Route 66 - Braidwood to Cayuga Illinois

Hmmm; the Polk-a-Dot or McDonald's? No
contest,  you gotta go with Polk-a-Dot!
In Braidwood is one of the better 50's & 60's diners in Illinois - the Polk-a-Dot Drive-in at 222 N. Front St. Over 50 years ago, the Polk-a-Dot started out as a converted school bus painted in rainbow polk-a-dots. When we stopped to eat there, the mostly high-school age staff was surprisingly professional, fast, and friendly. Good service, good food, and great atmosphere!

Order window inside Polk-a-Dot.
It's Betty inside the Polk-a-Dot!

Choosing a song to play the old fashioned way -
now it cost 25cents per song, not 3 for a quarter.

Ambler Beckler Gas Station in Dwight, IL
After Youngest-daughter ate every bite of her chicken-nuggets & french fries plus 1/2 of my fries I had with a hot dog (not exactly the most healthy fare, but hey, we're on an adventure and eating in a diner!), we headed on down the road to Dwight and a stop at the Ambler Beckler gas station. Although the station is no longer a station, it sold gas and services to Route 66 travelers for 66 years before it closed in 1999; the longest operating gas station on the route. Built in 1933, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places after it closed. Restoration work began in 2005 and it re-opened in 2007 as a visitor center owned by the town of Dwight.

Odell Gas Station - w/ 1953 Winnebago
beside it.
Another old gas station has been restored just down the road a few miles in the town of Odell. Built in 1932, it operated as a gas station and repair garage until 1967. From then until it was purchased by the town for historical preservation and renovation purposes in 1999, it was an auto body repair shop. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in November, 1997. We arrived just before sunset and I was pleasantly surprised to find nobody around. It was closed so we couldn't go inside, but it was so quiet and the beginning of the sunset was pretty so while Youngest-daughter wandered around taking pictures, I sat on a bench under the drive up roof in front of the station and just reveled in the peace. As I sat there, I noticed a little notch cut out of the wood beside the front door. It was a hidey-hole for the key to the station. I did research later and according to an old-timer I got in touch with, everyone in town back then knew the key was in that little notch, but in all the time it was in operation, it was never robbed. A bygone time for sure.

The Odell Gas Station in Odell, Illinois

87 miles from Chicago & just 2,361 miles
left in our journey.

Relaxing at the Odell Gas Station. The little black
sign behind my head is where the key hide
 was located.

Section of original Route 66 roadway just
outside Cayuga.
The Cayuga Barn
We arrived in Cayuga with the sun almost all the way down and spotted what is known as the Meramec Cavern Barn or the Cayuga Barn. Meramec Caverns once advertised itself by painting its name on barns around the country. This one has been restored by the Route 66 Preservation Society of Illinois and is one of only two which remain standing in Illinois. I watched as Youngest-daughter took several pictures of it, thinking it probably won't come out OK, but we'll see. I think she did a pretty good job!

One of our rules was that we wouldn't drive after dark so we wouldn't miss anything. We drove just a few more miles to Pontiac where we found a Best Western motel and called it a night. Looking dated and a bit cheap, but the place was being renovated. The room we got smelled like it had been a smoking room previously, but the new paint & carpet made it not very bad. The A/C worked very nicely, getting the room down to the chilly I like. The shower was decent and the toilet paper, while cheap, was still a couple of levels above corn cob. It had been a long day of driving and it wasn't but a few minutes before we were both in dream land.

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
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