Day 1: Chicago to Lincoln, in brief

When you dine at Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago, they give out boxes of Milk Duds to the ladies. (That’s ‘cuz we’re cute and stuff.) It was a rainy morning when we hopped in the car and hit the Mother Road, but the rain stopped within an hour and the sun soon made fleeting appearances to give us a shiny happy Saturday.

Roadside treasures included a series of giant muffler man statues which we made time to stop and admire, along with the obligatory snapshots. We stumbled upon a “road closed” sign marking a portion of gravel road known as Memory Lane. (Turns out they open this road up for vehicles for only a handful of special events throughout the year. Sadly this would not be one of those times, although we were invited to stroll down memory lane on foot. The sign said so.) There were many occasions where we stopped the car, got out, admired the roadside attractions up close, maybe even stayed a while.

The lady at the Joliet Historical Museum/Route 66 Experience gift shop was all too excited to have us drop in. “We don’t get too many people in here this time of the year. Y’all are smart.” At this gift shop, you can purchase Route 66 books and merch. Perhaps you fancy a die cast pencil sharpener in the shape of a motorcycle or an old gramophone? Yeah you can get that too.

The Polka Dot Diner in Braidwood offered us burgers and chili cheese fries alongside kitschy Betty Boop, James Dean and Elvis memorabilia up the wazoo. Elvis even stared at me, making me uncomfortable while using the ladies room which was marked with a Pink Ladies jacket. (T-Birds for the dudes.) This may not be the place for you if you are easily angered by the sight of misspelled words and the improper use of the apostrophe.

Across the street from Polka Dot, the Ace Hardware sign is advertising “Ladies Night” on November 10th. You may want to secure those reservations now! Other highlights of the trip include road construction, the Old Joliet Prison (aka Fox River Penitentiary on “Prison Break”), and nostalgic gas stations.

It was 7pm when we decided to call it a night in Lincoln, just short of our Springfield destination. Who knew a Best Western could be so classy and comfortable? The front lawn of the hotel displays the largest covered wagon (per the Guinness Book of World Records) with Abe Lincoln driving while reading. I’m pretty sure that should have been illegal in 1862.

All in all, this trip is a hoot! We’re taking our time to soak it up all up. (Some photos are in a previous post.) We’re in Springfield now, through tomorrow. Quick report coming up shortly, after we mourn the sad Vikings loss.

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