Day 1, Route 66 Honeymoon – Bloomington, IL and en route!
So today we embarked on our honeymoon road trip, leaving from Bowling Green, KY and heading to our chosen starting point on Route 66 in Bloomington, IL. (Have you been to the real starting point in Chi-town? If you lived to tell the story, you are more adventurous than I and probably have a better healthcare plan.)
A couple of things we learned driving into central Illinois.
1) Deitrich, IL has a much better radio station than Atlanta. DEITRICH. Have you heard of it? Exactly. It’s a primarily German-ancestry community about an hour outside of Champaign, IL, and they have a badass “Dave FM” style station called Jack, about three classic rock stations, a classic country, two pop, and two country. And an alternative. So the Amish have better taste than Atlanta.
2) They are big into recycling in south central Illinois, as well as preservation. Prime example? The revitalization of an old school house near Effingham, IL.
3) Speaking of police, they are much nicer in central Illinois than in Georgia, as in, their hearts aren’t made of cold hard granite from Stone Mountain. We were tailed for about 5-10 minutes by a police car on I-74, but couldn’t get around the millions of Semis trying to beat the Memorial Day traffic. We were playing trivia in the car. “KEEP READING,” the Rondeau hollered. “IT’S ONLY A COP.” “What is another name for black cumin that is also the name of a TV chef?” I asked. “I DON’T KNOW! WTF?” was Adam’s response. Finally, we were able to pass a rig and get into the right lane. The two young cops blew past us and buzzed their siren, waving and giving us a thumbs up. We had forgotten we still have the “Just Married” on the back of our SUV.
Central IL cops have a sense of humor.
Finally, we arrived in Bloomington, IL. Our start to Route 66! Downtown Bloomington has some great architecture.
We couldn’t decide where to grab a drink and some appetizers and plan our next route. We finally strolled into a very unassuming restaurant called Michael’s, right on the square. The staff, in stark contrast to Atlanta, was incredibly welcoming to outsiders and the prices were unbelievable. Maybe we just aren’t used to the Midwest.
Turns out Michael’s is on the National Registry of Historic Places as one of the first places President Lincoln ever made a speech. All the Who’s Who from back in the day were standing right where we were chowing down on our mutant calamari. And yes, if you can see the perspective in the photos, they apparently serve the largest calamari on the planet. Uber Calamari…uber delicious…
After leaving, we chose a hotel room near the interstate, as recommended by the manager of the restaurant. Hawthorn by Wyndham. We got a AAA discount, the room has a four-poster bed, and a super-nice truck driver in the bar bought our drinks for the evening, Thus proving yet again that…despite their Nickelback obsession…people in the Midwest thus far are so much nicer than Buckhead. Which comes as a shock, I know. I have never been to Illinois prior to 12 hours ago, so….short of the Florida couple outside our window chatting in the car and blasting their bass (which has nothing to do with Illinois residents)…I want to adopt the entire central portion of this state.