I’m Driving Across America on Route 66!

Adios East Coast!

I’m Packing my Car and Driving Route 66 Across America to Relocate to San Francisco!

Getting my kicks
Getting my kicks

For those who don’t know, I’m on the move again…this time on a road trip across America.

After years of talking about it and planning it, I am finally moving out to San Francisco where Carrie just found us a great apartment a block off of Haight Ashbury. So, on Saturday, October 17, I packed up my car and headed out. My route includes a few hundred miles of Route 66 in Illinois, Missouri and Kansas before heading north to Nebraska to pick up the Oregon Trail and continue my journey west. As always, I will be blogging about my trip and I promise that these entries will be much shorter than the ones from my last trip…

The Gardenway Motel in Villa Ridge, Missouri, is one of the scattered original Route 66 motels still open for business today
The Gardenway Motel in Villa Ridge, Missouri, is one of the scattered original Route 66 motels still open for business today

The trip began with a two day stopover in Washington, DC, before my first day of real driving took me nearly 600 miles through Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. Then, after a night in a hostel in Indianapolis and a 200 mile drive, I hit Route 66 in Springfield, IL. There my progress drew to a snail’s pace as I spent the rest of the day immersed in American kitsch, roadside attractions and history with constant stops along the way. The day ended with a visit to the world’s largest catsup bottle and a night in Collinsville, IL, about 15 miles out of St. Louis.

Originally planning to finish most of Route 66 on day three, I got sucked in by St. Louis. The first half of the day was spent at a casino playing blackjack and winning $200. Then, by the time I had checked out the Gateway Arch and took the Anheiser Busch Brewery tour, it was time to check into the Gardenway Motel: a neon-signed Route 66 roadside original. The room smells like stale smoke, there’s no cable, Internet or phone and it wasn’t cheap…but I’m typing this entry from the same room that travelers stayed in more than five decades ago.

A full list of all the things I have seen in my first full three days is as follows:

Bill Shea, the owner of Bill Shea's Gas Station Museum on Route 66
Bill Shea, the owner of Bill Shea’s Gas Station Museum on Route 66

Bill Shea’s Gas Station Museum – Springfield, IL: often called the best tourist stop on Route 66, it is filled with all sorts of old signs, gas pumps, cars and kitch

Cozy Drive In – Springfield, IL: the birthplace of the corn dog

The Lauterback Tire Man – Springfield, IL: a giant man outside a tire shop that used to hold a giant tire until it was replaced with an American flag

Henry’s Rabit Ranch – Staunton, IL: a great souvineer shop with all sorts of car-related antiques from Route 66 as well as a rabbit ranch. At one point, Henry had a rabbit that was on the 2008 presidential ballot but couldn’t run because she died. Her reason for running was that she was “black like Obama, a woman like Hillary and old like McCain.”

Old Coke machines at the Pioneer Motel in Springfield, Illinois
Old Coke machines at the Pioneer Motel in Springfield, Illinois

Soulsby Shell Station – Mt. Olive, IL: an old Shell station that has been restored to look exactly as it did in the 1950s

Ariston Café – Litchfield, IL: one of the oldest diners on Route 66

The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle – Collinsville, IL: at 170 feet high, it is really just a decorated water tower…but still pretty cool

The Gateway Arch – St. Louis, MO: the large arch by the waterfront that St. Louis is famous for

Anheiser Busch Brewery – St. Louis, MO: the tour covered the seven block compound and finished with two free beers

The world's largest katsup bottle
In front of the world’s largest catsup bottle

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard – St. Louis, MO: it’s like ice cream, but fattier and more rich…and not as good. The roadside shack that serves it is a Route 66 icon.

Gardenway Motel – Gray Summit, MO: one of the original Route 66 hotels

Countless other motels and roadside diners. Some were still open and look like they did years ago but many others are long-closed and in various states of disrepair

  • Mar Wolf

    please tell us you went to Devil’s Elbow & Hooker! the Elbow Inn w/ patron’s bras hanging from the ceiling! Better have stopped @ the Munger Moss Motel (say hi to the Lehmans) & Wrink’s in Lebanon!

  • Jan

    Great photo’s thanks for sharing, I have travelled some of Route 66 in AZ TX NM IL KS CA but still a fair bit more too do, but hey it’s on the wish list !!!