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!”
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.
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…