Days 2 & 3 of Route 66: Bloomington, IL to Cuba, MO
Day Two of our Route 66 adventure started out like many days of my life that I wanted to spend outside: pouring down rain. Still, we made it work and utilizing our handy-dandy guidebook, we ventured forth on our first real first day on Route 66.
As they say, a picture is worth 1000 words, and I am too tired to write even 100. So here are the photos from the first two days…
Bloomington, IL: The David Davis Mansion (US Supreme Court Justice from the late 1800s)
The home of Beer Nuts, a treat evidently Adam enjoys
The first official sign we saw for Route 66
Funk’s Grove and their maple “sirup,” straight from the tree. This ain’t Aunt Jemima. They had the friendliest dog in America, who immediately ran up and rolled over. “Scratch my belly, woman!” The Roaming Animal was a big fan of the pure maple “sirup.”
Confusingly, we wound up back in Atlanta. We realized that it was a different Atlanta when we saw the giant Paul Bunyan holding a hot dog, a restored diner called Palm City where the waitresses were NOT screaming at you to hurry up and order, the murals (which are all over their completely adorable downtown) didn’t involve tags or death statements, their historical museum had a pretty awesome horse made out of towels with a cowboy skeleton for no explicable reason, and we didn’t sit in traffic for 5 years trying to get into town.
An old Route 66 filling station.
The world’s largest covered wagon, in Lincoln, IL. Apparently Abe Lincoln was a fan.
Williamsville, IL has a vintage gas station called Die Cast Auto Sales that specializes in stone carving sculptures. The Midwest is so strange. I love it.
We passed a haunted house made out of tractor trailers. Out of season, obviously. So awesome on so many levels.
The Lincoln Memorial in Springfield, IL.
Sunrise Donuts has been turned into a Mexican restaurant. Cozy Dog, home of the original corn dog, was closed. Sad times.
Covered bridge near Glenarm, IL.
We looked everywhere for this Rabbit Ranch that is supposed to be near Litchfield. We drove everywhere. No one had heard of this ranch…they looked at me as if I had antennae growing out of my skull. So we gave up, got a room in Litchfield, and went to the Ariston Cafe, which has been in its present location on 66 since 1935 and run by the same family, the Adams. When the current owner found out we were on our honeymoon, he came over to congratulate us. Then, when we asked for our check, the waitress told us the owner had told her our meal was on the house, which promptly made me cry. Thankfully, the photo of both Adam and me under the sign is blurry because I looked like a blubbering mess.
We were told this was the only pub in Litchfield where a bar brawl wouldn’t break out. The people in IL had been so nice thus far, that was hard to believe.
Abandoned motor court and diner in Litchfield.
Mt. Olive is so quaint your head will explode. Google it sometime if you’re feeling lucky. The Soulsby Shell Station was built in the 1920s and has been immaculately restored.
We found the Rabbit Ranch! It was closed. Damn rabbits.
Incredibly cute winery in Edwardsville, IL, which looks like it will be quaint and then sprawls out to the size of Bowling Green, KY. We heart Edwardsville. We also found the sign for the abandoned Bel Air drive-in just past Edwardsville in Mitchell and the still-running Luna Cafe that actually predates Route 66.
St. Louis, MO, which surprised us with how much we enjoyed it. Especially the Wax Museum in Laclede’s Landing…which I didn’t enjoy at all, but Adam took special pleasure in seeing me scream like a little girl and nearly shove him out of the house because I was convinced one of the wax figures was going to knock on the glass and grin at me. So we promptly went across the street and purchased a flight of sampler beer from Morgan Street Brewery. Tasty. We took home a six pack.
Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard, open since well before our parents were born. So delicious I can’t even stand it. We thought we were pretty awesome pulling up in our car with “Just Married” on the back until an entire wedding party pulled up in a neon van. Way to steal our thunder.
Route 66 Museum, with a 66 Yamaha and the first-ever Missouri Route 66 sign.
The Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos, built entirely by Franciscan monk by hand. They were amazing, but there was a huge pilgrimage of Filipino Catholics having a tent service and we had to be virtually silent. I couldn’t make this up if I tried. The monk died right in front of the statue in the final photo, of exhaustion.
The Jesse James Wax Museum, where they try to convince that Jesse James was never killed, it’s a conspiracy by the government, and he really lived into the 1950s. They will give you reasons. Awesome.
Meramac Caverns. They found a chest and a sword from the 1800s in there and decided that meant Jesse James and the gang hid out from the cops in there. Evidently they shot an episode of Lassie too. They tell the Jesse James story as if it were completely true and the founder of the caverns didn’t invent it to sell tickets. Still living the dream, Stanton, MO.
Bourbon, MO. Their water tower may be one of the greatest things I have ever seen.
We stopped in Cuba, MO at one of the original motor courts and cabins on Route 66, the Wagon Wheel. It had fallen into disrepair but the new owners have lovingly restored it to its original awesomeness. Stone facade and you can park right next to your room. Next door was Missouri Hick BBQ (you better believe I bought that T-shirt) where we had our first taste of Missouri BBQ (deliciously smoked, sauceless) and planned out our next couple of days.
We are exhausted so be patient, but there is plenty more to come!