I've spent a good number of hours over the last 20 years or so enviously reading other people's accounts of their Route 66 trips, but I don't recall anyone even mentioning the very first step of the trip - getting to the beginning of Route 66 in either Chicago or L.A. Now, a lot of people live in Chicago and L.A., but I would venture to say relatively few of them have ever taken the full 2,448 mile Route 66 trip by leaving home and driving just a couple of miles to the start and and have then written books about it so well that they've been published. So why haven't I heard about the "pre road trip" road trip, the getting to the start part? I now know why and I'll let you in on it - because they drove the interstate highways to get there and it's mind-numbingly boring!
Youngest-daughter and I wanted to start our "Daddy Daughter Mother Road Trip" at the traditional beginning of Route 66 in Chicago at Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. Between us and it was 688 very long miles. Nobody takes a leisurely back road road trip to start a long back road road trip and neither did we.
|Youngest-daughter relieved her boredom by|
taking pics of trucks
Getting to Chicago we went interstate all the way - jumping on I-40 and going through Conway and Little Rock, Arkansas - set the cruise on 72 and had smooth sailing all the way - all the way to Forrest City, Arkansas anyway, a grand total of about 125 miles. Road construction ahead. Everyone came to a screeching halt. A couple of times I turned off the truck to save gas, but every time I did, the line moved up a couple of car lengths and I had to start it back up so youngest-daughter and I sat in our idling vehicle making the oil folks richer and me poorer. At first we talked about her being out of school for the summer, where her friends were going on vacation and her concern that we would have to spend a few nights in run-down flea-bag motels while on this trip. I let her go on thinking that just because it was fun to do so. Eventually she fell asleep and I was left with nothing to do except look at my fellow drivers and exchange glances, nods of heads and shrugs of shoulders in our shared misery of being on an interstate going nowhere quickly. I watched the folks going about 80 miles per hour the other way whizzing by us and I knew they were thinking, "Whoa, sure glad I'm not going east bound. Yes!"
|The most exciting thing we saw along the |
interstate - burning wheat fields
|View from our hotel window - have had worse!|
|The famous Lou Mitchell's|
|Inside Lou Mitchell's - hope that guy didn't|
decide on the cheeseburger combo!
Maybe there's a reason Lou Mitchell's is famous for their breakfasts and not their lunches. My burger came with decently cooked edges of the meat, but still red in the middle. The fries were barely warm, limp and almost tasted raw (don't ask me how real potato's can be both limp & raw cause I don't know). The chicken nuggets were basically puff-balls of fried batter with a little piece of chicken trapped inside. I've occasionally marvelled at Youngest-daughter's ability to eat what I consider to be nasty-looking chicken nuggets. If they are even close to being chicken nuggets, she can eat them, yet she didn't finish these. She gave me a rather sad look and said, "Sorry Dad, these just don't taste very good." And then she didn't eat the fries. This was something so rare, it has only been observed maybe once before - ever. We started to send it all back, but decided we'd just head on down the road and eat again at a Diner. Maybe it was an anomaly, maybe we just don't have the same taste as Chicagoans. Whatever it was, I am left with no option other than to say go there for breakfast or go there for some of their baked goods, but do not go there for lunch! After our Route 66 adventure was over, we both agreed, this was the worst meal we had on the entire trip.
|Neon sign inside Lou Mitchell's|
Next up: Grant's Park & Buckingham Fountain where we begin the actual journey. Just 2,448 exciting miles to go!
Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state: