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It is finally time for me to explore Route 66!

 

My sons and I always take a Spring Break trip on the years where it's my turn to spend that week off with them. They're 16 and 13 and are beginning to build their own lives, which sometimes conflicts with the things I'd like to do as a family, so who knows whether there'll be a Spring Break trip for us in 2015. So I thought we should go for the gusto this year!

 

We're dropping my dog off with family in South Bend the weekend of 3/30-31 and will spend the rest of the next week on the road. I'm not sure yet whether we'll start Sunday the 30th or Monday the 1st; either way, I expect we'll skip trying to drive in Chicago and pick up the road somewhere beyond Chicagoland, maybe Pontiac or something. Because for once, this won't be a trip about completism, about seeing every old alignment -- it'll be about seeing the as much of the country as my sons and I can fit into a week.

 

I want to stay in mom-and-pop motels as much as possible, and want to make sure there's time to stop for all the things to see. I have in the back of my mind doing on the order of 300 miles per day, give or take, depending on where I can arrange accommodations. And I want to be back in South Bend to get the dog on Saturday, April 6, so we have to stop and turn around on Friday, I imagine, and find a speedy Interstate or two or three.

 

Does 300 miles per day sound like it would give us enough, too little, too much time to take things in?

 

-Jim

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300 miles a day seems a reasonable goal to me. Since it was interstates (I-55, 44, 40) that made US-66 unneeded, you can usually use a semi-parallel expressway to leap ahead if required. There are, of course, guides that can be recommended (which you probably know about and may already have) and plenty of knowledgeable folks on this forum. Getting more advice than you need, want, or could possibly use might be the real problem. Route 66 is certainly not unknown to you and I'm guessing there are a few icons at the top of your or your son's lists. Center your planning around them. For motels that you absolutely positively want to stay at, you should probably make reservations before leaving home. For most, I doubt (but certainly can't guarantee) there is much of a problem in early April.

 

Now, to get that "more advice than you need" started, I completely agree with your decision to avoid Chicago but suggest starting a few miles before Pontiac. Seeing the Gemini Giant in Wilmington would give you and the boys a "we're on 66 now" kind of moment and small towns like Braidwood, Dwight, and Odell give you a nice feel for the old days without requiring a lot of time. Starting in Joliet would enable you to check out the very good museum there but, if your teenagers think that one museum a day is enough, I believe the one in Pontiac would be a better choice.

 

Be sure to come back with questions as details develop.

 

When I was 16 with a brand new license, my Dad took me and my 13 year old sister to Washington, DC. He wasn't really an old roads fan (of course the roads weren't so old then) so it was all expressway going east but we did get on some real twisty Virginia two-lane going home. I got to drive a little in both directions which made the trip even cooler. I'm sure your oldest has a much better appreciation for the old road than I had but I bet his appreciation of holding the steering wheel is much the same. Try not to be too nervous or at least don't let it show too much.

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I agree with Denny - definitely start in Joliet. It's a great town.

 

300 miles a day on average is pretty good and it will allow you to hit the small towns through Illinois and Missouri. If it were just me, I'd skip the larger cities (St. Louis, both Springfields, Tulsa, OKC, etc). They're nice to explore, but are HUGE time eaters. Seek out the old, rural alignments and just enjoy yourself.

 

-Eric

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Jim,

 

What a great trip plan!

 

I know nothing about Route 66 in that area, but I do recall my last couple of transcontinental trips. For my money, 300 miles a day is pushing it, especially if you want to stop and visit places, and make acquaintances. It might be OK if you get on the road by 6AM, but fewer miles and more stops makes, in my mind, for a more enjoyable road trip.

 

I guess my opinion would be to let circumstances and interests dictate distance traveled. If a young man wants to stop and look with his dad, it is golden, and miles mean nothing. It won't be the miles that they remember. Of course you know that.

 

It's smiles, not miles that count!

 

Dave

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Mobilene,

I can't offer much advice on what to see on that end of 66 (unless you plan on gettting as far west as Arizona) but I can offer my 0.02 worth on how to make it a memorable trip for both yourself and your teenage sons. My experience has been that the dynamics of a road trip changes when they get into the mid teen years, especially if they are able to drive.

keep them involved in the planning and navigating. The night before, or at breakfast before hitting the road, talk about what's ahead, what looks like a worthwhile stop, sidetrips, etc. and get feedback from them to judge their interest. Everyone is more open to the adventure if they have a say in where they're going. I'll bet you find as the trip goes on that your interests will sync up.

Also, as you probably know their interests, pre-identify places that they would want to go. With teenage boys any auto museum, air museum, or a military museum is probably a safe bet. It's important to do your homework before the trip so you can throw in a few surprises.

Know when to ease up. On all of my trips I took with my son I found there was a point where the enthusiasm wanes and you need to lighten up on the accelerator. When you see road weariness set in change up the schedule and let them sleep in, decrease the mileage for that day, go see a movie, or whatever it takes for them to recharge their batteries a bit. Worse thing you can do is keep pushing on when they aren't into it.

Music. If you don't have one already get an iPod adapter that you can play through the car stereo. Even if you don't care for what they are listening to sharing the noise is better than each passenger in their own world. Maybe they will even let you play some of your tuneage.

Find an isolated stretch of road and give the 13 year old a few minutes behind the wheel. I did this a few years ago on the Lincoln in the Utah desert with my then 13 year old son. Last year I gave my 14 year old daughter a chance at a few miles of abandoned 66 east of Painted Desert. Both know exactly where they where the first time they were behind the wheel.

Have a great trip. I'm positive you and your boys will have a trip that will be remembered for a long time.

Roadhound

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Everybody,

 

Thanks for all the great responses!!

 

Ok, Joliet will be where we start. And maybe I'll back off to 250 miles per day to give us more headroom. And I really like the idea of not stopping in the bigger cities.

 

I'd love to totally wing this trip, staying in hotels when we run out of energy or daylight, whichever comes first. But of course then we could find ourselves in right stinkholes, or unable to get a room. But more importantly, I need to give my ex an itinerary including where we're staying each night. So I'll plan our overnight stops in advance.

 

I especially appreciate the advice around making the most of this with my sons. My 16-year-old won't have his license by the time we go but he does have his permit and I'll let him drive some. I absolutely love the idea of letting my 13-year-old have his first driving experience on a lonely stretch of 66 and I'll definitely make that happen. I'm also grateful for the advice to plan loosely before the trip and then start each day planning the stops together -- and to watch for road weariness.

 

Our last all-road Spring Break trip was what I like to call the Indiana History Tour, six years ago. They got kind of tired out on about day 4, but I had an itinerary, by God, and we kept to it. I think we were all glad to be home when it was over.

 

-Jim

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It looks like a couple of hours on the expressway will get you from South Bend to Joliet so I'm guessing that will just be part of your first day with no extra "staging" to launch on 66. If that's the case, then the Route 66 Hotel and Conference Center on the south side of Springfield might be a good first night's target. It's about 150 miles from Joliet and can be reached from the expressway without churning through downtown Springfield. Pick up I-55 north of town then cut back on Old 66 for about 2 miles at the south edge. It's a former Holiday Inn and not a mom-n-pop but it is on the route and embraces that fact with lots of 66 themed stuff on display. They used to offer a $66 rate to travelers on the route but I can't say whether they still do. Another plus is that it's within walking distance of the Cozy Dog Drive-in. As you no doubt know, that's the Waldmire family restaurant and, assuming you stopped at the museum in Pontiac, you will have seen Bob's VW bus and school bus, and the boys might enjoy seeing another one of his hangouts. Even if they don't get into Bob Waldmire history, a couple of nice healthy Cozy Dogs is a great way to end a day on the road.

http://www.rt66hotel.com/

 

A crude check shows Lebanon, MO, about 250 miles from Springfield. Probably a little more after circling St Louis. Lebanon is home to the quintessential Route 66 mom-n-pop motel, the Munger Moss. If that turns out to be a little too far, the Wagon Wheel in Cuba, another classic independent, might work.

http://www.mungermoss.com/

http://www.wagonwheel66cuba.com/

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Denny,

 

Thanks man -- accommodation recommendations was where I was going next.

 

Spring Break is 3/30-4/7 for us. I figure we will go to South Bend Saturday 3/30. But 3/31 is Easter, and I'm not sure whether it makes sense to start our trip on that day because it's a holiday. Would the tourist attractions even be open? I'd like to start on 3/31 because it gives us an extra day on the road, though. What do you think?

 

Fallback plan is to drive to Joliet late afternoon on 3/31 and start our journey from there on Monday 4/1. (Any motel recommendations in Joliet?) I was thinking about driving the Lincoln Highway from South Bend to Joliet! Anyway, starting Monday morning from Joliet would mean that we could get to St. Louis on the first day, but it would make the Munger Moss only about 160 miles away on day 2, which is probably too short of a day. I'd sure like to stay there if I can swing it, though.

 

Maybe Joliet to Carlinville, IL on Monday, then Carlinville to Lebanon MO on Tuesday? Then Wednesday we could get to Tulsa OK, and Thursday could get us to Sayre, OK, the last outpost in OK before TX. Friday morning we'd drive the old road into Texas to say we did it, maybe going as far as Shamrock, and then hop onto the Interstate for the two-day trek back to South Bend. We'd stay there overnight and head back to Indy on Sunday.

 

-Jim

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A shot gun response:

I tend to forget that the Cozy Dog is closed on Sundays so my idea of a first night in Springfield wouldn't work for a Sunday (which is what I was thinking) if you want to eat at the Cozy Dog (which maybe you don't). I had a Sunday start in mind because I'm all for spending as much time on the road as possible.

I've no motel recommendations in Joliet and I see nothing listed at Ron Warnick's place (http://route66news.com/lodging-on-route-66/). Ron's Route66News.com is a good place to watch.

Do you have specific attractions in mind. Many of the "attractions" aren't really active things that need to be open. Examples are the old gas stations in Dwight & Odell, the brick pavement near Auburn, and the 1920s concrete & turkey tracks near Nilwood. They never close. Technically, I guess the Dwight station closes since it is open on occasion as a welcome center but it's closed more than not and can be enjoyed either way.

 

The 66 museum in Pontiac is, to me, a must see. They advertise being open seven days a week but you'll want to check specifically about Easter if needed.
http://il66assoc.org/attraction/route-66-association-hall-fame-museum

 

There are a couple of possibilities in Carlinville if that's where you end up for a night. I was satisfied when I stayed at the Magnuson with a group about a year ago and the Carlinvilla gets good marks.

 

I can't bring myself to recommend that anyone NOT stay at the Munger Moss but it can be necessary. If another hundred miles would help, give some thought the the Boots in Carthage. I managed to stay in both last trip but it took both planning and dawdling to pull it off.

http://bootsmotel.homestead.com/

 

 

On the other end of your route I don't know much about Sayre. If you don't have anything in mind and think you can work in another fifty miles, there is a good mom-n-pop, The Cactus Inn, in McLean, TX.

 

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Denny,

 

I don't have specific attractions in mind, at least not yet. I bought a tourist's guide to the road and will be marking it up in the days to come. But I want to pick only maybe one or two must-see things for each day and let the day kind of unfold as it will beyond that. Let the boys pick some things each day while we're on the road.

 

I do want to see the museum in Pontiac, though, and will call to see if they're open Easter.

 

Looks like motels west of Tulsa are slim pickens. We'll have to see how that shapes up.

 

-Jim

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Yeah, you've got the Wagon Wheel, Munger Moss, Rail Haven, Rest Haven, and Boots so close that you can't possibly stay at more than one or two (I've yet to stay at either of the Havens) then a rather dry stretch for mom-n-pops. There is a decent independent, Route 66 Motel, near Afton that I've stayed in and the Skyliner in Stroud gets good reviews though I've not stayed there myself. There are the normal chains around both Tulsa and Oklahoma City and Tulsa does have the historic, cool, and pricey Campbell Hotel.

 

Regarding that Missouri cluster, you might be able to double your pleasure by working one of them into your return drive.

 

Whether you know it or not, Afton Station is an absolute must-stop. Failing to stop there would be something that neither the Bremers or I would ever let you forget.

 

If time permits, the boys might like the military museum that's connected to the Route 66 museum in Pontiac, IL, and the Pontiac (the car) museum a few blocks away.

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Ok, the itinerary framework is set. As much as possible we're staying at independent motels, but in a couple places that was either not possible or not advisable.

 

Getting to 66 via the Lincoln Highway:

Sunday 3/31: South Bend, IN to Joliet, IL. Motel 6, woo hoo.

 

The Route 66 Tour:

Monday 4/1: Joliet, IL to Carlinville, IL. CarlinVilla Motel.

Tuesday 4/2: Carlinville, IL to Lebanon, MO. Munger Moss Motel.

Wednesday 4/3: Lebanon, MO to Tulsa, OK. Desert Hills Motel.

Thursday 4/4: Tulsa, OK to Sayre, OK (but we hope to get as far as Shamrock, TX, then double back). AmericInn.

 

Superslabbing It Back Home:

Friday 4/5: Sayre, OK to Cuba, MO. Wagon Wheel Motel.

Saturday 4/6: Cuba, MO to South Bend, IN.

 

I bought a new used car in November, a 2006 Ford Focus, and so we'll see how she handles on a road trip!

 

I'll be researching the potential daily stops between now and the time we leave. Thanks for the tip about Afton Station -- we'll hit it, don't you worry.

 

-Jim

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Looks good overall but I suggest you rethink the Desert Hills. I had a very satisfactory stay there in 2007 but that seems to have been the high water mark. The long term trade that the place had been surviving on was still there but a few rooms had be redone and the owner talked about continuing with that and pursuing the Route 66 business. He was probably sincere but it didn't work out that way. Reports about the hotel have been getting worse as time goes on. This TripAdvisor thread from October offers some recent discouragement. I'll make some queries for alternatives but don't expect much since the subject has come up before. You may want to consider making that day a little longer or shorter or make do with a chain.

 

I've stayed at the Wagon Wheel and the Munger Moss and both are excellent. The CarlinVilla gets good reviews and is on my to do list. I'm not familiar with the Americinn but it has some really good reviews at TripAdvisor.

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Denny, thanks for the warning about the Desert Hills. I researched it but didn't find more recent comments like the one you linked me to. Yeah, sounds like a place to avoid. I'll end up booking a chain motel in Tulsa instead, since the rest of the trip's stops are set. -Jim

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A chain might be your best bet. It seems the closest recommended independents are the Will Rogers (Claremore, 20 miles east), Chelsea Motor Inn (Chelsea, 40 miles east), and the Skyliner (Stroud, 50 miles west).


Mentioning Stroud reminds me that there is an Ozark Trails obelisk on an old gravel alignment west of town that may not show up in tourist guides but which you may want to see. It's at N35° 43.4505' W96° 41.9068'. If you or the boys are Cars fans, you probably know that Stroud is home to Dawn Welch and the Rock Cafe.


I could probably assume you plan on driving at least one of the nine-foot wide sections near Miami, OK, but will mention them anyway.

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Denny,

 

Impressive knowledge! I wonder if there is a retirement career path as on call Trip Planner?!

 

I have no knowledge of the route, but I thought for a passing moment that I would look up old stuff along the route in my “archives,” but I concluded that tumble down artifacts are unlikely to catch the interest of a teenager, even if “Pop was on board.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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The Claremore Motor Inn had very good reviews on TripAdvisor and also on route66motels.com, so I booked there. It will make for a shorter day 3, but we can always overshoot and double back if we want to.

 

I've been going through the Route 66 attractions book I bought and I can see how we can easily spend more time stopping for things than we will have time for, at least in IL and MO and into OK. Past OKC, things seem to thin out considerably. So I'm less concerned that my day-4 leg is longer now.

 

Hey, wow, my 66 directions guide does call out that dirt alignment! I do want to drive a few of the earliest alignments for my own sake and as a bit of a history lesson for my sons, but their tolerance for that stuff has usually been pretty thin. For example, I took 'em out to the abandoned US 40 bridge west of Plainfield on Saturday, but they were far, far more captivated by the hidden, forgotten cemetery just to the northeast of it.

 

-Jim

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Jim,

 

I sent you by e-mail the itinerary/log of the Route 66 trip that my wife and I took last summer from Joliet, IL to Arcadia, OK. I put each day on a separate tab of the Excel workbook. What you might appreciate is that I have the exact GPS coordinates of every attraction along the way, mostly in order.

 

I did got a lot of the coordinates before the trip, and made updates after I returned. Having these coordinates was really helpful when trying to find some of these obscure locations. After each point of interest, my wife would key in the next one while I drove.

 

Anyway, I offer this log in the interest of helping you not to miss anything. If there’s something you get stumped while looking for it on the road, the coordinates should help.

 

You also will get to see how much money we spent and what we ate, but who doesn’t want to know that?

 

If anyone else is interested in it, just private message me with your e-mail address.

 

Take care,

Chris

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Chris,

 

I got it -- thank you! It looks like you took a slower trip -- i.e. you drove fewer miles every day than we will. I don't anticipate us stopping for everything there is to see -- but your guide will help us not miss anything we want to see! Thanks!

 

-Jim

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Ok, the itinerary framework is set. As much as possible we're staying at independent motels, but in a couple places that was either not possible or not advisable.

 

Getting to 66 via the Lincoln Highway:

Sunday 3/31: South Bend, IN to Joliet, IL. Motel 6, woo hoo.

 

The Route 66 Tour:

Monday 4/1: Joliet, IL to Carlinville, IL. CarlinVilla Motel.

Tuesday 4/2: Carlinville, IL to Lebanon, MO. Munger Moss Motel.

Wednesday 4/3: Lebanon, MO to Tulsa, OK. Desert Hills Motel.

Thursday 4/4: Tulsa, OK to Sayre, OK (but we hope to get as far as Shamrock, TX, then double back). AmericInn.

 

Superslabbing It Back Home:

Friday 4/5: Sayre, OK to Cuba, MO. Wagon Wheel Motel.

Saturday 4/6: Cuba, MO to South Bend, IN.

 

I bought a new used car in November, a 2006 Ford Focus, and so we'll see how she handles on a road trip!

 

I'll be researching the potential daily stops between now and the time we leave. Thanks for the tip about Afton Station -- we'll hit it, don't you worry.

 

-Jim

 

 

Looks like a great itinerary, Jim! Hope you all enjoy the trip. Wish I could join you!

 

:)

 

 

 

 

Cort | 39.m.IL | pigValve + paceMaker + cowValve | 2 MCs + '79 & '89 Caprice Classics
CHD.cars + RoadTrips.hobbies.RadioShows.us66 = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort
"Promises mean everything" __ Everclear __ 'Wonderful'

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meon66.jpg?w=600

 

Here I am, crouching in the middle of a very long stretch of ca. 1930 concrete Route 66 in Oklahoma. This concrete began in El Reno and ran mostly uninterrupted (but for asphalt patches and a couple miles where US 281 was laid over it) to about Weatherford, 40 miles away -- and then that concrete ran alongside the Interstate (with the usual interruptions because of exits) all the way to Elk City, another 40 miles away. 80 miles of 1930 concrete! I was in heaven.

 

We did a fair amount of the touristy stuff too. I'll have more to say about it in the days to come -- I'm blogging about it and will link to those posts here.

 

-Jim

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Jim,

 

Shameless self promotion! This isn't a dating service!! :lol: Actually, brilliant idea for an eligible bachelor. :P

 

I'll be looking forward to the trip reports, sans your mug.

 

Oh, BTW, here is a shot of me with three of my buds....but Sheila demands I add that I am already taken :banana: .

 

Bros.jpg

 

 

(Edit) Opps......I just read somewhere that DeCaprio has declared he is gay. In case you wondered, I'm not.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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One of the advantages of having my sons along is that I can occasionally be in the photo! My older boy, Damion, has pretty much become my official photographer. :happy2:

 

-Jim

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Jim,

 

I looked at the three most recent blog entries and the photos (above).

 

I have to say the Wagon Wheel was my favorite (no discredit to the Munger Moss!) because of the little “office” sign. It brought back a real rush of memories because they were kind of standard, so I saw them a lot in the 1940's and even the 1950's at motels.

 

And the varnished interior door must be original. Dark varnish and inset panels sure look 1950's to me!

 

The Chevrolet sedan over the grease pit is a 1950. My second car was a 1951, which I recall was very much the same design with only a small variation on the grill. The Wagon Wheel has it all!!!

 

Great stuff!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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