him on youtube with his own interview about the park! Thank you Mark for your cheerful enthusiasm about Route 66!
We ventured on down the road and I took lots more pictures which I may share at a later time – but for now, it’s late and we have another bright and early start tomorrow, so I’ll leave you with this one and see you tomorrow night with Day Three’s report! Thanks for coming along for the ride!