Route 66: Springfield, IL to Chicago-ish, IL
Day 8 – 2509 Miles from Home
SPRINGFIELD, IL – ??, IL – 275 Miles
I didn’t get my blog written last night because…
The final leg into Chicago was filled with wonder. Except Springfield. I’m sure Springfield is a perfectly lovely town (and filled with Abraham Lincoln history) but it’s no fun navigating Route 66 on a motorcycle. Guess I’m just spoiled by the open road and countryside.
Once we cleared the traffic lights and strip malls into the cornfields again, we looped through Elkhart where they had a farmer’s market with one, yep one, vendor. We followed the historic site signs to a cemetery up on a hill, but were more impressed by this eerie bridge. Thinking it must be the “ghost bridge” we’d been reading about, we shot some pics. Turns out it wasn’t. But it was still cool.
And a giant Paul Bunyon.
About this time, I started thinking about the commonplace things in the midwest that we don’t have in SoCal. Like water towers and red brick houses and front yards filled with headstones for sale and neighborhood cemeteries. Interesting, don’t you think? Come on. Cut me slack. Gotta think about something!
I felt a little hitch in my git along somewhere around Dwight. The bike lost power for a second then came back so we pulled over to check things out and saw a pretty photo op with the flowers and the amazing blue sky.
We made one last stop at this tiny two-celled jailhouse. The town of Gardner is pretty proud of it, judging by all the signs leadin the way, so we figured we’d stop. There I found my best pal Barney!!
Kinda scary being behind bars!
At least Brian made good use I the facility.
A couple other towns of note we passed through and plan to check out on the route home: Lincoln and Pontiac. In Lincoln, on the courthouse lawn, I actually saw a woman playing hoops and sticks with her kids! Seriously! And Pontiac looked stunning but the whole downtown was blocked off for a car show.
Chicago. When I first saw the Chicago skyline off in the distance I got a bit choked up. There it was ahead of me, the end of an amazing adventure, one I wasn’t quite ready to let go of. Driving into the city, though, I started to get excited. I love big downtowns and skyscrapers and the urban environment and Chicago didn’t disappoint… Until the end. I don’t know what I expected–streamers, fireworks, a marching band–but the end of the road just… Ends. With this little sign and nothing else.
Come on!!! People from all over the world come to cruise the length of the Mother Road, at least have sort of memorial plaque or something! In order to get the shot of the little sign, we had to park about six blocks away, and while Brian watched the bikes (can’t walk away from them with all the stuff strapped on) and called hotels, I ran to get the pic. When I got back, bad news. No hotels available that could park motorcycles (valet only). Not a one anywhere in and around Downtown Chicago.
Brian and I have always been intrigued by Chicago even though neither of us had been. It seems the coolest people we meet are from Chicago, so we were super disappointed we didn’t get to see the city. BUT.. We have to think back on the truly amazing trip we just made. Chicago will still be there for another time. That’s what you get when you wing it and don’t make reservations.
If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not. It’s all part of the adventure and I have no regrets. Not a one.
Today it’s an easy lake side drive to Milwaukee for the Harley-Davidson Dealer meeting and some relaxation time for me! And I’m going to wash my slicks. I know, I know… It’s cool to wear the same pair the whole trip, but after eight days on the road, that old pair of Levi’s smell worse than a hog on a hundred degree day! Plus they’ve grown two sizes and aren’t stayin up too well. Ewww!
Perhaps on the return trip I’ll write more about our adventures.
Later gators and thanks for reading!