Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 13 Edwardsville (IL) to Bloomington (IL) 30th June

Two miles away from our motel was the Mustang Corral... arrgh Paul’s dream location! A family run affair for the last thirty years this place has Mustangs in various stages of deterioration and restoration! A yellow ’69 Mach 1, a ’67 Shelby, a ’65 GT Convertible... the list goes on!


There’s corn everywhere you look in this state, if not that, it’s peas and other vegetable crops for miles. The place is incredibly green and such a contrast to where we’ve come from.

The Colisium Ballroom in Gillespie.... is anything but these days, antiques line the massive hall which in itself is full of history. Chicago Mob money built it. Al Capone’s Grandmother lived in town so that’s why Gillespie got a Ballroom! Apparently the builder was found in a nearby pond with concrete gumboots on.. for failing to pay bills!

Just down the road the route narrowed and led to a now disused 1929 bridge... you can tell cars weren’t very wide in those early days.

Through Carlinville, pride in homes gets a huge boost, a far cry from the parts of St Louis we travelled through yesterday. American fashion has very few fences between properties and the concept of a quarter acre we used to take for granted in Australia would be considered small in these parts. Even the city square is expansive, neat and tidy.

There was grass growing under our feet on the original bits of Route 66 coming into Girard, the greenery clearly evident through the concrete pavement. Back when it was laid in the twenties and thirties the wild turkeys of this region had little regard for new concrete roads being laid... their signature now a well established attraction on the old road.

This trip has brought a handful of real highlights to mind and today Deck’s drug store was definitely another. Brother’s Bill and Bob Deck have retired now and just pop into their old store to say high to the folks passing through Route 66. They were the pharmacists in the town, as was their father and grandfather before him. In fact it opened in March 1884 and they seem to have kept everything from about that time on. Dozens of medicinal potions were presented to rectify anything from the common cold to dysentery! These guys are reason alone to make a trip on the Mother Road and bring real life to this time warp.

On the way out of town Robyn caught a glimpse of another cute creature.. the humble squirrel, munching on an acorn of course!

The Yellow Brick road is actually Auburn in this part of the world.. certainly outside Auburn and it’s about two miles long and all the original interlocked brick... Surprisingly it’s not hard on the suspension.

More insights in Springfield... no not home to Bart but in fact the home of the Pluto Pup (AUS) or Hot Dog (NZ). In 1945 Ed Waldmire came up with the idea and first put them on the market right here at the Cozy Dog Drive-In as a ‘Corn Dog’!

Speaking of ‘Drive-In’... that’s to drive in and park to get something... ‘Drive through’ is what you’d expect except in USA drive- thru can be for banking, pharmacy or even tax returns... almost anything you can think of!

Next stop was Lincoln, home of the phone box on the city hall building (used to spot approaching bad weather!) ...

... President Ab Lincoln, an undersized watermelon, significant because the former president cut the melon in honour of his namesake city! From the famous to the infamous, according to Cliff - who owns the old garage (now turned into a Harley Service Centre) on the corner of 66 coming into town – Al Capone used to fill up his cars en route south... usually late at night, leaving the cash in a strong box in the wall that they discovered when they did renovations! Cliff and his mate Dave enjoy sharing a tale or two about the road and chewing the fat about bikes... and Mustangs, if it has to be four wheels!

...and that was our penultimate day, full of inspiring people and interesting stories, a real highlight of the trip. After nearly two weeks on the road we have no one doubt about why you would drive Route 66. It is something different to everything who drives it... and you get from it what you put in. It doesn’t matter how little you see, it will be enjoyable... but if you make an effort, grab a guide or two and do some basic research the rewards are significant!
One day to go!

1 comment:

  1. Really appreciated the narrative and the great photos. You obviously had a ball and it was great to share it...
    We've been out of circulation for a few days with a great trip down to Wgtn in the Overlander and back in the biggest rental motorhome in the country. Not quite in the same category as your trip. But still, we had fun.

    All the best for the return run!