After almost a week zig zagging our way from Boston to Chicago, it was good to finally be staring Route 66. The start is off of Lakeshore Drive, a main road that runs parallel with Lake Michigan, and Route 66 runs away from the lake and West. So we set out, passed the Willis Tower and on our way.
Leaving Chicago on Route 66 was a strange experience, as you pass from gleaming skyscrapers, to plush houses, to a run-down part of the city in a couple of minutes. Also, something we’ve all been surprised by in the big cities is how many homeless people there are. Boston, Washington, New York and Chicago all had large amounts of homeless people. In Washington, there are people sleeping on the streets a few hundred yards from the White House which is quite a contrast.
Anyway, we spent the rest of the morning following old Route 66, stopping off for photos at various attractions including an old fashioned fully restored gas station. Route 66 was decommissioned some years back as they built the Interstate motorway which effectively bypasses all of the towns on Route 66, but the route is still there, it’s just difficult to find. We’ve been using a detailed guide book and specialist map to help us trace it, although there are still lots of roadsigns in certain places that let you know you are still on the route.
We made our way South East through Illinois until we came to Springfield, Illinois. Apparently Springfield is one of the most popular town names in the US, hence why they chose the name for the Simpsons, and we’ve already passed through a number of Springfields in the past week.
The Springfield we stopped at in Illinois is famous as the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. The house where he lived up until becoming president is still there in the same condition it was when he lived there, so we stopped for a tour of the house which was interesting. All of the furniture in the house is either original or been restored to how it was, allowing you a look back in time.
After Springfield, were back on the road and on our way to St Louis as the sun began to set. We arrived into St Louis at around 9pm, making sure we passed by the Chain of Rocks Bridge which crosses the Mississippi river. After a bite to eat, we walked down the the river front in St Louis to see the famous St Louis Arch. As it was dark, the view and pictures weren’t great. Even though the arch is lot up, it’s nowhere near the same as how the landmarks in Washington are illuminated (Sticky was getting angry with how much electricity they were wasting in Washington!).
Next we had a stroke of luck as we strolled past the baseball stadium. The St Louis Cardinals were playing, and it was coming to near the end of the game. We asked a steward outside the stadium how long was left and if there was anyway of getting in. He laughed at first, but we played on the whole ‘we’re from England’ and he said he’d as what he could do. After talking to his colleague, he came back and with a shake of our hands and a friendly ‘Welcome to the United States’, he let us in free of charge to catch the last part of the game. I’m not particularly upto scratch with the rules of baseball, but it was still cool to be at a game and take in the atmosphere.
After the game, we visited a bar across the street from the stadium which was full of fans celebrating the Cardinals win. We were told by the barmaid of a rooftop terrace bar around the corner at the Hilton so headed there afterwards. From there we finally got to take a decent picture of the St Louis arch, as well as the baseball stadium. We then headed home for some shuteye after our first day on Route 66.
Next stop: Springfield, Missouri (another Springfield!)
P.S it’s good to read everyone’s comments. Glad you’re enjoying the blog!