The Beginning

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My husband, Richard, and I always seem to agree on vacation destinations and what we want to do while on vacation.  I figure that makes us pretty lucky, because some couples have very different perceptions of what a great vacation consists of.  Not that we are experienced world travelers, but no matter where we end up, we always have a great time together.

After we were married awhile, Richard began talking about traveling Route 66.  For the first time ever, I disagreed with his travel plans.  I thought, “No way!  That’s NOT for me!  Why would I want to drive on some broke down road and see what?  Dirt?  Chunks of broken pavement?  An old house falling down?”  I was supportive of his quest, but it was not my idea of fun.

Richard eventually bought two Route 66 related items.  The first was Jerry McClanahan’s “EZ66 Guide For Travelers.”  The second was “Here It Is! Route 66-The Map Series,” by Jerry McClanahan and Jim Ross.  Richard spent countless hours reading the book and studying the maps.  One day, I overheard him tell his best friend that he wanted to travel Route 66 on his motorcycle.  Somehow, his friend thought that sounded like fun, too.  We live in Springfield, Missouri, and his friend lived east of Saint Louis, Illinois.   They agreed to meet in Saint Louis, ride their motorcycles to Chicago, Illinois, then back to Saint Louis.  I was surprised anyone besides Richard thought that trip sounded like fun, but I was happy he didn’t have to travel alone.

In September of 2010, Richard packed his motorcycle with a small amount of clothing and a tent.  I took the above photo of him, handed him the camera, and off he went.  As he drove away, I actually felt sorry for him.  I thought, “He’s always had such a great time on vacations…he’s going to be so bored and disappointed!”

Richard returned less than a week later.  He was excited to show me his photos.  He apologized for not taking very many, while explaining the difficulties of stopping to take photographs while traveling on  a motorcycle.  The first photo he showed me was one of his tent set up on some grass.  The second was another photo of his tent set up on some grass, but from a different angle.  I thought to myself, “Yep!  Just as I thought…BORING!”

Richard's tent

Richard’s tent

The remaining photos were altogether something very different.  Richard showed me a photo of the Standard Oil Station in Odell, a photo of a tiny jail in Gardner, and one of The Polka Dot Restaurant in Braidwood.  There was a photo of a Marathon Station, a red and white striped abandoned diner once called, “Dawg House,” and a very artistically painted “Java Stop” all in Dwight.  Richard showed me a photo of Dick’s on 66 and one of Kicks on 66 Ice Cream Shop, both in Joliet.  Replicas of the Blues Brother’s were on top of the ice cream shop!  Who doesn’t love the Blues Brothers?  I saw a photo of the Gemini Giant in Wilmington; how impressive!  Finally, Richard showed me a photo of a restaurant that resembled a log cabin, located in Pontiac.   He explained the building was originally built facing Route 66, but was later turned to face a new alignment of Route 66.

Five of Richard's Photos

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I found myself beginning to feel a sense of loss for not going on Richard’s trip.  Approximately 10 of Richard’s photos of Route 66 sights initiated my love of Route 66; it was the beginning.  And no, I’m not counting those tent photos.

And so our journey began…

Author: Judy Walker

12 replies on “The Beginning

  • What a great story! I had no idea that it was Richard that sparked the flame of the old road. Interestingly, the first stretch of 66 he traveled was the LAST stretch I saw for the first time. Illinois is beautiful and I look forward to spending some more time there.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read the story! Illinois is very beautiful and I can’t wait to return to Route 66 there to explore more!

  • A great story of a great beginning, Judy. I love it, but it’s kind of like one of the old TV serials. You really left us hanging and anxious for the next chapter!

    • Thank you for reading the story and for your response. Richard really got something started, didn’t he?

  • You two are awesome!! See you next month but if you want a great photoshoot come to Waynesville for Old Settlers Day Jul 30-31.
    Text me if you want more info or decide to come.
    Love ya, Jax
    #getyourpicsonroute66

    • Thank you so much for that! Very sweet of you to say-it was your awesome photos being posted on FB made me say, “I’ve got to meet her!” You have some great photography skills, my friend. I admire your love of your town/area of Route 66 and how you promote it. There needs to be more people along the Route who have town pride like you do…wouldn’t that be great? Keep up the amazing work!

      I’m glad to hear you will be coming over to Springfield for the festival next month-it’s supposed to be bigger than the last time you came! HUGS my friend!

  • Great Story Judy !!! I understand about stopping and taking pictures while on a Motorcycle !!!! Sometimes it’s hard to stop because of time and traffic restrictions !! I’ve done Rt. 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica a half dozen times on my Harley and still haven’t seen it all !!! Granted there many awesome things and places to see, but in my opinion a trip out Rt. 66 is about the People one can meet and the stories they have to tell !!! I am grateful for and very fortunate to have met and formed great friendships with so many great folks all along the Mother Road !!! It’s a great trip to take and I’m looking forward to many more trips in the future !!!! See you On The Road !!!!

    • Thank you Mike, glad you enjoyed it! I agree, one of my favorite things about the Route is her people. I’ve met some amazing folks, made new friends, friends I will cherish forever! (One of my blogs I haven’t shared on FB is about the people; if you ever get a chance, you can read it on my website) I’m anxious for that LA Route 66 trip in November-it’s going to be a GREAT time! Stay safe on that motorcycle, my friend!

    • Thank you very much David, such a wonderful comment and compliment, especially coming from you! You, my friend, are an excellent photographer, and I really admire your work! I appreciate you taking the time to ready my blog and leaving a comment. Additionally, I appreciate your friendship. Safe travels!

    • Thank you Dora! Glad you liked it. One of my favorite things about the Route is meeting fellow Route 66ers, then being friends for life, just like Gary Turner used to say. Proud to say you’re one of mine!

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